Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°35′02″N 0°01′16″W / 51.584, -0.0211
Walthamstow Town Hall 20 Apr 2006.jpg
Walthamstow Town Hall on Forest Road, built for the Borough of Walthamstow in 1941

Walthamstow is located in Greater London

 Walthamstow shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ372891
    - Charing Cross 7.5 mi (12.1 km)  SW
London borough Waltham Forest
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E17
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Walthamstow
London Assembly North East
List of places: UK • England • London

Walthamstow ( /ˈwɔːlθəmst/ or /ˈwɒlθəmst/) is a large suburban district of (north) east London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It is situated 7.5 miles (12.1 km) northeast of Charing Cross and is identified as one of 35 major centres in the London Plan.[1] It was historically an ancient parish in the county of Essex. As part of the suburban growth of London, Walthamstow significantly increased in population and was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1929. It has formed part of Greater London since 1965.



Walathamstow (parish) population
1871 10,692
1881 21,715
1891 46,346
1901 95,131
1911 124,580
1921 129,395
1931 132,972
1941 war #
1951 121,135
1961 108,845
# no census was held due to war
source: UK census[2]

Walthamstow is recorded c. 1075 as Wilcumestowe ("The Place of Welcome") and in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wilcumestou.[3]

Early history[]

King John visited Shern Hall (Shernhall Street), in 1213; the building survived until 1896. At one point Walthamstow was just a culmination of five small villages, and affairs were discussed at Vestry House, acting as the first town hall. In 1870 it had grown to the size of a small suburb and a town hall was built in Orford Road from which affairs of the village were run (which now takes place in Forest Road - since 1941). Until the 19th century it was largely rural, with a small village centre (now Walthamstow Villagesee below) and a number of large estates.

The main route through the district was the aforementioned Hoe Street. Additionally, there were various smaller lanes, crossing the town. The road now known as Forest Road was originally called Clay Street.[4] Further south, the High Street was named Marsh Street, and led from the original settlement out to the marshes. Shernhall Street is an ancient route, as is Wood Street, to the east. In the 1660s Sir William Batten, Surveyor of the Navy, and his wife had a house here where, according to Samuel Pepys, they lived "like princes" and cultivated a vineyard.

Urban development[]

With the advent of the railways and the ensuing suburbanisation in the late 19th century, Walthamstow experienced a large growth in population and speculative building.[5]

The Lighthouse Methodist Church which dates from 1893 which is situated on Markhouse Road, on the corner of Downsfield Road. There is a lantern at the top of the tower, which also contains a spiral staircase. The church was erected because of the generosity of Captain David King of the shipbuilding firm of Bullard King & Co which also ran the Natal Direct Shipping Line, which ran ships direct from London to Durban without stopping at the Cape.

The LGOC X-type and B-type were built at Blackhorse Lane from October 1908 onwards. The B-type is considered one of the first mass-production buses. The manufacturing operation later became AEC, famous as the manufacturer of many of London's buses. On 13 June 1909, A. V. Roe's aircraft took to the air from Walthamstow Marshes. It was the first all-British aircraft and was given the ominous nickname of the "Yellow Terror" but officially carried the name Avro1. Roe later founded the Avro aircraft company, which later built the acclaimed Avro Lancaster.

Local government[]

From 1894 Walthamstow was an urban district and from 1929 a municipal borough in Essex. In 1931 the population of the borough, covering an area of 4,342 acres (17.571 km2), peaked at 132,972.[6] In 1965 the borough was abolished and its former area merged with that of the Municipal Borough of Chingford and the Municipal Borough of Leyton to form the London Borough of Waltham Forest in Greater London.[6] Other places in east London formerly of the county of Essex, such as Ilford and Romford were placed into London Boroughs along with Walthamstow. None of the postal district names or codes was changed at this time (e.g. Ilford remained Ilford, Essex, and Walthamstow remained London E17.


Walthamstow elects councillors to Waltham Forest London Borough Council.


Walthamstow is bordered to the north by Chingford, south by Leyton and Leytonstone, east by the southern reaches of Epping Forest at Woodford and west by Tottenham and the River Lea valley. Leyton High Road, Hoe Street, Chingford Road, Chingford Mount (passing south-north through Walthamstow and its neighbouring towns) form part of an ancient route from London to Waltham Abbey.

