West Ham: Domestic buildings

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

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'West Ham: Domestic buildings', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6, ed. W R Powell( London, 1973), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp50-57 [accessed 23 July 2024].

'West Ham: Domestic buildings', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Edited by W R Powell( London, 1973), British History Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp50-57.

"West Ham: Domestic buildings". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6. Ed. W R Powell(London, 1973), , British History Online. Web. 23 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp50-57.


A survey of Plaistow ward carried out in 1742 lists 152 houses, of which 119 appear from descriptions to have been timberframed and 33 of brick. (fn. 2) Thirty-four are described as old, which probably means 16th century or earlier. At that date Plaistow had about 29 per cent of the houses in the parish. (fn. 3) The other wards, for which there are no corresponding surveys, may have had a higher proportion of new buildings, but even so it is likely that about 100 pre-17th-century houses still survived in 1742. By 1970 only one was known to survive.

The most notable group of medieval buildings in West Ham was associated with Stratford Abbey, which is described elsewhere. (fn. 4) New Barns farm, which lay east of New Barn Street, at the south end of Plaistow, was part of the rectorial glebe of West Ham. (fn. 5) The tithe barns from which it was named were mentioned in the 12th century, and one large medieval barn survived there, adjoining Cumberland House, until c. 1900. The original vicarage house of West Ham, at the south end of Vicarage Lane, still existed in 1853, but was later demolished. (fn. 6) Manor-houses may have existed during the Middle Ages at Bretts and Sudbury in Plaistow, at Chobhams in Stratford, and at Woodgrange, but nothing is known of them. (fn. 7) Christendom House at Plaistow was part of a small estate, probably in New Barn Street, which in the early 15th century belonged to Robert Christendom, draper of London. (fn. 8) In 1742 it was an old boarded house of three storeys; it was demolished in 1764. (fn. 9) Porch House, on the north side of High Street, Plaistow, is said to have been considered old even in the 16th century. (fn. 10) It was probably the large old boarded house which c. 1723 was given a brick front and two new wings. (fn. 11) From the 17th century to the 19th it belonged to the Rawstorne family. It was demolished in 1839. The site included the present Clegg Street. Sonables, or Senables, in West Ham Lane, Stratford, was a house belonging to the archdeacon of Essex ex officio. It has been traced from 1445 to 1708. (fn. 12) Nothing is known of its appearance or construction. The site, now part of the recreation ground, still belonged to the archdeacon in 1853. (fn. 13)

Among buildings probably dating from the 16th century was Hyde House, High Street, Plaistow, which was probably the mansion to which a tenement called The Hyde belonged in 1605. (fn. 14) A wall in the adjoining yard was dated 1559, and over a red brick gateway to the south were the date 1579 and the inscription 'This is the gate of Everlasting Life'. The improbable tradition that the house was occupied after the Dissolution by the monks of Stratford is first recorded in the 18th century. In the later 17th century Hyde House was the seat of Sir Thomas Foot, lord mayor of London. In 1742 it was an old boarded house occupied by Aaron Hill (1685–1750), the dramatist and poet. (fn. 15) It was demolished shortly before 1811. (fn. 16) The gateway of 1579, which had latterly been built into the wall of a barn, was demolished in 1859. (fn. 17) The farm-house to which the barn then belonged was demolished at the same time. It had contained wall-paintings of biblical subjects. (fn. 18)

Essex House, Greengate Street, Plaistow, is said to have been a large white house with Tudor windows. (fn. 19) It was demolished in 1836, but part of the garden wall survived until 1905, and a wrought iron gateway still remains. After 1836 some of the materials from the house were used on the same site to build Essex Lodge, a cottage-style residence with gables and ornamental barge-boards, now occupied by the municipal parks department. (fn. 20) Features retained from the earlier house include an enriched shellhood of c. 1700 over the front door, and, internally, what appears to be an early-18th-century stone doorway adapted as a fire-place. Above the latter was the crest of the Willyams family, a ducal coronet surmounted by a falcon with folded wings. (fn. 21) This suggests that Essex House was the large old plastered house occupied in the mid 18th century by Thomas Willyams, and later by John Willyams, who left in 1768. (fn. 22)

The existence of several of West Ham's inns can be traced from the 16th century or earlier. The Cock at Stratford occurs in 1485. (fn. 23) The Blue Boar, High Street, Stratford, mentioned in 1538, was rebuilt in 1886, refronted c. 1936, and later demolished. (fn. 24) The Angel, Church Street, was formerly a timberframed building of the 16th or early 17th century but was rebuilt in 1910. (fn. 25) The Spotted Dog, Upton Lane, is the only ancient building, apart from the parish church, which survives in West Ham. It is a timber-framed structure dating from the 16th century or earlier, but has been much restored. It consists of a central block, which may once have contained an open hall, flanked by two-storeyed and jettied cross-wings with weatherboarded gables. A large extension of yellow brick was built to the north in the later 19th century. In 1968 the inn was thoroughly renovated and a smaller addition, partly weatherboarded, was built to the east. (fn. 26) In the later 19th century the Spotted Dog's tea-garden and cricket ground were well-known. (fn. 27) Among other early inns was the Swan, Stratford, first recorded in 1631. (fn. 28) Early in the present century the Swan, next to the town hall in High Street, was an 18th-century building of three storeys and attics, with a 19th-century frontage to the ground floor. It was rebuilt c. 1925. (fn. 29) The Bird in Hand, in the same street, existed in 1667 and survived until c. 1892. (fn. 30) The Unicorn, Church Street, is recorded from c. 1670 to 1908. (fn. 31)

By the 17th century West Ham's growth as a prosperous suburb of London could be seen in the high proportion of large houses. In 1670, for example, 30 per cent of the houses in the parish had 5 or more hearths, compared with only 17 per cent in Ongar hundred, a neighbouring rural area. (fn. 32) Within the parish, however, there were striking variations. Of the four wards Stratford contained 45 houses with 5 or more hearths (25 per cent of the total there), Plaistow 43 (40 per cent), Church Street 26 (25 per cent), and Upton 10 (40 per cent).

