Stratford is an urban centre and town of
Greater London in the London
Borough of Newham in
East London and is part of the Lower Lea Valley,
England, United Kingdom. Stratford includes localities called
Maryland, East Village,
Chobham Manor and Stratford City. Historically
part of the ancient parish and subsequent County Borough of West Ham,
which became the western half of the modern borough in 1965.
Historically anagrarian settlement in the county of Essex, Stratford
was transformed into an industrial suburb following the introduction
of the railway in 1839.
The late 20th Century was a period of severe economic decline,
eventually reversed by regeneration associated with the 2012 Summer
Olympics, for which Stratford’s
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was the
principal venue and later with
West Ham United F.C. and British
Athletics moving to the London Stadium.
Stratford is now East London’s primary retail, cultural and leisure
centre. It has also become the second most significant (after Canary
Wharf) business location in the east of the capital.
1.1 Original ford and place name origin
1.2 Bow bridge
1.3 Stratford Langthorne Abbey
1.4.1 Pre-industrial economy
1.4.2 Early developments
1.4.3 Victorian acceleration
1.5 20th century
2 Geography and local government
2.1 Local government
2.2 Post code districts
8 People from Stratford
9 See also
11 External links
Stratford’s early significance was due to a Roman road running from
Aldgate in the City, to Romford,
Chelmsford and Colchester, crossed
the River Lea. At that time the various branches of the river were
tidal and unchannelised, while the marshes surrounding them had yet to
be drained. The Lea valley formed a natural boundary between
the eastern bank and
Middlesex on the west, and was a formidable
obstacle to overland trade and travel.
Original ford and place name origin
The name is first recorded in 1067 as Strætforda and means 'ford on a
Roman road'. It is formed from Old English 'stræt' (in modern
English ‘street’) and 'ford'. The former river crossing lay at an
uncertain location north of Stratford High Street.
The district of
Old Ford in northern Bow – west of the Lea and now
Tower Hamlets – is named after the former crossing, while Bow
itself was also initially named Stratford, after the same ford, and a
variety of suffixes were used to distinguish the two distinct
The settlement to the east of the Lea was also known as Estratford
referring to the location east of the other Stratford[citation
needed], Statford Hamme alluding to the location within the parish of
West Ham, Abbei Stratford, referring to the presence of Stratford
Langthorne Abbey. and Stretford Langthorne after a distinctive
thorn tree (probably a pollarded Hawthorn) which was mentioned in a
charter of 958 AD.
In 1110 Matilda, wife of Henry I, reputedly took a tumble at the ford
on her way to
Barking Abbey, and ordered a distinctively bow shaped
(arched) bridge to be built over the Lea, together with a causeway
across the marshes along the line now occupied by Stratford High
The western Stratford then become suffixed by “-atte-Bow” (at the
Bow), eventually becoming known simply as Bow, while over time the
eastern Stratford lost its “Langthorne” suffix.
Bow Bridge depicted in 1851
The Bridge was repaired and upgraded many times over the centuries
until eventually demolished and replaced in the 19th Century.
Stratford Langthorne Abbey
In 1135 the Cistercian Order founded Stratford Langthorne Abbey, also
West Ham Abbey. This became one of the largest and most
wealthy monasteries in England, owning 1,500 acres (610 hectares) in
the immediate area and 20 manors throughout Essex.
The Abbey lay between the
Channelsea River and Marsh Lane (Manor
Road). Nothing visible remains on the site, as after it dissolution by
Henry VIII in 1538, local landowners took away much of the stone for
their own buildings and the land was subsequently urbanised.
A stone window and a carving featuring skulls – thought to have been
over the door to the charnel house – remain in All Saints Church,
West Ham (dating from about 1180). The Great Gate of the abbey
survived in Baker's Row until 1825.
Arms of the County Borough of West Ham.
The coat of arms of the Abbey can be seen over the doorway to the Old
Court House, in Tramway Avenue (Stratford). The chevrons from this
device, originally from the arms of the Mountfitchet family, together
with an abbot's crozier were incorporated into the arms of the former
County Borough of West Ham
County Borough of West Ham in 1887. The same arms were adopted by the
London Borough of Newham
London Borough of Newham in 1965.
The industrialisation of Stratford started slowly and accelerated
rapidly in the early Victorian era.
