Ilford Essex in Redbridge Greater London

  Photos of Ilford Town Hall, Clock on Ilford High Road and The Exchange
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History of Ilford

Saxon age to the present day

Early days

You wouldn't believe it but elephants, rhinos, tigers and wolves once inhabited Ilford. In fact, one of the best specimens of a mammoth with its huge tusks were found in Ilford (go see the skull at the National History Museum). But that was rather a long time ago. Around Saxon times existed the hamlet of Ilefort. This name is in the Doomsday Book. It may have been known as Hile-ford as it was a ford in the River Hile, which is now the River Roding.


In 1650 Ilford consisted of 60 houses, close together. Since the arrival of the Great Eastern Railway to the area in 1839, the population numbers started climbing. In 1880 the population was 10,000 people.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill statue in Woodford Green

In 1910 this climbed to an incredible 78,000. In 1938 it was 167,000.

Peter Griggs was a well-respected man who was instrumental in building houses to hold the soaring population. When Ilford grew big enough to have its own constituency, he was elected as Ilford's first MP in 1918. Griggs presented a Clock Tower, which was once a major landmark in the area, to Ilford in 1901 at the Broadway. In 1934 it was relocated to South Park. It was there destroyed by a V2 bomb during the Second World War. On October 21, 1926, the present Queen Mother visited Ilford Town Hall with King George VI, to present the Royal Charter, creating a Municipal Borough in the County of Essex from the former Urban District of Ilford. In 1965 it was incorporated into the London Borough of Redbridge as London grew.

That was not the only Royal visit. There have been others, the other most notable one being when the present Queen Elizabeth II visited the 1000th council house completed since 1945 (end of WWII).



The new Cinema complex being built, behind the Town Hall

Large firms that started here include Kelvin Hughes, Howards Ltd, Plessey Radio and Television Company and Ilford Photographic Company. Ilford Photographic company is now Ilford Imaging and is a large multinational company and is perhaps best known for their black and white photo film on sale at Boots, etc. It started in 1879, when a Mr Alfred Hugh Harman set up a business in the basement of his house on the corner of Cranbrook Road and Park Avenue (where the Cranbrook pub is now). A year after, his business expanded and moved to Roden Street, trading as the Britannia Works Company, later becoming Ilford Ltd. Britannia Music is now on/near the old site.

Dr Barnardo's Village Homes for Girls started in Ilford. In 1870 he was offered some land on a rent-free lease for 15 years as a wedding present. This is where he set up the home and took on six girls. It soon increased to 60. He decided that so many girls in one building was not good for them, so he purchased adjoining land and created separate dwellings. The Queen Mother visited Dr Barnardo's on June 29, 1935.

Notable events

John Logie Baird, who invented the television, moved to Ilford in the mid/late 1920s to work on his new invention. He worked in a workshop on the roof of Plessey's.


Dowling, I. And Harris, N. Ilford: The Old Photograph Series (1994). ISBN: 0752400509

Tasker, G. Ilford Past And Present. Redbridge Libraries (1901). ISBN: 0901616052

Gunby, N. A Potted History of Ilford. (1997). ISBN: 0951583220

Detailed history on the company Ilford Imaging


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