Rokeby House, Broadway, Stratford, is thought to have been built in the earlier 17th century. (fn. 33) The name, which has not been found before the 19th century, may be connected with the family of the Revd. H. R. Rokeby, who owned an estate at Stratford in 1853. (fn. 34) The earliest known occupants were the Clowes family, whose arms were carved in wood on a Jacobean chimneypiece in the house. William Clowes (1582–1648), of London and Stratford, compounded for his estates in 1646 as a royalist. (fn. 35) He had been surgeon to Charles I. In the 19th century Rokeby House became a school and later accommodated the offices of the parish vestry and the local board, and West Ham's first public library. (fn. 36) It was demolished in 1898. (fn. 37) Photographs taken then show a mainly 18th-century front of two storeys and attics, with 7 bays and two classical doorways, but the back of the building, with its irregular gabled roof-line, was considerably older; one gable with ornamental brickwork may well have dated from the earlier 17th century. (fn. 38)

At Plaistow Cumberland House, Elkington Road, off New Barn Street, must have been standing in the 17th century if not earlier. In 1742 it was a brick building of three storeys. (fn. 39) It was bought in 1787 by Henry, duke of Cumberland (d. 1790) and subsequently took his name. In 1902 it possessed a fivebay front of two storeys with a parapet swept up over a central attic window. (fn. 40) That front probably dated from the early 18th century, but the back of the house was probably older. Cumberland House was demolished shortly before 1936. (fn. 41)

After 1700 West Ham reached its hey-day as a residential area favoured by merchants and professional men occupying large detached houses. New houses were built and older ones were modernized. Although few of them survive the appearance of many has been recorded. (fn. 42) Several, including Upton House (rebuilt 1731) (fn. 43) contained early-18th-century panelling and fine staircases with slender twisted balusters. The evidence points to a boom in high-class building during the first 30 or 40 years of the century. Later development tended to include somewhat smaller middle-class houses as well as large residences in extensive grounds. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries terraced houses and pairs were built along the roads on comparatively narrow frontages, especially at Stratford. Such dwellings apparently filled the needs of professional and business men who did not keep their own carriages but were able to use the improving coach and bus services to London.

Between 1700 and 1840 Stratford, Plaistow, and Upton maintained their separate identities. At Stratford large houses were to be found at Maryland Point, The Grove, The Green, and along Romford Road. Stratford House, The Grove, 'a substantial mansion with a uniform front', (fn. 44) has been traced from the early 18th century. It was the seat of John Henniker (d. 1803), Lord Henniker, a large local landowner. (fn. 45) When the railway was built close by, the house ceased to be attractive as a gentleman's residence. (fn. 46) It appears to have been demolished late in the 19th century, when Great Eastern Road was built across its site. (fn. 47)

South of the Green, in Romford Road, was an 18th-century house of brown brick with a fine wrought-iron gateway. (fn. 48) For many years up to 1907 it was a private school. (fn. 49) It became Church House (diocesan offices, c. 1916–30) and was later used by the corporation. (fn. 50) During the Second World War it was bombed, and after the war it was demolished. North of the Green were several 18th-or early-19th-century houses which were also bombed. (fn. 51) One of them, later a Territorial Army centre called Artillery House, had been built or rebuilt in Gothic style, probably c. 1840. Stratford Hall, on the corner of Romford and Carnarvon Roads, was an early-19th-century building, demolished in 1921. (fn. 52) A summerhouse in the garden was thought to be older. Carnarvon Hall was at the north end of Carnarvon Road, on a site redeveloped c. 1868. (fn. 53) Near it, in Forest Lane, was Moulseys, which existed in 1777. (fn. 54) At that date there was also a cluster of buildings at Maryland Point. (fn. 55) The 18th-century gate piers of one of them survived until c. 1950.

The office of Arthur Webb Ltd., no. 30 Romford Road, Stratford, is an 18th-century weatherboarded building of 5 bays with a new roof. Angel Cottage, Windmill Lane, is a small double-fronted house dated 1826. Well-preserved and clad with creeper, it is a remarkable survival in an industrial area. The North West Ham Labour club (no. 62), Forest Lane and St. John's House (no. 2), Romford Road are substantial detached houses, of c. 1840, each with a classical portico. A few other houses in Broadway and High Street may date from the early 19th century, though altered by the insertion of shop-fronts.

