This is a mix of a narrow passage opening into a wide road in Shoreditch which was recently partially paved with the smallest garden to walk past you’ve probably seen.

The area was turned from largely empty farmland into market gardens around the 1740s, but was quickly developed by the expanding city. Within 50 years much of the area was starting to be filled up with streets and early housing developments.

Laid out as Garden Walk, as it was an alley that ran behind rows of houses and unsurprisingly, backed onto their gardens. It was originally longer than today, and the lost east-west alignment still exists, as part of Rivington Street.

R Horwood Map 1799

It swiftly developed as an area into mainly light industry, and in the 18th-19th centuries was a hub for timber yards and woodworking workshops.

The north-eastern building on the passage, today known as the Tramshed, was in fact never a tram shed, but is a 20th-century electricity substation, built 1905-7 by LCC architects (probably Vincent Harris). So while it never held trams, it did generate electricity for the LCC tramway system, so maybe not such a bad fib in the name after all.

The substation was built on a site of an old timber yard.

The green-clad building on the road is a newish residential block, where flats optimistically described as 2-bed will set you back £700,000.

Garden Walk is also particularly notable for street art, appearing on the itineraries of many a local street art tour guide.

The passage has undergone a  couple of revamps in recent years though.

The pedestrian northern half used to be an open road, but back in 2018, a short term closure took place, with a simple curb added at either end and a couple of small trees installed as nature’s bollards.

More recently, this was made permanent with the road being pedestrianised fully with new paving and the northern junction given a more significant makeover with stones and seating as part of the Rivington Street pedestrianisation.

And finally, Garden Walk gained a garden, although a very small one, but it’s probably all that could be fitted down here anyway.

Something seems to be missing though, as there used to be a mid-19th century gun post on the corner of Garden Walk, and it’s not there any more. Which is naughty as it’s a listed object.

And finally, a personal note – this is the 200th article in this long series on London Alleys. Happy birthday or whatever is the appropriate comment for a 200th article.


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Thank you

  1. JP says:

    Well alley oop to all that. Wishing you safe passage as you do your walks around Lambeth and others of your muses.

    Ahem. Thank you.

  2. Duncan Martin says:

    As someone who follows this site from the other end of the UK, your entries on alleys and pocket parks are quite fascinating and my favourite items. Thank you.

  3. Andy says:

    Congrats on the 200th!

  4. Babs Wilson says:

    Congratulations and thanks very much! Lovely series.

  5. Liam says:

    Happy 200th Ian. Thank you for high quality and informative, entertaining reading.

  6. Lynda says:

    Time to celebrate your double centenary !! Well done you. Love your articles and have been inspired. Thank you

  7. Sarah Johnson says:

    I echo my thanks from San Diego. I hardly recognize my home town any more … but you do give me my memories back.

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