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A brief history of Stoke Newington Church Street

Ever wondered what Church Street was like when horses and carts could still be seen trotting the streets? Or what today’s businesses were in yesteryear?

Stoke Newington history enthusiast Amir Dotan has been rifling through the archives and has collated a fascinating spreadsheet documenting the history of Stoke Newington’s shops. (Spreadsheet here)

The Red Lion

(The Red Lion c. 1845)

We’ve looked back at some of Church Street’s best-known businesses and buildings to bring you a snapshot of what was there before.

(Addition of shop fronts to mansion-like residences on Church St in the 1800's)

The late 1800s was a real turning point for Church Street. Until then the street was famed for its mansion-like residences with large gardens and paddocks with livestock. It was also home to several boarding schools. During the 1830s and 40s shop fronts were fitted to the 18th century houses. Later in the 19th century the larger houses were replaced with terraces and shops, with small scale industries taking over the back rooms and gardens.


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Church Street has a very long history of being home to butchers, bakers and confectioners. From the 1920s right through to 1990 the street was populated with numerous manufacturing companies. The first restaurants began to appear here in the 1970s.

Oldest surviving businesses include: K A C DIY Shop (which has been open at number 46 since around 1954), T.J Electrics, Radio & Television Repairs (open since 1975) Gino, men's hairdressers has been snipping since 1965. Lingerie shop Rosa was at number 3 SN Church Street from 1939 until 2015 – it’s now Earlybird Cards.

(Timber merchants on the site of today's Wholefoods 1990. Credit: Derek Baker)

Church Street was home to numerous builders and timber merchants – from the late 1800s through to the 1990s. One of the longest standing was Whincop & Son Timber Merchants, which occupied what is now Wholefoods, from 1976 until 1998.

Other buildings with a varied history include:

THE LAST CRUMB (71-73 Stoke Newington Church Street)

In the mid-1800s this sizeable building was occupied by a surgeon, it later became an office for Abney Congregational Church, in 1917 it was also home to the National Federation of Discharged & Demobilized Soliders & Sailors. Parts of the building were used from 1929 onwards for a ladies’ tailors as well as clothing manufacturers. In the 1970s the building became Abney United Reformed Church but in the late 90s it was converted to Booth’s Café, which became Homa Restraurant in 2012 and Foxlow in 2015.

(Post Office on Church Street. Credit:

METAL CRUMBLE JEWELERY (13 Stoke Newington Church Street). This has been a jewellery shop since around 2008, from 1859 it was a saddler, then a leather bag manufacturer and a tailor (from 1937-1949) and a sewing machine dealer from 1951.

STOKE NEWINGTON GREENGROCER opened circa 2012. Before that is was a confectioner/newsagent from 1976, a dyers and cleaners in the 1960s, from the 1920s it was a wardrobe dealer and before that a bootmaker.

(Church Street. Credit:

Though it was a Ladbroke betting shop for some time, THE GOOD EGG building used to be an ironmonger, a garage and was even a Ladies’ School (1847-1885)

SPENCE BAKERS was a bakery from around 1885 but had a brief spell as a photography unit from around 1980 till 2008.

FUJI JAPANESE restaurant in more recent history has been a restaurant but was a fried fish shop and later a fish bar from the 1930s through to the 1980s. Before that is was a hair salon.

(Then and now.. J H Fox , now Rubedo. Credit:

What’s now the CHILDREN'S AIR AMBULANCE SHOP, opposite Whole Foods, used to be the Hackney & Stoke Newington Recorder Office, a weekly newspaper.

The building now occupied by LOCATION, LOCATION estate agency has had many uses, it was a butcher’s shop from around 1847 till 1905 then a bootmakers till 1925, then a grocer, a hardware store and a laundrette.

Popular butchers MEAT N16 was once a gramophone shop (from the 1960s) and was a baker from the 1860s until the 1940s. The Design Shop had a long spell as a greengrocer and fruitier.

(No chickening out here - Vortex Jazz Bar before it became Nando's)

NANDO'S was the famous Vortex Jazz Bar – when it was acquired by developers in 2008 campaigners fought hard to preserve the character of the street and try to stop stop a big-chain opening. Long before that it was a milliners and furniture store.

Click here to view Amir’s wonderful historic record of Church Street’s trading history. And check out his website

* With thanks to Amir Dotan and Stoke Newington History for the images.

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