Newham was formed in 1965 by the amalgamation of the two former county boroughs of West Ham and East Ham (hence 'New'ham), as well as areas from the former boroughs of Barking and Woolwich. Situated five miles to the east of the City of London, the borough's southern boundary is the River Thames. It also borders the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Barking.

Population change:

1966 258,000 people
1998 228,000 people

Newham's development was tied up with industry and its riverside docks, both of which suffered traumatic change in the last quarter of the 20th century. Newham's riverside districts had been absorbed into London's dock complexes during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Victoria Dock was constructed in the 1850s and was the first in the country to be connected to the main railway system. The Albert Dock opened in 1880 and the King George V Dock in 1921. This group of docks was the largest in the world, and goods were transported from here all over the world.

The closure of the docks left this part of Newham virtually derelict. This, combined with the reduction in London's manufacturing from the 1970s onwards, hit Newham particularly hard and the borough ended the 20th century as the second most deprived in London, according to official figures. But the area had already begun to be regenerated. London City Airport, the residential quarter of Beckton and the Docklands campus of the University of East London are all important new developments in the borough.

In the last quarter of the 20th century Newham's population also became one of the most ethnically diverse in London, and indeed in Britain as a whole. By 1998 21% of Newham's residents were from an Afro Caribbean background, 32% from a South Aisian background, and 39% from a White British background.

Newham had long-established industrial areas along the Lea Valley's network of rivers and canals. House Mill, built in 1776 on Three Mills Island, was once the largest and most powerful tidal mill in the country. Clock Mill was built in 1817 and the third mill, a windmill, stood on the island until 1838. The mills were used initially to grind grain for flour but were later used in the distilling process.

Newham's historic industrial buildings also include Abbey Mills pumping station, designed by Joseph Bazalgette and built in the 1860s to carry London's increasing amounts of sewage away from the capital.

Another well-known local landmark is the Boleyn Ground stadium, the home of West Ham football team. The team members were originally employees of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, which operated in Canning Town. The team was formed in 1900 and soon newspapers began to refer to it as the 'Hammers' however fans used (and still use) the name the 'Irons'.

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