Our Future's Orange: Dalston

My world does not end within these four walls, Slough's a big place. And when I've finished with Slough, there's Reading, Aldershot, Bracknell, you know I've got to-- Didcot, Yateley. You know. My -- Winnersh, Taplow. Because I am my own boss, I can -- Burghfield...
- David Brent

The arrival of the East London Line in Brockley will change everything. Suddenly the delights of West Croydon, Haggerston and Rotherhithe will be only a hard plastic seat ride away.

On a personal level, it will be as momentous as the fall of the Berlin Wall, re-uniting two generations of Brockley Central, divided by miles of tubeless urban sprawl.

In the build-up to the big day we'll be publishing a series of articles called Our Future's Orange, profiling many of the stops along the new route.

To open the series, we roped in Brockley Central Sr to tell us about his home in Dalston. Bear in mind he's even less down with the kids than we are, so we have no idea whether his nightclub recommendations are particularly accurate:

The terminus (for the time being) of the new line is Dalston., postcode E8, aka ‘Dalston Junction’ after the old railway station that finally closed in 1986.

Grimy and down-at-heel, Dalston looks like most people’s vision of the old East End, particularly when you visit its famous market at Ridley Road (just to the north of the new station) where you can buy almost any kind of food, including on some occasions African bush meat. It’s in stark contrast to its fashionable neighbours, Highbury and Islington.

Dalston's not so much a place as a crossroads. For rail, for road (the A10, the old Roman Road that leads north from the City of London is bisected by the east-west route of the Balls Pond Road and Dalston Lane), and for culture too. Here you’ll find every sort of migrant to London struggling to make ends meet. It’s the mix that gives Dalston its lively character.

In recent times the wave of young fashion designers and artists that transformed Shoreditch has moved north into Dalston, and suddenly it’s become the ‘cool’
place to live and work. New clubs, like Dan Beaumont’s Disco Bloodbath, have sprung up everywhere. Dalston’s independent cinema, the Rio, is an indicator of the area’s changing fortunes. Once a popular cinema, it fell on hard times in the sixties and became a seedy cinema club for soft-porn films. Now it’s part of the revived cultural scene that includes the Vortex jazz club and the wonderful Arcola Theatre.

Over the next couple of years this hub area will undergo its most dramatic (and most controversial) makeover in over a century. The new tube station, linked to the revived ‘London Overground’ station, will shortly become a place with space and Hackney Council has been working with developers to make what they hope will be an exciting new open space in London –
Dalston Square. Tall towers have replaced Victorian housing, and there will soon be new shops and a new library. It remains to be seen whether this will achieve the civic transformation that the council hopes for without destroying the character of the area. We’ll have to wait and see, but very soon Brockleyites will be able to check it out for themselves by hopping on their local tube and heading north.