Plaistow District Line underground station
The Broadway, Barking Road
Plaistow shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||West Ham|
|London Assembly||City and East|
Plaistow (// PLAH-stoh; often mispronounced PLAY-stoh or PLA-stoh) is an urban area in the London Borough of Newham in east London immediately south of West Ham. It forms the majority of the London E13 postcode district.
Plaistow is a residential area, including several council estates. The main roads are the A112, Prince Regent Lane/ Greengate Street/ The Broadway/ High Street/ Plaistow Road, which is a former Roman road, and the A124 (Barking Road), which passes south west/ north east through Plaistow and past the West Ham United F.C. Ground. Commercial and retail premises are on the A112 at Greengate Street leading north and Prince Regent Lane south, leading 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) to Newham Sixth Form College, and along the A124. It contains generally smaller shops compared to Stratford or West Ham.
Plaistow North and Plaistow South are two of the ten wards making up the UK parliamentary constituency of West Ham.
The name "Plaistow" is believed to come from Sir Hugh de Plaitz (spelling varies) who, in 1065, married Philippa de Montfitchet, of the Mountfitchet Castle family, who owned the district. It is she who is reputed to have named it the Manor of Plaiz. A stow was a place of assembly (occasionally a holy place), but also described as a town or village, so it was the village of Plaiz, or assembly place within the Manor, "Plaiz-stow".
In his book "What's in a Name?", first published in 1977, author Cyril M. Harris states that c. 1200 Plaistow was recorded as "Plagestoue", derived from the Old English "Pleg", meaning sports or playing, and "Stowe" (place). It was a place where miracle plays were performed so it was a "playing place". While the book concentrates on the names of London railway stations, Harris seems to have confused Plaistow in Essex (and later London) with the Plaistow near Crich in Derbyshire, which is recorded as "Plagestoue" in the Darley Charters of 1200. The derivation from "Pleg" and "Stowe" appears to apply equally to all places called Plaistow, however.
Balaam // Street is one of the oldest roads in Plaistow. The street was named for Hugh de Balun, who owned property in the area in the 12th century. James Kemble in his 2007 book "Essex Place-Names" says it was Balostret in the 1371 Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, but associates it with a Walter Balame.
Plaistow in Essex is reported as appearing as "Playstowe" in the county's Patent Rolls of 1414. This is also quoted by Kemble, another who cites the derivation from “plegstow” – a place for playing.
Daniel Defoe's 1724 work, "Tour of the Eastern Counties" (part of his “A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain”), mentions Plaistow as a town in which there had been much new building as well as repairs to existing houses since the Revolution.
Plaistow is connected with the legend of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin (born 1705; executed 1739). Several stories state that among Turpin’s first crimes was the theft of two oxen from his employer, a Mr Giles of Plaistow, in 1730. Turpin is alleged to also have run a smuggling gang which operated between Plaistow and Southend.
In the 1870s Plaistow was described by John Marius Wilson in his Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales as a village, a chapelry and a ward in the Parish of West Ham in Essex. The population of the chapelry, which was constituted in 1844, was recorded as 11,214 in 1861. James Thorne, in his 1876 work "Handbook to the Environs of London", mentions Plaistow, Essex, as a village and ecclesiastical district of West Ham parish with a population of 6,699. Thorne recounts the changes to the old village of Plaistow, with the gentry, merchants and others of renown having gone and the occupations of the residents changed from agricultural and pastoral to manufacturing.
John Curwen opened the Plaistow Public School in 1844. His son, John Spencer Curwen (who founded the Stratford & East London Music Festival – the oldest English music festival – in 1882), published a paper called “Old Plaistow” in 1891 describing houses of the area.
It was not until 1905 that Plaistow was connected to the telephone network.
The Black Lion public house in the High Street is one of the oldest landmarks in Plaistow and is reputed to date back to at least 1742. It was frequented by West Ham United football players especially such as Bobby Moore in the 1960s and '70s with several West Ham footballers spotted in the area since.
Plaistow formed part of the County Borough of West Ham in Essex until 1965, when West Ham joined with the County Borough of East Ham and small parts of Barking and Woolwich to form the London Borough of Newham.
The Plaistow North area is largely made up of a local authority housing estate constructed in the 1960s on a bomb-damaged site. The estate used to include five 14-storey 1960s tower blocks but much has changed and the area has undergone a major redevelopment programme.
Just before the end of the 1990s a £92M regeneration programme known as the Forest Gate and Plaistow SRB5 got under way, with the aim of renewing and revitalising neighbourhoods, creating jobs, building new homes and improving many existing ones. West Ham and Plaistow New Deal for Communities ("NDC"), part of a government programme designed to tackle social exclusion, community safety, unemployment and low educational attainment in areas of severe need throughout the country, was awarded £54.6M to bring about improvements to the local area over a 10-year period to 2010, with the intention of improving the quality of life and providing more opportunities for residents in the West Ham and Plaistow area. In March 2010 the NDC set up Newham New Deal Partnership ("Newham NDP"), a Not-for-Profit organisation, to continue providing community benefit to the NDC area and beyond, and continue the work carried out over the 10 years of the NDC Programme. Newham NDP works in partnership with the East London Business Alliance, East Thames Group, London Borough of Newham and One Housing Group to provide community benefits to the area either directly or in partnership with other stakeholders.
In January 2013 councillors approved a new housing development of both private and affordable homes on the sight of the old Plaistow Hospital. Construction is expected to begin in March 2013 with completion set for 2015.
Places of interest in the area include the 9.5 acres (3.8 ha) Plaistow Park (known as Balaam Street Recreation Ground from its opening in 1894 to its renaming in 1999), and the 10 acres (4.0 ha) Memorial Park which merges into the East London Cemetery. There are several small parks in the area, with the large West Ham Park 1 mile (1.6 km) north.
