Elm Park

Elm Park, Havering

A ‘wonder-town of homes’, according to its developers, situated on the south-west side of Hornchurch


Elm Park shops
Elm Park is one of the smallest of Havering’s town centres, and many of its former shops have closed, including the Woolworth’s in this photo­graph

With financial support from the Halifax building society, Liverpool-based Richard Costain and Sons began building here in 1934, partly on the site of Elm Park farm. It is claimed that the layout was influ­enced by the garden city movement, but this is hard to detect.

Costain part-funded the building of Elm Park’s District line station in 1935, after 500 homes had already been completed. It was the last station to open on the line.

A 1937 advert­isement promised “space to breathe the clear air of open Essex. Compare these wide, clean avenues with the narrow, dust-laden streets in which many families unneces­sarily remain when they could so easily live healthier, fuller lives at Elm Park.” By the outbreak of war the estate was three-quarters complete.

When hostil­ities ceased the council took on the remaining phase of devel­opment – but a planned cinema was never built. More shops were added in the 1950s, and later still came further house­building to the south, on part of the former Hornchurch airfield.

Two local schools, Ayloff and Dunningford, merged in 2009 to become Elm Park primary school. The mayor of London opened the school’s impressive new building on South End Road in September 2011, saying, “Elm Park primary school is an inspir­ation to all of us and what a fantastic place to teach and learn.” Since then, Ofsted has consist­ently placed the school in the ‘requires improvement’ category.

The locality’s oldest and largest pub, the Elm Park Hotel, closed in 2013 and its south-west wing became a Sainsbury’s Local.

Future devel­op­ments in Elm Park may include higher density housing, but Hornchurch Residents’ Association has expressed reser­va­tions about such proposals, preferring the neigh­bourhood to retain its tradi­tionally suburban character.

Elm Park is a predom­in­antly white area, with just a few residents from ethnic minor­ities. At the last census the two largest ethnic minor­ities here were of African and Indian origin or descent, accounting for just four and two per cent of the population, respect­ively.

Postcode area: Hornchurch, RM12
Population: 12,466 (2011 census)
Station: District line (zone 6)
Website: Elm Park Regeneration Partnership (not much to report)