At Plaistow development between 1700 and 1840 was mainly within the old village. In c. 1742–80 25 new houses were built and 13 old ones rebuilt. (fn. 56) The larger houses were typically of five bays and three storeys. Richmond House, Richmond Street, was an early-18th-century building with a segmental pediment and Corinthian pilasters to the front door. (fn. 57) John Curwen lived there in the 1860s. (fn. 58) The house was demolished in 1930. (fn. 59) Broadway (or Great) House, in Broadway, also built in the 18th century, belonged in the early 19th to the Martens, who were often visited by William Wilberforce. (fn. 60) It was demolished in 1882. In High Street one 18th-century house, no. 125, still survives. The front has recently been rebuilt. (fn. 61) At the north end of Balaam Street was an unnamed house occupied in 1754–66 by William Dodd. (fn. 62) In 1742 it was described as modern. (fn. 63) It was demolished in 1890 and replaced by the Laurels. Brunstock Cottage, no. 83 Balaam Street, still survived, greatly altered, in the 1930s, but was later demolished. (fn. 64) Edmund Burke lived there 1759–61. In 1742 it was apparently a boarded two-storey house. (fn. 65) Chesterton House, Balaam Street, had an early-19th-century front of seven bays, but an older interior. (fn. 66) Among its occupants was Luke Howard. (fn. 67) It later became part of Plaistow maternity hospital, (fn. 68) but was demolished in 1960. (fn. 69) North of Plaistow village, on the site of the present Willow Grove and Valetta Grove, was the Willows, formerly Bedfords, a large house probably built in the early 19th century. (fn. 70) Its lodge, a single-storey gabled cottage of c. 1840, still stands in Willow Grove but slates have replaced the old thatched roof. (fn. 71)

Between 1700 and 1840, and indeed until after 1850, Upton remained an area of big houses in extensive grounds. In the earlier 19th century the residents included several leading Quakers, a closely-knit community linked by marriage with the Pelly family, West Ham's principal landowners. (fn. 72) Ham House, rebuilt in the 18th century, was the seat of Samuel Gurney (d. 1856). (fn. 73) The Cedars, adjoining Ham House in Portway, also belonged to him. (fn. 74) From 1829 to 1844 it was occupied by his sister Elizabeth Fry and her family, who in 1842 entertained Frederick William IV of Prussia there. The Cedars later became a Territorial Army centre. It had a yellow-brick front with a central pediment and classical porch and was said to have been constructed in the early 19th century from the barn and farm buildings of an earlier house. It was demolished in 1960.

Upton House, Upton Lane, was occupied in the early 19th century by another distinguished Quaker family, the Listers, including the future Lord Lister, who was born there. It had been rebuilt in 1731, possibly by Sir Philip Hall, as one of West Ham's finest houses. (fn. 75) It was a brick building of two storeys and attics. The entrance (west) front, of nine bays, was faced with stucco and altered in the 19th century. Most of the rooms had early-18th-century panelling, and there was a fine staircase with twisted balusters. In the kitchen there was a moulded beam of the 15th or 16th century, possibly brought from another building. (fn. 76) Adjoining the house to the north there was a smaller and longer building, possibly older. (fn. 77) This still existed in 1870, but must have been demolished soon after, probably during the 1880s, when Lancaster Road was built. (fn. 78) From 1893 to 1959 Upton House was St. Peter's vicarage. (fn. 79) It was demolished in 1968.

The Manor (or Four Manor) House, Upton Cross, demolished c. 1885, was the seat of the Pellys. (fn. 80) Herne House, Upton Lane, was built c. 1770 and demolished in 1896. (fn. 81) J. S. Curwen lived there c. 1882–90. The Red House, Upton Lane, has been traced from the 18th century, but was reconstructed in a florid style in the 1870s. (fn. 82) It is now St. Anthony's Catholic Club. Grove House, Upton Lane, was an 18th-century three-storey building. (fn. 83) It was for long the preparatory department of St. Angela's convent school, but was demolished in 1950.

At Forest Gate there were few buildings before the 19th century. Hamfrith House, which probably originated as a farm-house in the 18th century, was rebuilt c. 1800 as a gentleman's residence, later called West Ham Hall, in Sebert Road. (fn. 84) Forest House, Dames Road, was the home of the Dames family until the 1860s, and was probably demolished about then. (fn. 85) Between Forest House and Wanstead Flats were several other large houses, one of which, dating from c. 1840, survives as no. 91 Dames Road.

Little is known about the houses of the poor before 1840. A few timber-framed 16th-century cottages in Church Street, West Ham, survived until the 1930s or later. (fn. 86) Wenny's Cottages, Romford Road, Stratford, demolished 1907, formed a weatherboarded terrace probably dating from the 18th century. (fn. 87) Wilton's Yard, Angel Lane, Stratford, contained five wooden hovels built along the sides of the alley leading to an 18th-century detached house. (fn. 88) Such development, probably of the early 19th century, was also to be found in several other places in the Angel Lane and High Street areas of Stratford. (fn. 89) Wood's Yard, Dean's Court, and Channelsea Court, all off High Street, were slums singled out for reprobation in the Dickens report of 1855. (fn. 90) Opposite Channelsea Court was Rabbit Hutch Row, which was sometimes flooded by the Channelsea, and where the inhabitants used the stream both as a sewer and a source of drinking water. The houses had brick basements with one or two weatherboarded living rooms above. Among cottages at Plaistow were some occupied by the immigrant Irish potato workers, in Pinnocks Place, off North Street, and in Greengate Street. (fn. 91) Those also were mentioned in the Dickens report. (fn. 92)

