Under the Representation of the People Act, 1918,
Leyton, previously part of the Walthamstow division, became a parliamentary borough with two
divisions, east and west. (fn. 1) Under the Representation
of the People Act, 1948, the two divisions were
combined to form a single constituency, the first
election under the new arrangement being held
in 1950. (fn. 2)
The 1918 election and by-election were won by
Liberal Coalition and Unionist Coalition candidates;
in 1922 two Conservative members were returned.
In 1923 one seat fell to Labour, the other being
retained by the sitting Conservative. The Conservatives won both seats in 1924, but lost them to
Labour in 1929. The Conservatives recovered both
seats in 1931, but lost one to Labour in 1935 and
both in 1945. (fn. 3) From 1950 to 1964 the single
constituency was held for Labour by a local nonconformist, the Revd. Reginald Sorensen, first
elected in 1929, and its representative without break
since 1935. At the 1964 general election he again
had a majority of 7,926; but he was persuaded to
accept a life peerage, to create a vacancy for the
foreign secretary, Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, who
had been defeated at Smethwick in a contest embittered by racial issues. The by-election which
followed early in 1965 produced 'the most astonishing election result since the war'. There was a
massive abstention of Labour voters, widely interpreted as resentment against the 'disposal' of Lord
Sorensen and introduction of a newcomer, and on a
low poll, the Conservative was elected by a majority
of 205. (fn. 4) Leyton returned to its Labour allegiance
at the general election in 1966, when Mr. Gordon
Walker defeated the same Conservative opponent
by a majority of 8,646. (fn. 5)
||Wilkinson, Leyton, preface, p. 64; E.R. xxvii. 61;
W. H. Weston, Story of Leyton and Leytonstone, 223.
L.B.C. Year Bk. (1950–1).
||The Leyton members are listed in the U.D.C. and B.C.
Year Bks. Their political affiliations can be traced in: Leyton
and Leytonstone Express and Independent 21 Dec. 1918;
Who's Who, 1927; E.R. xxviii. 3, 80; and Kelly's Dir.
Leytonstone, Wanstead and Snaresbrook (1925), p. A20.
Illustrated London News, 30 Jan. 1965, p. 31;
Guardian, 22 Jan. 1965; The Times, 14 Nov. 1964.
Whitaker's Almanack (1967).