Waltham Forest

The London Borough of Waltham Forest was formed in 1965 when local government in London was reorganised. It represented the merger of the Essex boroughs of Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow. It lies to the northeast of the City of London and is bordered by the London boroughs of Enfield, Haringey, Hackney, Newham and Redbridge.

Population change

1966:239,520 people
1998:219,400 people

The old centres of the borough are the villages of Leytonstone and Walthamstow. The land between these centres became built up during the late 19th century as speculative builders built streets of terrace housing for London's railway commuters.

Despite the Victorian building activity, by 2000 the district included 507 acres of green spaces and open land. Parks such as Coronation Gardens and Langthorne Park are visited every day. Epping Forest is also on the borough's border.

Walthamstow has always had an industrial character, thanks to its nearness to the River Lea. The Lea Valley was home to a number of established waterside industries such as copper refining, milling, and arms manufacture.

In the early 20th century, Walthamstow also became home to Britain's fledging film industry. Four film studios were operating in Walthamstow by the 1920s, producing around 6% of the output of the British film industry by 1930.

Waltham Forest's famous former residents include William Morris and David Beckham. Morris, an influential social thinker and Arts and Crafts designer, lived in Walthamstow in the late 19th century. In the 20th century his house was made into a museum devoted to his work. Walthamstow's former workhouse, Vestry House, was also turned into a museum in 1930. David Beckham, who became captain of the England football team, was born in Whipps Cross Hospital and grew up in the borough in the 1970s.

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