A writer in c. 1740 stated that there were more than 60 public houses in West Ham. (fn. 93) In the later 18th century the number fell, no doubt as the result of stricter control by quarter sessions: 46 were licensed in 1769, 34 in 1795, and 32 in 1815. (fn. 94) In 1742 there were about 14 in Plaistow ward. (fn. 95) Among them were the Crown, later the Abbey Arms, Barking Road, the Black Lion and the Coach and Horses, both in High Street, and the Greyhound, Balaam Street. (fn. 96) The Abbey Arms was refronted c. 1820 and rebuilt in 1882. (fn. 97) The Black Lion, described in 1742 as an old plastered house, was largely rebuilt in 1875. (fn. 98) The Coach and Horses (fn. 99) appears also to have been rebuilt in the 19th century. The Greyhound, formerly the Greyhound and Hare, was rebuilt in 1773, (fn. 100) and the present building, though altered, may date from that time. The Greengate, Greengate Street, formerly the Gate, is recorded from 1776. (fn. 101) It was rebuilt in 1953–4. (fn. 102) The Prince Regent was built in 1811 on the river side at the northern end of the new ferry from Charlton (Kent). (fn. 103) When the North Woolwich railway was opened in 1847 the inn, no longer needed there, was demolished and rebuilt farther north in Prince Regent Lane.

At Stratford the Angel, the Cart and Horses, and the King of Prussia were listed in 1765. (fn. 104) The Angel, at the corner of Angel Lane and Broadway, was rebuilt c. 1870. (fn. 105) It is now a tailor's shop. About 1805 the Cart and Horses was in the Grove, adjoining Stratford House. (fn. 106) The building which it then occupied probably survived in 1970 as nos. 150 and 152 the Grove; parts of a staircase at no. 150 had slender twisted balusters of the early 18th century. (fn. 107) The sign of the Cart and Horses was removed after 1805 to the corner of Windmill Lane at Maryland Point, where a new building was erected c. 1880. (fn. 108) The King of Prussia, Broadway, probably commemorated Frederick the Great (king, 1740–86). It was renamed the King Edward VII in 1914. (fn. 109) The present building appears to date from the early 19th century. (fn. 110) Three other public houses of Stratford can be traced from 1776: the Pigeons, the Yorkshire Grey, and the Two Brewers. (fn. 111) The Pigeons (formerly Three Pigeons) Romford Road, was rebuilt c. 1898. (fn. 112) The Yorkshire Grey and the Two Brewers, both in High Street, were also rebuilt in the later 19th century. (fn. 113)

In West Ham village the King's Head, Church Street, recorded from 1765, was rebuilt in 1885. (fn. 114) The Adam and Eve, Abbey Road, was built amid the ruins of Stratford Abbey before 1732, when it was 'a rendez-vous for fellows and wenches in the summer'. (fn. 115) It appears to have been enlarged in the mid 18th century and was rebuilt soon after 1900. (fn. 116) The Eagle and Child, Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, existed, evidently as a house of some size, by 1744–6. (fn. 117) In the late 19th century, with pleasure grounds attached, it was a popular holiday resort. (fn. 118) It was rebuilt c. 1896. (fn. 119)

Between 1840 and 1914 over 40,000 houses were built in West Ham, mainly for letting to workingclass tenants. (fn. 120) They were usually of two storeys in yellow or grey brick with slate roofs and contained 4–6 rooms. The simplest type, predominant c. 1840–60, was similar to the rural cottage of the period: a plain building, semi-detached or, more often, in a short terrace. A few examples survive: in Balaam Street, Plaistow (nos. 180–92); (fn. 121) Chant, Deason, and Union Streets, Stratford; Francis Street, Maryland (nos. 39–55); Odessa Road, Forest Gate (nos. 98 and 100, dated 1857); and Barking Road (nos. 588–606, formerly Augurs Cottages). (fn. 122) After 1860 such cottages, in long terraces, with front doors opening upon the pavement, and footscrapers in the walls beside them, were to be found mainly in the poorest areas, like William Street, Stratford (c. 1863, demolished 1969), Second Avenue (formerly Avenel Road) and Third Avenue (formerly Lennox Street), Plaistow (c. 1879), and Argyle and Garvary Roads, Canning Town (c. 1886). (fn. 123)

Terraces in a simple Georgian style, with the façades carried up to a cornice or coping, sometimes with billet-frieze ornament, were common throughout the town until c. 1880. Odessa Terrace (nos. 93–103), Odessa Road, Forest Gate (dated 1869) is in that style. Globe Crescent, (c. 1860), in Globe Road, Forest Gate, contains a rare example in West Ham of a curved terrace. (fn. 124) Another way of building on a curved frontage was to set the houses at an angle to the road in step formation. There is one such terrace, (c. 1860), in Chatsworth Road, Forest Gate, adjoining Globe Road, and another (c. 1870) in Stratford Road, Plaistow, where it forms a block of small shops called 'Market Place'. (fn. 125) Most houses built c. 1875–90 had ground-floor bay-windows. There are many dated examples, including Mabel Terrace, Cedars Road, Stratford (1876), (fn. 126) and Cornwall Terrace, Tunmarsh Lane, Plaistow (1889). From c. 1890 the bays were usually carried up to roof level as in Ness Terrace, Albert Road, Silvertown (1891), and Albion Terrace, Beckton Road, Canning Town (1898). After 1900 the bays were often square-sided, with more pronounced gables, as in Crediton Road, Canning Town (c. 1903). (fn. 127) Houses with bays tended to fetch higher rents than those without, (fn. 128) and they predominated on most of the new estates built between 1880 and 1914. In spite of redevelopment they are still the commonest type in West Ham. Even in poor areas the windows were usually decorated with mass-produced stucco in the form of miniature columns with foliated capitals.

