A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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Until the 18th century the main occupation of the parish was agriculture. In 1086 six holdings in Leyton comprised 15 hides and 30 a. (fn. 1) Seven and a half plough-teams cultivated the arable, but it was noted that two could be added to one of Robert son of Corbutio's holdings. There was woodland for 490 swine (or 19½ to each 100 a.), (fn. 2) and 149 a. of meadow. A rouncey, 15 swine, and 60 sheep completed the stock. The recorded population of 22 villeins, 19 bordars, and 2 priests had increased since 1066, when there were 16 villeins, 12 bordars, and 6 serfs. The Domesday details show that Corbutio's two holdings in the centre and north-east had deteriorated. Since 1066 6 of 7 plough-teams, 7½ fisheries, and a mill had disappeared, and the value had fallen from £7 to £3. But the smaller holding of Peter de Valognes in the south and east had improved. When he received it the only stock was 2 plough-teams, but since then a third had been added, also a rouncey and 11 swine; at 40s. the value of the holding had doubled. (fn. 3) De Montfort's holding in the south-east, adjoining Wanstead Flats, carried all the sheep listed.
The Domesday figures suggest that most of the woodland in 1086 lay in the north of the parish, where there was pasture for 310 swine on the Corbutio family's manor. (fn. 4) On the de Valognes manor in the south there was only woodland for 30 swine. (fn. 5) There is evidence of medieval forest clearance for cultivation taking place in the north-east in the names 'Degonesbraches' (1454), 'Clerks brachis' (1464), and 'Cristmassebreche' (1492). (fn. 6) In the 1590s 30 a. of woodland remained in Ruckholt manor in the south, (fn. 7) and 40 a. of woodland and 300 a. of heath and furze in Leyton manor in the north. (fn. 8) Three woods in the parish paid tithe to the vicar, Wallwood, Whitings Grove, and Ley Spring. (fn. 9) In 1604 Wallwood contained 120 a. well set with timber, though lately wasted and spoiled. (fn. 10) In 1679 it still carried 1,900 oaks and 4,000 hornbeams. (fn. 11) But by 1710 it had been felled and turned to arable and pasture. (fn. 12) So had Whitings Grove, 5 a., licensed to be felled in 1682. (fn. 13) Ley Spring was still standing in 1710 (fn. 14) and in 1721 contained 18 a.; (fn. 15) but it was gone by 1843, when a 3 a. plantation behind Assembly Row was virtually all the woodland left in the parish. (fn. 16)
Field names of about 1480 (fn. 17) imply open field cultivation in the Middle Ages. Arable fields included Northfield, Eastfield (29 a.), Broadfield (58 a.), and Cobingdowne. Cobingdowne recurs in 1648 as 7 a. called Copie Downe in the Common field, and in 1720 as 2 a. of arable in the Common field, called Copping Down. (fn. 18) Tenants' landholdings listed about 1480 included 10 of 5 a., each with 1 r. of meadow, and 4 more which were multiples of similar holdings, 3 of 10 a. with ½ a. of meadow, and 1 of 20 a. with 1 a. of meadow. (fn. 19) This uniformity of size also suggests farming in common. (fn. 20) At least one of these 5 a. holdings with 1 r. of meadow survived in 1629. (fn. 21) Similar 5 a. holdings, each paying 18d. rent, existed in 1185 on the nearby Templars' estate in Leyton and Hackney (Mdx.). There the rent for a 10 a. holding (3s.) was the same as that for half a virgate, and the rent for a virgate (6s.) was the equivalent of the rent of four 5 a. holdings, which suggests that 5 a. represented a quarter virgate in a hide of 80 a. (fn. 22) But by 1480 references to crofts, including one of 5 a., show inclosure taking place; and 19 a. called Prests croft, lying in 5 crofts in Le Brache, show cleared woodland being cultivated in severalty. (fn. 23) In 1537–8 seven tenants were paying rents of assize for Leyton manor demesne once held in 67 parcels, but by then alienated and amalgamated. (fn. 24)
Leyton's open arable fields did not survive, but some of the marshland continued to be held in common, and common pasture rights on the marsh and on the forest were an integral part of Leyton's farming until conditions changed in the late 19th century. The whole marshland was probably open in the Middle Ages. Haliwell Priory's demesne included an acre in parcels in Ruckholt common mead, later known as Townham or Tumbling mead. (fn. 25) In the 17th century Tumbling mead was still held in parcels varying from 1 r. to 6 a.; parcels combined in ownership were described in 1614 as lying together or lying dispersed in the common meadow. (fn. 26) All the Ruckholt marsh was, however, inclosed by 1747, when only 184 a. of 451 a. of marshland in the parish remained open, all in Leyton manor. (fn. 27)
