London Borough of Waltham Forest

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London Borough of Waltham Forest
Coat of arms
Lb waltham forest logo.svg
Council logo
Fellowship is Life
Waltham Forest in Greater London.svg
Waltham Forest shown within Greater London
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region London
Ceremonial county Greater London
Historic county Essex
Created1 April 1965
Admin HQ Walthamstow
  Type London borough council
  Body Waltham Forest London Borough Council
  LeadershipLeader (Clare Coghill) & Cabinet (Labour)
  MayorCllr Elizabeth Baptiste [1]
  London Assembly Sem Moema (Labour) AM for North East
   MPs John Cryer (Labour)
Stella Creasy (Labour)
Iain Duncan Smith (Con)
  Total14.99 sq mi (38.82 km2)
Area rank286th (of 309)
 (mid-2019 est.)
  Rank54th (of 309)
  Density18,000/sq mi (7,100/km2)
  Ethnicity [2]
36% White British
1.5% White Irish
0.1% White Romani or Irish Traveller
14.5% Other White
1.8% White & Black Caribbean
0.9% White & Black African
1% White & Asian
1.6% Other Mixed
3.5% Indian
10.2% Pakistani
1.8% Bangladeshi
1% Chinese
4.5% Other Asian
7.3% Black African
7.3% Black Caribbean
2.8% Other Black
1.5% Arab
2.6% Other
Time zone UTC (GMT)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s) 020
ONS code 00BH
GSS code E09000031
Police Metropolitan Police

The London Borough of Waltham Forest ( /ˈwɔːlθəm/ ) [3] is a London borough in north-east London, England. Its population is estimated to be 276,983 in 2019. It borders five other London boroughs: Enfield to the north-west, Haringey to the west, Hackney to the south-west, Newham to the south-east and Redbridge to the east, as well as the non-metropolitan county of Essex to the north.


The borough was formed in 1965 from the merger of the municipal boroughs of Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford; it took its name from Waltham Forest – an institution which managed deer in south-west Essex.

Epping Forest is a remainder of the former Waltham Forest and forms the eastern and northern fringe of the borough. The River Lea lies to the west where its associated marshes and parkland form a green corridor which, along the reservoir-lined reaches, separates north and east London.

The north and south of the borough, split by the North Circular Road, contrast markedly in terms of demographic and socio-economic indicators; with urban districts in the south having inner-city characteristics, and the more affluent suburban areas to the north having better access to open spaces, parks, and playing fields. Chingford in the north, Walthamstow in the middle, and both Leyton and Leytonstone in the south are the four urban centres of the borough.

Waltham Forest was one of the host boroughs of the London Olympics in 2012, with the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park providing an ongoing legacy in the UK and London.


Early history

The area was in the territory of the Trinovantes tribe during the Iron Age and through the Roman period, when the tribal area was a unit of local government. It subsequently became part of the Kingdom of the East Saxons a unit which is likely to have its roots in the territory of the Trinovantes. [4] After the Kingdom of Essex lost its independence, it evolved into the county of Essex.

The Domesday book of 1086 records four manors in the area, Chingford, Walthamstow, Higham and Leyton. At some point, before or after the Domesday survey these also became parishes, with Higham becoming part of the parish of Walthamstow. These parishes had largely stable borders from which those of the later Municipal Boroughs were derived, and these are the basis of our understanding of the extent of these local areas today.

Preservation of Epping Forest

The southern part of Epping Forest still extends into the south of the borough, 90% of it having been preserved by the Epping Forest Act of 1878. This not only assisted in preserving the forest, the attraction value also helped stimulate urbanisation of nearby areas.


Until the late Victorian era, the area that became the modern borough was rural in nature with a small dispersed population and a primarily agricultural landscape. Leyton, in particular, grew quite rapidly between 1870 and 1910. [5]

Industrial firsts

In 1892, a private citizen named Frederick Bremer built the first British motorcar in a workshop in his garden, at Connaught Road, Walthamstow. The vehicle is on display at the Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow. [6] In 1909, the aviation pioneer A V Roe successfully tested the first all-British aeroplane, the Roe I Triplane, on land at Walthamstow Marshes. [7]