Some of the estates built in the later 19th century became slums. High land values and the great demand for cheap houses made good building unprofitable, especially in the south of the borough. (fn. 129) Most of the houses in that area were run up by speculative builders who had little capital or experience. (fn. 130) Here, as in other towns, this led not only to faulty workmanship and the use of poor materials (fn. 131) but to the wrong kind of houses. Many workers could not afford to rent a whole house, but until the 1890s very few flats were built in the borough. Consequently houses designed for a single family were often shared by two or more. (fn. 132) Conditions in West Ham, however, were much better than those in some older industrial areas. (fn. 133) A writer of c. 1900, in a book on the East End, could even state that 'poor people and dirty streets are the exception through West Ham'. (fn. 134)

The earliest council dwellings (1899–1905) were much better adapted to the needs of working-class tenants than those of the private builders. Most of them were two-storey 'double houses' with a flat on each floor. The flats varied in size from two to four rooms, with a wash-house to each flat. The original design was by Lewis Angell (borough surveyor 1867–99) who believed that such dwellings were 'healthier and more humanizing … especially for children', than large 'barrack-like' blocks of flats. (fn. 135) The largest estate, at Wise Road, Stratford (94 flats and 11 single houses) survives, along with others in Bethell Avenue, Plaistow, and in Eve and Corporation Streets, West Ham. (fn. 136)

Houses of more than six rooms formed only a small proportion of those built in the town after 1840. (fn. 137) The main group was at Forest Gate, in a belt extending from Romford Road north to the Great Eastern Railway, and from Carnarvon Road east to Balmoral Road. It included Hamfrith, Atherton, Norwich, Sprowston, and Clova Roads, and Earlham Grove, which were part of the Gurney estate (c. 1870–90), (fn. 138) and, farther east, most of the Woodgrange estate: Hampton, Osborne, Claremont, Windsor, and Richmond Roads, and the north side of Romford Road. (fn. 139) These houses, many of which survive, include detached, semi-detached, and terraced types. In Romford Road, where sites were no doubt more expensive, they are often three-storeyed. Some on the north side of that road had coach-houses in Atherton Mews and Sprowston Mews. One of the largest detached houses is Workington House, no. 328 Romford Road, built shortly before 1870. (fn. 140) It is a three-storey house of five bays with a Corinthian portico. John Curwen (d. 1880) lived there. The Woodgrange estate (1877–92) was much the largest middle-class development in West Ham. (fn. 141) It was laid out on the 'gridiron' plan common in the 19th century, but the plots are of good size, with gardens front and back. Most of the houses are double-fronted, some with glass-roofed verandahs.

Among other streets in north West Ham containing houses built for middle-class occupation are Westbury, Victoria (formerly Vale), and Palmerston Roads, at Upton, which were developed from c. 1860. (fn. 142) In Forest Lane, Forest Gate, are three pairs of semi-detached houses (nos. 122–7) built c. 1860. One pair still has the original porches, each supported by an iron column decorated with tracery. The columns resemble those supporting the canopy at the old (Windmill Lane) entrance to Stratford Railway station. At Plaistow only a few large houses were built between 1840 and 1914. No. 142 Balaam Street (c. 1850), is of three bays with three storeys and basement. In Chesterton and Howard's Roads are several pairs of large semi-detached houses of c. 1850–60. (fn. 143) The Laurels, Balaam Street (c. 1890) (fn. 144) is an imposing building of three storeys and basements, faced with ragstone. It was formerly the Freemasons' Club. (fn. 145) St. Andrew's Vicarage, St. Andrew's Road (1871), and St. Mary's Vicarage, Stopford Road (1897), are examples of the big houses sometimes built for professional men whose work required them to live among the poor.

The Pawnbrokers' alms-houses, Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, were built in 1849 by the Pawnbrokers' Charitable Institution. (fn. 146) They accommodated 8 inmates, not necessarily from West Ham, who had qualified by subscription. The buildings formed an impressive group in 'Elizabethan' style. They were demolished in 1898. Legg's alms-houses, Odessa Road (1858–63), are small and plain, with gabled fronts. (fn. 147) Meggs's alms-houses, Upton Lane, were erected in 1893 by the rector and churchwardens of Whitechapel (Lond.), trustees of William Meggs's charity; the original buildings (1658) were in Whitechapel Road. (fn. 148) Among the few large shops have been J. R. Roberts (founded c. 1870) and Boardmans (1871), both drapers and furnishers in Broadway, Stratford. (fn. 149) Roberts was demolished in 1957–62 to make way for the London Co-operative Society's new department store. Of the hundreds of small shops, in terraces or on street corners, few are notable, but in Water Lane, Stratford, is a single-storey butcher's shop (c. 1860, see plate facing page 203), with lively stucco ornament depicting bulls' heads over windows and doors, and an ironwork parapet.

After 1914 there was little private building. Of 1,200 municipal dwellings built in the 1920s and 1930s, mainly in connexion with slum-clearance, about half lay in the Manor Road area. They included over 400 flats in 4-storey blocks, in Memorial Avenue and neighbouring roads and in Star Lane. (fn. 150) Other council estates were built at Stratford, Plaistow, and Custom House. A further 600 houses, built by the Ministry of Transport in the Holborn Road area of Plaistow, to rehouse workers displaced by the Silvertown Way scheme, were taken over by the borough on their completion in 1931. (fn. 151) There and in all the council estates of the period much more use was made of red brick, which had superseded the standard yellow brick of the previous century.

