Stratford's history

A restless spirit of renewal

It’s all but impossible to write a brief history of this eastern gateway to the city: a tiny pre-Roman settlement on the road linking London and Colchester; a major monastic fiefdom and 12th century centre for milling, weaving, brewing and tanning; an engine of industrialisation with striking Victorian architecture;  a colossal powerhouse for railway engineering and expertise from the late 18th to the mid 19th centuries; and yes a focus for 60's experimentations in urban planning. 

And now, home to one of the largest ever initiatives in urban renewal ever undertaken in Europe.

You barely need to scratch the surface of Stratford’s present to unearth a heritage of human activity that dates back thousands of years. It’s a heritage of fierce resilience and energetic renewal. As times have changed, so the area has adapted and survived. This part of the east end is a jigsaw of generations of invention and a constant chain of change. 

All Saints West Ham - the 'Cathedral of the East'If you want to take a closer look at the history of the area, go and visit the historic All Saints West Ham church, known by many as the ‘Cathedral of the East’ which dates back over a thousand years, and St John's Church in the heart of the old town, a beautiful Victorian building with the ornate Martyrs Memorial located in its churchyard.

Directly opposite from St John's is Stratford Old Town Hall, full of Victorian charm and splendour. This was where the election of the first ever Labour MP, Keir Hardie, was announced in 1892..

You’ll find that new ideas, new directions and new developments aren’t just a part of Stratford’s present.  They’re deeply ingrained in Stratford’s past.