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St Mark's Church, Dalston - geograph.org.uk - 386321.jpg
St. Mark's Church – "Cathedral of the East End"
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Location within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ345845
  Charing Cross 4 mi (6.4 km)  SW
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E8, N1, N16
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°32′42″N0°04′12″W / 51.545°N 0.070°W / 51.545; -0.070 Coordinates: 51°32′42″N0°04′12″W / 51.545°N 0.070°W / 51.545; -0.070

Dalston ( /ˈdɔːlstən/ ) is an area of East London, in the London Borough of Hackney. It is four miles (six kilometres) northeast of Charing Cross. Dalston began as a hamlet on either side of Dalston Lane, and as the area urbanised the term also came to apply to surrounding areas including Kingsland and Shacklewell, all three of which being part of the Ancient Parish of Hackney.


The area has experienced a high degree of gentrification in recent years, a process accelerated by the East London line extension, now part of London Overground, and the reopening of Dalston Junction railway station, part of London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics. [1]


Dalston has never been an administrative unit, and partly for this reason the boundaries are not formally defined. There are generally understood boundaries in the south and west, but less clarity to the north and east. There is an electoral ward of the same name which covers a part of the northwest of Dalston.

Dalston's boundaries (taking in Kingsland and Shacklewell, but not De Beauvoir Town, which is also sometimes associated with Dalston) are described with more or less precision below:


The name Dalston is thought to have derived from Deorlaf's tun (farm) [2] in much the same way as nearby Hoxton was named after the farm of "Hoch". The first written record available is from 1294 when the name was written as Derleston.

The village was one of four small villages within the Parish of Hackney (along with Newington, Shacklewell, and Kingsland) that were grouped for assessment purposes, together having only as many houses as the village of Hackney.

John Rocque's map of 1746 shows the village of Kingsland centred on the crossroads at what is now Dalston Junction and the small village of Dalston further east along Dalston Lane. Another clear feature is Roman Ermine Street which now forms most of the western boundary of this area. Ermine Street now has the road number A10 and goes by a number of names, including Kingsland Road as it travels through London.

Around 1280 CE a leper hospital was founded in Dalston by the citizens of London and in 1549 it was attached to the chapel of St Bartholomew as an outhouse.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the area changed from an agricultural and rural landscape to an urban one. By 1849, it was described as a recently increased suburban village, with some handsome old houses, and by 1859 the village had exceeded its neighbour and, with the railways and continuous building, the village of Kingsland disappeared. [3]

During the 1930s, 1940s [4] [5] [6] and 1960s [7] [8] [9] the area's large Jewish and other minority populations made it a target for provocative rallies by Oswald Mosley and the various organisations he founded. These were actively opposed by many local people, together with organisations such as the 43 Group in the 1940s and the 62 Group from 1962, and this led to a number of violent confrontations, notably in the Ridley Road and Hertford Road areas. [10] A 2014 novel, Ridley Road , and its BBC One TV adaptation uses the clashes as a backdrop to the narrative. [11]

In July 2017 a violent riot broke out on Dalston Road, which had originally started as a demonstration against police violence. Protesters barricaded the spot where a man, who later died at the Royal London Hospital, had been arrested. The rioters threw fire bombs at police and caused property damage. [12] [13]

On April 29th 2022 around 1:10am near Club Makossa, music artist “J KYNG” and producer / DJ “NAIM JUNIOR” supplied dotwav attendees with the biggest cannabis joint ever ‘billed’ (smoker lingo) in Dalston, containing approximately 15 grams of cannabis and no tobacco also known as a “purie” - A A high profile smoke session featuring the likes of, East K, 8SZN, 5StarFlacko, Chaotic Visions, Lakz, Nova Aguirre; The list goes on.

The zoot was ‘rassed’ on the main high street, in a generally ‘hot’ area, yet the group got away with it, and left the scene frass nuh bludclart.

Notable buildings

St. Mark's is a large Victorian church primarily built in the period 1864–66 to a design by Chester Cheston. It is reputedly the largest parish church in London, larger than Southwark Cathedral, capable of hosting congregations of 1800–2000 people [14] and its great size has earned it the nickname, the "Cathedral of the East End". [15] The residential area around the church is also of high architectural quality and has accordingly been designated the "St. Mark's Conservation Area". [15]

The Rio Cinema is a Grade II listed independent Art Deco cinema. It is a popular single-screen cinema located on Kingsland High Street, with a history stretching back over 100 years.

The German Hospital, locally known as 'The German', is a group of attractive Victorian red brick buildings that were home to a hospital from 1845 to 1987. The hospital was initially founded to cater primarily for London's then large German-speaking community. It eventually became an ordinary NHS facility before its facilities were merged and moved to Homerton University Hospital.


Dalston is known for music, events and its nightlife. Its biggest festival to date began in 2015, Dalston Music Festival. Centred on Gillett Square and 8 clubs in the surrounding area, it was founded by Andrew Bunsell of Dalston Studios.

Arts and entertainment

The Dalston Culture House now houses the Vortex Jazz Club. (October 2005) Dalston culture house.jpg
The Dalston Culture House now houses the Vortex Jazz Club. (October 2005)

Dalston hosts several art and entertainment venues, and has a history as an entertainment centre, with at one time hosting four or five cinemas within a radius of 13 mile (500 m), and the Dalston Theatre, a former hippodrome and music hall that later became the Four Aces blues club and the Labyrinth nightclub. The Dalston Theatre was demolished in February 2007, despite an active local campaign to save it. Dalston was also a hub for 1970s and 1980s pub rock venues but these are largely defunct.