The strips on the surviving open marsh, or lammas land, are shown on a map reduced in 1818 from the map made in 1747, and on the tithe map of 1843. (fn. 28) Wooden posts marked the boundaries of the plots, (fn. 29) which were occupied in severalty from April to August, when they were thrown open. (fn. 30) Leyton's inhabitants intercommoned with Walthamstow, (fn. 31) the northern portion of the Leyton marshes being known as Walthamstow Common mead. (fn. 32) In the 17th century the Leyton cattle were usually turned in on Lammas Day (1 August), (fn. 33) and probably remained until Lady Day (25 March). After the alteration of the calendar in 1752 (fn. 34) apparently Leyton continued to turn in the cattle on 1 August (New Lammas Day), (fn. 35) not, as in Walthamstow, on Old Lammas Day (13 August). (fn. 36) But the marshes were closed, as in Walthamstow, on Old Lady Day (6 April). (fn. 37) Grazing rights were considered in 1876 to belong to the inhabitants generally, without regard to tenements. (fn. 38)
The value of the marsh to its several owners lay in the hay crop. (fn. 39) When, as in 1663, 1709, and 1713, rain flooded the marshes, preventing mowing and gathering the hay by the customary date, a general meeting of parishioners set a later date to open the marsh. (fn. 40) The marsh reeve (hayward, bailiff, or marshal) was a manorial officer, often the inhabitants' nominee, and apparently appointed for life. In 1754 the inhabitants forwarded their nomination to the lords of both manors, but later the office was always associated with Leyton manor. (fn. 41) In 1876 the reeve occupied the lord's cottage at the marsh gate in Marsh Lane. His main duty was to mark the cattle, (fn. 42) and by 1876 he kept the marking fees, formerly the lord's perquisite. (fn. 43)
The commoners' rights were jealously guarded. To protect owners living in Hackney (Mdx.), the Lea Bridge Turnpike Act of 1757 exempted from tolls their carts driven across the bridge to collect hay from Leyton, and their horses and cattle driven across to pasture. (fn. 44) When the Northern and Eastern railway company acquired part of the marsh in 1838–9, the company had to build a cattle way under the line. (fn. 45) Of 28 a. taken at the time about 5 a. comprised lammas land; (fn. 46) in 1841 the commoners decided to use the compensation paid for their loss of rights in these acres to pay the parish share of building the union workhouse. (fn. 47) In 1854 the Inclosure Commissioners agreed that the compensation negotiated for 15 a. of lammas land taken by the East London Waterworks Co. should be invested on behalf of the Leyton and Leytonstone national schools. (fn. 48) The compensation negotiated by a commoners' committee in 1868 for a further 25 a. taken by the waterworks company, (fn. 49) and for some 10 a. taken by the Great Eastern Railway Co. in the 1870s (fn. 50) was also invested. In 1884 the stock was handed over to the local board, sold, and the James Lane recreation ground bought in 1885 with the proceeds. (fn. 51)
In 1890 the waterworks company, assuming that they could, if necessary, take powers to compel the sale of lammas rights over a further 6 a. bought by them, laid rails to their new filter beds, crossing a bridlepath, and put up fences. The commoners, already agitating for the marsh to be preserved as an open space, refused to sell their rights. On Lammas Day, 1892, when the company had failed to remove the rails and fence, the people of Leyton, led by a member of the local board, tore them up. The company took proceedings against the commoners, who retaliated by appointing a Lammas Lands Defence Committee to oppose the parliamentary Bill promoted by the company. Compromise was reached in 1893, and confirmed by the East London Waterworks Act, 1894. The company withdrew all claim to inclose any part of the marsh, stayed its proceedings, and paid all costs, with £100 to improve the bridleway. In return the rails were allowed to remain. (fn. 52)
By 1893 over 65 a. of lammas land had been bought and dislammased, and only some III a. remained. (fn. 53) The commoners' committee campaigned tirelessly for their preservation. (fn. 54) As Leyton became suburban lammas rights ceased to have economic value and were hardly exercised. Under the Leyton U.D.C. Act, 1904, the council was empowered to acquire the remaining lammas lands as open spaces and recreation grounds, provided the commoners accepted extinguishment of their rights. (fn. 55) This was agreed at a thinly attended public meeting early in 1905. (fn. 56) The last compensation claims were settled by 1909. (fn. 57) In 1920 a small balance of funds held by surviving members of the commoners' committee was handed to the urban district council to endow a prize for schoolchildren. (fn. 58)
