From top to bottom: Redbridge Town Hall on Ilford High Road; Ilford Hill
|Population||168,168 (2011 Census|
|OS grid reference|
|• Charing Cross||14.2 mi (22.9 km) WSW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Ilford is a large town in East London, situated in the London Borough of Redbridge. Identified as a metropolitan centre in the London Plan, Ilford is classed as a significant commercial and retail centre for the wider south east of England. It had a population of 168,168 in 2011, compared to 303,858 for the entire borough.
Ilford's commercial and retail centre is surrounded by extensive residential development. Historically a small rural settlement in southwest Essex, its strategic position on the River Roding and the London to Colchester road made it a coaching town. The arrival of the railway in 1839 accelerated its growth, and in the 20th century Ilford significantly expanded and increased in population, becoming a municipal borough in 1926. Since 1965 it has formed part of Greater London.
Origins and administration
Ilford was historically known as Great Ilford to differentiate it from nearby Little Ilford. The name is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ilefort and means "ford over the Hyle". "Hyle" is an old name for the River Roding that means "trickling stream". Great and Little Ilford share the place name origin, but the Domesday reference is to the Little Ilford area.
Great and Little Ilford appear to have always been distinct areas separated by the Roding. The place names of Great and Little Ilford both appear to derive from the ford (and river), rather than deriving from the subdivision of a larger Ilford area.
Manor of Barking
Barking was a huge Manor (landholding), first mentioned in a charter in 735 AD. The Manor covered the areas now known as Barking, Dagenham and Ilford. The Manor was held by the Nunnery of Barking Abbey.
Ancient Parish of Barking
By the late 1100s (the Parishes of England were, with a few exceptions, fixed for around 700 years from the late 12th century onwards) the huge Manor of Barking was served by two Ancient Parishes, Barking (including Ilford) and Dagenham. This reversed the usual situation (for smaller, and even quite large Manors) where a parish would serve one or more manors. As with other manors, the area held by the declined over time, but the parish boundaries based on its former extent remained constant.
The Parish of Barking, in the Becontree hundred of Essex, covered the areas now known as Barking and Ilford. Barking was a large ancient parish of 12,307 acres (49.80 km2) in the Becontree hundred of Essex. It was divided into the wards of Chadwell, Great Ilford, Ripple and Town.
Ilford separates from Barking
The Barking parish authorities gradually lost responsibility for a variety of functions during the 19th century; from 1836, for the administration of poor relief, Ilford came within the Romford Poor Law Union and in 1840 the Metropolitan Police District was extended to cover the area. In 1875, the Romford rural sanitary district was created, covering a wide area including Ilford.
In 1888, Ilford and the neighbouring ward of Chadwell to east were split from Barking and together formed a separate Ilford civil parish and also a new Urban District Council. In 1890, a local board of health was set up for the parish, replacing the rural sanitary authority, and in 1894 a reform of local government reconstituted it as an urban district. It formed part of the London Traffic Area from 1924 and the London Passenger Transport Area from 1933. It was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Ilford in 1926.
The suburban expansion of London caused a significant increase in population and the borough became one of the largest in England not to gain county borough status.
London Borough of Redbridge
In 1965, the municipal borough was abolished and its former area was combined with that of Wanstead and Woodford, the northern extremity of Dagenham and a small part Chigwell Urban District (around Hainault), to form the new London Borough of Redbridge.
Ilford is divided between the UK Parliament constituencies of Ilford North and Ilford South. Ilford North consists of the Redbridge wards of Aldborough, Barkingside, Redbridge, Clayhall, Fairlop, Fullwell, Hainault and Roding. The MP is Wes Streeting of the Labour Party, who succeeded the previous MP Lee Scott of the Conservative Party in the 2015 general election. Ilford South corresponds to the Redbridge wards of Chadwell, Clementswood, Cranbrook, Goodmayes, Loxford, Mayfield, Newbury, Seven Kings, and Valentines. The MP is Sam Tarry of the Labour Party. Ilford forms part of the Havering and Redbridge London Assembly constituency.
Pre-historic natural history
The only complete skull of a mammoth discovered in the United Kingdom was unearthed in 1864 close to where Uphall Road is today. The skull can now be seen in the Natural History Museum and a cast of the skull and other prehistoric animal remains can be seen at Redbridge Museum, Central Library, Ilford.
Redevelopment has destroyed much of the evidence for early Ilford, but the oldest evidence for human occupation is the 1st- and 2nd-century BC Iron Age earthwork known as Uphall Camp. This was situated between the Roding and Ilford Lane and is recorded in 18th-century plans. Roman finds have also been made in the vicinity.
A nearby mound called Lavender Mount existed into the 1960s, when it was removed during building work at Howards chemical works. Excavation has shown that Lavender Mount may have been a 16th-century 'beacon-mound'. Archaeological discoveries are displayed at Redbridge Museum.
