May 24 2013 Latest news:
Prof Ged Martin, member of Royal Historical Society
Monday, January 21, 2013
Most Havering street names were invented by developers who wanted a nice address to sell houses.
But some tell a story – and sometimes that story has moved on, so the name has lost its meaning.
Nineteenth century maps show a smithy at a road junction in Rainham Road (A125).
In 1886, James Venables was described as “smith and farrier” in South Hornchurch, meaning that he looked after horses.
If you stroll along Rainham Road today, you won’t hear the hammering of red-hot horseshoes on the anvil, but Blacksmiths Lane marks the spot where the smithy stood.
In 1871, a church was built to serve the new suburb of Harold Wood. It was a simple building with a tin roof and a puppy-tail spire.
Harold Wood’s first church stood in Church Road.
But in 1939, it was succeeded by St Peter’s, a sternly handsome brick building in Gubbins Lane.
The old building became the church hall. It just failed to reach its centenary, being sold for development in 1969.
Result: Harold Wood has a Church Road – with no church.
Given the rivalry between Spurs and Arsenal, Gunners fans might object to Collier Row’s White Hart Lane.
But they have no reason to complain: the name remembers a long-vanished pub.
Billet Lane in Hornchurch also recalls a lost hostelry – the Crooked Billet stood near today’s Emerson Park Station. It closed about 1870.
Curiously, Havering has two fake-monastic street names.
Sir Thomas Crosse, a wealthy London brewer who died in 1738, bought the Rainham manor of Berwick, remembered in Berwick Pond Road.
One of the oldest documents in English history is a charter from the year 687, granting Barking Abbey “Deccanham” and “Ricingaham”.
Deccanham was Dagenham, which was certainly Barking Abbey property.
“Ricingaham” is a mystery, but the Crosse family guessed (wrongly) that it was Rainham.
So they named a patch of trees near Berwick Pond “Abbey Wood”, and Abbey Wood Lane in Rainham remembers the name.
Several bus routes terminate there, so the name is well known.
(Other land in Rainham belonged to Lesnes Abbey in Kent during the Middle Ages, but not this area.)
At the other end of the borough, the wealthy Neave family owned Dagnam Park at Harold Hill.
It was probably during the 1840s that the family built a “dower house”, maybe as a retirement home for the widow of Sir Thomas Neave, who died in 1848.
It was called “The Priory”, recalling the medieval tradition of rich widows becoming nuns and retreating into convents.
The Priory, a 40-room house to the east of modern Harold Hill, was demolished in 1956. Priory Road, about a half a mile away, recalls this romantic name.