The right to pasture horses and cattle on all open and commonable places in Waltham Forest was claimed by the lords of the manors of Leyton and Ruckholt for themselves and their tenants in 1630 and 1653. (fn. 59) The owner of Temple Mills claimed similar rights. (fn. 60) The owner of Knotts claimed them not only in the vill and wastes adjoining but also throughout the 'lawn' or sheep-pasture. (fn. 61) The Leyton lawn may have originated in the grant made in 1189 to Stratford Abbey of the right to pasture 960 sheep on the heath between Ham Frith and Walthamstow without interference of the forester. (fn. 62) The Upper Walk and Nether Walk, comprising 16 a. by Whitings Grove, were included among parcels of the farm called Knotts sold in 1576. (fn. 63) Pannage for swine was claimed for Leyton manor and Knotts in 1630 (fn. 64) and for Ruckholt manor in 1653. (fn. 65) It was also claimed in the mid 17th century by the leaseholder of the Forest House estate, (fn. 66) with pasture and gravel rights. (fn. 67)
The beasts put on the forest were marked by the parish reeve with the Leyton mark. (fn. 68) Another of the reeve's duties was to see that uncommonable beasts, like goats, were taken off the forest or impounded. (fn. 69) In 1871 the Leyton reeve claimed to mark one horse or two cows for every £4 rent, at a fee of 3d. a head, and valued his office at £12 a year. (fn. 70)
Like the lammas rights, the forest pasture rights ceased by the late 19th century to have any economic value. In 1871, when the Epping Forest proceedings were launched against the lords of the forest manors (fn. 71) about 80 Leyton commoners filed claims to pasture rights, but only 15 of them had ever exercised them, (fn. 72) and in 1873 it was stated that for many years not more than a dozen beasts had been turned out by commoners. (fn. 73) After the Epping Forest Act, 1878, the parish kept its right to nominate a reeve for appointment by the Conservators, (fn. 74) but by 1960 the office was mainly honorary. (fn. 75)
In 1599 the manor of Leyton was said to contain 200 a. of arable, 260 a. of meadow, and 420 a. of pasture. (fn. 76) This predominance of grass in the centre and north-east of the parish continued, an ideal setting for the planned pleasure grounds and plantations of Leyton's wealthier residents. (fn. 77) In 1843, when private gardens occupied 148 a. in the parish, most of the larger householders also owned many acres of meadowland beyond their grounds. (fn. 78) In the south and east of the parish, however, arable predominated. In 1592 Ruckholt manor was said to contain 150 a. of arable, 44 a. of meadow, and 24 a. of pasture. (fn. 79) On Ruckholt and Warren farms in 1807 there were 142 a. of arable to 90 a. of meadow and pasture; (fn. 80) and in 1843, 194 a. of arable to 74 a. of meadow. (fn. 81) On Wallwood farm in 1777 there were 98 a. of arable to 56 a. of grass, (fn. 82) and in 1843 97 a. of arable to 24 a. of meadow. (fn. 83) In the whole parish arable and meadow were said in 1796 to be about equal, (fn. 84) but by 1843 there were 912 a. of grass to 605 a. of arable. (fn. 85) This increase of grassland may explain why proportionately fewer families were supported by agriculture in 1831 than in 1811, and why a slight decrease in population in 1831 was attributed to families leaving the parish for want of employment. (fn. 86)
Leyton's produce helped to supply London. The parish was assigned, with Hackney (Mdx.), to Thomas Arundel, as chancellor in 1387 and as archbishop of York in 1389, for the livery of his household in the city, because he owned no lordships or towns near by. (fn. 87) A similar assignment was made in 1401 for life to the king's son Thomas. (fn. 88) In 1612 it was stated that market people travelled across the Leyton marshes four days a week to London, by way of Lockbridge and Hackney. (fn. 89) In 1775 there were three nurserymen and eight market-gardeners in Leyton. (fn. 90) One of these was Spencer Turner (d. 1776), the gardener-botanist, whose nursery at Holloway Down, between Irish Lane and the Thatched House in Wanstead, was established about 1761. (fn. 91) In 1796 nurseries occupied 25 a., and a further 200 a. of arable were usually cropped with potatoes. (fn. 92) Potato cropping brought the Irish into the parish. Numbers of them were there by 1766. (fn. 93) By 1815 the present Langthorne Road was known as Irish Lane. (fn. 94) By 1819 the winter distress of seasonally employed Irish was overburdening the poor rate. (fn. 95)
In 1839 potatoes, turnips, green peas, green clover, and tares were being grown for London consumption, while all the marshland and two-thirds of the upland grass were being mown, sometimes twice, for hay. (fn. 96) A watercress-grower is mentioned in 1863 and 1882. (fn. 97) In 1843 nurseries occupied some 29 a. (fn. 98) The Holloway Down nursery was sold to the Victoria Land and Settlement Co. in 1865 (fn. 99) and built over. Pamplin's nursery at Black Marsh farm, Lea Bridge Road, was given up soon after 1870; Finlay Fraser's nursery, Lea Bridge Road, and the American nursery of Protheroe & Morris in Leytonstone High Road, flourished until the early 1890s. (fn. 100)