London 2012 Opening Ceremony – Industrial Revolution
The Stratford and national experience of the Industrial Revolution
inspired scenes in the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony covering the
traumatic transition from a ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ to the
‘Pandemonium’ of the revolution and the huge social and economic
changes it brought.
Stratford was originally an agricultural community, whose proximity to
London provided a ready market for its produce. By the 18th century,
the area around Stratford was noted for potato growing, a business
that continued into the mid-1800s. Stratford also became a
desirable country retreat for wealthy merchants and financiers, within
an easy ride of the City. When
Daniel Defoe visited Stratford in 1722,
he reported that it had "...increased in buildings to a strange
degree, within the compass of about 20 or 30 years past at the most".
He continues that "...this increase is, generally speaking, of hansom
large houses... being chiefly for the habitations of the richest
citizens, such as either are able to keep two houses, one in the
country, and one in the city; or for such citizens as being rich, and
having left off trade, live altogether in these neighbouring villages,
for the pleasure and health of the latter part of their days".
An early industrial undertaking at Stratford was the Bow porcelain
factory, which despite the name, was on the
Essex side of the River
Lea. Using a process that was patented in 1744,
Edward Heylin and
Thomas Frye operated a factory near Bow Bridge called "New Canton" to
produce some of the first soft-paste porcelain to be made in the
country. The site of the factory was to the north of Stratford High
Street near the modern Bow Flyover; it was the subject of
archaeological excavations in 1921 and 1969.
The Victorian era saw growth hugely accelerated by three major
factors; the Metropolitan Building Act, the arrival of the railway and
the creation of the nearby Royal Docks.
Rapid growth followed the
Metropolitan Building Act
Metropolitan Building Act in 1844. The Act
restricted dangerous and noxious industries from operating in the
metropolitan area, the eastern boundary of which was the River Lea.
Consequently, many of these activities were relocated to the banks of
the river. As a result,
West Ham became one of Victorian Britain's
major manufacturing centres for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and
processed foods. This rapid growth earned it the name "London over the
border". The growth of the town was summarised by
The Times in
"Factory after factory was erected on the marshy wastes of Stratford
and Plaistow, and it only required the construction at
Canning Town of
the Victoria and Albert Docks to make the once desolate parish of West
Ham a manufacturing and commercial centre of the first importance and
to bring upon it a teeming and an industrious population."
By the early 19th century, Stratford was an important transport hub,
with omnibuses and coaches running into London four times every hour
and coaches from
East Anglia passing through hourly. The route into
London was plied by Walter Hancock's steam coaches for a period during
the 1830s. A small dock and a number of wharves were operating on
River Lea at Stratford by the 1820s, serving the needs of local
industries. However, the opening of the nearby
Royal Victoria Dock
Royal Victoria Dock in
1855 and the subsequent construction of the
Royal Group of Docks
Royal Group of Docks (at
one time the largest area of impounded water in the world), increased
Stratford's importance as a transport and manufacturing centre.
Rising population levels led to two major new
Anglican churches in the
area, St John's Church in 1834 and Christ Church in 1851.
Engine repair shop of the Stratford Railway Works, 1921
Stratford station was opened on 20 June 1839 by the Eastern Counties
Railway (ECR). The
Northern and Eastern Railway
Northern and Eastern Railway opened a section of
its authorised line from Broxbourne to join the ECR at Stratford on 15
September 1840. A railway works and depot for engines and rolling
stock was established by Great Eastern in 1847 to the north of
Stratford. At its peak, the works employed over 2,500 many of whom had
homes, along with other rail workers, in the town that developed
nearby. It was originally called Hudson Town, after George Hudson, the
"Railway King;", but after his involvement in bribery and fraud was
revealed in 1849, the settlement quickly became better known as
Stratford New Town, which by 1862 had a population of 20,000.
During the lifetime of the Stratford works, 1,682 locomotives, 5,500
passenger coaches and 33,000 goods wagons were built.
The last part of the works closed in March 1991.
Stratford, like many areas of London, particularly in the East End,
suffered significant de-industrialisation in the 20th century.
This was compounded by the closing of the London Docks in the
1960s. Around this time, the Stratford Shopping Centre was built,
beginning efforts to guide the area through the process of
transformation from a working-class industrial and transport hub to a
retail and leisure destination for the contemporary age. These
efforts continued with the Olympic bid for Stratford, and the ongoing
urban regeneration work going on there.
