Tag Archives: Commerical Road

Up the Common People

Luxury apartments‘… forgive me, but it has to be said. I’m sick of them. Sick to the back teeth. Sick to death. Sick as a dog and yes, sick as a parrot too.

A vision of Battersea Power Station...chock full of unaffordable flats.

A vision of the upcoming Battersea Power Station development…chock full of grossly unaffordable flats.

The hoardings are up everywhere. Every corner I turn. Glossy boards surrounding clattering building sites, all plastered with the same cliches; ‘Phase one underway’, ‘quarter’ this and ‘village’ that. One site in Hackney offers investors the chance to ‘own a piece of London’s history’- the building in question was once a children’s hospital.

The former Queen Elizabeth Children's Hospital.. envisioned here as redeveloped luxury apartments

The former Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital, Hackney… envisioned here as redeveloped luxury apartments

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against development. My father is a carpenter so it’s good to see tradespeople employed- although it’s unlikely that those toiling on such sites will ever be able to afford to live within at least a 20 mile radius of the city.

The thing is, many of these new builds are destined for ultra-rich offshore investors and are therefore likely to remain empty. As such they are thrown together cheaply and quickly; glorified Meccano sets which will inevitably force out locals, eradicate heritage and purge the soul.


One such place under threat is the George Tavern on the East End’s Commercial Road.

The George Tavern, Commercial Road

The George Tavern, Commercial Road

A developer wishes to level this site and plonk down even more lifeless apartments upon it. Tower Hamlets Council are more than happy for this to go ahead; they’d make a nice few quid from it after all.

This piece of land has been home to an inn since the 17th century. In its present form the George Tavern dates back to the 1820s.

Since then of course, towers have sprouted across the City and at Canary Wharf, both of which are within spitting distance of the George. Whilst the price of land here has now therefore rocketed, the value placed upon heritage has clearly not.


In the 1970s a club was added to the George Tavern. Now closed, the extension is a forlorn site when viewed from the roar of Commercial Road.

The former 'Stepney's' night club

The former ‘Stepneys’ night club

Named ‘Stepneys’, this club became famous for its light up disco floor which drew in thousands of revellers over the years.

Stepney’s finest hour occurred 20 years ago in 1995 when Sheffield band, ‘Pulp’ recorded the video for their anthem, ‘Common People’ in the club…

Over the past few years a fierce campaign has fought to save the George Tavern. You can read more about it here… please give them your support, the common people need you.