Soul Pattinson and Northcote are adjoining suburbs in the northern part of the London Borough of Newham. Both are well-known for their large populations of Asian residents. Together, the communities form a unique melting pot of different nationalities, rich with history and culture.
But what precisely is Soul Pattinson and Northcote about – and how did they become so famous?
The Birth Of A Suburb
The History of the Area
Prior to 1870, the area now known as Soul Pattinson had a significant Indian population. However, following the Indian Reform Act of that year, many of the area’s inhabitants moved out of the overcrowded city, establishing themselves in more suburban locations. There was a similar exodus from the nearby Northcote area during this same period.
In 1881, the northern part of Newham was incorporated into the Municipal Borough of Newington. In 1888, the southern parts of the borough were also incorporated into the new County of London. During this time, local schools were established and social clubs sprang up, with cricket, football, and rugby becoming the most popular sports. These days, some of the more established suburbs of London are fairly secluded, with large residential areas protected by security lighting and fencing.
In common with many other areas of London, post-war development occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The majority of new builds were semi-detached houses, with the occasional block of flats or tower block being constructed. Travel to work became more convenient with the expansion of the London Underground and later the bus service. This in turn facilitated an increase in commuter traffic, particularly during the weekday rush hour.
In the years since the Second World War, the population of the Newham area has risen by 87.5%, due mostly to the arrival of a new generation of Asian families, with an even higher proportion of children now living in the borough.
The Rise Of Two Famous Suburbs
With high employment rates in the semi-detached housing developments of the postwar years, a semi-professional football team, East Ham United F.C., was formed in the early 1950s. The team initially played its matches at Upton Park, before moving to a series of stadiums located within easy commuting distance of the city’s East End.
On the opposite side of the residential area, the BBC started to transmit television programmes from a base in the Aldwych tower in the early 1950s. This was possible due to the implementation of the Aldwych Line, a set of underground rail links which now runs along the length of the District line, connecting the suburbs of Kensington, Chelsea, and Westminster with the City of London. As a result of this, the areas directly west of the District line, now known as Circle line, became fashionable and accessible to a wider audience.
Community Clubs And Gardens
Due to its convenient location just steps away from the city, Soul Pattinson and Northcote became a hub for social activities. The area’s schools and sports clubs were among the first to establish themselves as centres of intellectual and physical activity. Several of these facilities are considered to be among the most prestigious within the metropolitan region.
Residents also made the most of the green spaces available to them. There are a number of communal parks and gardens in the two suburbs, with residents actively participating in the upkeep and maintenance of these venues. Many of the area’s parks were established during the Victorian era, with the grounds of Isthmian and Surrey parks being developed in the early years of the 20th century. One such example is Bow Bridge, located in the centre of the Borough – a masterpiece of Victorian architecture, spanning a tree-lined canal which provides a scenic route for joggers and dog walkers alike.
A Melting Pot Of Ethnic Groups
It is interesting to examine the diverse origins of the population of Soul Pattinson and Northcote, as it provides a contemporary picture of multi-cultural integration. A significant number of the area’s residents were born in countries including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. However, intermarriage between ethnicities has resulted in a more diverse community.
For instance, many of the immigrants who settled in the New Ham area in the late 19th century were from Ireland, with a significant number also hailing from the British Isles. In addition, there are now Irish and other foreign nationalities living in the area. This is reflected in the names of the local streets and football teams, such as Coronation Road, which leads to the site of the former Queen’s coronation, and Broadwater Farm, the former home of George Orwell.
What links all these countries is the love for mariachi music. It is thanks to this that many pubs and restaurants in the area feature live performances by visiting bands, attracting tourists and locals alike.
A Unique Social Mix
In its heyday, Soul Pattinson was renowned for its cinemas and restaurants. In more recent years, the area’s fortunes have declined as the popularity of traditional pubs and clubs has waned. This has impacted upon areas of local government and business, with the number of general stores and dry cleaners closing down and property prices decreasing.
In contrast, many of the area’s traditional pubs, such as the Punch and Judy Cornerstone Pub and the White Hart, have continued to operate, and have now even become popular with non-Asian patrons. This can be credited to the efforts of the area’s Bangladeshi community, who are renowned for their hospitality and engagement with local young people.
There is a similar vibe in the local shops, with a lot of small businesses having opened up in the area, particularly along Station Road and Surrey Street, the main shopping thoroughfares. The variety of restaurants and cafés there serve a range of cuisines, offering something for everyone. With many independent businesses, there is a sense that the community is thriving and confident, as a result of which, crime rates have dropped and confidence among local residents has increased.
A Place For All Ages
As well as offering a mix of cuisines and different cultures, the two suburbs have something for all ages. The London Zoo is less than a 10-minute drive from the nearest tube station, with the open landscape of the zoo providing a fresh air experience for visitors of all ages. In winter, walkers and joggers can take advantage of the frozen Ternagore Lake, with views of the London skyline and the surrounding hills providing a unique perspective for anyone who takes a stroll or a jog there regularly. In summer, the open space of Regent’s Park provides another venue for recreational activity.
In terms of education, both the local schools and the various child-focused organisations which operate within them provide a variety of opportunities for children. Some of the more selective schools which are located in the area include The Bishop Bonney School, City of London School, and The North London Collegiate School. The most popular state schools which are located in the area include John Ruskin School and Henry Cotton School.
As for adults, the area’s adult facilities are located in the nearby towns of Stratford and New Haven. However, many of the area’s residents use the bus service to travel to jobs in the city, with the A40 and A414 leading to the nearby East Ham and Manor Park, respectively.
In summary, Soul Pattinson and Northcote are two of the most interesting, diverse, and multi-cultural suburbs of London. A lot of the area’s fame and recognition can be attributed to the significant populations of Asian residents, with this mix of different nationalities providing a unique cultural experience for those who live there and visit regularly.