The Terence McMillan Stadium, home to the Newham and Essex Beagles track and field athletics club and part of the Newham Leisure Centre, is located in Plaistow close to the hospital and the college. East End Road Runners is a running club based at the Newham Leisure Centre and was the recipient of England Athletics' award for London Development Club of the Year in 2011.
The West Ham Boys' Amateur Boxing Club is located at the rear of the Black Lion public house in High Street.
Nineteenth-century buildings include St Andrew's Church (1868), mentioned in Thorne's work, and the adjoining vicarage (1871), both grade II listed buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The 1921 Memorial Baptist Church is also a grade II listed building.
Greengate House is a grade II listed building in Greengate Street. With a grand and ornate facade, it was built originally for the YMCA and opened in 1921. The building was demolished in 2010 with the facade retained and modernised. It is now used as apartments. It was once used as an Art college by the University of East London and students included Jake and Dinos Chapman.
Plaistow has benefitted from a number of lottery grants. Among the largest redevelopments are:
In February 2011 the Memorial Community Church in Barking Road received a National Heritage Lottery grant in order to clean and restore ten Memorial Bells, which include the names of more than 150 men who died fighting in World War I. This, part of a larger restoration project, was completed in August 2011. The bells are cast with the largest number of names on any set of bells in the world.
In March 2011 the Memorial Community Church was awarded money by the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities programme, to improve community facilities there.
On 10 December 2012 Plaistow South was named as one of fifty areas of England to share in a Big Lottery Scheme grant of £200M. Plaistow South received £1M to fund locally-designed projects to improve the area.
Nathan Kemp, assistant headteacher at Tollgate Primary School in Plaistow, won Teacher of the Year in the 2012 annual national Teaching Awards, the first ever overall Teacher of the Year instead of there being separate awards for primary and secondary schools.
Plaistow is referenced in the song "Plaistow Patricia" on the 1977 album New Boots and Panties!! by Ian Dury. The location for the video shoot of Fascination by the Human League was a house, painted entirely in red, and surrounding terraced streets at the corner of First Avenue and Third Avenue, Plaistow. The area has since been redeveloped.
Voice of Africa Radio (VOAR) is a multilanguage internet and local radio station broadcasting from Plaistow. It was set up on 1 January 2000 and began as an unlicensed broadcaster, not obtaining a broadcast licence until 16 February 2006. It is the first licensed African radio station in the UK.
Arts and entertainment
Singers David Essex, Ronnie Lane, Sandra Kerr, Jade Ewen and Mumzy Stranger were born in Plaistow, as were record producer Norman Newell, comedian and folk singer Richard Digance and grime artist Ghetts. Singer and entertainer Joe Brown was born in Lincolnshire but lived in Plaistow from the age of 2.
Actor Terence Stamp attended Tollgate Primary School and Plaistow Grammar School. Honor Blackman, notable for her appearances in the James Bond film Goldfinger and the TV series The Avengers, was born in Plaistow, as were actors Jimmy Akingbola, Ron Pember and Roberta Taylor and comedienne, actress and playwright Andi Osho.
Edward Temme, born in Plaistow, was a member of the British Olympic Water Polo teams of 1928 and 1936 and was the first man to swim the English Channel in both directions. He is reputed to have swum non-stop in both directions and to have achieved this feat twice.
Other famous residents have included:
Luke Howard, who in 1802 devised the naming and classification of clouds and cloud formations still in popular use today, and who operated a business in pharmaceuticals in Plaistow from 1796 until 1803 when he moved the business to nearby Stratford. He continued to reside in Plaistow until 1812, when he moved to Tottenham. The family's pharmaceutical business was instrumental in the development of quinine and both Howard and his son, quinologist John Eliot Howard (who was born in Plaistow), were elected Fellows of the Royal Society.
Nick Bracken, born in Plaistow and an alumnus of Plaistow Grammar School, was Detective Chief Superintendent of British Transport Police. He investigated major incidents such as the Ladbroke Grove and Selby train crashes and was responsible for identifying as Alexander Fallon the unidentified victim of the King's Cross fire, previously known only as "body 115", some 16 years later, before transferring to the Metropolitan Police in 2004 as a Detective Chief Superintendent and becoming the Commander in charge of Criminal Justice based at New Scotland Yard. He led disaster investigations and was the International Disaster Victim Indentification (DVI) team commander following the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 in Thailand. He was also responsible for Identifying the victims of the Al Dana Dhow disaster in Bahrain in 2006 and led the British DVI team that aided the New Zealand Police following the Christchurch Earthquake in February 2011. He was awarded the OBE in 2006 for services to policing while with British Transport Police. He is the Chairman of the East London Rugby Club and a committee member of the British Police Rugby Team.
Transport and locale
Apart from convenience stores, post offices, etc., Plaistow is mainly occupied by houses and apartments blocks. Larger shopping centres and restaurants are found in neighbouring areas such as Stratford, West Ham and Green Street, all within walking distance.
Plaistow Underground station is on the London Underground District Line and Hammersmith and City Line (which share the same tracks between Aldgate East and Barking), in London Travelcard zone 3. The journey time to/from Tower Hill is 18–19 minutes.
A pedestrian / cycle path called The Greenway runs on top of Joseph Bazalgette's Northern Outfall Sewer from Beckton to Hackney Wick via East Ham, Upton Park (for East Ham Jewish Cemetery), Plaistow, West Ham, Stratford, Bow (via Temple Mills) and Hackney.
- Plaistow tube station
- Canning Town station
- Custom House for Excel DLR station
- East Ham tube station
- Prince Regent DLR station
- Stratford station
- Royal Victoria DLR station
- Upton Park tube station
- West Ham station
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