This is a rather bland, if convenient footpath in Bethnal Green, but one that marks ancient boundaries.
It sits right in the heart of the original Bethnal Green village, and while it’s not seen as such today, was in the 17th century considered an ideal area for the gentry to live. The origins of the name of the alley seems to date from a house built on the site sometime before 1687, called The Sugar Loaf. It’s speculation, but not unreasonable to presume the owner had made their fortune importing sugar from the Caribbean.
What was originally Sugarloaf Lane by 1703, marked the boundaries between two estates, owned by Joseph Blissett and Gould, which were later sold off and turned into housing.
The White Hart brewery was later added to the north side, but torn down afterwards when the site was taken over for a military barracks.
Sugarloaf Lane seems to become Sugar Loaf Walk in the 19th century.
Today it’s a fairly bland post-war rebuild and lined with modern brick walls, the occasional bit of graffiti, and, on my visit, an abandoned mattress. Just the old iron bollard gives a hint to the heritage this alley enjoys.
Notable at one end though is the narrow Camel Pub, with its distinctive brown tiles and outdoor seating. It changed owners in 2013 and has since moved a bit more upmarket in what it offers.
Although what is today the V&A Museum of Childhood, it was until 1974 a general museum for the area, so it’s curious to see a sign on this alley still pointing to its old name, the Bethnal Green Museum.