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Cannon Bollard

Many bollards in London take the shape of cannon as old guns were actually used at one time for the purpose, their muzzle stopped with a cannon ball. This cast iron bollard is clearly marked for ‘St Leonard’s Vestry’, so it is not actually a cannon – but it is still an unusually good copy of the originals.

Charles Square N1

Shoreditch Town Hall

‘[More Light,] More Power’ is an odd motto for a borough council but it refers to the building of a power station (right). The original town hall dates to 1866 but it was made much grander in 1902, then 1938, before falling into disuse but being recently restored as a very active community centre.

380 Old Street EC1
www.shoreditchtownhall.org.uk

Geffrye Museum

A set of old alms-houses now shows off home interiors from 1600 to the present. Although looking at the way we lived 400 years ago is fascinating, the real fun comes in seeing stuff from your own child-hood. Check out the herb garden, too.

Kingsland Road E2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 9893
www.geffrye-museum.org.uk

The Old Street roundabout itself might be bleak (though look for the secret garden in the middle, reached by a sordid stairway from the shopping ‘mall’ underneath) but the area around is full of history and now includes fashionable Hoxton and Shoreditch, full of art galleries and restaurants.

Tube: Old Street/Hoxton. Rail: Shoreditch High Street

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Shoreditch

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The Circus Space

Shoreditch Electric Light Station opened in 1896 to burn rubbish, giving steam for generating electricity with the waste used to heat public baths next door. The motto above the door is ‘E Pulvere Lux Et Vis”, or ‘Out Of The Dust, Light And Power’. The generating hall is now a school for circus skills.

Coronet Street N1
www.thecircusspace.co.uk

Bridge Coffee House

Open to 1am Mon-Wed, 2am, Thu-Sat and midnight on Sunday, this is a great late-night hang-out with incredibly romantic decor. Junk shop chic and comfy sofas – and free wifi – are the setting for coffee, cakes, beer or wine. You do pay high prices for the eclectic atmosphere – but it’s well worth a visit.

15 Kingsland Road E2

Tel: 0783 3393 272

Ye Old Axe

A strip joint until midnight on Saturday, then hopping with rockabilly until 6am, this seedy old pub has a charm all its own. There is beer all over the floor, it gets too crowded to dance properly and the toilets are full of drunks – all-in-all, it’s great fun. Once a fine Victorian pub, some trace remains of past grandness.

69 Hackney Road E2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 5137

Holy Trinity Church

Set into church railing, opposite a pub, this is a classic setting for a Victorian drinking fountain. This granite example also incorporates a low level outlet for dogs. The fountains were installed for free, but local councils had to maintain them – something they have pretty much stopped doing.

Pitfield Street N1

Song Que

One of a string of Vietnamese restaurants along this road, Song Que stands out for its excellent menu with more than 150 items, fast, efficient service and its low prices. Despite all that, the quality is consistently high, earning it a reputation as the best Vietnamese in the area.

134 Kingsland Road E2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7613 3222

Pavement Lights

The name Haywards is well known for coal plates but the company actually made its fortune with a patent for glass prisms, fitted to an iron cover, that threw light into the back of dingy coal cellars. These covers are popular for motor-bike parking – being free as part of private premises – but any damage to the prisms is very expensive to repair.

Tabernacle Street EC1

Princess of Shoreditch

Voted gastropub of the year 2010, this has a casual brasserie downstairs and a more formal dining room up spiral iron stairs. The menu can try too hard, and the cutlery fights with bowl-style plates but good wines by the glass and consistent quality will win you over.

76 Paul Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 9270
www.theprincessofshoreditch.com

F Cooke Pie & Mash

One of the few traditional tiled-interior pie & mash shops left in the East End carries on a long tradition with 100 per cent beef pies and eels. All pastry is freshly handmade and the green ‘liquor’ (parsley sauce) has, of course, its own secret recipe. Open Mon-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri & Sat 9.30am-8pm.

150 Hoxton Street N1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 7718

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Hoxton Gardens Clock

This four-faced clock is from the former Eastern Fever and Small Pox Hospital, which closed in 1986. Before that, it decorated the City of London Union Workhouse, Homerton. The gardens themselves are run by Hoxton Community Trust, with an effective mix of professionals and volunteers.

Cnr Tyssen St/Hoxton St N1

www.hoxtontrust.com

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