Air Raids in World War One

The area now known as Waltham Forest experienced at least two Zeppelin raids during World War I. On 17/18 August 1915, Airship L10 took a route roughly following the Gospel Oak to Barking railway line, dropping incendiary and high-explosive bombs. The first bomb, an incendiary, fell on Hoe St, Walthamstow, at the junction of Orford and Queens Road; the last was dropped in Aldersbrook area. Ten people were killed in Leyton and another 48 injured across the wider area. On 23/24 September 1916 the German Navy airship L 31 dropped around ten bombs along the line of Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, killing eight there. On both occasions the Germans believed they were bombing the City, and it is thought they mistook the Lee Valley Reservoir Chain for the Thames. [8]

Blitz - World War Two

During the most intense period of the Blitz (October 1940 to June 1941), the area was hit [9] by around 728 high explosive bombs, 17 parachute mines and an unknown, but much greater number of small incendiary bombs. Subsequent raids were lighter and less frequent, [10] but 1944 saw a number of V-1 ‘flying bombs’ and V-2 long-range ballistic missiles hit the area, including a V-1 which landed on central Walthamstow killing 22 [11] [12] and a V-2 which landed on Chingford Road, Walthamstow killing 8. [13]

Creation of the modern Borough

Waltham Forest Town Hall Download2018 338.jpg
Waltham Forest Town Hall

The London Government Act 1963 established the borough in 1965 from the combined areas of the former Municipal Borough of Chingford, Municipal Borough of Leyton and Municipal Borough of Walthamstow, which all transferred to Greater London from the English county of Essex.

A petition opposed calling the new borough "Walthamstow", so perhaps for that reason the new borough took its name from the former Waltham Forest, an institution responsible for managing deer in an area that stretched eastwards from the River Lea and included large areas of agricultural land as well as the wooded areas subsequently known as Epping Forest and Hainault Forest.


The main centres of population in the borough are Chingford in the north, Walthamstow in the centre (the administrative hub including the council offices) and Leyton and Leytonstone to the South. Waltham Forest has the fifth largest Muslim population in England and the third largest in London (coming after its neighbouring boroughs, Newham and Tower Hamlets).

Population census
1801 6,500    
1811 8,165+25.6%
1821 9,239+13.2%
1831 9,505+2.9%
1841 9,806+3.2%
1851 10,759+9.7%
1861 22,635+110.4%
1871 34,512+52.5%
1881 46,388+34.4%
1891 92,948+100.4%
1901 154,146+65.8%
1911 255,661+65.9%
1921 267,592+4.7%
1931 280,094+4.7%
1941 274,172−2.1%
1951 268,383−2.1%
1961 251,205−6.4%
1971 235,145−6.4%
1981 214,595−8.7%
1991 217,625+1.4%
2001 218,277+0.3%
2011 258,249+18.3%
Note: [14]


Ethnic Group2001 [15] 2011 [16]
White: British121,69455.7%92,99936.0%
White: Irish5,1122.4%3,9591.5%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller369<1%
White: Other13,9976.4%37,47214.5%
White: Total140,80364.5%134,79952.1%
Asian or Asian British: Indian7,6713.5%9,1343.5%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani17,2957.9%26,34710.2%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi2,166<1%4,6321.7%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese1,443<1%2,579<1%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian5,0842.3%11,6974.5%
Asian or Asian British: Total33,65915.4%54,38920.8%
Black or Black British: African12,6305.8%18,8157.3%
Black or Black British: Caribbean17,7978.2%18,8417.3%
Black or Black British: Other Black3,2461.5%7,1352.7%
Black or Black British: Total33,67315.4%44,79117.3%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean3,0071.4%4,5681.7%
Mixed: White and Black African1,195<1%2,403<1%
Mixed: White and Asian1,580<1%2,6021.0%
Mixed: Other Mixed1,967<1%4,1931.6%
Mixed: Total7,7493.6%13,7765.2%
Other: Arab3,7761.4%
Other: Any other ethnic group2,4571.1%6,7282.6%
Other: Total2,4571.1%10,5044.0%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total77,53835.5%123,45047.9%

Open spaces

Epping Forest and the green corridor along the River Lea provide some of the borough's many open spaces, which include:

Arts, culture and leisure

Historically known as the seat of the Arts and Crafts Movement under the stewardship of William Morris, Waltham Forest has continued to succour many contemporary artists & art groups. These include the North East London Independent Artists (NELIA) group, based at the Changing Room Gallery in Lloyd Park, the 491 Gallery in Leytonstone, and a number of independent artists, also mainly in the Leytonstone area. The annual E17 Art Trail, which includes open studios, exhibitions and events, is the biggest art event in the borough, and there is now a similar event in Leytonstone. Eamon Everall, founder member of the Stuckism art movement is a long-time resident in the borough where he also maintains a studio. [17]

Waltham Forest is home to a number of musicians that have found success in the UK, including East 17, Blazin' Squad, and Indie band Hefner, who formed in Walthamstow. The borough is also a centre of the grime musical genre; grime acts hailing from the borough include More Fire Crew, Lethal Bizzle, and Jammer amongst others.

