Walthamstow: Transport and postal services

Pages 250-251

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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In 1707 John Gibson of Walthamstow ran a stagecoach service between Walthamstow and Leyton, (fn. 1) perhaps the business in Marsh Street sold in 1758 by Joseph Schooling. (fn. 2) Schooling's business was probably bought by Francis Wragg, who was rated in Marsh Street from 1759 and was certainly operating coaches by 1761. By 1826 Wragg's coaches ran seven times daily to London. After 1840 the Wraggs also ran a horse bus service to the railway station at Lea Bridge. Wragg's coaches still ran five times daily to Leyton, Lea Bridge, Stratford, and London in 1863, but ceased operating soon after 1870. (fn. 3)

A branch railway line from Lea Bridge to Shernhall Street was opened by the Great Eastern in 1870, with other stations at St. James Street and Hoe Street. (fn. 4) In 1872 the Great Eastern line from Bethnal Green through Hackney Downs and Clapton was linked to the Walthamstow line at Hall Farm junction. It was continued to Chingford in 1873, when Wood Street replaced Shernhall Street station and Hale End station (Highams Park from 1894) was opened. In 1885 a northern spur linked Hall Farm junction with Coppermill junction on the Broxbourne line. The Chingford line was electrified in 1960, when the northern spur was removed; the Lea Bridge spur was removed in 1967. The Midland railway's Tottenham and Forest Gate line, completed in 1894, had stations at Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow (Edinburgh Road). It became dieseloperated in 1960. London Transport opened the Victoria underground line between Warren Street and Walthamstow in 1968, with stations at Hoe Street, renamed Walthamstow Central, and Blackhorse Road. The line was completed to Victoria in 1969.

Horse trams were operated in Lea Bridge Road in the 1880s by the Lea Bridge, Leyton and Walthamstow Tramways Co. (fn. 5) From 1889 they continued beyond the Bakers Arms to the Rising Sun in Woodford New Road. (fn. 6) That route was taken over by Leyton U.D.C. in 1905. (fn. 7) The Walthamstow district council opened an electric tramway system in 1905 on four routes: Forest Road; Lea Bridge Road to Higham Hill; Hoe Street to Chingford; and Woodford New Road to Woodford. An agreement made with Leyton and West Ham in 1909 for interrunning from Chingford to Stratford ceased in 1917. In 1924–32 the council modernized the system and renewed interrunning with the Leyton tramways. (fn. 8)

The Great Eastern London Suburban Tramways & Omnibus Co. (later the Great Eastern London Motor Omnibus Co.) was formed in 1900, to take over the operation of a horse bus service which the tramways company had instituted between Hoe Street station and Stratford in 1889. (fn. 9) The Great Eastern company began running motor buses from Stratford to Walthamstow in 1905 via Hoe Street and High Street to St. James Street. In 1911 the company was merged in the London General Omnibus Co., which extended the service within the district and also provided a through route from Walthamstow to Elephant and Castle. (fn. 10) In 1933 Walthamstow's trams and buses were taken over by the London Passenger Transport board. (fn. 11) In 1936–7 trolley buses replaced trams, (fn. 12) and in their turn were replaced by diesel buses in 1959–60. (fn. 13)

There was a postal receiving office in Walthamstow in 1684–5, where the London Penny Post delivered and collected letters once a day. (fn. 14) By 1799 there were three daily deliveries. The receiving house, which was in Marsh Street by 1803, was called the Western office in 1820, when there was also an Eastern office in Wood Street. An office listed in 1823 at Thomas Godfrey's (fn. 15) may have been at Whipps Cross, where a third office is listed from 1839 to 1866. (fn. 16) In 1856 Walthamstow became part of the north-eastern (later eastern) London postal district. In 1869 the Marsh Street office was moved to Markhouse Lane (St. James Street) and a new one was set up in Orford Road, where a telegraph office was opened in 1870. (fn. 17) In 1914 a branch office was opened at no. 244 Hoe Street. It moved to its present premises at no. 197 Hoe Street in 1933. Additional branch offices were later opened in St. James Street (1950) and Wood Street (1951). Since 1917 most of Walthamstow has been in the postal district of E. 17, with small parts in E. 4, N. 17, and Woodford Green.

The National Telephone Co. opened a Walthamstow exchange in Priory Avenue and call rooms in 1897. (fn. 18) The exchange was moved to Hoe Street in 1909 and taken over by the G.P.O. in 1912. In 1934 many subscribers in the north were transferred to Larkswood exchange, Chingford. Walthamstow exchange closed in 1940 when the balance of subscribers was transferred to the Keystone exchange, Leytonstone. That exchange closed in 1958 when the Coppermill exchange, which opened in 1954 in temporary premises in Jesse Road, Leyton, moved, to a new building in Hoe Street. (fn. 19)


  • 1. E.R.O., Q/SR 530/34.
  • 2. V.H.M., Vestiges, no. 28.
  • 3. C. H. Crouch, Walthamstow monumental inscriptions (W.A.S. xxiii), Appendix III; S. J. Barns, Vestry mins. 1741–71 (W.A.S. xiv), 53; White's Dir. Essex (1848, 1863); Robson's Gazetteer (1840); V.C.H. Essex, v. 27; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1859, 1870, 1874); Hatley, Across the years, 44.
  • 4. There is a detailed account of Walthamstow's railways in Line 112 Group's The Railway to Walthamstow & Chingford (W.A.S. N.S. ix), on which this paragraph is based.
  • 5. See p. 183.
  • 6. V.C.H. Essex, v. 27; Hatley, Across the years, 75–6; L. A. Thomson, By bus, tram, and coach (W.A.S. N.S. xi), 7.
  • 7. V.C.H. Essex, v. 28.
  • 8. Walthamstow U.D.C.: Chmns.' Ann. Reps. (1899– 1905); Hatley, Across the years, 76–81; W.A.S., The Record, no. 3, p. 5; V.H.M., Vestiges, no. 21; P. G. Gibbins, Walthamstow Tramways, 6, 8.
  • 9. Thomson, By bus, tram, and coach, 7, 8, 22.
  • 10. W. G. S. Tonkin, Public transport in Walthamstow before the council tramways (W.A.S. Occ. Pub. iii), 10–11; Walthamstow Off. Guide (1922), 11; Walthamstow U.D.C.: Chmns.' Ann. Reps. (1912–13); V.C.H. Essex, v. 29.
  • 11. London Passenger Transport Act, 1933.
  • 12. Hatley, Across the years, 82; V.C.H. Essex, v. 73.
  • 13. W.A.S., The Record, no. 12, p. 6; Walthamstow Off. Guide (1963), 67.
  • 14. The following account of the postal service is based, unless otherwise stated, on V.H.M., Vestiges, nos. 93–4.
  • 15. Pigot's Dir. Essex (1823).
  • 16. Ibid. (1839); White's Dir. Essex (1848, 1863); Kelly's Dir. Essex (1859, 1866).
  • 17. V.H.M., P22/1/1–2 (1870).
  • 18. This paragraph is based on V.H.M., Vestiges, nos. 95–6.
  • 19. Although not opened until 1958 the building, on the site of Court House, is dated 1956.