This new collection of nearly 200 old photographs of Leyton and Leytonstone illustrates some of the dramatic changes and growth that have occurred in this busy suburban area over the last hundred years.
Although Leyton and Leytonstone existed for centuries as an ancient parish on the fringes of the capital, it saw, like many other communities, enormous and rapid growth when the railways arrived.
Easy and cheap access to the metropolis enabled people for the first time to commute to work and so thousands sought housing in areas like this and initiated the growth on the London suburbs.
When the Midland Railway's route passed through Leyton and Leytonstone in 1894 it was the signal for a population rise that transformed the community from a parish that had numbered around 5,000 in 1861 to an urban district council in 1901 of nearly 99,000 people.
These photographs show many aspects of life in the area from the time of this great expansion and through the decades that followed.
This book will fascinate all who know Leyton and Leytonstone and would enjoy a nostalgic trip into its recent past.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 128 pages, chiefly Illustrations
- Publisher: The History Press Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/06/1995
- Category: Local history
- ISBN: 9780752401584
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Review by Malarchy
The Leyton and Leytonstone collection of photographs as part of the Images of England series is around 200 mostly pictures of the environment of Leyton & Leytonstone from 1870 to 1980. It does contain some additional gems such as a reward notice for a highwayman from 1757 but is primarily photos from the early 20th century. There is good reason that this time period is so heavily featured compared to all others as that was the time in which the area boomed from sleep Essex parish to London commuter suburb thanks to the coming of the railways. It may be possible to work that out from the pictures but this book makes little explicit mention of the history and context in which the images are shown and quite probably it does require an insider's knowledge to enjoy.For those who do have that knowledge though, this is a charming piece of nostalgia. It is remarkable how many of the images that pre-date the first world war form the basis for the current environment of the area. While of course it has become an extremely busy part of London compared to the gentile pace quite evident from the 1870 photos, the structure especially around the High Roads of Leyton and of Leytonstone was in place 100 years ago. Though more of the area has industrialised and become more intensively housed, the greenery such as in the Whipps Cross area including in a shot of James Lane is still there today.Of course today we are in the fortunate position to have accurate pictorial representations of pretty much everything but the scope of images shown is not huge. There is no sense of the development of this part of London over the decades though public houses and trams are very well served in this work. It would have been nice to have seen changes over time - the last shot in the book is of a tower block in the 1980s that was pulled down as many were in the mid 90s and this shot of it in the 80s does refer to it being on the location of Barclay House. The Barclays are one of the most notable sets of residents from the area and that is mentioned in a byline that mentions their bank but as with the Listers and other influential residents their story is not told here.Indeed, this is not a book that a reader can pick up and then know the story of the area. It is deliberately targeted as an effective nostalgic piece and for this reader who was resident in the area for 25 years but now lives on the other side of Europe, it is a nice little reminder of home. A more thorough book would have had better bylines and ideally an explanation of the context in which the pictures are framed. This is a book of pictures not words and there is little to be gleaned about who or why. I may have lived very close to the sight of the Bearmans department store for instance but the only addition I have to my knowledge from this book is a bit more of what it once looked like. The still visible sign on the High Road remains a mystery having read this Images of England selection.This is nostalgia. If Leyton and Leytonstone is something a reader can be nostalgic about for the pictorial history mainly from 1870 and pre-WWI north east London then this is a nice little treat.