Explore Dalston in the 80s

A new book by photographer Andrew Holligan focuses on day to day life in the popular east London hamlet

For the past few years the media has been proclaiming "the death of Dalston", as the artists and start-ups that once made E8 one of the trendiest postcodes in London get pushed out into the capital's further reaches. However, walk its streets today and you'll soon find plenty of traces of the creativity that first made it - albeit a somewhat gentrified version. Home to fashion designers such as Christopher Kane, a healthy nightlife and healthier property prices, it has cemented its place as one of the most desirable places to live, work and visit.


(Image credit: Andrew Holligan)

However, it was only in recent decades that it saw its renaissance. What started in Tudor times as a collection of small villages popular with society's upper crust and later an aspirational destination for the middle class, would be transformed beyond all recognition in the 19th century, as swathes of factories and urbanisation absorbed the area. Fast-forward to the 20th century and deep divisions could be seen in the area - in the 1980s, when then-resident Tony Blair canvassed the notorious Holly Street estate, he recalled the response as a "society of fear… when people were too scared to open the door".

Now a new book by photographer Andrew Holligan shines a fascinating light on the characters and sights of Hackney's streets in the decade. Having moved to Dalston in 1984, after working in New York's fashion scene, Holligan describes the neighbourhood as feeling like "the back and beyond". But it was the people he encountered in his day-to-day life that inspired him to purchase a 1950s Rolleiflex camera and make the switch to street photography. The resulting black and white imagery provides a striking and very human documentation of the area over the years he spent living there.

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Dalston in the 80s by Andrew Holligan (Hoxton Mini Press, £14.95); hoxtonminipress.com

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