Victorian London - Districts - Areas - Ilford 

ILFORD AS A NEW LONDON SUBURB

FROM A DESIGN BY THE ARCHITECT MR. B. WOOLLAND

     How a Pretty Essex Hamlet has become a Populous Suburb for City Men.
    
     ALL round London dozens of districts have doubled their populations in ten years, but it has been left to Ilford to double its population in half the time. In 1891 there were barely 10,000 people living in the district. In 1896 there were quite 20,000. The population has grown at the same rapid rate since.
    
     Pleasantly Situated.
    
     Ilford is a pretty Essex township, seven miles from Liverpool-street on the main line of the Great Eastern Railway. Being near Epping Forest, it has many natural beauties. The southern portion of the district, through which the main highway runs, is the only quarter where the surrounding country can be called at all interesting. Here the marshes, stretching towards Barking and the river, make a somewhat monotonous outlook. This is the site of the old village, or of what remains of it; but the modern Ilford, the Ilford of the trim suburban streets and pretty houses, is away to the north over the railway bridge. There wide and well-kept streets are pleasantly situated, and command stretches of lovely country. Not so long ago they formed part of the country themselves. Very few years have passed since this same land was agricultural valued at 300 per acre. In some instances a period of three months was sufficient to raise the value of the land, after it had been prepared for building, from 300 to 1,200. Ilford, unlike neighbouring suburbs, has few artizan residents. Rather it is the home of the smaller Civil servant, the clerk, and the young professional man.
    
     Its Municipal Life
    
     It was in 1888 that Ilford separated itself from Barking and became an independent local governing body. There were then only 1,500 houses within its area, while to-day there are nearly 6,000 and building is still going on apace. It is significant that since the parish secured independence, it has reduced the rates for district purposes twenty-five per cent. besides absorbing the Burial Board rate. The District Council is an active body. It has provided public baths, recreation grounds, and technical schools. It has promoted a Bill to acquire the gas company's undertaking and has also obtained an electric lighting order. It has just secured a public park of thirty acres.
    
     New Municipal Buildings
    
     A scheme has just been sanctioned for new municipal buildings. Mr. B. Woolland, who designed the new buildings, contributes the following description to the Ilford Guardian:-
     The plan is arranged so that the offices and town hall form one block, but so planned that the hall can be entirely shut off from the offices.
     The offices are entered from the high road and contain, on the ground floor, surveyor's rates', medical officer's, and sanitary inspector's offices, and spare rooms, with staff lavatory, fireproof muniment room, and plan room, with a grand staircase to upper floor, and a secondary stair and entrance in Oakfield-road, giving access for members of public to the back part of council chamber.
     The first floor contains clerk's offices, committee rooms, and council chamber, with ante-room and lavatory; and on the floor over, rooms for the caretaker are arranged.
     The Town Hall is entered from the High-road and has also exits in Oakfield-road and the back roads, which could serve as entrances. On either side of the main entrance is a cloak room. The hall is about 57ft. by 74 ft., and has a stage at the fire station end 33ft. wide, with two retiring rooms on the same level, separated by a corridor, and one below on a level with the back road, by which they can be entered. Under the stage there is a large chair store. The hall is about 36ft. high, and has a large curved ceiling, through which the light is admitted. There is a small gallery over the entrance hall and cloak rooms. There are exits at both ends, and in the centre, so that in the event of a panic the hall could be cleared in a few minutes from either end.
     The elevations are to be of stone, and are of a free classic treatment, with ranges of three-quarter columns on the upper part, which give dignity and importance to the main facade, with the two main entrances emphasised by projecting balconies, supported on columns. The large central pavilion will contain a room in connection with the clerk's block, and is also intended for a large tank for water to supply the hydrants for first aid in case of fire.

Municipal Journal and London, 1899