Stratford is a district in the East End of London, in the London Borough of Newham, England. It is 6 miles (10 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross and is in East London. Stratford is part of the Lower Lea Valley and includes the localities of Maryland, East Village, Mill Meads (shared with West Ham), Stratford City and Forest Gate. It is historically part of the ancient parish and subsequent County Borough of West Ham, which became the western half of the modern borough within a Greater London in 1965. Historically an agrarian settlement in the county of Essex, Stratford was transformed into an industrial suburb after the introduction of the railway in 1839.
West Ham Town Hall, Stratford
|Population||51,387 (2011 Census Stratford and New Town, Forest Gate North and South wards)|
|OS grid reference||TQ385845|
|• Charing Cross||6 mi (9.7 km) WSW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||E7, E15, E20|
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 was the principal venue and later with West Ham United F.C. and British Athletics moving to the London Stadium.
Stratford, along with Ilford and Romford are East London's primary retail, cultural and leisure centres. Stratford has also become the second most significant (after Canary Wharf) business location in the east of the capital.
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 Essex on 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 in 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 settlements.
The settlement to the east of the Lea was also known as Estratford referring to the location east of the other Stratford, 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, ordered a distinctively bow-shaped (arched) bridge to be built over the River Lea, together with a causeway across the marshes along the line now occupied by Stratford High Street. Reports state she (or her retinue) encountered problems crossing the river to get to Barking Abbey.
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.
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 known as 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.
The doorway to the Old Court House, in Tramway Avenue (Stratford), displays the Abbey's coat of arms. 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 in 1887. The new London Borough of Newham adopted the same arms in 1965.
The industrialisation of Stratford started slowly and accelerated rapidly in the early Victorian era.
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 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.
Rapid growth followed the 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 1886:
"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 the River Lea at Stratford by the 1820s, serving the needs of local industries. However, the opening of the nearby Royal Victoria Dock in 1855 and the subsequent construction of the 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.
Stratford station was opened on 20 June 1839 by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). The 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.
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.
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 Newham.
Despite forming part of the built up area of London the parish remained outside the statutory metropolitan area established in 1855 and the 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.
In 1965 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.
Stratford is part of the mayorship under the Mayor of Newham which is a directly elected mayor and is held by Rokhsana Fiaz since 4 May 2018. In 2018, previous incumbent Sir Robin Wales was de-selected by the Newham Labour Party to be their candidate in the mayoral election, losing to Custom House councillor Rokhsana Fiaz by 861 votes to Wales who had 503.
The modern borough has an electoral ward named 'Stratford and New Town'.
Post code districts
Residents of Stratford elect three councilors every four years to represent them on Newham Council. The next election is scheduled to take place in May 2022.
The Church of England parish church of Stratford is the 1830s church called St John's on Stratford Broadway, a major thoroughfare and The Grove and is part of Diocese of Chelmsford, itself part of the Province of Canterbury. It is a Grade II listed building. 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.
Both of Stratford's shopping centres: The Stratford Centre and the recently opened (2011) Westfield Stratford City are 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 as the local economy has grown, and is the location of a number of major projects.
- Westfield 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 John Lewis, 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 the athletes' 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.
- Improving Stratford station with new platforms, walkways and entrances.
- Rebuilding of Pudding Mill Lane DLR station as part of the Crossrail project
- 150 High Street, Stratford, a 41-storey 133 m (436 ft) high residential tower.
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 to have facilities by 2018.
- International Quarter London; will see 13 office and 2 residential buildings as well as a hotel.
- A 26-acre development called Sugar House Island at Mill Meads is expected to see 2,500 jobs brought to the area, along with 1,200 homes (over 40% three bed or more), a new school, 350-bed hotel and new amenities for local people. This is a relatively low-rise scheme, with Dane's Yard, its first phase, regenerating a Conservation Area to form a new hub for creative businesses, by European developer Vastint.
- Redevelopment of Morgan House and the southern end of the Stratford Centre into a new office, hotel, and 42- and 21-storey residential towers.
