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The area of Walthamstow we are concerned with had become the most densely populated part of the town by the eve of the First World War. The total population of Walthamstow in 1911 was 124,580 and 45,000 of them lived in just two wards in the western side of the town. The area had become characterized by rows upon rows of two storey terraced houses, some houses subdivided into flats or otherwise converted for use by more than one family. The streets followed the lines of what were once field boundaries fifty years before. From the early 1890's the "Warner Estate Company" had set about building good quality, low cost housing for the "upper ranks" of the working classes. The company was set up by Sir Thomas Courtenay Theydon Warner of Highams, Woodford Green. His idea was to take control of the complete process from the building to letting of the finished house through his own estate offices. Large estates were built on his own lands, all of the same basic design but each area with it's own minor idiosyncrasies. The weekly rents for these buildings, (ridiculous by today's standards) were:
Five shillings and sixpence (5/6d) for a downstairs flat (28 pence in today's money)
Eight shillings (8/-) for a small house (40 pence in today's money)
Seventeen shillings and sixpence (17/6d) for a large house (88 pence in today's money)
The map above is Walthamstow (west) dated 1913, I have highlighted in yellow the approximate boundaries of the Warner Estates, roughly speaking they were the two railway lines to the north and south, and Buxton Road to the east. To the west the boundary was the reservoirs of the Lea Valley just beyond the Blackhorse Road. The vast majority of the housing within the area of the yellow line were Warner houses. From 1912 on, the Warner Company assisted in Walthamstow's Urban District Council town planning scheme, the first houses to be built under this scheme were in the Higham Hill area north of Forest Road. The scheme finally ended in 1930
On the other side of Forest Road an industrial area had already developed. The "Vanguard Motor Omnibus Company" had been established in 1906, This was later to become the "Associated Equipment Company" or "AEC" who went on to produce the majority of London's much loved buses. Next door to "AEC" was "Peter Hooker Ltd" who used to build aero engines during the First World War, and along the way was the "Empire Works" of "Micanite Insulators Ltd" who played a major role making and supplying electrical insulators for industry during the First World War. At its peak in 1918 Micanite employed over 600 local women, as each product was crafted by hand.
As well as marking the boundary of the Warner Estates on ther map, I have also highlighted three of the four roads where the first of the Hollings children were born. The railway line passing under Stoneydown Avenue and Warner Road was the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway which had opened in 1894. This line linked Walthamstow with the London Midland Railway and with the stations of north and east London and was a prime reason for the boom in commercial activity around the Blackhorse Lane area. Alternatively, tickets were available at the G.E.R. stations of Hoe Lane and St. James Street where you could purchase a twopenny (2d) Return to Liverpool Street Station, provided the train arrived at Liverpool Street before 7.30 am! This line would have made it easier for George and his new Family to stay in contact with any family he may still have had in his birth place, Bethnal Green.
At the end of Hervey Park Road was the Forest Road Tramway.
The photograph above right is of Hoe Street, Walthamstow, as it was in 1914. It would have been very familiar to George Hollings and a few years later to Donald Jack, as it was a matter of yards from his front door at 23 Exeter Road.The electrically powered tramway system was established in 1905 by the Walthamstow Council. It was based at the tram depot in Chingford Road, and ran services to Chingford, Leyton, Woodford and the River Lea. It was taken over by London Transport in 1933. The busy transport system of Walthamstow thrived and at its peak trains were running from Liverpool Street to Chingford and beyond right through the night. Between 6am and 7am Monday to Friday, seven trains ran into London each day.
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