Photographs from the heydays of The Fifty Nine Club, Cafe Racers and 60s Rockers, this is the Church of England Mission site correctly called " St Mary of Eton with St Augustine " which became famous in 1959 as the site for Curate John Oakes's Fifty Nine Club, first as a youth club for local kids.
Later it came to be led as a club for Mods and Rockers by Fathers Graham Hullett and Bill Shergold before the two groups had to be split apart following an unfortunately fracas when an old motorcycle enthusiast got beaten up by the assembled teenage Mods as he stopped to ask for directions.
This is the Church and clubhouse that features in all the newspapers and cartoons of the day, the Rocker history site, the arches through which the first Rockers roared.
St Mary of Eton was then and is situated still in an impoverished and deprived part of East London. An area full of social problems, violence and racial tension called Hackney, or correctly speaking in this case, Hackney Wick. Soon to change radically as nearby has been chosen for the site for the 2012 London Olympics, much of this part of London is built out of the bombsites of World War II, situated as it was directly north of the Docks and the German Luftwaffe's bombing raids.
Historically, from as long as ago as the Middle Ages, it has been a swamp and dumping ground. Once of plague victim corpses, the toxic waste and WWII rumble; latterly for immigrants and problem families. Many of the social housing estates, projects as they are known in America in this area, were or are still called " Sinks ". Places where you dump the rubbish or what you do when you end there ... sink.
It is however, by dint of the cheap rent and social conditions, a very colourful and resourceful that has always attracted both the bohemian and those motivated by social conscience. The original vicar being responsible for the draining of a huge area of swamps and the handing over of the reclaimed land to the local people for their use.
In many ways, nearby Victoria Park - once land owned by the terrifying torturer of heretics Bishop Bonner, the last Lord of the Stepney Manor and " cannibal [whom] in three years space three hundred martyrs slew. They were his food, he loved so blood, he spared none he knew. " to quote Foxe in The Book of Martyrs - was a birth place of British social democracy. A heralding point for the rise of the working classes from under the filth of the Industrial revolution and fist - or rather cutlass and pistol in the case of The Chartist Movement - of Victorian Establishment rule.
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