There's a long story to be told about the former tramway depot at 38-40 Upper Clapton Road, just beyond the roundabout. The short version is that the Hackney Societyhas tried to save it from redevelopment, others have expressed concerns, ownership has changed hands and we'll have to wait and see exactly what happens next. What is certain is that the varied group of artists and small businesses that once occupied the Victorian sheds has had to scatter, leaving Tilley Harris and Alex Pielak to honour and display their work.
Tilley and Alex run The Depot gallery and multi-purpose creative space on the tram shed site, which opened in 2012. Their Deserted Village exhibition features a lovely collection of photographic portraits of people who've worked in the old buildings and some of their creations - everyone from motor mechanics to Danny Easterbrook, a 20-year resident whose endeavours have been described as "somewhere in between art history and conceptual art". There are other archive materials and an audio commentary too.
When the tram sheds are eventually levelled it will be a further sign of Clapton's soaring land values, Hackney's hunger for more homes and the pressure gentrification puts on the very sorts of people whose presence in an area helps create the conditions for it.
But Tilley and Alex are optimistic that the site's new owner will enable them and others in the local creative industries to be part of the new development. Tilley writes here that the latest plans are to "preserve much more of the original structure than the previous scheme" along with 50% affordable homes a decent public space included. Do go and see the exhibition. It's open from noon until 7:00pm and runs until Sunday, November 30. You can also buy a Deserted Village book.