After the Second World War West Ham council put in hand the huge building programme outlined elsewhere. (fn. 152) The main scheme was the Keir Hardie estate, comprising 230 a. north of the Royal Victoria Dock; it is one of the largest areas of comprehensive redevelopment in the country. (fn. 153) The earliest council building after the war followed a traditional 'garden city' pattern at a fairly low density. An example is the Bowman Avenue area, in the south-west corner of the Keir Hardie estate, where 70 per cent of the dwellings are houses and the remainder flats in low blocks. (fn. 154) In West Ham, as elsewhere, higher density housing became increasingly common after 1950. This is shown in the part of the Keir Hardie estate between Fife Road and Butchers Road, which contains 35 per cent houses, 36 per cent flats, and 29 per cent maisonettes, and incorporates experiments in plan, layout, and colours, intended to keep down costs and to suggest 'a living and bustling community'. (fn. 155) The trend towards even higher densities is obvious in the Claremont estate, east of Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate. (fn. 156) That scheme, completed about 1956, contains 76 per cent flats in an 11-storey tower or 'point' block, and 24 per cent maisonettes in 4-storey blocks. The schemes of the early 1960s include tower blocks of 15 storeys north of Fife Road, and of 22 storeys at The Green and Carpenters Road, both at Stratford. (fn. 157) In 1964 West Ham council decided to provide 1,000 dwellings in 200-ft. tower blocks erected on the Larsen-Nielsen industrialized system. The programme, continued by Newham council, suffered a setback in 1968, when part of Ronan Point, Clever Road, Canning Town, collapsed after a gas explosion. (fn. 158)

North of Beckton Road and in Kildare Road is a small but unusual estate designed for West Ham council by the Development Group of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and completed in 1964. (fn. 159) Its 39 houses are of composite brick and timber construction and partly weatherboarded. They are of six types, some with movable internal partitions, grouped round a common open space of ½ a. They were built to Parker Morris standards after a social study designed to discover the needs of the kind of families for whom they were intended. In striking contrast to them is the landscape south of Beckton Road, where the skyline is increasingly dominated by tower blocks.