Graziers are first mentioned in 1660, when Wallwood was leased with 173 a. to a Leyton grazier, at a rent of £100. (fn. 101) A Leicestershire grazier occupied Wallwood farm from 1778. (fn. 102) The annual market for Welsh, Scottish, and north of England cattle, held on the forest flats from late February to early May, (fn. 103) attracted dealers such as Thomas and Charles Burrell. Settled in Leyton by 1839, in 1843 they occupied 85 a. of meadow, besides a quantity of arable. (fn. 104) They bought Scottish cattle, drove them south, and turned them out on the forest to fatten before sale. (fn. 105) The Burrells, who ceased business between 1863 and 1870, (fn. 106) lived in Leyton, but by 1873 there were said to be more cattle on the forest belonging to strangers than those of the neighbourhood. (fn. 107)
In 1843 Ruckholt farm, with Warren, comprised over 200 a., Wallwood farm over 100 a., and seven others between 40 a. and 70 a. (fn. 108) As farms were sold for suburban building, cowkeepers replaced farmers, supplying milk to the new population. One was listed in 1870, two in 1872, and by 1882 there were fourteen. (fn. 109) But by 1905 only 20 a. of arable and 175 a. of permanent grass remained, (fn. 110) and by 1912 only one cowkeeper. (fn. 111)
From the 18th century Leyton's wealthy residents, with their fine houses and spacious grounds, employed so many servants and small tradesmen that the church could not hold them all. (fn. 112) The gentry's requirements explain the existence, in 1775, of a milliner and dancing-master, (fn. 113) and in 1832 of two hairdressers, six milliners, dress- and strawhat-makers, a portrait painter, a professor of music, and a bird-stuffer. (fn. 114) In 1811 the families supported by trade, manufacture, or handicraft exceeded in number those supported by agriculture. (fn. 115) In 1831 about 11 per cent of the total population were employed as servants. (fn. 116)
Gravel-digging and brick- and tile-making are mentioned from the 17th century. (fn. 117) There were brickfields in the Walthamstow Slip and in Ruckholt manor, (fn. 118) where brickearth was dug under manorial licence. (fn. 119) A brickyard was rated in Leyton in 1775. (fn. 120) William Rhodes of Leyton Grange, brickmaker, took out a patent in 1833 for the improved manufacture of bricks. (fn. 121) Several brick manufacturers occur in the late 19th century. (fn. 122)
A brewhouse with its vessels and utensils is mentioned in 1449. (fn. 123) A brewery rated in Leyton in 1775 and 1812 (fn. 124) may have been the one in Leyton High Road (fn. 125) listed from 1823 to 1848. (fn. 126) Four alehouses were licensed in 1579, 3 of them in Leytonstone. (fn. 127) By 1631 there were 5. (fn. 128) The vestry tried in 1757 to limit their numbers, but by 1766 8 were rated. (fn. 129) By 1863 there were 11 inns and 6 beerhouses. (fn. 130) In 1911 Leyton had one public house to every 3,564 of the population. (fn. 131)
Leyton had 9½ fisheries on the Lea in 1066, but none in 1086. (fn. 132) There was a mill on Harold's manor of Leyton in 1066, but none in 1086. (fn. 133) There was also a mill before 1066 on Swein the swarthy's manor (Ruckholt), but in 1086 it was said to have been taken away. (fn. 134) This may have been the mill said to have been given by Swein's nephew, Aelfnoth, to Westminster Abbey, (fn. 135) and, if so, it was the mill in Leyton held of the abbey by Ralph Baynard in 1086. (fn. 136) That mill is treated under West Ham. (fn. 137)
Temple Mills, on the West Ham boundary, originated before 1185 in a grant made to the Knights Templars by William of Hastings, steward to Henry II, of a tract of meadow and marsh on or near the river Lea; this was later identified as lying in Hackney (Mdx.) and included some meadow in St. Mary Hope in Leyton. In 1185 the Templars seem to have had no mill in Leyton or Hackney, but by 1278 they had a water-mill in Leyton. (fn. 138) In 1308 this mill, held of the king and valued at £1 6s. 8d., adjoined another of the same value in Hackney, both being under one roof. (fn. 139) After the dissolution of the Order of Templars the mills passed to the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, being held of the manor of Hackney. (fn. 140) The Order of St. John was dissolved in 1540, (fn. 141) and though reconstituted in Mary's reign and its former lands and liberties in Leyton restored in 1558, (fn. 142) its possessions were again annexed to the Crown in the following reign. In 1593 the mills were leased to Clement Goldsmith for 40 years. There were still two water-mills under one roof, one each in Leyton and Hackney, called Ruckholt Mills and Temple Mills; with them were held adjoining meadows and a plot where a leather mill had once stood, with the watercourse belonging to it. (fn. 143) About this time a powder mill was built near the old mills, apparently on the site of the leather mill. (fn. 144) This