Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Putting north east Hackney on the map

A few things that would make Hackney (but my part of Clapton, mainly) a bit nicer

More pubs and cafes
Venetia's is nice, Biddle Bros has its charms, and I'm fond of the Princess of Wales. In fact, what I really, really want* is a music pub quiz on a Monday night somewhere cosy. (*Bzzz: "Wannabe by the Spice Girls")

A landmark restaurant
Yes, there are dozens of wonderful ethnic eateries (hate that word) around the borough – just none that I really look forward to eating in, if I’m honest. I’ve been known to hit Shanghai on Kingsland Road when I fancy overly salty dim sum (love the butchers-slab d├ęcor), and Yum Yum in Stokey is occasionally wonderful in a weird, overblown, carved-wooden-fittings-galore kind of way. But a proper, sit-down, wallet-busting place that non-local people will cross town for – where are you?
Chatsworth Kitchen is nice, in a neighbourly, home cooking kind of way. We’re not there yet. And as I think of it…

…a decent Turkish take away that delivers

I often fancy tucking into some squeaky halloumi and falafel, instead of dial-a-pizza, an Indian or Chinese. But can I find one in my manor?

A few new bus routes that go somewhere useful
I do not need to go to Walthamstow on the bus (for one, it takes for ever). Nor Whipps Cross (unless I’m in an ambulance). A bus that runs from Clapton Pond to the Tottenham Hale shopping park, or even the Ikea Edmonton would be nice.
The new 488 route, which will soon be running from Clapton to the new Dalston overground station, is a good start. But I bet it won’t be long before a driver comes to grief on Rendelsham Road – it’s packed tight with cars on both sides, and during term time school-run mums double park, van couriers use it as a rat run… Disaster, honking horns and tailbacks to Upper Clapton Road await.

Another new train line
Forget about ever getting a new Tube station. It’s ain’t ever going to come to Hackney. (Pedants note: I realise that Manor House on the Piccadilly Line is just about inside Hackney’s borders, but its postal address is in Haringey, ackcherloi).
So London Overland is the way forward. For purely selfish reasons, I would like “them”, whoever they are, to make better use of the train line that used to stop at a now disused station on the Lea Bridge Road, running south to Stratford and North Woolwich, and north to Tottenham Hale and “Palace Gates”, another long-forgotten station.
How about an extension of the East London Line from Stratford that serves those of us in Hackney’s north east? The railway from Stratford to Tottenham Hale still exists, and trains regularly run across Walthamstow Marshes – it just doesn’t have anywhere to stop in between. Rebuilding the station on the Lea Bridge Road would suit me just fine.
If that’s unlikely – and it is - a Liverpool Street train that stops at Clapton AND Tottenham Hale wouldn’t go amiss.
Read much, much more here, trainspotters.

What else could Clapton do with?

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