This week, the final Hackney tale, that of William Lyttle — Hackney resident, retiree and notorious tunneller.
“Do you have issues with neighbours? Not that proven stepping stone between Australia obscurity and the dizzying heights of a pantomime in Woking. Your physical neighbours. The residents of Mortimor Street in Hackney certainly did. Though their complaints had a little more depth to them.”
Watch the video and enjoy the inspired song ‘Always The Same’.
The Hackney Moleman
Do you have an issue with neighbours? I’m not talking about that stepping stone between Australian obscurity and the dizzying heights of a pantomime in Woking. I’m talking about your physical neighbours. It seems that wherever I go I’m plagued with inconsiderate residents, shouting, screaming, banging away at all hours of the night telling me to keep my music down. But for the residents of Mortimer Road, their complaints had a little more… depth to them.
William Lyttle seemed like just another ordinary Hackney citizen. Living out there as a retired electrical engineer, just getting on with things. He was always digging or banging away on his property. All home improvements he would claim. Except his roof nearly fell in several times and his house was actually pretty shabby.
The neighbours just left him to get on with it, that was until the local bus nearly disappeared into a hole in 2001. You see Mr Lyttle had a little secret. He was digging tunnels in all directions; up to 60 feet long and 20 feet deep in parts.
Of course the council had a major problem with this and ordered him to stop. Which he did. Until 2006 when he decided to start up again. By this time Hackney council had had enough. They evicted him and dragged out 30 tons of debris including two cars and a boat.
But you see know one really knows why or where William Lyttle was digging. He would about it. “Oh I was aiming for local bank but by the time I got there they had changed it to a wine bar.”
Nicknamed the Hackney Moleman, William Lyttle was the inspiration behind a character in Robert Rankin’s ‘Brentford Trilogy’ and has influenced works by Iain Sinclair. But in one final mysterious twist and an effort to curtail his activities Hackney Council housed the Moleman in a flat located in the De Beauvoir estate. With nowhere left to dig, William Lyttle died within the year.