London Borough of Waltham Forest
Coat of arms of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Official logo of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Fellowship is Life
Waltham Forest shown within Greater London
Waltham Forest shown within Greater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Created1 April 1965
Admin HQWalthamstow
 • TypeLondon borough council
 • BodyWaltham Forest London Borough Council
 • LeadershipLeader (Grace Williams) & Cabinet (Labour)
 • MayorCllr Elizabeth Baptiste[1]
 • London AssemblySem Moema (Labour) AM for North East
 • MPsJohn Cryer (Labour)
Stella Creasy (Labour)
Iain Duncan Smith (Con)
 • Total14.99 sq mi (38.82 km2)
 • Rank265th (of 296)
 • Total278,050
 • Rank58th (of 296)
 • Density19,000/sq mi (7,200/km2)
Time zoneUTC (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
Area code020
ONS code00BH
GSS codeE09000031
PoliceMetropolitan Police

The London Borough of Waltham Forest (/ˈwɔːlθəm/)[2] is an outer London borough formed in 1965 from the merger of the municipal boroughs of Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford.

The borough's administrative headquarters are at Waltham Forest Town Hall, which before the merger of the boroughs, was called Walthamstow Town Hall. The population was 278,428 at the 2021 census. Waltham Forest borders five other London boroughs: Enfield to the north-west, Haringey to the west, Hackney to the south-west, Newham to the south-east and Redbridge to the east, as well as the non-metropolitan county of Essex to the north.

The borough takes its name from the former Waltham Forest – an institution which managed deer in south-west Essex. Epping Forest is a remainder of the former Waltham Forest and forms the eastern and northern fringe of the borough. The River Lea lies to the west where its associated marshes and parkland form a green corridor which, along the reservoir-lined reaches, separates north and east London, and is the historic border between Middlesex and Essex.

Waltham Forest was one of the host boroughs of the London Olympics in 2012, with the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park providing an ongoing legacy in the UK and London.



The borough took its name from the former Waltham Forest, an institution that managed deer in an area of south-west Essex that stretched eastwards from the River Lea and included large areas of agricultural land as well as the wooded areas subsequently known as Epping Forest and Hainault Forest. The name Waltham Forest was used in parallel with local woodland names, some of which have persisted.

The first known use of the name Waltham Forest is 1205 (in Medieval Latin) as foresta nostra prope Waltham, and the use of the name persisted, until the end of the seventeenth century.[3]

Early history

The area was in the territory of the Trinovantes tribe during the Iron Age and through the Roman period, when the tribal area was a unit of local government. It subsequently became part of the Kingdom of the East Saxons a unit which is likely to have its roots in the territory of the Trinovantes.[4] After the Kingdom of Essex lost its independence, it evolved into the county of Essex.

The Domesday book of 1086 records four manors in the area, Chingford, Walthamstow, Higham and Leyton. At some point, before or after the Domesday survey these also became parishes, with Higham becoming part of the parish of Walthamstow. These parishes had largely stable borders from which those of the later Municipal Boroughs were derived, and these are the basis of our understanding of the extent of these local areas today.

Preservation of Epping Forest

The southern part of Epping Forest still extends into the north of the borough, 90% of it having been preserved by the Epping Forest Act of 1878. This not only assisted in preserving the forest, the attraction value also helped stimulate urbanisation of nearby areas.


Until the late Victorian era, the area that became the modern borough was rural in nature with a small dispersed population and a primarily agricultural landscape. Leyton, in particular, grew quite rapidly between 1870 and 1910.[5]

Industrial firsts

In 1892, a private citizen named Frederick Bremer built the first British motorcar in a workshop in his garden, at Connaught Road, Walthamstow. The vehicle is on display at the Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow.[6] In 1909, the aviation pioneer A V Roe successfully tested the first all-British aeroplane, the Roe I Triplane, on land at Walthamstow Marshes.[7]

Air Raids in World War One

The area now known as Waltham Forest experienced at least two Zeppelin raids during World War I. On 17/18 August 1915, Airship L10 took a route roughly following the Gospel Oak to Barking railway line, dropping incendiary and high-explosive bombs. The first bomb, an incendiary, fell on Hoe St, Walthamstow, at the junction of Orford and Queens Road; the last was dropped in Aldersbrook area. Ten people were killed in Leyton and another 48 injured across the wider area. On 23/24 September 1916 the German Navy airship L 31 dropped around ten bombs along the line of Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, killing eight there. On both occasions the Germans believed they were bombing the City, and it is thought they mistook the Lee Valley Reservoir Chain for the Thames.[8]

Blitz - World War Two

During the most intense period of the Blitz (October 1940 to June 1941), the area was hit[9] by around 728 high explosive bombs, 17 parachute mines and an unknown, but much greater number of small incendiary bombs. Subsequent raids were lighter and less frequent,[10] but 1944 saw a number of V-1 'flying bombs' and V-2 long-range ballistic missiles hit the area, including a V-1 which landed on central Walthamstow killing 22[11][12] and a V-2 which landed on Chingford Road, Walthamstow killing 8.[13]

Creation of the modern Borough

Waltham Forest Town Hall

The London Government Act 1963 established the borough in 1965 from the combined areas of the former Municipal Borough of Chingford, Municipal Borough of Leyton and Municipal Borough of Walthamstow.

