Forest Gate is a residential area in the London Borough of Newham, 7 miles northeast of Charing Cross. It is bordered by Manor Park to the east and to the west lies Stratford town centre. Forest Gate is 1.5 miles east of Westfield Stratford City and the 2012 Olympic Park. The northern half of the busy Green Street runs through it and from 2018 it will have a Crossrail station.
Its name is derived from a southern gate of Epping Forest which once stretched continuously down from Epping to the main Roman Road (now Romford Road) linking Camulodunum to Londinium. Fragments of the forest remain throughout north east London and the heathland of Wanstead Flats, which borders Forest Gate, is an example. The Forest Gate led into Epping Forest and was erected to prevent cattle straying from the Forest into the High Road. It was located close to the Eagle & Child public house. It never was a toll gate and was demolished along with the keepers' cottage in 1881. An Anglo-Saxon jeweled bead was found in Forest Gate in 1875 during sewer construction behind the Princess Alice public house in the Sprowston Road area. The 'bead' is made of gold, garnet and blue glass dating to the late sixth or early seventh century with the workmanship suggesting that it belonged to a woman of wealth or high status such as a 'princess' and dates from the 6th - 7th centuries (500 - 699 AD). At this time Essex was an independent kingdom with a territory extending over Essex, Middlesex and London and half of Hertfordshire. Having been found as a single object, it is surmised that the bead was lost casually whilst travelling along the ancient Roman Road (now the Romford Road) rather than as a burial object, but this is by no means certain as there is a lack of detail about how it was recovered. Stylistically, the piece is said to relate to similar jewellery produced in Kent, which influenced designs in Essex. It is known that King Sledd of Essex married Ricula, the sister of King Æthelberht of Kent in about 580 AD. The piece was acquired by Sir John Evans and was presented to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford by Sir Arthur Evans in 1909.
The area remained rural until the 19th century. From the 18th century a number of wealthy city dwellers had large country houses in the area and many of them were Quakers, the best known of these were the families of Gurney, Fry and Lester.
In 1890 a fire at the Forest Gate Industrial School in Forest Lane, occupied by children belonging to the Whitechapel Union, killed 26 boys between the ages of 7 and 12 years old.
Forest Gate formed part of the County Borough of West Ham since its creation (initially as a municipal borough) in 1886. The county borough was abolished to form part of the present-day London Borough of Newham in 1965.
Newham has the second highest percentage of Muslims in Britain at 24.3% and Forest Gate reflects this with 23.4% stating their religion as Islam in the 2001 census, many have their roots in Pakistan and mostly follow the Sunni Deobandi or the Salafi tradition.
The Woodgrange Estate Conservation Area is a residential area with predominantly double-fronted Victorian three and four bedroomed houses built between 1887 and 1892 by developer Thomas Corbett and sons who went on to oversee the construction of more than 1,100 houses to exploit the transport links provided by one of the first Essex lines, opened by Eastern Counties Railway in 1839, running through Forest Gate in 1840. Corbett paid £40,000 for land associated with Woodgrange Farm, Essex, in 1877, which was formerly used as a market garden serving London. The Woodgrange Estate consists of four roads from north to south: Hampton Road; Osborne Road; Claremont Road and Windsor Road, all of which link to Woodgrange Road to the west. There are blocks of council flats at the western end of Claremont and Windsor roads built on the site of houses damaged during bombing in World War II. Nearby Godwin Junior School in Forest Gate recently picked up a British Council’s International School Award.
To the north of the railway running through Forest Gate is the "village" with terraced streets named for the Oxford Martyrs (Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer) running up to the open spaces of Wanstead Flats.
Forest Gate also houses West Ham Park, providing a place for sports to be played and to the north Forest Gate borders Wanstead Flats, which has numerous football pitches and areas set aside for bio-diversity and walking. Amongst the many teams playing on the flats is Sunday League football team Senrab FC. Based in Forest Gate Senrab operates fifteen teams for age groups ranging from 5 to 17 years old and has produced a number of players who have gone on to successful professional careers, including: John Terry (who gave an undisclosed sum to keep the club running in April 2011); Sol Campbell; Jermain Defoe; Ledley King; Bobby Zamora; and Paul Konchesky. A number of professional coaches also started out at Senrab, most notably Dario Gradi, Ray Wilkins and Alan Curbishley.
Forest Gate railway station has services to London Liverpool Street via Stratford. It is in Travelcard Zone 3 on the Great Eastern Main Line, and was first opened in 1840, a year after the line was built, but closed in 1843, before re-opening after pressure from local residents on 31 May 1846. Other stations in the area include Wanstead Park railway station, which is on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line in Zone 3. Forest Gate will be linked by Crossrail, Europe's biggest construction project, to central and west London in 2018 and this will significantly improve rail services for local people.