  • 1. This section was written in 1970.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/DPe M55: calculated from the lists of houses. The total for timber-framed houses includes those with brick extensions or fronts.
  • 3. According to an estimate made c. 1740 there were about 570 householders in the parish: Fry, E. and W. Ham, 219.
  • 4. See p. 112.
  • 5. See p 115.
  • 6. See p. 115.
  • 7. See pp. 69–74.
  • 8. Feet of F. Essex, iv. 6; Cal. Close 1441–7, 146–7; Lysons, London, iv. 255.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, First N.
  • 10. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 248; Curwen, Old Plaistow, 10.
  • 11. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, Gothic F, cf. W.H.L., Cal. Rawstorne Docs., R.; Curwen, op. cit. 10 (illus.).
  • 12. Cal. Close 1447–54, 104–5 (conveyance by Zanobias Mulakyn, archdeacon 1435–61); Cal. Pat. 1461–7, 221; S.C. 6/962; E.R.O., D/DA T109.
  • 13. E.R.O., D/CT 160; cf. O.S. Map 25", London, XX (surv 1867).
  • 14. Lysons, London, iv. 256; E.R.O., D/DPe M55, Italic Z and &. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 245–7, confuses the ownership with that of the adjoining house.
  • 15. E.R. xliii. 63, 67.
  • 16. Lysons, London, Suppl. (1811), 361.
  • 17. Curwen, Old Plaistow, 11.
  • 18. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, Italic Z probably refers to this house.
  • 19. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 250.
  • 20. Curwen, Old Plaistow, 3, 6, 7; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses), Photo of chimney-piece, Essex Lodge (1970).
  • 21. Fairbairn's Crests, ed. J. MacLaren, i, pl. 41, cf. ii. 509. This identification was made by Mrs. E. Taylor, Newham Libraries. The ducal coronet was also formerly depicted on the iron gateway outside Essex Lodge: Curwen, Old Plaistow, frontispiece.
  • 22. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, Small 1. Cooper Willyams (1762–1816), son of John, is said to have been born at Plaistow House, which may have been the earlier name of Essex House: D.N.B.
  • 23. E.R.O., D/AER 1, f. 75v; S.C. 6/962.
  • 24. S.C. 6/962; W.H.L., W. Ham L.B. Mins. 23 Mar., 13 Apr. 1886; Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.).
  • 25. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.); W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. 7 Dec. 1909; Bk. of Cuttings, 'Stratford and Bow', item dated 1910.
  • 26. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.) includes many views of the Spotted Dog.
  • 27. E. Walford, Greater London, i. (1894), 505; W. H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.), Poster showing inn and cricket ground. See plate.
  • 28. E.A.T. N.S. xiv. 149; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1637–8, 190–1; C 142/487/41; B.M. Add. MS. 37491, ff. 108, 114. See also E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11.
  • 29. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.)
  • 30. E.A.T. N.S. xiv. 149; E.R. liv. 67; E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11; Kelly's Dir. Stratford (1891/2 cf. 1892/3).
  • 31. E.A.T. N.S. xiv. 153; E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11; Kelly's Dir. Essex (1908).
  • 32. E.R.O., Q/RTh 5, cf. V.C.H. Essex, iv. 306–8.
  • 33. London, 26 May 1898; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 34. E.R.O., D/CT 160.
  • 35. Cal. Ctee. for Compounding, p. 1527.
  • 36. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 173; McDougall, Fifty Years a Borough, 145; and see p. 100 below.
  • 37. W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. 28 June 1898.
  • 38. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 39. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, First C; Fry, E. and W. Ham, 252–3; Curwen, Old Plaistow, 16.
  • 40. Fifty Years a Borough, 59, cf. Curwen, Old Plaistow, f. pp. 16 and 17.
  • 41. Fifty Years a Borough, 59.
  • 42. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 43. See p. 53.
  • 44. W.H.L., Press Cuttings, 'Stratford and Bow', Sale Notices, Stratford Ho. (1806).
  • 45. See pp. 10, 68.
  • 46. W.H.L., Press Cuttings, 'Stratford and Bow', Sale Notices, Stratford Ho. (1840).
  • 47. For the site cf.: Clayton's Surv. W. Ham (1821), Stratford K105; W.H.L., W. Ham Manor, Copyhold Tenements [c. 1805], no. 168; O.S. Maps 25", London XX (1867 edn.) and London VI (1916 edn.).
  • 48. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses), Church Ho.
  • 49. Stratford House school, see p. 157. It must be distinguished from Stratford House in The Grove.
  • 50. E.R.O., Pictorial Coll.; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Streets); Chelmsford Dioc. Y.B. (1916) sqq.
  • 51. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Streets).
  • 52. Ibid. (Houses); C. Whitwell, 'Dictionary of W. Ham'.
  • 53. O.S. Map 25", London, XX (1867 edn.); W. Ham L.B. Mins. 23 June 1868.
  • 54. Chapman and André, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xxi.
  • 55. Ibid.
  • 56. E.R.O., D/DPe M55.
  • 57. Curwen, Old Plaistow, 20, 25, pls. f. pp. 4, 20; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 58. Curwen, op. cit. 27; White's Dir. Essex (1863), 620.
  • 59. Jeyes Sanitary Compounds Co. (pamph.); E.R. xl. 22.
  • 60. Curwen, op. cit. 6, 8, 9.
  • 61. Cf. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Streets): Broadway (recte High St.), Water-colour 1926.
  • 62. Curwen, op. cit. 11–12. For Dodd see below, p. 116.
  • 63. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, Italic S.
  • 64. Curwen, op. cit. 14–15; Crouch, Silvertown, 42; Fry, E. and W. Ham, 252; P.E.M., P. Thompson, 'West Ham Gleanings'.
  • 65. E.R.O., D/DPe M55, First V.
  • 66. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses); Curwen, Old Plaistow, 13, pls. f. pp. 12, 13.
  • 67. See p. 82.
  • 68. See p. 111.
  • 69. Inf. from Newham Libraries.
  • 70. P.E.M., P. Thompson, 'West Ham Gleanings'; O.S. Map 25", London, XXX (1863–7 edn.).
  • 71. Cf. Curwen, op. cit. 36.
  • 72. See Katharine Fry's Bk. ed. J. Vansittart, passim.
  • 73. See p. 72.
  • 74. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 237–9; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses); Katharine Fry's Bk., f. p. 64.