The Dalston Rio Cinema Dalston rio.jpg
The Dalston Rio Cinema


Dalston's Ridley Road market, October 2005 Ridley road market dalston 1.jpg
Dalston's Ridley Road market, October 2005

Established in the 1880s, Ridley Road Market is opposite Dalston Kingsland railway station. [16] Fruit and vegetables, some fairly exotic, are available. Halal butchers cluster around the high street end of the market.

Ridley Road market is reputedly the basis for the one found in the BBC's EastEnders . [17] The Kingsland Shopping Centre (formerly Dalston Cross) is just south of Ridley Road Market. Kingsland Road and the surrounding streets are home to an ever-growing number of boutiques, bars and cafés.

Area profile

Dalston, looking south towards The City. A major traffic nexus. (October 2005) Dalston junction 1.jpg
Dalston, looking south towards The City. A major traffic nexus. (October 2005)

Contemporary Dalston is a lively neighbourhood with an ethnically varied population. Architecturally it is a mixture of 18th- and 19th-century terraced houses and 20th-century council estates. It is currently undergoing rapid gentrification, partly because of the redevelopment of the railway station at Dalston Junction and partly due to the revitalisation of large parts of east London in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics. (Hackney was one of the four host boroughs of the Games.)

Dalston has attracted immigrants for over 100 years; at the turn of the century it was a popular area for newly arrived Jewish people from central Europe. In the 1950s and '60s, as the Jewish community became more affluent and moved out, they were replaced by a large Caribbean community, which accounts for the wide choice of Caribbean food available in Ridley Road. As the Caribbean community slowly drifted out of Dalston it then became popular with the Turkish, as well as the Vietnamese. Recent arrivals include Poles, judging by the numbers of Polish delicatessens now appearing and other stores catering to Polish tastes.

Fassett Square was the inspiration for the BBC soap EastEnders . Originally, there were plans to film the series there, on location. However, Fassett Square (Albert Square) and Ridley Road Market (Walford Market) were rebuilt on the set in Elstree, near Borehamwood, to have a more controlled filming environment. The idea of Walford stems from Walford Road, and many of the houses on the show use the same exterior design. Coincidentally both Barbara Windsor and Tony Holland, one of the original creators of the show, lived at different times on the street.

The Hackney Peace Carnival Mural created in 1985, depicts a group of people marching for peace against "the bomb" and has become an important cultural statement from that era. It can be found opposite Dalston Junction Overground station on Dalston Lane. It has also been used on the cover of an album by local group Rudimental.

Music hall artist Marie Lloyd (1870–1922) used to reside on Graham Road. The house now has a blue plaque.

In April 2009 The Guardian published an article on Dalston claiming that it was the "coolest" place to live in Britain. [18] In the same year however, sculpture park The Towers of Hackney was torn down to give way to new buildings.



Dalston is on the London Overground network, served by three stations:

All stations are in London fare zone 2, and Oyster Cards are valid for travel from Dalston to other destinations in London. Dalston Junction is the busiest station of the three, with 5.677 million passenger entries and exits at the station in 2017–2018. [19] [20]

There is no direct rail link to Central London, and Dalston is not on the London Underground network. Direct connections to London's Zone 1 can be found at Hackney Central and Highbury & Islington stations. A new station in Dalston has been proposed as part of the Crossrail 2 development. [21]


Dalston is served by London Buses on routes 30, 38, 56, 67, 76, 149, 236, 242, 243, 277, 488 and N38. Routes 76, 149, 242, 243 and 277 run 24-hours, daily. [22] [23]

Dalston Bus Garage on Shrubland Road has been demolished.


Major roads in Dalston include:

Air Pollution

The London Borough of Hackney measures roadside air quality in Dalston, in particular the concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the district. Diffusion tubes which measure the concentration of NO2 in roadside air show that across Dalston, the local roadside air quality failed to meet the UK National Objective of 40g/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) in 2017. [24]

In 2017, the average roadside NO2 levels in several key locations in Dalston were:

  • Dalston Lane (A104) – 63 μg/m3
  • Kingsland High Street (A10) – 62 μg/m3
  • Kingsland Road (A10) – 52 μg/m3
  • Dalston Library – 39 μg/m3 (which meets the UK National Air Quality objective) [24]


Cycling infrastructure is maintained and managed in Dalston by the London Borough of Hackney and Transport for London (TfL).

Several key routes pass through the district, including:

Also nearby, there is a signed cycle route through Shacklewell from Hackney Downs to the east, to Clissold Park and Finsbury Park to the northwest. The Regent's Canal towpath passes through neighbouring Haggerston, which runs unbroken from Limehouse to Angel, via Mile End.

Cultural references

Interior of St. Mark's Church in Dalston, featured in 2007 film Run Fat Boy Run. St Mark, Dalston, London E8 - Interior - geograph.org.uk - 1680110.jpg
Interior of St. Mark's Church in Dalston, featured in 2007 film Run Fat Boy Run.

Notable people

Related Research Articles

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