If you can’t get a seat on the tube or there’s a long line of people waiting to get in to the house down the road that’s for sale, you can probably blame the Evening Standard. On the 24th January they published an article called Walthamstow is Awesomestow: E17’s best bars, restaurants and culture. According to the article, Dalston is all a bit last year and the real action is now to be found right here in Walthamstow. By all accounts the Hipsters are in the process of migrating from Hackney and setting up home in E17, sort of like a trendy (do people still say trendy?) herd of buffalo heading to Walthamstow across the marsh. And frankly who can blame them, with a cafe on the High Street that sells Aphrodisiac Sausages, who wouldn’t want to live here? OK, so I admit it, I don’t really know what a hipster is, I think they might wear turn ups and I’ve heard the male ones have beards and like real ale. Having said that I like real ale and have a fuzzy face, I don’t own red trousers though so I don’t think I have hipsterfied yet. Being really honest, who cares? as long as people are spending their money locally and supporting local businesses does it really matter where we are from or what we wear?
The article listed some of the usual suspects that always crop up when people write about Walthamstow; Manze’s Pie & Mash Shop, Eat 17 and the William Morris Gallery all get a mention, and so they should. It was nice that a few newer ventures were also included, Mothers Ruin at Wood Street Market, 56 St James Street, and the recently popped up All You Read is Love book cafe which is now in Hoe Street Central. As always there were two main schools of thought circulating on the Walthamstow social media feeds. The first concentrated on how great it is that new things are opening and new people are starting to see E17 for the great place it is. The second saw the article as yet another sign that the good old ‘Stow has changed beyond recognition, worried that it is loosing its identity and becoming a carbon copy of other areas of London.
So is change a bad thing? or is it just an unavoidable part of life? I grew up in small village, most people either worked in the mines, farms or near by factory’s. These days most of its residents work in the near by city’s of Nottingham and Derby. The once dark and terrifying locals only pub now welcomes all, and the old hair dressers that was open for years is a flower shop. Sure it’s different, but that doesn’t make it bad. Walthamstow is much the same, it has a long history of change. Starting as a rural village it wasn’t long before wealthy families built their estates here, lured by E17’s closeness to London. Then the railway came and the estates were sold off for cheap housing to be built and a town grew where once was marsh, forest and farm. Perhaps this recent increase in pop ups, trendy cafes and old pubs being renovated is the just the next step in Walthamstows evolution?
What the article in the Standard couldn’t do was show the variety we have, you can probably only appreciate that if you live here. I started today with a run on the ancient and beautiful marsh. Went for breakfast in Jesse’s cafe, a place that has remained unchanged for years. Enjoyed a massive pot of tea and bought a book in the most excellent All You Read is Love, then went shopping on the market. I enjoyed old and new Walthamstow in equal measure. Old doesn’t necessarily mean grotty and new doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Call me a hipster if you like, although I think I’m too old and buy too many clothes from BHS to qualify. I just happen to think there is enough room in Walthamstow for everything, the trendy and the not so trendy rubbing along perfectly happily side by side.
Agree – love the North African food shop on Hoe St, the way you can get a great feed for 99p with pittu from Priya, a great big portion of firin sutlac from Akdeniz or a dal puri from Mauritian Spot, discovering new Lithuanian treats at the supermarket at the bottom of the high street, and the chance to try a new cuisine every fortnight at the Rose & Crown’s pop-ups, or with supperclubs like E17 Supperclub & Damn Good Curry. Still just rough-enough-around-the-edges, too. ; )
I was interested to find out about the village you grew up in. Having originated in those parts my self, I’m wondering which village it was?