A petition opposed calling the new borough "Walthamstow", so perhaps for that reason the new borough took its name from the former Waltham Forest.


The local authority is Waltham Forest London Borough Council.

Greater London representation

For elections to the Greater London Council, the borough formed the Waltham Forest electoral division, electing three members. In 1973 it was divided into the single-member Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow electoral divisions.[14] The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986.

Since 2000, for elections to the London Assembly, the borough forms part of the North East constituency.


Population pyramid of Waltham Forest in 2021

The main centres of population in the borough are Chingford in the north, Walthamstow in the centre (the administrative hub including the council offices) and Leyton and Leytonstone to the South. Waltham Forest has the fifth largest Muslim population in England and the third largest in London (coming after its neighbouring boroughs, Newham and Tower Hamlets).

Population census
1801 6,500—    
1811 8,165+25.6%
1821 9,239+13.2%
1831 9,505+2.9%
1841 9,806+3.2%
1851 10,759+9.7%
1861 22,635+110.4%
1871 34,512+52.5%
1881 46,388+34.4%
1891 92,948+100.4%
1901 154,146+65.8%
1911 255,661+65.9%
1921 267,592+4.7%
1931 280,094+4.7%
1941 274,172−2.1%
1951 268,383−2.1%
1961 251,205−6.4%
1971 235,145−6.4%
1981 214,595−8.7%
1991 217,625+1.4%
2001 218,277+0.3%
2011 258,249+18.3%
2021 278,428+7.8%


Ethnic Group 1981 estimations[16] 1991[17] 2001[18] 2011[19] 2021[20]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
White: Total 175,276 82.5% 157,824 74.4% 140,803 64.5% 134,799 52.1% 147,024 52.8%
White: British 121,694 55.7% 92,999 36.0% 94,766 34.0%
White: Irish 5,112 2.4% 3,959 1.5% 4,230 1.5%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 369 <1% 198 0.1%
White: Roma 1,397 0.5%
White: Other 13,997 6.4% 37,472 14.5% 46,433 16.7%
Asian or Asian British: Total 26,940 12.7% 33,659 15.4% 54,389 20.8% 55,545 19.9%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 7,042 7,671 3.5% 9,134 3.5% 9,134 3.3%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 13,298 6.3% 17,295 7.9% 26,347 10.2% 28,740 10.3%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 1,875 2,166 <1% 4,632 1.7% 5,166 1.9%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 1,233 1,443 <1% 2,579 <1% 2,626 0.9%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 3,492 5,084 2.3% 11,697 4.5% 9,879 3.5%
Black or Black British: Total 23,921 11.3% 33,673 15.4% 44,791 17.3% 41,647 14.9%
Black or Black British: African 5,967 12,630 5.8% 18,815 7.3% 18,759 6.7%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 14,421 6.8% 17,797 8.2% 18,841 7.3% 17,587 6.3%
Black or Black British: Other Black 3,533 3,246 1.5% 7,135 2.7% 5,301 1.9%
Mixed or British Mixed: Total 7,749 3.6% 13,776 5.2% 17,983 6.4%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 3,007 1.4% 4,568 1.7% 5,135 1.8%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,195 <1% 2,403 <1% 2,777 1.0%
Mixed: White and Asian 1,580 <1% 2,602 1.0% 3,875 1.4%
Mixed: Other Mixed 1,967 <1% 4,193 1.6% 6,196 2.2%
Other: Total 3,348 1.6% 2,457 1.1% 10,504 4.0% 16,229 5.8%
Other: Arab 3,776 1.4% 2,884 1.0%
Other: Any other ethnic group 3,348 1.6% 2,457 1.1% 6,728 2.6% 13,345 4.8%
Non-White: Total 37,122 17.5% 54,209 25.6% 77,538 35.5% 123,450 47.9% 131,404 47.2%
Total 212,398 100% 212,033 100% 218,341 100.00% 258,249 100.00% 278,428 100%

Open spaces

Epping Forest and the green corridor along the River Lea provide some of the borough's many open spaces, which include:

Arts, culture and leisure

Historically known as the seat of the Arts and Crafts Movement under the stewardship of William Morris, Waltham Forest has continued to succour many contemporary artists & art groups. These include the North East London Independent Artists (NELIA) group, based at the Changing Room Gallery in Lloyd Park, the 491 Gallery in Leytonstone, and a number of independent artists, also mainly in the Leytonstone area. The annual E17 Art Trail, which includes open studios, exhibitions and events, is the biggest art event in the borough, and there is now a similar event in Leytonstone. Eamon Everall, founder member of the Stuckism art movement is a long-time resident in the borough where he also maintains a studio.[21]

Waltham Forest was the first ever London Borough of Culture in 2019.[22]

Waltham Forest is home to a number of musicians that have found success in the UK, including East 17, Blazin' Squad, and Indie band Hefner, who formed in Walthamstow. The borough is also a centre of the grime musical genre; grime acts hailing from the borough include More Fire Crew, Lethal Bizzle, and Jammer amongst others.

The borough had a key role in the history of rave music culture, whether it be clubs, artists, and DJs. Widely regarded as one of the seminal tracks of jungle music, the creator of "We Are I.E." Lennie de Ice grew up and lived in Walthamstow. Walthamstow was also home to DJ Rap and MC Navigator.[23][24] The venue Dungeons was located on the Lea Bridge Road in Leyton, and a number of pirate radio stations including Friends FM, Dance FM, and Eruption FM broadcast from tower blocks such as the Cathall Estate in Leytonstone.[25]

The only theatre in the borough, The Waltham Forest Theatre, was situated in Lloyd Park. Though a local campaign was launched to save it in 2008 [26] the theatre was demolished in 2011.

Leyton Orient F.C. is the local professional football team, based at Brisbane Road, Leyton. In the 1962–63 season the club played in the top tier of English football, the Football League First Division, but currently are in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.


Waltham Forest was one of six local authorities to set up a Housing Action Trust under the Housing Act 1988. The Waltham Forest HAT covered various estates in need of regeneration: Cathall Road in Leytonstone, Oliver Close in Leyton, Boundary Road in Walthamstow and Chingford Hall in Chingford. The HAT transferred its redeveloped estates to Community-based Housing Association and shut down in April 2002. English Partnerships then demolished four empty tower blocks.[27]

The remaining Council housing in the borough is now managed by an arms-length management organisation, Waltham Forest Housing (formerly Ascham Homes).[28]


Waltham Forest was one of four host boroughs in east London for the 2012 Olympics. The northern part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is located in Eton Manor. The borough hosted events in its three Olympic-size swimming pools, one synchronised swimming pool and one water polo pool. These pools were used for athlete training.

During the Paralympic Games, Eton Manor hosted the Wheelchair Tennis events, with temporary seating for 10,500 spectators.

In April 2012, the Ministry of Defence identified the roof of Fred Wigg Tower as a potential location for surface-to-air missile defences during the Games.[29]


Main article: List of schools in Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest has a number of institutes, including 3 colleges of further education. Leyton Sixth Form College was the second sixth form college in Southern England to get a licence,[30] and was awarded the title of best college in London for sport in 2013.[31] Others include Waltham Forest College and Sir George Monoux College. Waltham Forest has a sixth form college reorganised system which it adopted in 1985.[32]

Neighbouring authorities

Neighbouring authorities are Epping Forest (Essex) in the north, Redbridge in the east, with Newham and Hackney to the south. Haringey and Enfield lie to the west.

Constituent districts and wards

A map showing the wards of Waltham Forest since 2002




The Central line of the London Underground serves the south of the borough, running alongside the A12 road with stations at Leyton and Leytonstone. The Victoria line runs roughly through the middle of the borough with stations at Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road. The Gospel Oak to Barking line of London Overground has stations at Walthamstow Queen's Road, Blackhorse Road, Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road. London Overground also runs services on the Lea Valley lines from Liverpool Street station in the City of London and serves stations at St James Street, Walthamstow Central, Wood Street, Highams Park and Chingford. Greater Anglia serves the south-west of the borough with a station at Lea Bridge. A number of London Buses routes serve the borough, as well as six night bus routes. The Central line and the Victoria line are both part of the Night Tube, which provides overnight tube services on Friday and Saturday nights. The pioneering Mini Holland programme has begun to provide protected cycle lanes across the southern half of the borough,[33] increasing the ability to use bicycles as a transport option.

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, metro, light rail, tram, 21.0% of all residents aged 16–74; driving a car or van, 7.0%; bus, minibus or coach, 7.0%; train, 6.5%; on foot, 4.3%; work mainly at or from home, 2.1%; bicycle, 1.8%.[34]

Law enforcement

Policing is covered by the Metropolitan Police. There is one police station which is based in Chingford and a number of additional patrol centres throughout the borough. Waltham Forest comes under the Met's North-East Basic Command Unit (BCU) following a merger of Waltham Forest's and Newham's policing in 2018[35]

Notable residents

David Beckham

Main article: List of people from Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest is the birthplace of William Morris, best known as one of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris was a designer of wallpaper and patterned fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a pioneer of the socialist movement in Britain.

