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History of Leytonstone

  • council: Waltham Forest
  • phone code: 020
  • postcode area: E11, E15
  • county: Greater London

When you walk along Leytonstone High Road you are walking in the footsteps of some famous and at least one infamous people.

The High Road has always been a gateway to London and has been trodden by countless millions from the 10th Roman Legion over two thousand years ago to the latter day legions of men and women who work in the City of London and Docklands.

Famous people that have first set foot in Leytonstone include Sir Alfred Hitchcock, David Beckham and Jonathon Ross but perhaps even more important are the tens of thousands of people who have made Leytonstone their home.

One infamous person who passed through Leytonstone and reputably stayed at the Green Man (now O’Neill’s) was Essex born Highwayman Dick Turpin on route to Norwich and eventually his appointment with the Hangman at York in 1739

Leytonstone is thought to have taken its name from a Roman military distance marker and is shown on maps from early times as “Leyton Stone”. The stone is still there to be seen at the junction of Holly Bush Hill and New Wanstead Road, it was moved from its original location when the roads were improved.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is currently involved in a massive Borough-wide regeneration project and is demonstrating its total commitment to Leytonstone as the gateway to the re-vitalised East End. As “Town Talk Leytonstone” goes live (April 2005) the whole area and the Country is waiting for the exciting outcome of London’s Olympic Bid.

Shopping is the lifeblood of any town centre and it’s the same in Leytonstone. An amazing array of shops, pubs and restaurants stretch the length of High Road.

In Leytonstone you can enjoy the benefits of shopping in the top high street stores and stock up at the best supermarkets. But you can also enjoy shopping at friendly smaller shops that have often been in the same family for generations, flowers, exotic fruits, jewellery and even good old-fashioned brushes and brooms, the choice is endless.

The local Council is committed to bringing new businesses to Leytonstone whilst valuing the established shops and other businesses.

You are never far from a good pub, café or restaurant offering drinks and menus from around the world, there is even a good choice of Internet Cafés where people keep in touch with their friends and relatives whilst enjoying a coffee.

Leytonstone enjoys the best of both worlds with pubs that in the 18th Century were stopping places for the Norwich Stage Coach. The Red Lion Pub (now called Zulus) was earlier known as the Robin Hood. As Leytonstone did not have a Town Hall the Red Lion was used as a meeting and social gathering place. You need to look at the building from the other side of the road to see just how impressive it really is.

One of Leytonstone’s newest restaurants is the modern McDonalds, its spacious interior, café McDonalds and fantastic children’s indoor play area are a popular meeting place for the whole community. McDonalds is also an excellent example of how businesses are ready and willing to invest in Leytonstone’s future

St Johns Church, built in 1833 but with many additions, still stands as a focal point and meeting place for Leytonstone, its spire is easy to locate from around the town and the churchyard puts on a wonderful display of daffodils, every year, right in the town centre.

Several of the photos on this website show huge cranes in use, always an indication that investment and building are important to a town. A walk along Leytonstone High Road reveals an amazing amount of investment in new housing, not just by the Council but also by top name developers, who recognise the unique geographical position the Town enjoys.

Leytonstone has always been at the forefront of housing and in the late 19th Century actually had a reputation as the fastest growing town in England. During the decade 1870-1880 over 700 houses a year were built in Leytonstone. Many of the workers’ houses enjoyed features such as front gardens and bay windows, unusual for those times.

Leytonstone is a town proud of its past and has an eye firmly on a bright new future, it boasts enviable road, rail and tube links but above all a Town with tens of thousands of residents prepared to work in a partnership that is fuelled by the spirit of London’s Eastend.

History is all around you in Leytonstone, often you simply have to look above the bright modern shop fronts. You can find out more about Leytonstone’s history from your local library, Waltham Forest Civic Society or the excellent web-site mainted by the Leytonstone Festival.

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