The day the Torch came to Hackney, 21 July 2012

August 2012

by Dieneke Ferguson

What a day that the torch relay came to Hackney!  Hackney people do know how to celebrate and will take any opportunity to throw a good party.

Hackney Carriage in Carnival procession

Being based near Stoke Newington Church Street I decided to view both the carnival go past there as well as the torch relay.

The carnival procession was long and reflected the different ethnic communities that have made Hackney their home, from the Vietnamese, to the Turkish, African and Afro-Caribbean communities.  A large presentation of school children, as well as the cycle club, gardening enthusiasts, a Hackney Carriage and a large delegation of the Rio Carnival.  There also was a large golden statue with a torch.

Carnival procession

Carnival procession

Carnival procession

Carnival procession

Carnival procession

Once the procession had gone past, it gave me the time to go to Gillett Square where the One Hackney Festival was on and I heard some great drumming. From there I went to the Regent’s Canal where a narrow boat offered film screenings co-organised between the Shoreditch Festival and the Barbican.

Shoreditch Festival at the canal

The cinema on the Canal Boat as part of Shoreditch Festival

One Hackney festival in Gillett Square

By that time I headed back via Kingsland Road where the spectators were already arriving onto Stoke Newington Church Street. By the time I made it there the police were already clearing the streets and I had to get off the bike and walk the last stretch to find a good place to view the torch relay, which was near the church and Clissold Park.

Spectators waiting for the Torch Relay

Awaiting the Torch Relay

Whilst we all waited for the relay to arrive the sponsors, Coca Cola and Samsung were handing out goodies, and the crowds would cheer anyone that still happened to be on the street. This included the rubbish collection van, cyclists as well as the police on motorbikes. The latter so much enjoyed it that one rode past the spectators giving them all a hand.

Torch Relay car

Torch Relay bus

Coca Cola at the procession

Pensioner Protest part of torch relay

Then the police on motorbikes, the cars came round, the bus with all the torch bearers, the bus with the film and camera technicians, the sponsors (Coca Cola, Samsung and Lloyds), cyclists, a pensioner on a Boris bike with a sign complaining.  And of course all were very much cheered.  Normally the torch bearers come first followed by the entourage. But not now. The cars and buses came round twice – surely they must be enjoying the cheering. And finally the torch bearer came past.

Torchbearer in Stoke Newington Church Street, Hackney

The buses and cars stopped next to Clissold Park ready for the next stretch. Here I managed to take a picture of the torch bearers that all stepped out of the bus for a bit to greet everyone.

Torch bearers have a break next to Clissold Park

heading back home I spotted the Coca Cola van where people queued to get their hands on a nicely designed Coca Cola bottle. They were specially made for the torch relay and I joined the queue to get hold of one.

Coca Cola bottles specifically designed for torch relay

What a day! Such a great atmosphere, the weather was great, and to make Hackney proud. As many of the creative people live in Hackney so many have been tweeting pictures.  Very enjoyable.

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