Stoke Newington Common
Stoke Newington Common is an open space in Stoke Newington in the London Borough of Hackney. It is east of Stoke Newington High Street, with Northwold Road to the north, and it straddles the busy Rectory Road. The Common is 2.15 hectares (5.3 acres) in area.
This is old common land that came under public ownership in 1872. It was originally known as Cockhanger Green and later became Shacklewell Common, but Shacklewell's contracting sphere of influence led to it being named for a time 'Newington Common' (not to be confused with Newington Green) until finally in the early 20th century it acquired its present name.
Not merely the common's name has been mangled by time. Unlike its near neighbour, Hackney Downs, this land has been dissected by London's Victorian transport links. The deep cutting of the railway line between Stoke Newington and Rectory Road railway stations runs straight through the common from north to south, while the parallel Rectory Road making part of the A10 gyratory slices off another strip to the west. Finally the road called Stoke Newington Common carrying a busy bus route chops off a section to the south.
The now buried and lost Hackney Brook once ran across the north of the common, but this has long been replaced by the busy Northwold Road. This was due to the increased population at the time of its burial reducing the brook to no more than an open sewer.
A 400,000-year-old palaeolithic flint axe factory was found by W.G. Smith in 1878 on the south side of the common and in market gardens on the north side of the common. This Palaeolithic floor is associated with an ancient terrace carved by the River Thames called the Upper Taplow Terrace that extends from Stoke Newington past Canonbury as far as Rosemary Branch. It is a remnant of a plain where extensive evidence the earliest human occupation of Britain has been found, notably at Swanscombe in Kent.
The north side of the common was overlooked by Gibson Gardens; an early example of quality tenement dwellings for working class people built in 1880 and still unchanged today, some parts are highly desirable for owner-occupiers. Gibson Gardens is now masked from the common by the innovative Raines Court on Northwold Road on the site of the old dairy. Built by the Peabody Trust, this is just the second multi-storey modular housing development to be built in Britain, and offers one approach to the increased demand for housing in the area. Local residents campaigned unsuccessfully to have Rectory Road closed off over the common and the railway roofed for many years with the prohibitively high cost of the works reducing the possibility of success to zero.
- History of Stoke Newington Common (from the Cazenove Area Action Group)
- Restore the Common (from scrap the gyratory campaign)
- "Common Land in England Stoke Newington Common". common-land.com. 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- Smith W: On a Palaeolithic Floor at North-East London. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 13, (1884), pp. 357–384.
- Stringer, C. FRS. Homo Britannicus. Penguin (2006) pp. 68–89.