Savoy Cafe on Graham Road destroyed

Yesterday, while driving down Graham Road, I looked in vain for the beautiful art deco facade of the long-closed Savoy Cafe, only to realise it had been ripped out and replaced by a cheap aluminium facade.

There is no planning application on the Hackney Council website, which seems odd – shop owners can do what they like to interiors, but my understanding is that exterior alterations – desecrations, in this case – require permission from the council. But I suppose the way around that is to do it on a Bank Holiday weekend, and then it’s too late to do anything about it by the time it comes to light.

Very sad, and a loss to the local area of a wonderful piece of history.

Thanks to Emily Webber of London Shop Fronts for the great photo.

Update: After talking to an architect I know, I now think that the council should force the builders to reinstate the cafe. They had no right to rip it out, they did it without permission and without any thought of the history and unique features of the building. So they should simply rebuild it as it was. If you feel that this should be done, feel free to write to Hackney planning department and let them know. They are investigating this as an urgent case, and it’s not too late to ask that it be retained.



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24 responses to “Savoy Cafe on Graham Road destroyed

  1. Hi there,

    I’ve seen your posting and I’ve contacted planning officers for a response, so we will see what the council’s line on this is.

    As one of the local ward councillors, I’m keen to ensure that the right processes are gone through and that this special cafe is preserved if at all possible.

    Thanks for raising the issue and I hope I’ll be able to be of assistance.

  2. If that is the case, it is sad. It’s just round the corner from me.

    Another question might be why it has been unused for so long in the first place. I’ve lived in the area for about 10 years and, apart from the odd art event, it has remained dormant.

    It seems such a shame that it has gone at a time when lots of other cafes in the area are starting to do good business. As well as trendy efforts like Wiltons and the recently opened Violet (both on WiltonWay) the Dalston Lane Cafe is lively affair. Surely somebody could have made a go of the Savoy. It’s slap bang in the middle of Hackney, near bus stops and other businesses. Why was it never open?

  3. Hi Stuart,
    My understanding was that it was still in the hands of the original owners….. who knows what has happened recently though.
    I will update if I find out anything else.

  4. Building Design today having a go about another unauthorised demolition – the comments on this one seem to be in support (although probably not Hackney residents)

  5. That is also sad. In a hundred years people are going to ask what the hell happened to all that great 1960s architecture.

    I am still shocked at this cafe demolition. What kind of person thinks it’s a good idea to replace a classic facade like that with cheap aluminium doors? I suppose the same kind of person who just does it without any thought of the history, or planning permission, or conservation areas…. I really hope Hackney Council has words.

  6. As I previously mentioned, I have contacted officers who have now opened up an enforcement case to investigate this matter further.

    I will keep you updated.

    You will be aware, however, that unfortunately planning matters and enforcement can be a lengthy and protracted matter, but I hope that we will be able to get some movement on this going forward.

  7. Thanks for getting back to me Alan. Glad that Hackney Council is doing something about this, even if it’s sadly too late to save the cafe.

    For workmen to be there on a Sunday morning – especially on a Bank holiday weekend – suggests to me that they knew to do this out of hours, when the planning office is closed.

    I’m not an expert in these things, but if it was up to me I would impose a substantial fine – payable as a donation to a local group such as the Hackney Society – to deter others from trying such underhanded tactics in future.

  8. Jane Smith

    What a good idea. Or they could donate the funds from the fine to another group which has recently battled to stop vandals from demolishing a formerly elegant terrace of historic houses without planning permission and without going through the correct procedures.

  9. So sad that it’s gone.
    I managed to get inside last year and I have a series of photos from the inside of the cafe here

    (could you please add a credit to my photo of the Savoy Cafe that you have used on this post)

  10. Friendly Neighbour

    Hi all,
    With some knowledge of the planning system, I would suggest you take this up with Hackney’s Enforcement Team, The more they are lobbied on a particular issue, the more of a priority it will become.

  11. Sadly this is what it looks like now Interestingly the sign was covering up a “Refreshments” sign which must be from 30s/40s

  12. Heather

    I’m looking to open an East end tea shop – pretty much re-instating the original style of this cafe – is it to let??

    • It is to let – there’s a mobile phone number in the window if you want to ring them, and they have put up a reproduction of the Savoy Cafe sign out the front. But it looks like a mess at the moment, they haven’t got much beyond ripping out all the interior fittings and adding crappy windows.

      • Heather

        I saw the new sign – does the gutting mean someone is taking over it? I’ll try to get hold of the number ASAP – this is EXACTLY the venue i’m after. Just pots of earl-grey, yorkshire tea and scones and crumpets.

  13. I don’t think anyone has taken over yet because it seems to have stalled for a while (so bargain hard on the rent, as a friend often tells me, there’s no love in real estate). And a cafe sounds like a fantastic idea for the spot. Maybe cream teas? mmmmmmm

    • Heather

      YES! Cream teas are my favourite so definitely a standard menu item. I was also looking at a refurbed Whitbread Ales pub-looking building near the canal at Cambridge Heath – is this residential now i wonder?

      Any other good location suggestions for this East End tea shop – much appreciated!

  14. lin

    Unfortunately this shop in Graham Road has now been turned into a kebab shop

  15. now the facade has complety gone :-(. i was honestly looking to buy that place and turn it into a local free range cafe for residents. not to be.

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