  • 75. The date appeared above the porch. Hall certainly lived at Upton (Morant, Essex, i. x) but his connexion with this house has not been proved. The lands which he bought from the Buckeridges were mainly in the Manor Road and Vicarage Lane area: Fry, E. and W. Ham, 239; W.H.L., F. Dacre's Acct. of W. Ham Abbey Lands; Abbey Land Ratebooks.
  • 76. E. Nat. xxiv. 94–5, 136; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 77. McDougall, Fifty Years a Borough, illus. p. 63.
  • 78. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses), Upton Ho., Sale Cat. 1870; Lancaster Rd. existed in 1890: Kelly's Dir. Essex (1890), Upton.
  • 79. Chel. Dioc. Y.B. (1959–60); The Times, 23 May 1966; see below p. 122. A baluster from Upton House is now (1972) in P.E.M.
  • 80. See p. 73.
  • 81. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 242–3; Forest Gate Wkly. News 17 July 1896, 18 Aug. 1899.
  • 82. P.E.M., P. Thompson, 'West Ham Gleanings'.
  • 83. Inf. from Min. of Housing and L.G.; see below p. 154.
  • 84. See p. 69.
  • 85. O.S. Map 25", London XIII (surv. 1863–7); Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866). For the development of the Dames estate see above, p. 47.
  • 86. McDougall, Fifty Years a Borough, 96; cf. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (cardboard boxes).
  • 87. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 88. Ibid. (Streets). See plate f. p. 117 below.
  • 89. O.S. Map 25", London, XX (surv. 1867).
  • 90. A. L. Dickens, Rep. to Gen. Bd. of Health on W. Ham, 42–8. For Channelsea Ct. see W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Streets). For Wood's Yard see below p. 103.
  • 91. Curwen, Old Plaistow, 53, 6.
  • 92. A. L. Dickens, Rep. on W. Ham, 56.
  • 93. Fry, E. and W. Ham, 220.
  • 94. E.R.O., Q/RLv 24, 49, 69.
  • 95. E.R.O., D/DPe M55. The exact total is not certain because the record is obscure in one or two places.
  • 96. Ibid. First C, Gothic J, Italic V and L.
  • 97. Curwen, op. cit. 16.
  • 98. Curwen, op. cit. 42; W.H.L., Vert. File, Black Lion, Plaistow (pamph. N.D.); Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.).
  • 99. Curwen, op. cit. 6, 78.
  • 100. D/DPe M55, Italic L.
  • 101. E.R.O., Q/RLv 30; Curwen, op. cit. 38; Fifty Years a Borough, 58; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.).
  • 102. Inf. from Charrington & Co.
  • 103. E.R.O., Q/RLv 64, cf. 65; Crouch, Silvertown, 55–6.
  • 104. E.R.O., Q/SBb 241.
  • 105. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.). For deeds relating to the Angel see: E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11; W.H.L., Cal. Rawstorne Docs.
  • 106. W.H.L., W. Ham Manor, Copyhold Tenements [c. 1805], no. 167.
  • 107. For photographs of 150 and 152 The Grove see W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses), Stratford House (with which 150 and 152 are sometimes identified).
  • 108. For deeds 1827 sqq. see E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11.
  • 109. Stratford Expr. 2 Oct. 1964.
  • 110. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.).
  • 111. E.R.O., Q/RLv 30.
  • 112. E.R.O., D/Dch T52 and T/A 12/2/11; W.H.L., W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. 12 July 1898.
  • 113. For deeds of these houses: E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11.
  • 114. E.R.O., Q/SBb 241, Q/RLv 30, and T/A 12/2/11; W.H.L., W. Ham L.B. Mins. 11 Aug. 1885.
  • 115. E. Nat. xxiv. 143. In 1968 the licensee said that the Adam and Eve was still 'a summer house'.
  • 116. W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Pub. Hos.); Bk. of W. Ham (1923), 19. For deeds: E.R.O., T/A 12/2/11.
  • 117. J. Rocque, Surv. Lond. See also: Chapman and André, Map of Essex, 1777, sheet xxi; E.R.O., Q/RLv 30 and D/DA T129.
  • 118. E. Walford, Greater London, i. 505.
  • 119. W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. 22 Sept. 1896.
  • 120. V.C.H. Essex, v. 3, 5; Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 7 sqq.
  • 121. See plate f. p. 117.
  • 122. J. G. B. Marshall, Map of West Ham (1869).
  • 123. W. Ham L.B. Mins. 13 Jan. 1863; ibid. 24 June 1879; 28 Sept. 1886; B.C. Works Cttee. Mins. 28 Dec. 1886. Argyle and Garvary roads were awaiting redevelopment in 1970.
  • 124. O.S. Map 25" London, XX (surv. 1867); cf. Dickens, Rep. on W. Ham, map (1855).
  • 125. Stratford Road was being redeveloped in 1970, and Globe and Chatsworth Roads were awaiting redevelopment.
  • 126. See plate f. p. 117.
  • 127. W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. 15 Sept. 1903.
  • 128. Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 44.
  • 129. Cf. V.C.H. Essex, v. 30–1.
  • 130. Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 9–19.
  • 131. Ibid. 55–6; Dickens, Rep. on W. Ham, 49.
  • 132. For slum conditions at Canning Town, c. 1895, see G. Gain, A Basinful of Revolution.
  • 133. Cf. 'Slum clearance and urban development', Architects' Jnl. 20 and 27 Sept. 1956.
  • 134. Sir W. Besant and others, Shoreditch and the East End, 77.
  • 135. London, 14 July 1898.
  • 136. W. Ham Mun. Yr. Bk. (1940), 188; Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 118–22.
  • 137. In 1961 the proportion was about 6 per cent.: Census (1961), Essex, 135.
  • 138. Cf. Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 41–3.
  • 139. See p. 49 and plate f. p. 117.
  • 140. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1866 sqq.); W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 141. Forest Gate Wkly. News 9 Apr. 1897.
  • 142. Howarth and Wilson, W. Ham, 44–5.
  • 143. Cf. O.S. Map 25", London, XXX (Surv. 1863–7).
  • 144. See p. 53.
  • 145. McDougall, Fifty Years, 60; Bk. of W. Ham (1923), 202; W. Ham Official Guide (1950), 92; (1963/4), 107.
  • 146. Forest Gate Wkly. News 18 Sept. 1896; 31 Mar. 1899; W.H.L., Illus. Coll. (Houses).
  • 147. See p. 130.
  • 148. Inscription on Meggs's almshouses.
  • 149. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1878 sqq.); E.R. xxvii. 44; inf. from Newham Libraries.
  • 150. W. Ham Municipal Y.B. (1940).
  • 151. W. Ham C.B.C. Mins. xlv. 1010, 1022, 1095; xlvi. 1809.
  • 152. See pp. 49, 110.
  • 153. W. Ham Official Guide (1950), 25, 27. See below, plate f. p. 202.
  • 154. Architects' Jnl. 27 Sept. 1956, pp. 456–66.
  • 155. Ibid.
  • 156. Ibid.
  • 157. Sainsbury, Eight Hundred Years, 58; Pevsner, Essex, 418.
  • 158. Min. of Housing, Collapse of Flats at Ronan Point, Canning Town (1968).
  • 159. Min. of Housing, Family Houses at W. Ham (1969).