Chigwell: Public services

Pages 22-23

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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The first serious attempt to improve sanitation was in 1854, when the Epping Guardians appointed a parochial committee to remove nuisances. (fn. 1) Such committees were again appointed in 1857 and 1859. (fn. 2) In 1868 the vestry decided to appoint a Sewer Authority under the Sewage Utilization Acts, 1865 and 1867, and the Sanitary Acts, 1866 and 1868. (fn. 3) Two months later it resolved to appoint members of this authority, but another resolution to form a Special Drainage District for Buckhurst Hill was withdrawn after strong opposition. (fn. 4) A sewage-disposal plant was installed at Buckhurst Hill, but the growth of this part of the parish soon overtaxed the plant. In 1876 a local doctor complained to the vestry of the filthy state of the roads, ponds, and cesspools in lower Buckhurst Hill. (fn. 5) This protest was largely instrumental in obtaining an improved plant. (fn. 6) From 1870 the local committee was controlled by the Epping Rural Sanitary Authority. (fn. 7) In 1895 the Buckhurst Hill Urban District Council became responsible for sewage disposal within its area, and the Epping Rural District in the rest of the ancient parish. (fn. 8) In 1933 the whole area was taken over by Chigwell Urban District Council.

In 1874 water was being supplied to Buckhurst Hill by the East London Waterworks Co. In that year the parish vestry tried unsuccessfully to arrange for supplies to be extended to Chigwell and Chigwell Row. (fn. 9) It made another attempt in 1879. (fn. 10) The date at which the extension took place is not known, but by 1907 Chigwell and Chigwell Row were being supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board, successor to the East London company. (fn. 11) The company had opened a reservoir at Buckhurst Hill about 1895, to replace the previous water tower. (fn. 12) A mineral spring at Chigwell Row which existed in the 18th century had fallen out of use by about 1800. (fn. 13)

The Chigwell and Woodford Bridge Gas Co. was formed in 1863 and gradually extended its area. By 1867 it was supplying gas to Buckhurst Hill. In 1873 it was reincorporated as the Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford Gas Co. Its works were in Snakes Lane, Woodford. (fn. 14) In 1912 it was taken over by the Gas Light and Coke Co. (fn. 15)

Electricity was brought to Chigwell soon after the First World War by the County of London Electric Supply Co. (fn. 16)

An unsuccessful attempt in 1792 to build a pesthouse in Chigwell is described below (see Parish Government and Poor Relief). A Village Hospital, supported by subscription, was opened at Buckhurst Hill about 1875, on the initiative of Dr. C. H. Livingstone. (fn. 17) The Medical Provident Home, Buckhurst Hill, was opened about 1890. (fn. 18) These hospitals were closed in 1912 when the Forest Hospital was opened at Buckhurst Hill. (fn. 19) This was extended in 1920 and 1930. (fn. 20) It is now administered by the Forest Hospital Management Committee. (fn. 21)

Great West Hatch was formerly a branch home of the Royal Eastern Counties Institution for Mental Defectives. (fn. 22) It was taken over by the London County Council about 1938 and is now under the South Ockendon Hospital Management Committee. (fn. 23) The neighbouring Little West Hatch is under the same management. (fn. 24) The Epping Hospital Management Committee has recently opened a Chest Clinic at Buckhurst Hill. (fn. 25)

The Female Refuge Home, Buckhurst Hill, opened about 1875 and later known as the Preventive Training Homes, under the Rescue Society for Girls, continued until 1914. (fn. 26)

A Female Benefit Society meeting at Chigwell Row was registered in 1808, and the Anchor and Hope Benefit Society meeting at Buckhurst Hill in 1832. (fn. 27)

In 1884 the vestry resolved to maintain a fire engine which was to be purchased by public subscription. (fn. 28) This was later taken over by the Buckhurst Hill Urban District Council, which built a new fire station. (fn. 29) This was closed in 1933, after the opening of the stations at Loughton and Grange Farm, Chigwell. (fn. 30)

Allotments were instituted by the parish vestry in 1867 at Grange Hill and Chigwell Row. (fn. 31)

The origin of the Chigwell Row recreation ground is mentioned below (see Agriculture). It has been taken over by the Urban District Council, which has also provided grounds near Chigwell station and at Roding Valley. The Buckhurst Hill recreation ground has also been taken over by the council. (fn. 32)


  • 1. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. The Acts were 28 & 29 Vict. (1865) c.75; 30 & 31 Vict. (1867) c. 113; 29 & 30 Vict. (1866) c.41; 31 & 32 Vict. (1868) c.115.
  • 4. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. E.R.O., D/P 166/24/20-22.
  • 7. Ibid. 166/24/1.
  • 8. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899).
  • 9. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. E.R. xvi, 57.
  • 12. Buckhurst Hill, pub. J. W. Phelp (c. 1897: a local handbook).
  • 13. Miller Christy and M. Thresh, Mineral Waters of Essex, p. 43.
  • 14. Chigwell, Loughton and Woodford Gas Act, 36-37 Vict. c.xxi (1873); E.R.O., D/P 166/11/31-33 (Rate-books).
  • 15. S. Everard, Hist. Gas Light & Coke Co. 299.
  • 16. Personal knowledge.
  • 17. Buckhurst Hill, ed. J. W. Phelp.
  • 18. Ibid. The booklet contains photos of the Village Hospital and the Provident Home.
  • 19. E.R. xxi, 224.
  • 20. E.R. xxxix. 156.
  • 21. Hospitals Dir. Eng. and Wales (1952), p. 70.
  • 22. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1933).
  • 23. Hospitals Dir. (1952), p. 77.
  • 24. Ibid.; personal knowledge.
  • 25. Hospitals Dir. (1952), p. 73.
  • 26. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878, 1914).
  • 27. E.R.O., Q/SO 20/225, 33/197, 210.
  • 28. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1899); Buckhurst Hill, ed. J. W. Phelp.
  • 30. Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell and Loughton Official Guide.
  • 31. E.R.O., D/P 166/8/11.
  • 32. Official Guide.