Colourful history of Harold Hill celebrated in new book

Authors Simon Donoghue and Don Tait with Cllr Andrew Curtin and their book.

Authors Simon Donoghue and Don Tait with Cllr Andrew Curtin and their book. - Credit: Archant

The colourful history of Harold Hill has been celebrated with the launch of a new book about the area.

The book Harold Hill and Noak Hill: a History, has been written by local history librarian Simon Donoghue and local historian Don Tait.

And its launch was celebrated last week at Harold Hill Library with about 70 residents who had helped provide content for the book.

It illustrates the areas history through more than 300 maps, photographs and documents and traces the origins of Harold Hill and Noak Hill, including the evidence of Roman habitation.

It also looks at the history of the manors, farms and residents of Noak Hill, Romford Common and the old ward of Harold Wood.

It started with an exhibition put together by Simon and Don in 1998 to mark Harold Hill’s 50th anniversary, and since then residents have helped with its research and images.

The book includes stories of famous visitors such as George Fox, the founder of the Quakers and Samuel Pepys, the English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now best remembered for the diary he kept for a decade when he was younger. It also looks at the role of the Neave family who dominated the area for over 150 years.

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The book details London County Council’s plans to build a new housing estate after the Second World War.

Despite a public enquiry a compulsory purchase order was made and by July 1947 the first residents of the new Harold Hill estate arrived to live in prefabricated houses assembled by German prisoners of war.

The book looks at the building of Harold Hill and the experiences of the early residents, the development of schools, shops, churches, pubs and industry, and the people who brought them to life.

The book concludes with the Queen’s visit to open Drapers’ Academy in 2013 and the announcement of plans for a new library.

Simon Donoghue said: “The book has involved a lot of research and writing over a long time but Don and I are really pleased it has now been published by the council’s Library Service. The support of the local people was wonderful, and I hope we’ve helped tell their story and that it’s something that they’re proud of and enjoy reading. We are very proud.”

Cllr Andrew Curtin, cabinet member for culture, towns and communities, said: “This is a very fine book that is important to the study of the history of Harold Hill and gives examples that are significant to the study of British social history in general.

“I’m sure it will be of great use to teachers, students and everyone interested in the rich histories and cultures of this borough.”

The book is published by the Havering Library Service and is available from Central Library in Romford and Harold Hill Library priced £15.99.

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