was one of several early powder mills in the neighbourhood. (fn. 145) When it blew up it was replaced by a 'cutters' mill, which was decayed by 1628. (fn. 146) The mills were still held by the Crown in 1608, (fn. 147) but at some date thereafter, perhaps when the Crown lease ran out in 1633, they were acquired by Richard Trafford, whose son John leased them in 1637 to Abraham Baker. Baker had already been the tenant for over ten years; he had enlarged and modified the two old mills, and about 1627 built new ones, probably on the leather mill plot, to grind rape seed and smalt. In 1637 he was operating starch, oil, and smalt mills. (fn. 148) In 1680 the mills belonged to the Samyne family, who sold them soon after. (fn. 149) Some time before 1720 the mills were acquired by a company formed in 1695 to manufacture brass kettles and tin and latten plates. (fn. 150) A logwood mill also belonged to the Temple Mills in 1706, perhaps on the leather mill plot. (fn. 151) In 1738 a machine was patented by Adrian van Bommenaer, manufacturer of Low Leyton, for twining and twisting yarn into thread for superfine lace and cambrics. (fn. 152) This manufacture was to be carried out in part of premises acquired by two of his partners, Conrad de Smith and George Heathcote, 'at or near' Leyton. (fn. 153) This was a mill, since Conrad de Smith was ordered to draw his sluices in 1740, (fn. 154) and as it appears to have been close to Temple Mills, it was probably the logwood mill. By 1757 the brass works had been superseded by the manufacture of sheet lead (fn. 155) which was still in operation in 1814. (fn. 156) A reference in 1770, however, implies that the mills also ground corn. (fn. 157) From about 1821 to 1826 the mills were unoccupied, (fn. 158) but from about 1829 to 1832 were being used for flockmaking. (fn. 159) In 1834 the mills were again disused and in the following year the Leyton premises were acquired by the East London Waterworks Company. (fn. 160) The mills, which were principally of wood, spanned the stream adjoining the White Hart in Hackney. (fn. 161) They were pulled down by 1854. (fn. 162)
There was a post mill near Phillebrook in 1739, (fn. 163) but it is not shown on maps of 1748 or 1777. (fn. 164) A windmill was listed at Leytonstone about 1840 (fn. 165) but does not appear on the tithe map in 1843. (fn. 166)
Obnoxious trades never gained a foothold in Leyton. A soap-boiler was rated near Holloway Down, Leytonstone, in 1775, (fn. 167) but in 1800, when the stench from a slaughtering and boiling-house there was considered unwholesome, the vestry ordered the proprietor to move. (fn. 168) When the British Land Co. developed the same area in 1871 a covenant banned noxious trades and manufactures. (fn. 169) The only offensive trade reported in 1885 was fish-frying. (fn. 170)
Modern industry developed mainly in north-west Leyton, notably in Lea Bridge Road and Church Road, and in the neighbourhood of the two High Roads, often occupying disused buildings such as mission halls and schools. It never became so well established in Leytonstone as in Leyton. (fn. 171) In 1879 no factory of any size existed. (fn. 172) The growing industry then was the building trade, which absorbed over 10 per cent of Leyton's occupied males by 1891. (fn. 173) In 1902 only four factories employed more than 40 hands: E. R. Alexander & Sons, printers, A. G. Martin, bootmakers, Shenstone & Co. Ltd., pianoforte manufacturers, and the London Electric Wire Co. (fn. 174) A Leyton printer was listed in 1859 and printing has been a well-established local trade since 1872. Martin's boot factory, and two others completed in 1910–11, (fn. 175) introduced an industry which took root; modern footwear firms include the large Arcola Shoe Works Ltd. in Leyton High Road. A pianoforte-maker was listed in 1848 (fn. 176) and ivory cutters or pianoforte key makers in 1872, 1882, and 1905. Shenstone's, established in 1870, and one of three firms making pianos in 1905, ceased manufacture about 1926. (fn. 177) An ivory turner's business, G. W. Ellis, in existence by 1905, making billiard balls, survived to the 1950s. The London Electric Wire Co. Ltd., established in 1899, grew rapidly, (fn. 178) merging about 1912 with Thomas Smith's Leytonstone wire works as the London Electric Wire Co. & Smith's Ltd. By 1921 the company, manufacturing electric cables, wire, and flex, employed 1,306 workers. (fn. 179) In the 1960s it was the largest employer of labour in Leyton, and the largest manufacturer of insulated wire in Europe. One small early firm, which built organs, was founded in 1899 by R. Spurden Rutt, and remained unique. (fn. 180) Many well-known churches, including the City Temple and Chapel Royal, Greenwich, and over 50 churches in Essex and Middlesex, had their organs built or rebuilt by Rutt. The business closed about 1960 after the death of the founder.
