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Wood Street

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Waltham Forest

A commercial thoroughfare in Upper Walthamstow, north of Whipps Cross. A small linear settlement was established here by the seventh century, one of the four that later formed the parish of Walthamstow. At the time of Domesday Book, Wood Street’s farms were arable but they later converted to dairy production and market gardening for the London market. From the 17th century several large houses were built on the outskirts of the hamlet. The Clock House, completed in 1706, was the home of Sir Jacob Jacobson, a prosperous Dutch merchant. Wood Street remained rural and a separate settlement until the mid 19th century, after which speculative builders began to lay out a series of two-storey terraced houses that soon joined it with Walthamstow. The process received a boost from the opening of the railway station in 1873, which offered early workmen’s fares on the line into Liverpool Street. Many residents lived in reduced circumstances and the Wood Street Philanthropic Society distributed free soup during the winters of the early 20th century. Wood Street had two film production studios; one operated from 1914 until 1932, at first making silent movies and then talkies, some with big budgets and well-known actors. Much of the locality was rebuilt in the 1930s and several factories were established in the vicinity, one of which replaced the film studio. Hawker Siddeley manufactured transformers at its Fulbourne Road site from the early 1930s until 2003. At one time Wood Street station was intended to be the terminus of the Victoria Line, but at a late stage this was switched to Hoe Street, now Walthamstow Central. The demographics of the Wood Street ward are very similar to those of the borough as a whole: almost two-thirds of its inhabitants are white and there is a broad spread of other ethnic groups. Council tenants make up a relatively large percentage of the population.

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Appropriately, Wood Street has become the sort of place you'll find joinery shops and timber yards, as well as a variety of other builders’ merchants.

The Wood Street Walk was an annual eight-mile run sponsored by the owner of a local café from 1920. It was open to anyone living within a mile-and-a-half of Wood Street and the first prize was a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. There have been occasional attempts to revive the event since the 1950s but, as the authors of Wood Street’s history point out, the London Marathon now seems to have greater appeal.

Postal district: E17
Population: 11,331
Station: National Express East Anglia (formerly ‘one’ Railway) (Zone 4)

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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