Warner properties

Walthamstow Central is the main town centre and includes Selborne Road and the High Street.

Walthamstow Village conservation area is a peaceful and attractive district to the east of what has become the commercial centre of Walthamstow. The area is roughly defined as being south of Church Hill, west of Shernhall Street, north of Grove Road and east of Hoe Street. Orford Road is the main route through the district, though even this is a quiet thoroughfare by the standards of London. The village has a small selection of specialist shops, pubs and restaurants, and house prices tend to be higher in the streets of this neighbourhood. It was voted best urban village in London by Time Out magazine in 2004.

Upper Walthamstow is to the east of Walthamstow Village. The area's main thoroughfare is Wood Street, which has a good selection of shops and local businesses, and is served by railway, with a station on the Liverpool Street to Chingford line.

Wood Street is also home to Wood Street Indoor Market.[7] The Market was originally the site of a cinema from 1912 to 1955, operated by the Penny Picture Theatre Co. It re-opened under new independent management in 1953 as the Rio Cinema, but this was short lived and it closed in 1955.[8] Now the market is filled with quirky market traders, and was documented in a short documentary made by Mark Windows.[9]

Walthamstow has a wide variety of housing stock, but the vast majority of residential property was built in the early 20th century. From Coppermill Lane in the west (next to the marshes), to Wood Street in the east, there are scores of terraced streets dating to the Edwardian era and the 1920s. The area along Markhouse Road and St James Street has many examples of Warner properties. These were developed as affordable housing for the working classes in the early part of the 20th century. Bombing raids in World War II and urban redevelopment projects in the 1960s and 1970s have left areas with more modern housing, mostly in the shape of low-rise concrete blocks.

The northern continuation of Markhouse Road is St James's Street to which Blackhorse Road follows, served by both underground and railway stations, which in turn becomes Blackhorse Lane. This is bound on its western side by industrial units and warehouses. The London Borough of Waltham Forest has proposed developing the area around Blackhorse Road station to become a gateway to the town.

Highams Park and Hale End, though both in the E4 postcode, are historically part of Walthamstow.

Although bounded by the marshes to the west and parts of Epping Forest to the east, there is little open space in the actual town. There were originally two commons in the town, Church Common, adjacent to St. Mary's Church in Walthamstow Village and Markhouse Common, located off Markhouse Lane (now Markhouse Road) and what is now the western end of Queens Road. Both open spaces were lost in the 19th century, when the land was sold to property developers.


High Street

The High Street is dominated by Walthamstow Market, which began in 1885, and occupies all but the last 100 metres of the street. It is reputed to be a mile long, but in fact measures approximately one kilometre. It is the longest street market in Europe. The market is open five days a week (not Sunday or Monday), and there is currently a Sunday farmers' market. The street is lined with shops: a selection of high-street chains, but also many independent small shops specialising in food, fabrics, household goods etc. as well as cafés. The overall tone is downmarket and unique. There are two patches of new-ish development: at Sainsburys, and The Mall Selborne Walk covered shopping centre[10] both of which have large multi-storey car parks. Shopmobility Waltham Forest operates in the Mall, loaning mobility scooters and wheelchairs, with volunteer helpers, to disabled and older people.

The historic Central Library on the High Street was one of many built with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, whose portrait bust can be seen on the exterior of the building. It was modernised and expanded in 2006-2007, although there were claims that this was at the expense of book holdings. According to the Waltham Forest Guardian, "almost a quarter of a million books have gone missing from Waltham Forest libraries amid claims they have been burned or pulped" and the borough's library stock fell by 60% over the two previous years.[11] At the same time, a large plot at the corner of High Street and Hoe Street was set for substantial redevelopment as a retail space. This site was previously the location of the town's central Post Office and a shopping arcade, originally built in the 1960s. Plans for the redevelopment of this site fell through in 2005, but Planning Permission for development was recently granted, and work on a new cinema and houses started in April 2013.[12]


National Rail and London Underground stations include:

  • Walthamstow Central Underground and National Rail station
  • Blackhorse Road Underground and National Rail station
  • Walthamstow Queen's Road
  • Wood Street
  • St James Street

Bus services include a full infrastructure including a Hopper service and a multi point to point network exists; serviced from and to its own main bus terminus situated at Walthamstow Central, along with a cross network passing through the center and outskirts.