The only theatre in the borough, The Waltham Forest Theatre, was situated in Lloyd Park. Though a local campaign was launched to save it in 2008 [18] the theatre was demolished in 2011.

Leyton Orient F.C. is the local professional football team, based at Brisbane Road, Leyton. In the 1962–63 season the club played in the top tier of English football, the Football League First Division, but currently are in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system.

Truman's Brewery is moving to Waltham Forest close to Blackhorse Road underground station in 2020, which will be a new entertainment hub in Walthamstow. [19]

Waltham Forest is the first ever London Borough of Culture. The award from the Mayor of London ensures that arts and culture are placed at the heart of our communities. Some of the programmes are: Hennography, Polish Jazz London Series, Human Library, E17: My Home, Waltham Forest Cello Fest - "London Borough of Culture meets Classical Music", We're all bats, E17 Designers Winter Night Market, Red Light Busking, Underground Lunchtime Recitals, Forest Uprising, Welcome to the Forest and Fighter Workshops. [20]


Waltham Forest was one of six local authorities to set up a Housing Action Trust under the Housing Act 1988. The Waltham Forest HAT covered various estates in need of regeneration: Cathall Road in Leytonstone, Oliver Close in Leyton, Boundary Road in Walthamstow and Chingford Hall in Chingford. The HAT transferred its redeveloped estates to Community-based Housing Association and shut down in April 2002. English Partnerships then demolished four empty tower blocks. [21]

The remaining Council housing in the borough is now managed by an arms-length management organisation, Waltham Forest Housing (formerly Ascham Homes). [22]


Waltham Forest was one of four host boroughs in east London for the 2012 Olympics. The northern part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is located in Eton Manor. The borough hosted events in its three Olympic-size swimming pools, one synchronised swimming pool and one water polo pool. These pools were used for athlete training.

During the Paralympic Games, Eton Manor hosted the Wheelchair Tennis events, with temporary seating for 10,500 spectators.

In April 2012, the Ministry of Defence identified the roof of Fred Wigg Tower as a potential location for surface-to-air missile defences during the Games. [23]


Waltham Forest has a number of institutes, including 3 colleges of further education. Leyton Sixth Form College was the second sixth form college in Southern England to get a licence, [24] and was awarded the title of best college in London for sport in 2013. [25] Others include Waltham Forest College and Sir George Monoux College. Waltham Forest has a sixth form college reorganised system which it adopted in 1985. [26]

Neighbouring authorities

Neighbouring authorities are Epping Forest (Essex) in the north, Redbridge in the east, with Newham and Hackney to the south. Haringey and Enfield lie to the west.

Constituent districts and wards

A map showing the wards of Waltham Forest since 2002 Waltham Forest London UK labelled ward map 2002.svg
A map showing the wards of Waltham Forest since 2002




The Central line of the London Underground serves the south of the borough, running alongside the A12 road with stations at Leyton and Leytonstone. The Victoria line runs roughly through the middle of the borough with stations at Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road. The Gospel Oak to Barking line of London Overground has stations at Walthamstow Queen's Road, Blackhorse Road, Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road. London Overground also runs services on the Lea Valley lines from Liverpool Street station in the City of London and serves stations at St James Street, Walthamstow Central, Wood Street, Highams Park and Chingford. Greater Anglia serves the south-west of the borough with a station at Lea Bridge. A number of London Buses routes serve the borough, as well as six night bus routes. The Central line and the Victoria line are both part of the Night Tube, which provides overnight tube services on Friday and Saturday nights. The pioneering Mini Holland program has begun to provide protected cycle lanes across the southern half of the borough, [27] increasing the ability to use bicycles as a transport option.

