Mural celebrates east London’s street history

In East London the walls have ears. Or at least they do now thanks to design collective Bread, which has created a 100m-long typographic mural as a historical response to the area.

The Walls Have Ears
The Bread team in front of one of the panels

A successful proposal in February made to the London Legacy Development Corporation, saw Bread given a grant for this project The Walls Have Ears on White Post Lane, Hackney Wick.   

The Walls Have Ears
White Post Lane before

While the project hopes to give purpose to the wall and present locals with a sense of cultural history, it reminds us of the wider context of projects like this, which are being backed to ensure the regeneration of the area after the games.

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

‘We wanted to make sure everyone in the community was involved, so held workshops with children, parents and grandparents – who worked in the factories round there,’ says Bread designer Victoria Walmsley. 

The creative response is an industrial history of Hackney Wick, which includes the words Parkesine – an early plastic, believed to have been invented in the area – and Mint Creams, a confectionary company once based nearby.

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

Less favourable landmarks have been remembered, including Fridge Mountain, a white goods dumping ground, the biggest of its kind in Europe, and one of the first things to be tidied up in the wake of London’s Olympics win.

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

Walmsley says that while a broad canvas of opinions was sought, some were deemed as not being in the spirit of the project.

‘There was one person who remembers the area being known as The World’s End, but that was seen as a bit too negative.’

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

Other words celebrated in include Petrol, coined by Hackney Wick based Oil distiller Carless, Capel & Leonard in the 1890s.

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

While elsewhere Peanuts remembers the Percy Dalton Peanut Factory, and The Cut celebrates The Hackney Cut, a 3km channel of water, engineered through the Hackney Marshes in 1770 as a more direct alternative to the old River Lea.

The Walls Have Ears
The Walls Have Ears

The Walls Have Ears can be found on White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9.

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