In popular music[]

The artwork for Blur's Parklife album featured photos of the band at Walthamstow Stadium.

Walthamstow was home to the popular 1990s boy band East 17, who named themselves after the area's postal code E17, and titled their debut album "Walthamstow".

Walthamstow is also home to The Bevis Frond.

Recording artist Jimmy Ray was born in Walthamstow on 3 October 1970. He grew up in the Lloyd Park area and attended Winns primary, and Sidney Chaplin and McEntee secondary schools. In the early 1990s Ray performed at various E17 venues, including the Royal Standard, as part of local pop group 'The Cutting Room'. Ray later went on to score solo hits in the UK and US.

The indie rock band The Rifles are from Walthamstow.

Walthamstow is a major centre in London's grime music scene, with many bedroom studios and underground music enterprises. Artists include the likes of Lethal Bizzle and his band Fire Camp.

The Bromheads Jacket song "Poppy Bird" references Walthamstow in the chorus.

Walthamstow is mentioned in the Paul McCartney and Wings song Old Siam, Sir from the 1979 album Back to the Egg.

"Long ago, outside a chip shop in Walthamstow" is the first line of a song named "Ann and Joe", recorded by The Barron Knights in the late 1970s. This was a spoof of "Long ago, high on a mountain in Mexico", the opening words of Angelo, which was a UK number one hit in 1977 for Brotherhood of Man.

"Waiting in Walthamstow" is a song by The Cranberries from the album Roses.

The track 'The Battle of Epping Forest' by Genesis on the album Selling England by the Pound has lyrics based in the area such as "Along the Forest Road, there's hundreds of cars - luxury cars."


The Walthamstow Studios operated between 1914 and 1930. EMD (Granada) Walthamstow on Hoe Street closed in 2003 and remains unused.[13] The Empire cinema opened December, 2014.

Sports clubs[]

  • Waltham Forest F.C.
  • Walthamstow Avenue F.C. (defunct club located at Green Pond Road Stadium)
  • Walthamstow Avenue & Pennant
  • Haringey & Waltham Development F.C.
  • Walthamstow Cricket Club[14]


Walthamstow Secondary schools include:

  • Frederick Bremer School, a specialist engineering college (Opened September 2008). Former: Aveling Park School and Warwick School for Boys
  • Forest School (Walthamstow)
  • Holy Family Catholic School, a Roman Catholic secondary school specialising in Technology.
  • Kelmscott School
  • Walthamstow Academy, a secondary school, which holds specialist status as a Mathematics and Computing College, Science College, and Business and Enterprise College.
  • Walthamstow School for Girls
  • Willowfield School, a specialist Humanities College.
  • Sir George Monoux College

Notable residents[]

One of its most famous residents was the writer, poet, designer and socialist William Morris, who was born there on 24 March 1834, and lived there for several years. His former house in Walthamstow is a museum dedicated to his life and works, while the grounds of the house are a public park (Lloyd Park in Forest Road).

Local engineer, Frederick Bremer, built the first motor car in London between 1892 and 1894. In 1912 The Motor magazine, after much debate, recognised the Bremer car as the first British built petrol-driven car (now on display in the Vestry House Museum).