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, metro, light rail, tram, 21.0% of all residents aged 16–74; driving a car or van, 7.0%; bus, minibus or coach, 7.0%; train, 6.5%; on foot, 4.3%; work mainly at or from home, 2.1%; bicycle, 1.8%. [28]

Law enforcement

There is one police station which is based in Chingford and a number of additional patrol centres throughout the borough. Policing is now provided by the North-East Basic Command Unit (BCU) following a merger of Waltham Forest's and Newham's policing in 2018 [29]

Notable residents

David Beckham David Beckham.jpg
David Beckham

Waltham Forest is the birthplace of William Morris, best known as one of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris was a designer of wallpaper and patterned fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a pioneer of the socialist movement in Britain.

Other notable people, such as footballer and former England Captain David Beckham, rapper, songwriter and actor Redzz, I, Claudius star Derek Jacobi, former Essex and England cricket Captain Graham Gooch, and the film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock, were also born in the borough. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden was formed in Leyton, and Eastenders actress Rita Simons was born in Leytonstone. Notable Eastenders Actor Adam Woodyatt is from Walthamstow. The poet Pascale Petit, shortlisted three times for the TS Eliot poetry prize, lives in Walthamstow. Notable rap/grime artist Lethal Bizzle is from Walthamstow, and Grayson Perry, the 2003 Turner Prize-winning artist, has his studio in Walthamstow. X Factor finalist Fleur East is also from Walthamstow as well as British Taekwondo Athlete Lutalo Muhammad.

Sports teams

Twinned cities

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is twinned [30] with

Friendship links have also been established with

See also

Related Research Articles

Chingford Human settlement in England

Chingford is a town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It adjoins the edge of Epping Forest, with the River Lea to the west, Woodford Green and Buckhurst Hill to the east and Walthamstow to the south. The town is situated is 8.6 miles (13.8 km) north-east of Charing Cross, and has a population of 66,211 as of 2011. It contains the areas of Chingford Hatch, Chingford Mount, Friday Hill, Hale End, Highams Park, North Chingford and South Chingford.

Leyton Human settlement in England

Leyton is a suburban town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It borders Walthamstow to the north, Leytonstone to the east, and Stratford to the south, with Clapton and Homerton, across the River Lea, to the west. The area includes New Spitalfields Market, Leyton Orient Football Club, as well as part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The town consists largely of terraced houses built between 1870 and 1910, interspersed with some modern housing estates. It is 6.2 miles (10 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Walthamstow Human settlement in England

Walthamstow is a large town and former parish in East London, England, within the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It adjoins Chingford and the North Circular Road to the north, Snaresbrook and South Woodford to the east, Leyton and Leytonstone to the south, and Tottenham and the Lea Valley Reservoir Chain to the west. It is situated 7.5 miles (12.1 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Leytonstone Area of East London

Leytonstone is a suburban town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It adjoins Wanstead, Aldersbrook and Wanstead Park to the east, Forest Gate to the south-east, Stratford to the south-west, Leyton to the west, Walthamstow to the north-west, contains the southern edges of Epping Forest and is 7 miles (11.3 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Leyton tube station London Underground station

Leyton is a London Underground station in Leyton, in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, east London. Located on Leyton High Road, adjacent to the A12, the station is on the Central line between two stations assigned to two fare zones - Stratford and Leytonstone. It is in zone 3.

Woodford Green Human settlement in England

Woodford Green is an affluent area of Woodford in east London, England, within the London Borough of Redbridge. It adjoins Buckhurst Hill to the north, Woodford Bridge to the east, South Woodford to the south, and Chingford to the west. Epping Forest runs through Woodford Green in the west of the area, 9.4 miles (15.1 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Lea Bridge Human settlement in England

Lea Bridge is a district in the London Borough of Hackney and the London Borough of Waltham Forest in London, England. It lies 7 miles (11.3 km) northeast of Charing Cross.

Sewardstone Human settlement in England

Sewardstone is a hamlet in the civil parish of Waltham Abbey, in the Epping Forest District of Essex, England. It is 11.6 miles north-northeast of Central London and is in the London commuter belt. In 2018 it had an estimated population of 1128.

East London Northeastern part of London, United Kingdom

East London is a popularly and informally defined part of London, capital of the United Kingdom. By most definitions, it is east of the ancient City of London and north of the River Thames. It broadly comprises the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. This understanding accords closely, but not exactly, with the interpretation of the area consisting of the former Tower Division, and London east of the Lea. The East End of London is a subset of East London, consisting of areas close to the ancient City of London. The Eastern (E) Postal District is a different subset of East London; and there is also an "East" sub-region used in the London Plan for planning policy reporting purposes. The most recent (2011) iteration includes seven boroughs north of the Thames, with the addition of three boroughs south of the river.