Leyton was still reported in 1932 to have comparatively few factories, (fn. 181) but since 1902 the clothing trade, engineering and tool-making, and the manufacture of packaging materials and soft drinks had all spread. A shirt manufacturer was listed in 1872. By 1905 many small firms made blouses, mantles, and underclothing. About 1927 the Bow Shirt Manufacturing Co. opened new works in Leyton; hosiery and knitwear firms followed by 1937. (fn. 182) Over 20 firms were in production by 1957, the largest being Aquascutum (Manufacturers) Ltd. Specialist firms included John Roberts & Sons (Embroidery) Ltd., established over 30 years before, and M. M. Shire Ltd., fur dressers and dyers. The manufacture of neckties, introduced after 1945, by 1966 was being carried on by eight firms. Horticultural engineers and a manufacturer of flour-making machinery were listed in 1872. Other engineering firms, some electrical, soon followed. Acme Seals Ltd., making lead seals, founded in 1903, were still in production in the 1960s. The machine tool industry, established since the 1920s, is carried on today by such firms as Leytool Ltd. A box-maker and a cardboard-manufacturer existed in 1872. Between the two wars the foundation of D. Smith and Sons, followed by C. H. G. Jourdan, expanded the manufacture of cardboard cartons. Smith's were taken over by British Celylind Ltd. about 1960. (fn. 183) One mineral water company existed in 1882; by 1905 there were five. This trade, however, declined. By 1957 only one firm, Biddle & Gingell, established about 1926, survived; they were still in production in the 1960s. Several specialist firms founded before the First World War were still in production in the 1960s: Hedley & Co., manufacturing ethyl chloride, were established by 1905; Drew, Clark & Co. (patent extension ladders), founded in 1901, moved to Leyton in 1907 (fn. 184) and the Caribonum Co. Ltd. (carbon paper and typewriter ribbons) was founded shortly before 1912.
New industries were established between the two world wars, and the Leyton and Leytonstone Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1930. Glassware was being manufactured by 1927. Ascott's of West Ham opened a branch factory in Leyton High Road about 1927, making billiard tables. A boiled-sweet factory opened in 1930, and Copeland & Jenkins Ltd. in 1933 introduced the manufacture of plastic products. In 1938 Thermos Ltd. (vacuum flasks) moved from Tottenham to a new factory at Leyton; this was enlarged in 1947, but closed in 1961 when the firm moved to Brentwood. (fn. 185) The manufacture of furniture, introduced in the mid 1930s, has expanded since 1945, including antique reproductions. In the 1950s factories were opened by Ilford Ltd. for photographic materials (fn. 186) and Potter and Moore Ltd. for perfumery. As a result in the increase in local industry in 1921–51, the number of people working in Leyton increased about 40 per cent, even though the occupied resident population declined. (fn. 187)
From the mid 19th century many workers found employment in service industries, (fn. 188) particularly the railways. (fn. 189) In 1897 the wagon department of the Great Eastern Railway's works at Stratford was moved to Temple Mills, and by 1912 employed 600 men. (fn. 190) The marshalling yard at Temple Mills grew steadily and when a £3½ million modernization scheme was completed in 1958, with electronic automatic controls, became not only the largest in Britain but the most up to date in the world. (fn. 191) The wagon works were modernized at the same time. (fn. 192) There has been remarkable growth in the present century, too, in the laundry and drycleaning business, and in the motor vehicle service industry. By 1961 more workers were employed in service industries than on production. (fn. 193)
The original drainage of the Leyton marshes has traditionally been attributed to King Alfred's manœuvres to outwit the Danes in 895. (fn. 194) There is no evidence to support this. The agriculture of the marshland is described elsewhere. (fn. 195) From 1604 the commissioners of sewers for Thames-side from West Ham to Mucking taxed the Leyton level. (fn. 196) This may represent an extension of the commissioners' jurisdiction, as the level is not included in the 1563 survey of their levels and does not appear to have been rated before 1604.
