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Brickfields Victorian Hackney
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During the Victorian period hundreds of different things were made in Hackney, from bricks to boots and from chocolates to cherry toothpaste. It was a booming time for business.

The first plastic ever produced in Britain was made in Hackney in 1862 in Hackney Wick. During the Victorian time they even made plastic collars, cuffs and shirt fronts in Hackney. These were worn under a jacket and were very popular!

Two very smelly things were also made around the Hackney Wick and Homerton area, vinegar and perfume. In Dalston they made pencils, tents, and glue. In Shoreditch there were lots of people making clothes and shoes and were thousands of people who worked with wood, making all sorts of furniture, even pianos. Many people, especially women, worked from home making matchboxes, clothes and artificial flowers amongst other things.

Most of the big factories were in Hackney Wick, including one of the nastiest and one of the nicest places to work. The nicest place must have been Clarnico’s factory where they made sweets and chocolates. Most of the staff were girls and when they got married Clarnico’s gave them a small gift of money, called a ‘dowry’. They also gave bonuses to good workers and the factory had its own band and choir.

One of the nastiest places to work must have been the Berger Paint factory at Hackney Wick. Here they used a lot of chemicals and it was very hot and hard work. Many workers claimed that it made them ill working there.

A lot of people lived close to the factories around Hackney Wick so they could get to work easily. Six thousand people lived there in 1879 in cramped housing built on top of rubbish tips. The river nearby which they used for water was dirty because it was polluted from all the chemicals the factories tipped into it. It was the most unhealthy place to live in Hackney and many people died as a result.

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Clarnico staff
This is a photograph of the Clarnico staff choir outside the factory.

the Berger paint factory
The Berger paint factory
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