Bakers Arms, Waltham Forest
A local shopping centre focused on a crossroads on the Lea Bridge Road where High Road Leyton meets Walthamstow’s Hoe Street
Formerly known as Leyton Corner, the locality now bears the identity of its former public house, recently converted to a bookmakers, which was named in honour of the neighbouring almshouses built between 1857 and 1866 by the London Master Bakers’ Benevolent Institution. The almshouses fill three sides of a quadrangle encompassing a well-kept garden, set back from the north side of the Lea Bridge Road. The name of the Rank family of flour millers features prominently in the homes’ roll of honour.
In the late 1960s the Greater London Council converted the almshouses into one-bedroom flats, after a change of heart over their demolition for road widening. Plans by Tesco to build a superstore on the site were also resisted, with the help of English Heritage, which has ensured that all renovations have been in keeping with the original design and materials. This included an insistence that stolen iron gates be replaced with craftsman-made replicas. However, some internal parts have since suffered from deterioration and would benefit from further investment in the preservation of this excellent group of buildings.
The Bakers Arms area has expanded to absorb the former hamlet of Knotts Green, just to the east, home for many years of the Barclays banking family.
Leyton leisure lagoon – the principal local amenity – closed in February 2013 for a revamp and reopened eight months later as Leyton leisure centre. Though the Bakers Arms pub has closed, Wetherspoon’s The Drum is located a few doors to its west. Beyond the almshouses and the railway bridge, an Ibis hotel occupies both sides of the road.
The rail users’ group for the Barking to Gospel Oak line has long been campaigning for a new station to be opened at Bakers Arms, but there is no sign of this eventuating.