Church of Saint Mary Magdalene
East Ham shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|– Charing Cross||8 mi (12.9 km) W|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||East Ham|
|London Assembly||City and East|
East Ham is a suburban district of London, England, and part of the London Borough of Newham. It is a built-up district located 8 miles (12.8 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
A settlement in the area named Ham is first recorded as Hamme in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 958 and then in the 1086 Domesday Book as Hame. It is formed from Old English 'hamm' and means 'a dry area of land between rivers or marshland', referring the location of the settlement within boundaries formed by the rivers Lea, Thames and Roding and their marshes.
In 1859 East Ham railway station opened and, although in 1863 the area was still being described as a "scattered village" the availability of transport resulted in increasing urbanisation, especially from 1890 onwards. The electric services of the District Railway first served East Ham in 1908.
From 1894 East Ham formed the East Ham Urban District of Essex and was incorporated as a borough on 10 August 1903. As a result of popular pressure East Ham sought and obtained county borough status; becoming, in modern terms, a unitary authority on 1 April 1915 and remaining such until 1965 when it was abolished and its former area was merged with that of the County Borough of West Ham to form the London Borough of Newham.
The principal offices of Newham Council were located at the junction of Barking Road and High Street South in the former East Ham Town Hall, a Grade II listed Edwardian structure designed by A. H. Campbell, H. Cheers and J. Smith, and including a landmark clock tower. Built between 1901 and 1903, the Town Hall was opened by Passmore Edwards on 5 February 1903. The council moved to Newham Dockside (Building 1000, Dockside Road E16) in 2009.
Housing in East Ham consists principally of Victorian and Edwardian terraced town houses, often in tree-lined avenues. West Ham United FC is located on the western border of East Ham and the eastern border of Upton Park, in the Tudor district of the town.
There are many green spaces in the otherwise bustling and urbanised area of East Ham. The graveyard of the Norman St Mary's church, is maintained as a nature reserve, the largest of its kind in Greater London. Central Park (Central Park Road) and Plashet Park (Plashet Grove) are the two largest parks in East Ham, and both combine open space with playgrounds and cafés. There are also smaller play areas and parks, including Priory Park (Grangewood Street) and Flanders Field, where England football captain Bobby Moore played as a child during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Flanders Fields is currently the home ground of Flanders FC and other is used by Bonny Downs Community Assiciation (BDCA) and other community groups.
East Ham is a multi-cultural area, with a majority of South Asians, African /Caribbean and eastern Europeans resident. As of 2010, East Ham has the fourth highest level of unemployment in Britain, with 16.5 percent of its residents registered unemployed. Around 7 in 10 children living in East Ham are from low income families, making it one of the worst areas in the country for child poverty.
There are many stores and restaurants specialising in ethnic tastes. There are also still traditional East End eateries. The century-old Robin's, which specialised in the traditional East End dish of pie, mash and jellied eels has now closed for good. But has reopened as a store in the Gallions Reach park in Beckton.
Mass transport is provided by East Ham tube station and bus services which form a hub near the Town Hall. To the north of East Ham is Manor Park and Little Ilford, to the east over the North Circular Road is Barking, to the west is Upton Park and to the south over the A13 is Beckton and London City Airport.
There are numerous places of worship for many different religions, ranging from St. Michael's Church to Kensington Avenue Temple. The Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene dates to the first half of the 12th century and is claimed to be the oldest parish church still in use in Greater London. It contains a memorial to an Edmond Nevill, who laid claim to the attainted title of Earl of Westmoreland in the 17th century. Due to the significant minority of South Indians, particularly people of Tamil extraction, there are two Hindu temples in the area. One is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi and the other to Lord Muruga. The latter temple was recently rebuilt with a larger prayer hall and traditional temple tower as is typical of Tamil temples in South Asia. Due to a very large Muslim community, East Ham also has many mosques (masjids). Being a multicultural town, East Ham often celebrates this differences of cultures and religion, exploiting a sense of equality and diversity in the area.
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority.
- Mills, A.D. (2001). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.
- 'Becontree hundred: East Ham', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 1-8 accessed: 26 April 2007.
- Rose, D., The London Underground: A diagrammatic history, (1999)
- Public Monument and Sculpture Association Accessed 1 Apr 2007
- 'East Ham: Churches', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 25-31 accessed: 26 April 2007.