A map was made of the level in 1747, distinguishing open and inclosed marsh, and surveys of 1818 and 1850 were based on it. Stretching from Walthamstow to Temple Mills Lane the level's eastern boundary was virtually the large ditch or common sewer which, as the Dagenham commissioners' sewer, came to be known in the late 19th century as the Dagenham brook. As its western boundary was the river Lea the level included nearly 60 a. of Hackney marsh, between the Waterworks river and the Lea. In Leyton the level comprised some 451 a., of which 184 a. were open in 1747 and 181 a. in 1850. (fn. 197) In 1748 it was suggested that the uplands which drained into the common sewer on the east might also be liable to tax, but no enlargement of the level followed.
The level was rated for its own needs and was supervised by its own marsh jury, who made their presentments at the court of sewers. (fn. 198) The commissioners appointed a collector and 'expenditor', and a marsh bailiff to see that the court's orders were carried out. The latter appointment was not the same as that of manorial marsh bailiff or reeve. (fn. 199) The level's acreage rate in the 17th and 18th centuries was usually only a few pence, compared with the shillings or even pounds paid by the Thamesside levels. This was because the commissioners maintained no walls or banks to protect the level from flooding by the Lea. Their concern was to keep drainage channels flowing, in particular the Dagenham brook. This was often blocked. Of 22 orders made in 1696 20 were to cut, drag, and scour, and the other 2 to repair marsh footbridges, which the commissioners also supervised. The marshes were always liable to flood with excessive rain, as in 1663, when they were under water on Lammas Day, (fn. 200) and with spring tides. There were many complaints in the 16th and 17th centuries against the millers at Temple Mills for penning up the water at such times, flooding the marshes, instead of pulling up the flood gates. (fn. 201)
In the 19th century the character of the marshland changed. Many acres were bought and built on by railway, water, and gas undertakings. With the spread of domestic building in the Lea Bridge Road and Grange Park districts in the 1860s, and the use of natural watercourses as household drains, pollution of the marshland channels set the commissioners a new problem. With the upland draining to the marsh, the Dagenham brook became foul not only with Leyton's sewage, but with Walthamstow's as well. The commissioners' efforts to clean the brook were supported by the Lee conservancy board, who had statutory powers to prevent sewage draining into the Lea or its tributaries. (fn. 202) The Leyton vestry and local board faced repeated remonstrance from both bodies from 1870, (fn. 203) with peremptory letters and threats of proceedings. In 1883 the commissioners, satisfied at last with the local board's schemes for sewage disposal, (fn. 204) authorized connexion of the board's new works to the Dagenham brook for discharge to the Waterworks river, subject to satisfactory reports on the treated effluent. (fn. 205) Complaints that untreated sewage was entering the brook from Walthamstow persisted up to 1895, but pressure from both marsh juries and from the commissioners, the Lee conservancy, and the Leyton local board and district council, eventually ended the nuisance. (fn. 206)
Under the Land Drainage Act, 1930, responsibility for the Leyton marshes passed from the commissioners of sewers to the Lee conservancy catchment board. (fn. 207) In 1938 the board took powers to alleviate flooding in the Lea valley. (fn. 208) The scheme, which included construction of a flood relief channel from Tottenham marsh to Leyton, widening the Lea between Leyton and Hackney, demolishing Temple Mills Road bridge, and filling in the Waterworks river, (fn. 209) was delayed by the Second World War. The Waterworks river still flowed alongside Quartermile Lane in 1950, but was filled in by 1952. (fn. 210) The Dagenham brook was diverted under the railway to the Lea. Work on the Leyton section of the flood relief channel, diverting the old Shortlands sewer to an outfall at The Friends, was completed in the late 1950s, (fn. 211) and the rest soon after. (fn. 212)
Leyton parish lay wholly in the ancient Forest of Essex. (fn. 213) In the Middle Ages it was in the bailiwick of Becontree hundred. (fn. 214) When smaller 'walks' replaced bailiwicks in the 16th century, Leyton became part of Leyton and Wanstead walk, with the Romford-Bow road as its southern boundary. (fn. 215) Beyond the Bow road lay the Leyton 'purlieu' whose rangers' duty was to drive back into Leyton walk wild beasts straying out of the forest. (fn. 216) There was a forest lodge in the walk belonging to the Crown; it was repaired in 1725 at a cost of £151. (fn. 217) It stood on the south-west part of the lower forest (Wanstead Flats), in the vicinity of the present Sidney Road, in line with the avenue leading to Lake House, Wanstead. (fn. 218)