Ilford straddled the important road from London to Colchester. The Middlesex and Essex Turnpike Trust controlled and maintained the road from 1721. The River Roding was made navigable for barges as far as Ilford Bridge from 1737. Ilford remained largely rural until its expansion in the 19th century. This brought about brickworks, cement works and coal yards to service the new buildings, largely centred on the River Roding. In 1839, a railway station was opened on the line from Romford to Mile End. The early businesses gave way to new industries, such as paper making and services such as steam laundries and collar making, to provide for the new commuting class created by the railway. A number of major businesses have been founded in the town, including the eponymous photographic film and chemicals manufacturer Ilford Photo. This was founded in 1879 by Alfred H. Harman, a photographer from Peckham, who established the business in a house in Cranbrook Road making gelatino-bromide 'dry' plates. The business soon outgrew these premises, and its headquarters moved to a site at Roden Street until 1976 when the factory was closed. Many Ilford Limited products are displayed at Redbridge Museum.
The radio, electronics and telecommunications company Plessey, founded in 1917 in Marylebone, moved to Cottenham Road in Ilford early in 1919 and then to Vicarage Lane where became one of the largest manufacturers in its field. During World War II, the factory was heavily damaged by bombing and the company carried out much of its manufacture, with 2,000 workers servicing a production line, located in the underground railway tunnel between Wanstead and Gants Hill. In 1955 the company employed 15,000 workers, in sites throughout Ilford and neighbouring areas, with an extensive research department. BAL-AMi Jukeboxes were manufactured at 290-296 High Road, Ilford, during the 1950s, which also served as the headquarters of the Balfour (Marine) Engineering company. The Exchange is the main shopping centre.
By 1653, Ilford was a compact village of 50 houses, mostly sited north and south of the current Broadway and the area was distinctly rural. In 1801 the population of Ilford was 1,724 and by 1841 it had grown to 3,742. It had a population of 41,244 in 1901 and occupied an area of 8,496 acres (34 km2). 2,500 houses of the vast Becontree Estate, built by the London County Council from 1921, were within the boundaries of Ilford; the addition caused a rise in population of 11,600 by 1926. The Central line service of the London Underground to new and former main-line stations in the area began in 1947 and the population of the Municipal Borough of Ilford peaked in 1951 at 184,706, declining to 178,024 in 1961 before being absorbed into Redbridge and Greater London in 1965. At the 2001 Census the combined populations of the Ilford North and Ilford South constituencies was 196,414.
John Logie Baird, who invented the television, moved to Ilford in the mid to late 1920s to work on his new invention. He worked in a workshop on the roof of the Plessey premises in Ley Street, which has long since been demolished to make way for new housing.
During World War II an Ilford man lost his life when his Royal Air Force training airplane crashed in the United States. Local residents living near the site, in the State of Oklahoma, erected a monument in 2000 honoring the lives of all four RAF fliers who perished. The event was attended by the Lord Mayor of Ilford and his Mace Bearer, to much local acclaim. The residents, who include Choctaw Indians and the Choctaw Nation government, continue honoring the lives of all four on each anniversary of the crashes, which took place in February 1943.
In 2005, Ilford was ranked 6th in the Retail Footprint ranking for Greater London, behind London's West End, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Bromley and Brent Cross Shopping Centre. It ranked just above Romford and central London's Kensington. As of 2020, Ilford has 145,860 square metres (1,570,000 sq ft) of total town centre floorspace, the 10th highest in London and noticeably lower compared to Stratford and Romford.
Ilford is bounded in the west by the North Circular Road and the River Roding and is contiguous with Barking to the south, Gants Hill and Barkingside to the north and Seven Kings to the east. The Alders Brook is a tributary of the Roding that marks the boundary between Newham and Redbridge. Climate data for Ilford is taken from the nearest weather station at Greenwich, around 6 miles (9.7 km) south south west of the railway station:
|Climate data for Greenwich Park, elevation: 47 m (154 ft), 1981–2010 normals|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.4
|Average high °C (°F)||8.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.6
|Average low °C (°F)||3.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−9.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||41.6
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||11.4||8.5||9.8||9.0||9.2||7.4||6.3||8.1||8.6||10.9||10.9||9.5||109.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||44.7||65.4||101.7||148.3||170.9||171.4||176.7||186.1||133.9||105.4||59.6||45.8||1,410|
|Source 1: Met Office|
|Source 2: BBC Weather|
Historic population statistics
|# no census was held due to war|
|source: UK census|
The entire town of Ilford is also made up of its neighbourhoods Aldborough Hatch, Barkingside, Clayhall, Cranbrook, Fairlop, Fullwell Cross, Loxford, Gants Hill, Goodmayes, Newbury Park, Redbridge and Seven Kings. It approximates to 11 electoral wards, and the total population counted 168,168 people in the 2011 census, compared to 303,858 for the borough of Redbridge as a whole.
