It’s always heartening when a virtually disused and rundown public space is regenerated for the beneﬁt of the local community. Such is triumphantly the case with Stoke Newington Common to the east of the railway line.
The Stoke Newington Common Users’ Group (SNUG for short) has campaigned for ﬁve years for funds to install a playground and generally brighten up a piece of land which everyone agreed was under-used, but no one did very much about it until SNUG came along. The Common now boasts a splendid kids’ playground, with wooden and metal play equipment and a green safety surface to blend in with the grass and trees of the Common. As well as this, they have persuaded Hackney Council to pay for a fence (not yet installed) and to maintain the equipment. They have also commissioned the restoration of the drinking fountain and the installation of new wooden benches, they are working with the Tree Musketeers on tree and shrub planting work on the Common, and they are in discussion with the Council over providing zebra crossings to the Common.
In short, the area is being transformed, and this was celebrated on Sunday 10 September at a Playground Picnic on the Common. On a beautiful day, parents, kids and assorted local residents gathered to listen to a ﬁne performance of swing jazz from Young Jazz Hackney and to hear long-time local resident Aggie MacKenzie, one half of the dust-busting duo from the TV series How Clean Is Your House?, formally opening the space. There was also willow weaving, diabolo practice, face painting, a plant sale by Lee House (the council’s social services horticultural unit in nearby Rectory Road) cricket, football and kids running around having a great time on and off the playground. N16’s Art Director was last seen on the seesaw, and our wine writer was kept busy looking for his twin boys who, for some reason, were convinced they were playing football for Sunderland. All in all, a good day out for everyone.
Most of the funding for this admirable initiative came from the London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Association of London Governments. SNUG are looking for sponsors for the wooden benches. For information on how to sponsor a dedicated bench, and information on SNUG generally, contact Amy Erickson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anna Newman on 020 8806 9386.
All we need now is the closure of Rectory Road and the re-establishment of the original Common to the west of the railway line, and Clissold Park is going to face some competition.