Shacklewell is one of Hackney's more obscure districts, but one of the easiest to find. Shacklewell Lane curves to the north-east, where the busy Kingsland Road becomes Stoke Newington Road. It then intersects with Shacklewell Road and Shacklewell Green.
Many factories and offices are located in Shacklewell, but so too are several pockets of period properties as well as low- and high-rise council estates. Although spent needles and other paraphernalia of the drug and prostitution trade blight some roads, many properties are being renovated in an area whose prospects are brightening.
"In the good roads with period homes or gated communities in and near Shacklewell, we sell properties as soon as we put them on the market," says estate agent Philip Allen, of Bennett Walden. "A number of signs point to the area's general improvement, such as the recent closing of a failing school. It will reopen as the John Pechey Academy. The two East London Line stations will be near enough to Shacklewell to have a ripple effect and private developers are increasingly active here."
Home mostly to young single professionals, Hackney might be on the verge of demographic change, Allen believes. "Most parents flee Hackney when they start thinking of raising a family or in the early nesting phase," he says. "The new academy, and the transport and other improvements should help bring families into the area."
Charles and Lucinda Linehan, the parents of three-year-old Oscar, recently moved from Shacklewell to Brighton. "We visited a friend in Brighton just after I returned from a trip to Bucharest," says Charles. "The coast seemed like paradise, possibly because of the contrast with Romania. I think we would have moved eventually anyway. The schools in Hackney are rubbish. Even the local MP a few years ago, Diane Abbot, wouldn't send her son to the local school, and that would have been Oscar's secondary school."
But Charles retains warm feelings for Hackney, where he lived for the past 14 years: "My brother and several friends still live here," he says. "I visit and stay over frequently. There are many artists here, probably because the poor transport makes it cheaper. The independent shops on the high street had everything I needed, and I never had to go to the West End to shop."
What are the prices like?
A two-bed flat needing work in a three-storey purpose-built block on Cecilia Road is around £155,000, at least £10,000 to £15,000 less than if it were in good condition. Another two-bedder in a low-rise flat in Shacklewell House requires "slight enhancement" and is about £25,000 cheaper than equivalent flats in better shape. Both at Douglas Allen Spiro.
What about properties in decent condition?
A two-bed flat in the four-storey purpose-built Drysdale Dwellings on Dunn Street, off Shacklewell Lane, is £159,995, at Douglas Allen Spiro. A one double-bed conversion flat in a listed Victorian house on Rectory Road, with a share of the freehold, is £172,500 at Next Move. A two double-bed flat on the second floor of the four-storey Somerford Estate has a sizeable east-facing balcony; £169,995 at Douglas Allen Spiro. Winner of the 1951 Festival of Britain award, the Somerford Estate consists of low-rise blocks of flats of various heights and includes terraces of two-storey houses, with upstairs flats enjoying garden access.
What about period houses?
Few are available at any given time because they tend to sell quickly. On the other hand, there is a bay-fronted, five-bedroom, two-reception Victorian house on Barretts Grove, opposite Arcola Street, that needs modernisation. It is listed with seemingly every agency in north London, and with prices that vary from £355,000 to £376,000.
And gated communities?
Gateway Mews, off Shacklewell Lane, is a mix of flats and mews houses. A two-bed ground-floor flat with front and rear patios, and with three rooms opening on to a patio, is £248,000, and a three-bed, two-storey mews house with rear garden is £275,000, at Douglas Allen Spiro.
How's the transport?
Hackney's dubious distinction as the only inner London borough north of the Thames with no Underground station will end when Dalston and Haggerston join the extended East London Line. Dalston/Kingsland Road station on Silverlink's North London Line provides quick access to the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington, and to Stratford. Numerous buses serve the City and West End.
How's the shopping?
Shacklewell is minutes from the Ridley Road market opposite the train station. Kingsland Road/Stoke Newington High Street is home to a huge array of restaurants serving slow as well as fast food.
What about the arts?
The Arcola Theatre is off Shacklewell Lane, and nearby venues include Hackney Empire and the Rio Cinema.
And one for the pub quiz
How is Sir Thomas More connected with the area of Shacklewell?
Shacklewell Manor House was the home of More's daughter, Cecily. Like her illustrious father-in-law, Cecily's husband, Giles, was executed for treason. The Manor House, on what is now Seal Street, was demolished in the late 1700s.
Bennett Walden 020 7275 7177; Douglas Allen Spiro 020 7923 1919; Next Move, 020 7254 9709Reuse content