Walthamstow (UK Parliament constituency)

Walthamstow, // is a constituency created in 1974 represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Stella Creasy, a member of the Labour Co-op party. An earlier version of the constituency existed covering a significantly different area (1885–1918) and was among the vast majority by that time returning one member to the House of Commons.

Highams Park Human settlement in England

Highams Park is a district of Chingford in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, England. It is a suburban area adjacent to Epping Forest and situated 8.7 miles (14 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Municipal Borough of Chingford

Chingford was a local government district in south west Essex, England from 1894 to 1965, around the town of Chingford. It was within the London suburbs, forming part of the London postal district and Metropolitan Police District. Its former area now corresponds to the northern part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest in Greater London.

Municipal Borough of Leyton

Leyton was a local government district in southwest Essex, England, from 1873 to 1965. It included the neighbourhoods of Leyton, Leytonstone and Cann Hall. It was suburban to London, forming part of the London postal district and Metropolitan Police District. It now forms the southernmost part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest in Greater London.

Wanstead Flats Southernmost part of Epping Forest, England

Wanstead Flats is the southernmost portion of Epping Forest covering Leytonstone and Wanstead, London. The flats and by extension the forest ends at Forest Gate directly to the south. It now falls wholly within the boundaries of London Borough of Redbridge and London Borough of Waltham Forest, though until 1994 two parts of it were in the London Borough of Newham - one of these was the section between Aldersbrook Road and Capel Road east of the junction between Aldersbrook Road and St Margaret's Road, whilst the other was the strip running along Capel Road between its junctions with Centre Road and Ridley Road. As part of Epping Forest, the flats is managed by the City of London Corporation.

River Ching River in Essex, England

The River Ching is a tributary of the River Lea, flowing from Epping Forest, in southeast England.

Whipps Cross Human settlement in England

Whipps Cross is an area of the districts of Leytonstone and Walthamstow in the London Borough of Waltham Forest in London, England. It is most famous for Whipps Cross University Hospital.

Lea Bridge Road

Lea Bridge Road is a major through route in east London, across the Lea Valley from Clapton to Whipps Cross in Leyton. It forms part of the A104 road.

Waltham Forest Guardian now known as Your Local Guardian, is a weekly local newspaper sold every Thursday in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest and Redbridge.

South Chingford Human settlement in England

South Chingford is an area of Chingford in east London, England. It is a largely residential area which is the location of the Chingford Hall Estate, Chingford Mount and the former Walthamstow Stadium.


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  2. 2011 Census: Ethnic group, local authorities in England and Wales , Office for National Statistics (2012). See Classification of ethnicity in the United Kingdom for the full descriptions used in the 2011 Census.
  3. "Waltham Forest definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England, p46. Barbara Yorke. Yorke makes reference to research by Rodwell and Rodwell (1986) and Bassett (1989)
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  15. "KS006 - Ethnic group". NOMIS. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
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  19. 'Hot Dinners News', Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  20. BBC: "Events mark Waltham Forest becoming Borough of Culture"
  21. "English Partnerships: A residuary body for Housing Action Trusts". Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2007.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  22. "Ascham Homes performance worsens". Waltham Forest Guardian. 24 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  23. "Missiles could be deployed at six sites during Olympics, MOD confirm". Daily Telegraph. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  24. Koscielak, Kasia. "News - Leyton Sixth Form achieves Investors in People Gold Award". Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  25. "College named best in London for sport". East London and West Essex Guardian Series.
  26. "Further Education (Hansard, 6 June 1991)".
  27. "About Enjoy Waltham Forest | Enjoy Waltham Forest". Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  28. "2011 Census: QS701EW Method of travel to work, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 November 2013. Percentages are of all residents aged 16-74 including those not in employment. Respondents could only pick one mode, specified as the journey’s longest part by distance.
  29. "The Met to Merge Newham & Waltham Forest police forces".
  30. 1 2 "Town twinning". Waltham Forest Council. Retrieved 7 November 2017.

Coordinates: 51°34′N0°02′W / 51.567°N 0.033°W / 51.567; -0.033