Other notable people, such as footballer and former England Captain David Beckham, rapper, songwriter and actor Redzz, I, Claudius star Derek Jacobi, former Essex and England cricket Captain Graham Gooch, and the film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock, were also born in the borough. The heavy metal band Iron Maiden was formed in Leyton, and Eastenders actress Rita Simons was born in Leytonstone. Notable Eastenders Actor Adam Woodyatt is from Walthamstow. The poet Pascale Petit, shortlisted three times for the TS Eliot poetry prize, lives in Walthamstow. Notable rap/grime artist Lethal Bizzle is from Walthamstow, and Grayson Perry, the 2003 Turner Prize-winning artist, has his studio in Walthamstow. X Factor finalist Fleur East is also from Walthamstow as well as British Taekwondo Athlete Lutalo Muhammad.

Sports teams

Twinned cities

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is twinned[36] with

Friendship links have also been established with


See also


  1. ^ "The Mayor". London Borough of Waltham Forest. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Waltham Forest definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  3. ^ The Place Names of Essex, PH Reaney, English Place Name Society, Volume XII, Cambridge University Press, Reissued 1969
  4. ^ Kings and Kingdoms of Early Anglo-Saxon England, p46. Barbara Yorke. Yorke makes reference to research by Rodwell and Rodwell (1986) and Bassett (1989)
  5. ^ Powell, W R (1973). "'Leyton: Introduction', in A History of the County of Essex". London: British History Online. pp. 174–184. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Bremer". 14 April 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Alliott Verdon Roe - E17 (1) : London Remembers, Aiming to capture all memorials in London". Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  8. ^ London 1914-17 The Zeppelin Menace, Ian Castle. Osprey Publishing 2008
  9. ^ University of Portsmouth, in collaboration with the National Archives and funded by JISC. "Bombs dropped in Waltham Forest - Bomb Sight - Mapping the World War 2 London Blitz Bomb Census". Bomb Sight. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Bomb Census London: An East End Raid Over Walthamstow And Leyton". Culture24. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  11. ^ "London V2 Rocket Sites...Mapped". Londonist. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  12. ^ "V1 Bomb Damage Walthamstow - British Pathé". Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  13. ^ "V2 Rocket incident at Chingford Road, Walthamstow. Remains of a Stock Photo: 81006133". Alamy. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  14. ^ Boothroyd, David. "Greater London Council Election results: Waltham Forest". United Kingdom Election Results. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Waltham Forest: Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Ethnic minorities in Britain: statistical information on the pattern of settlement". Commission for Racial Equality: Table 2.2. 1985.
  17. ^ "1991 census – theme tables". NOMIS. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  18. ^ "KS006 - Ethnic group". NOMIS. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Ethnic Group by measures". NOMIS. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Ethnic group - Office for National Statistics". Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  21. ^ "'The Gift', Eamon Everall", Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  22. ^ BBC: "Events mark Waltham Forest becoming Borough of Culture"
  23. ^ "Sound systems & House parties – Rendezvous Projects". Rendezvous CIC. 18 June 2020.
  24. ^ Victoria Munro (6 November 2021). "Thank you for the music". Waltham Echo.
  25. ^ Alice Clapperton (9 November 2019). "Crest of a rave". Waltham Echo.
  26. ^ Sarah Cosgrove, "Teenage twins in bid to take over theatre", The Waltham Forest Guardian[when?]
  27. ^ "English Partnerships: A residuary body for Housing Action Trusts". Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  28. ^ "Ascham Homes performance worsens". Waltham Forest Guardian. 24 May 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  29. ^ "Missiles could be deployed at six sites during Olympics, MOD confirm". Daily Telegraph. 1 May 2012. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  30. ^ Koscielak, Kasia. "News - Leyton Sixth Form achieves Investors in People Gold Award". Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  31. ^ "College named best in London for sport". East London and West Essex Guardian Series.
  32. ^ "Further Education (Hansard, 6 June 1991)".
  33. ^ "About Enjoy Waltham Forest | Enjoy Waltham Forest". 16 January 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  34. ^ "2011 Census: QS701EW Method of travel to work, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 November 2013. Percentages are of all residents aged 16-74 including those not in employment. Respondents could only pick one mode, specified as the journey's longest part by distance.
  35. ^ "The Met to Merge Newham & Waltham Forest police forces".
  36. ^ a b "Town twinning". Waltham Forest Council. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2017.

51°34′N 0°02′W / 51.567°N 0.033°W / 51.567; -0.033