  • Keith Albarn, manager of Soft Machine and father of Damon Albarn, taught art at Walthamstow Art College in the 1960s
  • Clement Attlee, Member of Parliament for Walthamstow while he was Prime Minister.
  • Sir William Batten (died 1667), Surveyor of the Navy, had a "palatial" country house at Walthamstow; his son, who was in debt, sold it off a few years after his death.
  • Alonza Bevan, bass guitarist of Kula Shaker.
  • Lethal Bizzle, rap artist[15] and associated rap collective Fire Camp.
  • Denis Blackham, renowned music mastering engineer.
  • Peter Blake, artist, painted sleeve cover of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
  • Mick Box, guitarist for Uriah Heep born in Walthamstow.
  • Matthew Bourne OBE, choreographer and dancer, was born in Walthamstow.
  • Theodore Ronald Brailey pianist on the RMS Titanic
  • Frederick Bremer, inventor.
  • David Cairns guitarist with Secret Affair was born in Walthamstow in 1958.
  • Alexander Champion Founder of British whaling - died 1795 in Walthamstow.
  • Anjem Choudary, Radical Islamist hate preacher
  • Phil Collen, lead guitarist of Def Leppard.
  • Johnny Dankworth, jazz musician, who attended Sir George Monoux Grammar School.
  • Paul Di'Anno, lead singer of Iron Maiden 1978-1981.
  • Adam Devlin, guitarist for The Bluetones lives in Walthamstow.
  • Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister, attended Higham Hall School in Walthamstow, as did William Shore, later father of Florence Nightingale
  • Ian Dury, singer and songwriter, studied at Walthamstow Art College.
  • Fleur East, singer and The X Factor contestant
  • East 17, British pop boy band, including singer/song writer Brian Harvey.
  • Sir George Edwards (aviation), designer of Concorde
  • Maurice Glasman, social theorist and Labour life peer
  • Fitz Hall, English footballer currently playing for Watford was born in Walthamstow
  • Darren Hayman, singer and songwriter
  • Helen Hollick, writer, born in Walthamstow 1953
  • James Hilton, author, attended George Monoux Grammar School
  • Peter Hennessy, historian.
  • Mick Hume, journalist
  • Countess Judith, wife of Earl Waltheof, prominent post-Conquest woman
  • Colin Kazim-Richards, footballer, was born in Leytonstone but schooled in Walthamstow
  • Agnes Marshall, English culinary entrepreneur, born in Walthamstow in 1855
  • William Morris, designer and artist
  • Fabrice Muamba, footballer, attended Kelmscott School
  • Denis Payton, saxophonist for The Dave Clark Five, was born in Walthamstow 1943
  • Grayson Perry, ceramicist and 2003 Turner Prize winner, had his studio in Walthamstow until 2014. He referred to Walthamstow in his 2013 Reith lectures, naming it 'Awesomestow'
  • DJ Rap (Charissa Saverio) grew up in Walthamstow and lived there until recently, was born in Singapore
  • Jimmy Ray, recording artist, born Walthamstow 1970
  • Nick Saloman, progressive rock musician
  • June Sarpong, television presenter, born Walthamstow 1977
  • Baroness Scotland, Attorney General, grew up in Walthamstow and attended Walthamstow School for Girls
  • Vivian Stanshall, musician, painter, singer, broadcaster, songwriter, poet and writer, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, grew up in Grove Road, Walthamstow.
  • John Kemp Starley, inventor, born Walthamstow 1854
  • Colin Stinton, Canadian-born actor
  • Thomas Griffith Taylor (1890–1963) Antarctic explorer
  • Peter Waterfield Olympic diver
  • Dorothy Wedderburn Principal of Bedford College and Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, both London University, was born in Walthamstow 1925
  • Timothy Williams, bilingual novelist of crime fiction, lived at Whipps Cross
  • Peter Winch, philosopher
  • Adam Woodyatt, English actor who plays Ian Beale in EastEnders, born in Walthamstow 1968
  • Air Marshal Sir Kenneth Charles Michael Giddings CB OBE DFC AFC and Bar, born in Walthamstow in 1920
  • Pascale Petit, poet, nominated twice for the TS Eliot poetry prize


  1. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mills, A., Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names, (2001)
  4. ^ "Walthamstow -- Introduction and domestic buildings". University of London & History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  5. ^ Walthamstow: Introduction and domestic buildings, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 240-50. Date accessed: 1 April 2007.
  6. ^ a b "History of Walthamstow, Essex". University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  7. ^ Wood Street Indoor Market official website
  8. ^ "Crown Cinema". Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  9. ^ Mark Windows documentary The Collectors of Wood Street
  10. ^ The Mall - Selborne Walk
  11. ^ WALTHAM FOREST: Were 250,000 library books burned?, Sarah Cosgrove, Waltham Forest Guardian, 22 November 2007
  12. ^ "Walthamstow arcade site". London Borough of Waltham Forest. Retrieved 2013-06-30. 
  13. ^ "Granada Cinema, Walthamstow, in 1989". Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Article in the Telegraph

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