Geography and local government
Stratford began as a hamlet in the NW part of the ancient parish of
West Ham, as the area urbanised it expanded, increased in population
and merged with neighbouring districts.
Except as a ward, Stratford has never been a unit of administration
and so, like many London districts, lacks formally defined boundaries.
As described however, Stratford occupies the north-west part of West
Ham and so takes the NW boundaries of that area; boundaries which have
subsequently become the NW boundary of the modern London Borough of
In this way the
River Lea and the complex network of the Bow Back
Rivers mark the western limits of the area, which also extends north
as far as the boundary of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Stratford was one of three ancient wards in the large parish of West
Ham, in the Becontree hundred of Essex. It came within the
Metropolitan Police District
Metropolitan Police District in 1840.
Stratford ward of
West Ham Civil Parish in 1867.
Despite forming part of the built up area of London the parish
remained outside the statutory metropolitan area established in 1855
County of London
County of London established in 1889. Instead, administrative
reform was undertaken in the area in much the same way as a large
provincial town. A local board was formed in 1856 under the Public
Health Act 1848 and subsequently the parish was incorporated as a
municipal borough in 1886. In 1889 the borough was large enough in
terms of population to become a county borough and was outside the
area of responsibility of
Essex County Council. Stratford formed the
centre of administration of the county borough and was the location of
the town hall.
West Ham was reunited with
East Ham (Ham is believed to have
formed a single unit until the late 12th century) and small areas of
neighbouring districts, to form the London Borough of Newham, part of
the new Greater London.
The modern borough has an electoral ward named 'Stratford and New
Post code districts
Royal Mail has given the postcode E20 to the Olympic Park and
Stratford City developments; this was only used by the
BBC TV soap
EastEnders for the fictional suburb of Walford.
The name "Walford" is a portmanteau of the names of two East London
Walthamstow and Stratford itself.
Neighbouring areas of Stratford.
Temple Mills and Hackney Marsh
Bow and Old Ford
Mill Meads and West Ham
As of the 2011 census, White British is the largest ethnic group in
the Stratford and New Town ward, at 21% of the population, followed by
Other White at 19% and Black African at 13%.
Stratford town center with Stratford Broadway, the Gurney Memorial and
the spire of St John's Church
Both of Stratford's shopping centres: The
Stratford Centre and the
recently opened (2011) Westfield
Stratford City are located on either
side of Stratford station. Westfield Stratford City, home to 350
stores, is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. The older
centre has a range of accessibly-priced stores, its indoor and outdoor
market stalls, and the 'inshops' network of small retail outlets. The
centre occupies much of the 'island site' created in the 1960s by the
surrounding gyratory traffic system.
Stratford has been a focus of regeneration for some years, and is the
location of a number of major projects.
Stratford City opened in September 2011
During construction of the International Quarter
150 High Street, Stratford
Stratford City is a multibillion-pound scheme to regenerate
the 73-hectare brownfield railway lands to the north of the existing
town centre. The vast shopping centre reported to be bigger in size
than Bluewater was opened in September 2011. It has anchor stores for
Waitrose and Marks and Spencer, in addition to other
household names like Apple and Primark. The centre boasts a range of
restaurant outlets, a cinema and casino, making it a leisure
destination in itself, as well as its shopping facilities. Nearby will
be a new purpose-built community of 5,000 homes, offices, schools,
public spaces, municipal and other facilities destined to become a
major metropolitan centre for East London, all to coincide with the
opening of the Olympics in July 2012.
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games had their main base at the
Olympic Park, which contained a significant number of venues including
the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, and London Velopark. What was
Olympic Village is to be restructured as the new East
Village development, providing 3,500 homes, half affordable and half
private. The post-Olympics legacy plans include the largest new urban
park in Europe for over a century, and the new Chobham Academy.
Stratford station with new platforms, walkways and
Pudding Mill Lane DLR station
Pudding Mill Lane DLR station as part of the Crossrail
150 High Street, Stratford, a 41-storey 133 m (436 ft) high
Current Olympic Park developments:
Construction of East Wick & Sweetwater neighbourhoods will see up
to 1,500 homes built
Olympicopolis; A plan in the Olympic Park to see the Victoria &
Albert Museum and
University College London
University College London to have facilities by
International Quarter; will see 13 office and 2 residential buildings
as well as a hotel.
iCity; a technology development will see Loughborough University
establish a tech campus. Other companies are yet to be announced.
