Who We Are

We’re the network of history and heritage people, museums, societies and organisations in Waltham Forest.

We aim to showcase and examine the fascinating history and heritage of Waltham Forest and the routes / roots that connect our local past with the whole of London, Essex and beyond.

As well as the past communities of our borough, we’re also interested in the built environment from bygone eras, especially those structures, paths and spaces that still exist today, making up the Waltham Forest in which we live.

Lea Bridge on the 1777 Map of the County of Essex by Chapman and Andre.
Lea Bridge on the 1777 Map of the County of Essex by Chapman & Andre.

The history of everyday life in the past, provides another way of seeing local places in the present. For example, the twists and turns of side streets now, might be explained from the shapes of fields in which crops were grown and animals grazed in the past. 

Located outside of old London, on the border of the Danelaw and Wessex, the towns of Waltham Forest have a long and complex history due to their positions in the Lea Valley between the River Lea to the west and Epping Forest to the east. Waltham Forest also has a heritage of surviving historic towns, villages, buildings and streets, that is unique to our borough. The handsome dignity of our old buildings, suggests a quality standard for new development.

We want to keep exploring the different facets of our past, including that within living memory. As times and outlooks change, and the population of the borough changes, so we should re-examine local history and describe it in new ways, without forgetting the ideals and achievements of earlier generations. 

Waltham Forest's history and heritage of radicals and creators like William Morris. Councillor Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, with local residents including artist Bob and Roberta Smith and school children, holding placards: Fellowship, Makers, Radicals, Waltham Forest.
Waltham Forest has a proud history and heritage of diverse communities, radicals and creators.

The Network is open to everyone and every group who take an active interest in the history and built heritage of Waltham Forest. It is committed to improving communication and co-operation between these groups and individuals.  It offers contacts and resources for organisations and individuals who can make use of our collective expertise and enthusiasm.

If you’d like to publicise your history / heritage events or news, on our website and social media, or if you’re interested in networking with professionals and volunteers passionate about history and heritage in Waltham Forest, please contact us.

Local Members of Parliament, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee.

Finding out about the exceptional, is one aspect of local history. We have a rich history of innovators and the innovative in Waltham Forest. The strong character of notable people from our area is an inspiration for the way we behave now. 

As people research their family history, they help uncover what life meant for previous generations.  As they research the property in which they are living, or the street, public open space or neighbourhood, they make similar discoveries, which will interest others. 

The Beatles at the Walthamstow Granada Cinema in 1963

Taking an interest in local history can be a rewarding kind of self-examination. Are the children of today worse behaved than youngsters of the 1960s and earlier, who have now become today’s oldies?

In what ways is life today worse than before, and in what ways is it better? Are we wiser than our ancestors?

Looking at the results of national government policies at the local level, can expose failure, deception, dishonesty and hypocrisy, or the misconceived. 

There are many, many questions that can be asked.  Definite answers may not be possible, but the thought process is invigorating. 

by David Boote

Homepage Header Photo Credits

Thanks very much for the use of their photos in our homepage header collage to:

Lindsay Collier, Mike Seaborne and Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum

Chrina Jarvis, Sandeep Christian and the Highams Park Society

Mervin Caesar-John and the Waltham Forest, Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica Twinning Association.

David Boote and Leyton and Leytonstone Historical Society

Waltham Forest Family History Society

Waltham Forest Oral History Workshop