In 1541 Richard Barnes was granted for life the office of keeper of Leyton walk, which John Holland had held. (fn. 219) In 1558 Barnes forfeited the office for killing about 50 deer in three years without warrant, and Thomas Powle was granted the office, also for life. (fn. 220) Subsequent chief foresters or keepers are listed by W. R. Fisher. (fn. 221)
In the mid 16th century the woodward of Wallwood in Leyton manor was appointed by the Crown for life and was entitled to an annual fee charged on the manor of Leyton; the appointment was probably made by Stratford Abbey before the Dissolution. (fn. 222) The lord of Ruckholt manor claimed in the 17th century to appoint his own woodward, though he had to be sworn at the forest court. (fn. 223)
The Leyton reeve is first mentioned in 1489 with the 'Fourmen' who assisted him. (fn. 224) He was nominated by the vestry, but appointed and sworn by the Forty Day Court, to which he was responsible. (fn. 225) He kept the parish marking-iron, the Leyton mark being an 'N' surmounted by a crown. (fn. 226)
The deer were preserved for royal sport. Elizabeth I killed a buck in Leyton walk in 1591, as did the French ambassador and the king of Portugal. (fn. 227) The number of deer in the walk at the time varied from 3 fawns to 30 head. (fn. 228) Sir William Hicks entertained Charles II at Ruckholt after hunting. (fn. 229) By that time the deer were diminishing, and in 1670 Sir William, as lieutenant of the forest, was fined £50 for not enforcing a warrant for restraint in destroying them, and allowing them to be killed, particularly for himself. (fn. 230) The deer continued to dwindle. By 1844 the under-keeper was uncertain whether the walk still harboured a brace or not. (fn. 231) In 1872 the Leyton manor bailiff remembered no deer on the Leyton waste for 20 years. (fn. 232)
Slaughter of the deer, clearance of the woodland that sheltered them, (fn. 233) and inclosure of their feeding grounds, all contributed to their extinction. Most early inclosures probably still allowed the deer entry. The original licence granted to Stratford Abbey in 1248 to inclose the wood of Leyton, (fn. 234) later known as Wallwood, (fn. 235) reserved free passage in and out for the deer. It was the subsequent emparking and disafforestation of 1253 that shut them out. (fn. 236) By the late 17th century the gentry were being licensed to replace with brick walls the ditches and pales which had previously inclosed their gardens and orchards without keeping out the deer. (fn. 237) Thenceforward the forest waste in Leyton appears to have been gradually whittled away, an acre or rood or two at a time, to build a cottage or house, or enlarge a garden or forecourt. (fn. 238) Between 1700 and 1850 31 grants and inclosures of waste in Leyton manor amounted to little more than 10 a., and 12 grants in Ruckholt to under 3 a. (fn. 239) But it was enough to rouse anxiety in the inhabitants, and by the mid 18th century the vestry's consent to inclosure was required, as well as licence from the lord of the manor and the forest court. An inclosure made in 1766 against the wishes of the vestry cost the offender £100 in compensation to the poor, (fn. 240) and in 1767 the occupant of a recent inclosure was warned to remove his pales and level his ditches if he did not wish 'the proper persons having common right on the forest' to do so for him. (fn. 241) In 1805 the vestry resolved that satisfactory payments to provide bread for the poor should in future be a condition of consent. (fn. 242)
In 1843 there still remained 237 a. of common or waste in the parish. (fn. 243) But in 1856 Viscount Wellesley bought the Crown's forest rights in the manors of Ruckholt, Woodford, and Wanstead for £1,891, (fn. 244) and this purchase was followed between 1857 and 1869 by 22 inclosures made in Ruckholt manor containing over 41 a. (fn. 245) This compared with 11 grants of waste and inclosures totalling only 2 a. between 1800 and 1850. (fn. 246) No inclosures had been made in Leyton manor between 1850 and 1870 (fn. 247) but the lord, who claimed the right to dig turf and gravel, had exercised the latter right extensively, supplying the parish surveyor and the turnpike trustees; (fn. 248) Samuel Bosanquet, as owner of Forest House, had also dug gravel. (fn. 249)
By 1870, while 136 a. of waste, still subject to Crown rights, remained open in Leyton manor, only 35 a., released from Crown rights, remained open in Ruckholt. (fn. 250) Under the Epping Forest Act, 1878, 212 a. in Leyton were preserved as part of the forest and dedicated to the public. (fn. 251) Excursions to the forest were already popular; on one day in 1874 the Leyton surveyor counted as many as 90 pleasure vans driving to the forest along Lea Bridge Road. (fn. 252) Two islands of forest waste at Leyton Green and Harrow Green were handed over to the Leyton local board in 1883 to be maintained as ornamental inclosures, the soil remaining vested in the forest conservators. (fn. 253)