Other neighbouring developments:
A large-scale development at Sugar House Lane will see 1,200 homes,
space for businesses, a new school and new amenities for local
Stratford Centre is proposing to re-develop its site, with a 26-storey
residential building for students and to have additional parking and
shops in the shopping centre.
Stratford Plaza building
Broadway Chambers development with 39-storey and 20-storey buildings
with 388 apartments
Olympian Tower; a 26-storey building.
Stratford station's new northern entrance
Stratford has significant transport, and well served by bus routes,
and a number of railway stations.
Stratford Regional is located on the
National Rail Great Eastern Main
North London Line
North London Line as well as the Lea Valley Lines. National Rail
services: Abellio Greater Anglia,
TfL Rail and London Overground.
London Underground's Central and Jubilee lines both serve the regional
station and link Stratford to Oxford Street,
Wembley Stadium, Epping
and Canary Wharf. The
Jubilee line was extended to Stratford in 1999.
Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway (DLR) was extended to Stratford in 1987,
and to Stratford International in 2011, with services to Poplar,
Canary Wharf, Lewisham, London City Airport, the Excel Centre, Beckton
Woolwich Arsenal. A bus station is located adjacent to Stratford
Regional with London Buses and National Express coach routes towards
central, northeast London and Stansted Airport.
Stratford International, located to the northwest, is on the HS1 line
from St Pancras International to Kent, and is served by Southeastern
domestic high speed services; so far, no decision has been made for
Eurostar services to call. The International and
Regional stations are linked by a branch of the Docklands Light
Railway – opened in August 2011 – which also serves a new DLR only
station at Stratford High Street to the south of Stratford, situated
on the site of the former Stratford Market railway station. The
eastern part of Stratford town centre is served by Maryland railway
station. The Liverpool Street- Shenfield via
Ilford and Romford
service known as the Shenfield Metro service and runs every 10 minutes
and is operated by TfL Rail. This service also calls at Stratford and
was incorporated into the
Crossrail service in 2017. Pudding Mill Lane
is in the south of the Olympic Park (though it closed during the
Olympics for safety reasons due to its size), and normally provides
transport to the local factories. Served by the Docklands Light
Railway to Stratford, Poplar and Canary Wharf, it was re-sited south
as part of the
Buses and Coach
Stratford bus station
Stratford bus station is located directly next to
Stratford station in
the town center and opened on 16 November 1994 and comprises five
stands, which hosts a number of local routes, 69, 86, 104, 158, 238,
241, 257, 262, 276, 308, 425, 473, D8 and by the 25 and N8 to Central
London. A new bus station called
Stratford City bus station opened on
13 September 2011 north of the Stratford town center as part Westfield
Stratford City project with 97, 241, 308, 339, 388, 108 and N205
Stratford is connected to the National Road Network at the junction
Bow Interchange between the A12
East Cross Route
East Cross Route and A11
and the A118 Stratford High Street which links to Stratford town
centre. The A112
West Ham Lane is the north-south road and
The Grove runs north-east to Forest Lane.
Church of St John the Evangelist
Main article: St John's Church, Stratford
St John's Church in Stratford Broadway
Stratford Broadway, the main thoroughfare, is dominated by the 1830s
Anglican parish church of St John's. In its churchyard is a memorial
to the Stratford Martyrs, who were burned at the stake in 1556 during
the reign of Queen Mary. The memorial itself is octagonal with
terracotta plaques on each face, surmounted by a twelve sided spire.
It was unveiled in 1878.
Gurney memorial drinking fountain
Directly to the south of the churchyard stands a 12.80-metre tall
granite obelisk, which was erected in 1861 as a memorial to the Quaker
philanthropist and abolitionist, Samuel Gurney (1766 to 1856). The
plinth carries two brass drinking fountain heads on opposite sides,
and the inscription; IN REMEMBRANCE OF SAMUEL GURNEY / WHO DIED 5 June
1856 / ERECTED BY HIS FELLOW PARISHIONERS AND FRIENDS / 1861 / "When
the ear heard him then it blessed him" (a paraphrase from the Book
of Job, Chapter 29 verse 11).
