Running late: £1M+ sports project

As is clear from my photograph, the Hackney Downs Hub is still being built and therefore far from the handsome structure depicted on the sign at right.

The ugly hub-ling is the focal point of the revamp on Hackney Downs and the final bill is estimated to total £1.2 million, most of it from the Big Lottery Fund. (Yo! to all those who queue in shops to pay this voluntary tax.) The rest comes from Hackney council and the Lawn Tennis Association.

The project is unlikely to open before November, months after the planned completion date.

The scheme includes the building pictured, resurfacing of the basketball area and of two tennis courts, and the provision of two new courts and a multi-use games area or Muga, as Hackney council naively terms it.

Floodlighting is being repaired (tough, muggers) and the hub will include public toilets, described by the council as “accessible” — ie, the desperate should never have to knock on a hut door while a worker sits inside, feet up, ignoring their plea over a cuppa.

“The Hub” is a good workable name. The building could nevertheless also have an official name. Loving Dalston’s suggestions:

* the Caine Centre,

* the Pinter Centre.

Michael Caine and Harold Pinter are among Hackney Downs (high) School alumni.

HDS Old Boy Eric Bristow might also have his supporters.

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11 thoughts on “Running late: £1M+ sports project

  1. Thanks for making the call, David.

    Sensory garden on Hackney Downs: “no plans at moment”, council says. “At moment”?

    That is Newspeak for “We had plans last year but, since it has been pointed out to us that we’ve made Hackney Downs a no-go area for blind and visually impaired people, it would be a waste of money so we don’t have plans anymore.”

    I know precisely where they should stick their Green Flag!

  2. Does Brooke House schooling make Sir Al “posh” in ‘ackney? Hakon, it’s worth preserving the Sugar’s-TFC-start story, if only in folk memory, although I vaguely remembering including that in the rambling introductory essay to this site that I wrote months ago. I’m also told that Sugar and champ boxer Lennox Lewis ( years ago coughed up wongur for the youth club crnr Cecilia Road & Dalston Lane

  3. Sensory garden on Hackney Downs: “no plans at moment”, council says in response to reader query, above. I read that as “never”. Has anyone in the council budgeting area any idea of what it is to be under-sighted?

  4. I love these Dalston titbits and even better that they are all a bit seedy. Another local Jewish boy done good is Sir Alan Sugar of Clapton Pond. I think we went to Brooke House School rather than the local Grammar School. l He started out in business selling beetroot and then car aerials from the back of a van on Ridley Road market. I understand when business picked up Amstrad / AMS (Alan Michael Sugar) Trading moved into the old Tavener Sweet Factory on the corner of St Marks Rise and Ridley Road which is now TFC Supermarket on the ground floor and an Alevi Community Centre on the floors above

  5. Yes, thanks Godot for the great link. I’m a fan of Pinter so he’d probably get my vote but another distinctive local boy and Grocers (later Hackney Downs Grammar) School alumni perhaps worth mentioning is Michael, now Lord, Levy.

    Local boy made good? He used to live in Alvington Crescent (off St Mark’s Rise). He’s had his collar felt a few times by the boys in blue, managed to escape the clutches of the DPP, and Chris Rea said of him, “He is extremely tough, one of the hardest bastards I have ever met, but I would leave my children with him rather than anyone else.”

    If the Mugga Centre got tight for funds, Levy could prove useful. Pete Waterman described him as “the greatest salesman I have ever met. He would be able to sell sand to the Arabs.” And Simon Morris, Chief Executive of Jewish Care, said of Levy that, when it comes to fundraising, “there’s no one better in the country.”

    Oh, and he plays a mean game of tennis!

    The man is not very pleasant to spend time with I hear, but neither (sadly) is Hackney Downs now.

  6. Well, that wasn’t long to wait, Mr Godot. Thank you for the sources.

  7. More great info — thanks, John. I’ll find out about the sensory garden. It’s sometimes surprising that such seeming vandal lures can survive. I like the cycle joke; I’m an anti-Nazi cyclist. Council says it is thinking about an official name thanks to this comment page. Pinte: by coincidence, a loved one tells me that she heard ‘arold tell the Vergeltungswaffe story at a lecture. I hope this hearsay evidence will satisfy the historians among us.

  8. I suspect there might be little local support for the naming the Mugger Centre after that Conservative Party-promoting tax exile, Michael Caine.

    However, given that the footpaths on Hackney Downs are no longer safe to walk on, thanks to our resident German-influenced CycleNazis, I reckon the Vergeltungswaffe Centre is a good name.

    David, on this occasion the public toilets are correctly described by the council as “accessible” because, historically, councils built inaccessible toilets i.e. inaccessible for disabled people, in particular wheelchair users. (Disabled toilets are so-called because they are the ones with broken seats, flooded floors and smashed cisterns, hence, disabled.)

    There were also plans to plant a sensory garden on Hackney Downs, specifically to benefit blind people and those with visual impairments. However, given that the footways are no longer safe to walk on – and Hackney Downs is more of a no-go area than ever – this is probably going to end up as a waste of resources.

  9. Love your erudition. I intended no sneer about the delay; just reporting a fact. Delay is a common occurrence in UK construction. Remember how we were late even to finish Mandy’s Greewnwich folly for the Millennium? (How Ienjoyed the sight of my editor at the time, of a national paper, having to queue to wait for his freebie champagne after a cold midnight.) Keothavong would be a good official name for the hub. Vergeltungswaffe Centre is also a fine suggestion. (Any chance of a source for your fascinating vignette?) But given that most of us struggle to spell even simple English words (eg, minuscule) and names (Johnson/Johnston/Johnston?), I’m doubtful about Vergeltungswaffe (German: retaliatory weapon). Still, better than naming the hub after some councillor who will be forgotten within a generation. BTW, you can choose a pseudonym for comments without google’s revealing your eddress; at least, that’s what my limited knowledge of this technology indicates. Just type a pseudonym into the name slot, and for the website, stick in or something.

  10. Don’t sneer at this. Better late than never. Name a single council project in Hackney that has ever finished on time?

    Hackney’s own tennis pro Anne Keothavong played as a kid on the Hackney Downs tennis courts. The two nearby Academies will be using the new facility hopefully doing their best to combat the obesity amongst kids in the borough.

    How about calling it the Vergeltungswaffe Centre after a V2 that fell on the spot in 1944. Pinter was in a classroon at the time at Hackney Downs Grammar School

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