Meet Neil, a 3rd generation blacksmith from Hackney. He started learning his trade at 14 from his father, just like his father before him, and now runs a workshop in Stepney City Farm. It’s a dangerous profession with occupational hazards (3rd degree burns, ripped fingers…), but an inherent love of the trade keeps him involved. Like many tradesmen Neil had to adapt to the deindustrialization of the 1970s, and he now practices as a design Blacksmith, which sits at odds with the more traditional work of his father and grandfather. Will he be able to pass his trade on to the next generation?
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Questions & Answers
- What's your first memory of London? My dad taking me to Stepney Green when I was 2 or 3, and it was a bombsite. People were living outside in wintertime, in tents and cardboard houses.
- What do you miss when you're away from London? The vibrancy of change.
- What's your favourite neighbourhood? Hackney.
- What's your favourite building? Sutton House - the oldest house in Hackney, from the 14th century. I also made the railings there!
- What's your ideal day out in London? The Southbank and Tate Modern, and one of the restaurants like Festival Hall.
- What's your ideal night out in London? Dalston - a really vibrant area that has changed so much, great for coffee in the evenings.
- What's your most hated building? Centre Point.
- What's the best view in London? St. Augistine Tower in Hackney - open once a month, great view over all of the East End.
- What's your favourite open space? Victoria Park.
- What's your favourite bar, pub or restaurant? The butchers and fishmongers on broadway market.
- What's your favourite place to hang out? Broadway market on a sunday.
- What's been your most memorable night out in London? I don't think I would be able to say!
- How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London? Wandering around, chatting with friends and people I don't usually get to see.
- Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? Spitalfields market- not commercialised like many other markets. And good food.
- What's the worst journey you've had to make in London? So many bad journeys! I spent 5 hours in a traffic jam once just getting from Euston to Road to the motorway, on a bank holiday.
- What's your personal London landmark? An old house in Victoria Park with a nice sitting spot.
- Who's your favourite fictional Londoner? Alfie.
- What's your favourite London film, book or documentary? Brick Lane, the book.
- If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go? 1666 - the great fire of London. I really enjoy reading Samuel Pepys account of it.
- For you, who is the ultimate Londoner? Ken Livingstone