Old town hall
Designed by Lewis Angell and John Giles in the Italianate style with a
100-foot (30.5-metre) tall domed tower, it opened in 1869 as the
public offices for the
West Ham Local board of health. It later became
the town hall for the county borough and was enlarged in 1881 to
accommodate a courthouse and cells. On 26 June 1982, the main part
of the building was badly damaged by fire; after a painstaking
reconstruction of the original features and refurbishment as a
conference centre, it was reopened by the Queen in July 1986. It is a
Grade II Listed Building.
Edward VII public house
Opposite St John's Church stands an early 19th-century pub, the King
Edward VII with original pedimented doors and early 19th-century bay
windows. It is a Grade II Listed Building.
It was originally called "The King of Prussia", either in honour of
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great or else after King Frederick William IV who
visited the area in 1842 to meet Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer.
In 1914, the first year of World War One, the pub was renamed in
honour of the reigning king, Edward VII. The old name was problematic
as ‘The King of Prussia’ was one of the titles of the German
Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. More than a hundred years later, the King
Edward VII pub is still locally nicknamed ‘The Prussian’.
"Robert" the tank engine
A 38 tonne 0-6-0 saddle-tank steam locomotive named "Robert" is
displayed in Meridian Square, the forecourt of Stratford Station. It
was built in 1933 by the
Avonside Engine Company
Avonside Engine Company of
Bristol for use at
the Lamport Ironstone mines railway near Brixworth, Northamptonshire.
It was previously an exhibit at the
North Woolwich Old Station Museum,
but moved to Stratford in 1999. In 2008, it was removed to the East
Anglia Railway Museum at
Chappel and Wakes Colne railway station
Chappel and Wakes Colne railway station near
Colchester; there it was cleaned and repainted at the expense of the
Olympic Delivery Authority
Olympic Delivery Authority and returned to Stratford in 2011.
ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower in the Queen Elizabeth
Main article: ArcelorMittal Orbit
A 114-metre-tall (374 ft) sculpture and observation tower in the
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It is Britain's largest piece of public
art, and is intended to be a permanent legacy of the 2012 Summer
Olympics. It closed after the end of the Games, but was re-opened to
the public in April 2014.
The Old Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Abbey Lane
Abbey Mills Pumping Stations
Main article: Abbey Mills Pumping Stations
Built in 1868 as part of the new
London sewerage system
London sewerage system by Sir Joseph
Bazalgette, the building originally housed steam pumps and is a
notable example of Italian style Gothic Revival architecture. It is
opened to the public on an occasional basis, when the "flamboyant
interior of enriched cast ironwork" can be seen. It was used to
portray a lunatic asylum in the 2005 film Batman Begins, and is a
Grade II* listed building.
Stratford Centre and
Stratford bus station
Stratford bus station in April 2012.
Stratford's Cultural Quarter, adjacent to the shopping centre, is home
to several arts venues, bars and cafes:
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Theatre Royal Stratford East – NB: 'Stratford East' is not a
location; the 'East' is used to differentiate between Stratford (east
London) and Stratford-upon-Avon
The Discover Children's Story Centre is a partner in the Cultural
Stratford has been the location for numerous films, notably Sparrows
Can't Sing (1963) and
Bronco Bullfrog (1970). The promotional film for
the Beatles' "Penny Lane" single was filmed in and around the southern
part of Angel Lane, demolished in the late 1960s to build the
Damnably Records relocated to Stratford from Forest
Gate in 2014 and is run by George Gargan, a Manor Park born musician
from the band
Former Utopia and
Lazarus Clamp (1999–2003).
East London Stratford Campus
The University of
East London (UEL) has a major campus in Stratford,
whose main building, University House, is a historic listed building
dating from the 19th Century. The adjacent Passmore Edwards Building
is also one of the area's most historic and beautiful buildings, with
colourful frescoes and domed roof. In addition, Birkbeck College, part
of the University of London, has launched courses in the area,
initially using space provided by UEL, with a view to constructing its
own campus in Stratford. A new university is planned on the Olympic
Park following the 2012 Olympic Games.
People from Stratford
See Category:People from Stratford, London
List of people from Newham
List of schools in Newham
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