- 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.
- King Edward VII public house
It was originally called "The King of Prussia", either in honour of 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 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 near Colchester; there it was cleaned and repainted at the expense of the Olympic Delivery Authority and returned to Stratford in 2011.
- 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.
- Abbey Mills Pumping Stations
Built in 1868 as part of the new 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's Cultural Quarter, adjacent to the shopping centre, is home to several arts venues, bars and cafes. Such as the Theatre Royal Stratford East which designed by architect James George Buckle, who was commissioned by the actor-manager Charles Dillon in 1884. 'Stratford East' however is not a location; the 'East' is used to differentiate between Stratford (east London) and Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford Circus is a contemporary performing arts venue that was designed by Levitt Bernstein architects and built with funding from the National Lottery which opened in 2001.
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). The Discover Children's Story Centre is a partner in the Cultural Quarter which is a purpose-built Story World and Story Garden are creative play spaces, it works with schools, libraries and the local community.
Stratford has been used as a shooting location for numerous films, notably Sparrows Can't Sing (1963) and Bronco Bullfrog (1970), Batman Begins (2005) and Attack the Block (2011). 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 Stratford Centre.
The first annual Invictus Games (set up by Prince Harry) were held between 10–14 September 2014 in the park, events were held at many of the venues used during the 2012 Olympics, including the Copper Box and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre which had 300 competitors from 13 countries which have fought alongside the United Kingdom in recent military campaigns participated.
The Premier League football club West Ham United F.C. is based in Stratford Queen Elizabeth Olympics Park. From 1904 until 2016, the club's home ground was Boleyn Ground in Upton Park. In 2016, West Ham moved to a new multi-purpose ground, the London Stadium, which is also home to UK Athletics (known as British Athletics) who ground share with West Ham. The stadium has hosted a few 2015 Rugby World Cup and English rugby union matches and also both the 2017 IAAF World Championships and the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
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.
Newham College of Further Education is a further education college that has a campus in Stratford which opened in 1993 with Stratford as it secondary educational teaching site. In April 2016 the college announced a strategic alliance with University of East London.
The Chobham Academy is an academy in the Stratford neighbourhood of East Village and is run by the Harris Federation which opened in September 2013. It is classed as an education campus and comprises a nursery, primary and secondary school, sixth form and adult learning facility.
Sarah Bonnell School is one of the oldest girls schools in England and currently a girls only secondary school. It had moved to its present site in Deanery Road from Forest Gate. It took over the buildings that had previously been called Deanery High School for Girls and Stratford Green Secondary School.
The Carpenters Primary School is a state school in the Carpenters Estate, the livery company of the City of London Worshipful Company of Carpenters has close links with the school who make regular grants. The school is built on a site next to the original Carpenters’ Institute.
Other schools in Stratford include Colegrave, John F Kennedy and also St Francis and Maryland in the locality of Maryland.
Stratford has significant and historical transport hub, and today is well served by bus routes, and a number of railway stations and cycle lanes, as well by omnibuses and coaches in the 19th century. Stratford overall is served by six stations, covering a large catchment area.
Stratford Regional is a major National Rail interchange on the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line and Lea Valley Lines. According to 2017-18 figures, 40.08 million passengers entered or exited the station, making it the UK's 7th busiest station. The station is managed by TfL Rail. The station is served by several rail operators. Greater Anglia and TfL Rail both run services out of London Liverpool Street in the City of London to Stratford. TfL Rail trains travel east as far as Shenfield in Essex, via Romford. Greater Anglia trains terminate at destinations in East Anglia, including Southend Victoria, Colchester Town, Harwich, Ipswich and Norwich. Trains run directly to London Southend Airport from Stratford. Greater Anglia trains also use Lea Valley Lines towards Tottenham Hale and Bishop's Stortford. London Overground services from Stratford follow the North London Line towards Highbury & Islington, travelling through Gospel Oak and Willesden Junction towards Richmond or Clapham Junction. London Underground's Central and Jubilee lines both serve the station, linking Stratford to Oxford Street, Wembley Stadium, Epping and Canary Wharf. The Jubilee line was extended to Stratford in 1999. The 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 and Woolwich Arsenal.