Ilford has a very large ethnic-minority population, one of the most diverse towns in the country.
Ilford North had the fourth-highest Jewish proportion of residents in the 2001 census. The Hindu, Muslim and Sikh population number some 30,000. The large South Asian community in Ilford speak a variety of languages, including Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu.
According to the 2001 census, the parliamentary constituencies of Ilford North and Ilford South consisted of the following demographs:
|Ilford North||Ilford South|
|Ilford North||Ilford South|
At the 2011 census, the Clementswood ward's population with a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) background was 84.2%, one of the highest in Greater London. Most of Ilford's other wards have figures above 70%. The lowest BAME ward in Ilford was Fairlop, 34.9%.
House prices in Ilford are generally far lower compared to the average in Greater London. The median house price in 2014 in Ilford's Loxford ward was £193,000, which was the 6th lowest out of the 628 wards of Greater London.
In most wards, a majority of houses are owned by the households. The exceptions are in Clementswood, Loxford, and Valentines.
The table below shows housing type data for Ilford's wards as of the 2011 census (but altered to match new ward boundaries as of 2015).
|Ward||Detached||Semi-detached||Terraced||Flats and apartments|
The male life expectancy was 76.4 years in Loxford, and 84.5 years in Barkingside. The female expectancy was highest in Barkingside, 87.5 years, and lowest in Loxford, 81.7 years.
The town centre is served by Ilford railway station on the Great Eastern Main Line in Travelcard Zone 4. All trains calling at the station are the high-frequency Liverpool Street-Shenfield metro service. This service was taken over by TfL Rail on 31 May 2015 as part of preparations for the arrival of Crossrail in 2020/21. The station was the scene of crashes in 1915 and 1944 that killed 10 and 9 people respectively. To the east is Ilford EMU Depot, a traction maintenance depot on the Great Eastern Main Line, operated by Greater Anglia.
The Central line of London Underground serves neighbourhoods of Ilford via Redbridge, Gants Hill, Newbury Park, Barkingside and Fairlop tube stations. The line passes through the northern half of the district with no stations in the town centre. Gants Hill is the closest, being about 1 mile to the north of Ilford railway station. Arguably due to its proximity to the town centre, it is also the busiest of these stations, recording 6.5 million entries and exits in 2018.
Valentines Mansion was built in 1696 and was used as council offices until 1994. It gives its name to Valentines Park, the largest green space in the borough. Pioneer Point is two buildings, Pioneer Point North is 105 m tall with 33 floors and Pioneer Point South is 82 m tall with 25 floors. Raphael House is 99m, Lynton House is 93m tall and was completed in 1969.
St Mary's Church is the original parish church, but for much of the 20th century St Clement's Church was the main Anglican church until it was demolished in 1977. St Alban's Church is a redbrick Neo-Gothic building on Albert Road. Ilford Hospital Chapel is the oldest building in Redbridge, dating back to c1140. St Luke's Church is occupied by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.
Loxford School of Science and Technology in Loxford has over 3000 students from 11–18, Seven Kings School is half that size. Palmer Catholic Academy is a Catholic secondary school and Ursuline Academy Ilford is a Catholic school for girls. Cranbrook School was an independent school that closed in 2016. Uphall Primary School is in Loxford near the North Circular.
Art, theatre and media
The local newspaper, covering the town and the borough, is the Ilford Recorder.
The poets Kathleen Raine (1908–2003) and Denise Levertov (1923–1997) were both born and spent their early years in Ilford. Levertov's Russian father, born a Hassidic Jew but converted to Christianity as a student, settled in Ilford as an Anglican minister. There is a tablet memorialising Levertov's father in Ilford's Hospital Chapel. Whilst Levertov wrote lyrically about Ilford, and in particular Valentines Park, in later life, Raine described it as a "suburban Hades".
The Kenneth More Theatre was officially opened in January 1975. It places emphasis on serving the local community, and stages a mix of professional and amateur productions. Its programme is varied, and runs throughout the year with productions generally changing on a weekly basis. It is well known within the local area for its annual pantomime, which normally runs from mid-December to mid-January.
St. Alban's Singers is a mixed voice choir for men and women based in St. Alban's Church in Albert Road, Ilford. The choir meets to rehearse at the church each Tuesday evening during term-time and aims to give three concerts per year.
Ilford Cricket Club plays home games at Valentines Park. This ground was opened in 1897. It was used regularly by Essex County Cricket Club, but inadequate maintenance meant that the county stopped playing there after 2001.
Two Non-League football clubs play at the Cricklefield Stadium, Ilford F.C. of the Essex Senior League and Barkingside F.C. of the Eastern Counties League Division One South. Waltham Forest F.C. (now Walthamstow F.C.) played at the Cricklefield from 2008–2013.
South Park is one of the largest open spaces in the London Borough of Redbridge and has been awarded Green Flag status. The Redbridge Parks Police patrolled the parks until they were disbanded in 2011.
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