Hackney: Modern, Restored, Forgotten, Ignored

This From: http://eastlondonlocal.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/sight-of-eternal-life-church-shrubland-road/ – I really need to get hold of this book

Sight of Eternal Life Church, Shrubland Road

This battered corrugated iron church on Shrubland Road looks like it would be more at home in Alabama or perhaps a Flannery O’Connor novel than in Dalston and I have always been intrigued by it. So I was happy to open a copy of Hackney: Modern Restored Forgotten Ignored and there it was. Built in 1858 at a cost of just £1250 it’s believed to be the oldest surviving example of an iron church in existence a ‘tin tabernacle’ as they are called.

Published by The Hackney Society and available through their website or from Pages of Hackney I found this book at the local hairdresser of all places and went out to buy a copy soon afterwards. It looks at 40 buildings in Hackney to mark 40 years of The Hackney Society. As well as historical buildings it features contemporary homes and new schemes such as Adelaide Wharf and Sutton House and is beautifully photographed and well researched. The saddest chapter ‘Forgotten’ looks at buildings that have been demolished.

A bit of a gem and a fantastic book for anyone interested in architecture history or Hackney.”


  1. I always pass this church, was wondering if it’s still a working church, abandoned or converted flats. I didn’t realised the building itself was that old. Thought it was run down and mended with corrugated tin boards.

    I love how the book calls it \Tin Tabernacle”. Would love to flick through this book.”

  2. @alexpink has a great photo of this on his blog Snapshot London

    Church Hackney

    © Alex Pink”

  3. It’s always reminded me of the Norwegian churches in Cardiff’s and Swansea’s docks, both of which were simple church structures clad in corrugated iron. I think both of them were dismantled, restored and rebuilt in different locations when both docks were redeveloped.

  4. @alexpink that’s a great photo!

  5. It looks as if someone started painting it and stopped halfway through the job! An original tin tabernacle it is now corrugated asbestos. The church is grade 2 listed but it is also on the buildings at risk register. I like it a lot, it would look great if it was restored properly.
    @ewebber buy the book you will love it!

  6. @gcar great to see pics of the inside.

  7. Awesome – I want it who can lend me £3m

  8. History value aside… Why on earth is this worth £3m? It’s so run down! Seems like it’ll need quite a bit of restoration work.

    Does anyone know if this building is protected by SPAB (Society for the protection of ancient buildings)?

  9. It’s only worth £3m as a building site. Watch out for future mysterious fires!

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