Stratford International, to the northwest, is on the High Speed 1 (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 international Eurostar services to call. The International and Regional stations are linked by a branch of the Docklands Light Railway – opened in August 2011.
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 west of Stratford town centre 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 Crossrail project. Also is Stratford High Street, another DLR-only station to the south of Stratford Regional, 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 and in eastern residential area of Stratford known as Forest Gate is also served by Forest Gate railway station. This service also calls at Stratford and was incorporated into the Crossrail service in 2017.
Bus and Coach
London Buses travel to destinations in the West and East End, northeast and south London, served by London Bus routes 69, 86, 104, 158, 238, 241, 257, 262, 276, 308, 425, 473, D8 and by the 25 and N8 to Central London.
A newer bus station, Stratford City bus station, opened in 2011 as part of the Westfield Stratford City regeneration project to the north of Stratford Regional. London Bus routes 97, 241, 308, 339, 388, 108 and N205 call here. National Express run coaches from Stratford City bus station to Stansted Airport and destinations in East Anglia. Megabus coaches also call at Stratford City bus station with a direct service to Norwich.
Stratford is connected to the National Road Network by several major routes.
The A12 passes through Stratford between Bow and Leyton, carrying eastbound traffic from London towards the North Circular, the M25, the M11 and East Anglia. The A11 (Bow Road) meets the A12 at the Bow Interchange to Stratford's southwest. The A11 carries traffic between the City and Stratford, whilst the A12 to the south carries traffic to the A13 and Canary Wharf. Transport for London (TfL) are responsible for the A11 and A12 roads.
Stratford High Street is numbered the A118, which runs from Bow Interchange to Ilford and Romford. The A112 is a north-south route through Stratford, which ultimately terminates near Chingford in the north (via Leyton and Walthamstow) and London City Airport in the south.
All roads in Stratford are part of London's Low Emission Zone.
Newham Council partake in roadside pollution monitoring. In a 2018 report, Leytonstone Road in Stratford recorded the highest percentage of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in roadside air of all monitoring sites in Newham, with an annual mean of 60%. Temple Mills Lane in Stratford recorded an annual mean of 40%. It is thought that Nitrogen Dioxide is linked to respiratory conditions, can decrease lung function and increase response to allergens.
The eastern terminus of Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) is on Stratford High Street. CS2 follows Stratford High Street southwest on segregated cycle track towards Bow Interchange. Signal controls at Bow Interchange give priority to cyclists, who can also use cycle lanes to cross the junction. CS2 then follows Bow Road (the A11) to Aldgate on cycle track. CS2 was the first fully segregated Cycle Superhighway to open in London.
Quietway 6 passes through the north of Stratford between Victoria Park and Wanstead, running non-stop to Barkingside in the northeast. Quietway 22 runs from Victoria Park, over Stratford High Street (CS2), towards Plaistow and Beckton. Quietways are signposted routes on quieter roads.
National Cycle Route 1 (NCN1) skirts around Stratford on its northwestern edge, running along the Hertford Union Canal and Lee Navigation towpaths. NCN1 is a long cycle route between Dover, Kent, and the Shetland Islands, running in north London non-stop between the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and Waltham Abbey. Cycling is permitted on the Hertford Union Canal and Lee Navigation towpaths around Stratford, which are shared-use paths maintained by the Canal and River Trust.
Between 2010 and 2014, the A118 (Stratford High Street) saw 153 pedal cycle casualties, constituting a 31% share of cycle casualties in Newham. By 2016, however, there were only 79 serious cyclist injuries across the whole borough, with no deaths. The Borough has launched a "Cycling Strategy" to improve cycling provisions between 2018 and 2025.
People from Stratford
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