Forest Gate has various associations with music and acting: it was for many years the home of the Tonic Sol-fa College of John Curwen, which taught large numbers of people to play music without learning conventional notation. In December 1966 Jimi Hendrix wrote Purple Haze in the Upper Cut Club, owned by Douglas Bayle and George and Billy Walker, it had been opened by The Who, and had The Small Faces as the house band, for a while. It later became the Ace of Clubs in Woodgrange Road. The Newham Generals (D Double E & Footsie) are also from Forest Gate, and the video for their song 'Frontline' was filmed at Forest Gate railway station. Ben Drew aka Plan B (musician) grew up in Forest Gate and lived in Hampton Road on the Woodgrange Estate. Ill Manors (rendered as iLL Manors) is a 2012 British film written and directed by Ben Drew, starring Riz Ahmed, Nathalie Press and Dannielle Brent.
Notable people associated with Forest Gate
Business and politics
- Sam Alper - caravan designer and founder of Little Chef
- Tony Banks, Baron Stratford - Labour MP (Newham North West 1983 to 1997, West Ham 1997 to 2005)
- David Amess - Conservative MP (Basildon 1983 to 1997, Southend West 1997 onwards)
- Dawn Butler - Labour MP (Brent South 2005 to 2010)
- Mark Stephens (solicitor) - Lawyer, mediator, broadcaster, writer, involved in education, arts and Chairman of: Contemporary Art Society, Design and Artists Copyright Society, the International Advisory Board of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, the advisory board of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University, and the Board of Governors at University of East London. Vice President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. Stephens is also an independent director of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. And patron of International Alert.
Former managers of West Ham United Football Club associated with Forest Gate include Alan Curbishley and Ted Fenton; also Norwich City manager Chris Hughton. Other footballers from the area include Simon Royce, Jason Lee, Ken Brown, Linvoy Primus, Bondz N'Gala and Jay-Emmanuel Thomas.
JJ Jegede, the long jumper, was born and raised in Forest Gate and won the Silver Medal at the 2011 UK Championships and Gold at 2012 UK Indoor Championships. JJ is a Team GB member for the Stratford 2012 Olympics.
Mark Hunter, MBE, was born and raised in Forest Gate and won the Gold Medal in the lightweight double scull at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Gold Medals in the lightweight double scull at 2010 and 2011 World Championships. Mark is a Team GB member for the Stratford 2012 Olympics.
Other sportsmen and women connected with Forest Gate include heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, 7 times world karate champion Molly Samuel, cricketer Ravi Bopara, sprinter Damien Greaves, and Olympic fencer Linda Strachan.
Arts and entertainment
Dame Anna Neagle was born in the area in 1905, and has a road named after her off Dames Road. Other actors born in Forest Gate include Malcolm McFee, Terrence Hardiman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Arnold Schwarzenegger was known to have lived in Forest Gate and weight-trained at Wag Bennett's gymnasium in Romford Road before he achieved fame. Other actors associated with the area include The Wire star Idris Elba, and Eastenders' Ricky Norwood.
Jimi Hendrix is reputed to have composed "Purple Haze" in the Upper Cut Club on Woodgrange Road. Musicians from Forest Gate include biographer, composer and pianist Norman Charles Suckling, John Ashton, Kele Le Roc and heavy metal vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva. Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces was born in Plaistow but spent his childhood and early adulthood in Forest Gate, living at 385 Romford Road. Roy Carter, a rhythm guitarist with 70s hit funk band Heatwave, was raised in Forest Gate.
Many current British Hip Hop artists are associated with the area including Tempa T. Two of the top-selling Grime artists are from Forest Gate; Kano, whose debut album 'Home Sweet Home' made number one in the urban charts, and rapper Plan B, whose song Raking the Dead refers to a friend who discovered a body on Wanstead Flats.
Fashion designer Bubs Mahil runs Chiffons saree house in Green Street, Forest Gate, and has made costumes for Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair — who wore her Nehru jacket in India — and his wife, Cherie.
- Christopher Charles Dalliston - Dean of Newcastle
- Elizabeth Fry - prison reformer
- John Grahl - economist
- Claude Scudamore Jarvis - British colonial governor
- Joseph McCabe - writer and speaker on freethought
- Mark Stephens (solicitor) - lawyer, mediator, writer & broadcaster, who lived on the Woodgrange Estate and also on Capel Road
- Edward Whymper - climber, who married at Emmanuel Church in 1906
- Jane Rebecca Yorke - the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735
- "juniormuscle Resources and Information. This website is for sale!". juniormuscle.com. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
- "London 2012 Olympics: East side stories of those for whom the Olympics really is home from home". The Telegraph. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Mark Hunter MBE". British Rowning 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Enders' Ricky: 'I'm just a boy from Forest Gate'". What's on TV (London: IPC Media). 25 May 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- "Rokpool revisits the legendary Upper Cut Club'". London. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Ronnie Lane spent childhood in Forest Gate accessed 07/01/08
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