Hoe Street, Waltham Forest

An electoral ward and spinal thoroughfare in Walthamstow, linking High Road Leyton with Chingford Road

Hoe Street, June 2013

Hoe Street’s existence was first noted in 1697 and its name comes from the Old English hōh, a ridge.

Hoe Street station opened in 1872 at a time when the neigh­bourhood was still mainly dairy pasture. It is said that trains would wait at the station for would-​​be passengers who could be seen running across the fields. The intro­duction of cheap workers’ fares helped ensure speedy devel­opment of the surrounding area in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

Victoria Hall was built in 1887 and became the town’s first cinema 20 years later. The rival Empress was built at the southern end of the street in 1913 by Good Brothers, local builders and impresarios. Victoria Hall was demolished in 1930 and replaced by the Granada cinema, later the EMD.

Central Parade was completed in 1964, with flats, shops, a lecture hall and a clock tower. The station was renamed Walthamstow Central when the Victoria line arrived in 1968.

Looking north up Hoe Street, June 2013

Looking northwards up Hoe Street from the corner of Albert Road, June 2013

Hoe Street is nowadays almost entirely lined with shops, although it has declined in status since Selborne Walk shopping centre (now the Mall) became the prime retail zone in 1988.

The EMD cinema closed in 2003 and was later acquired by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. However, the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust has waged a long-​​running campaign for the building to be reopened as a place of enter­tainment, which may or may not eventually bear fruit.

In 2008 Kingsway International Christian Centre moved into the former Empress cinema.

At the junction with Selborne Walk, Hoe Street’s most prominent recent addition has been an incon­gruously chic pair of blocks, one a hotel, the other a set of apartments. Developers Solum Regeneration declare that “new investment and ambitious plans for the future will create a vibrant and exciting town centre, … making Walthamstow a great place to live.”

On the evening of 6 October 2015 Hoe Street was closed by police during a prolonged mass brawl, apparently dominated by young women in their late teens and ultimately involving around 200 people. In an online post the following day Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy wrote: “I have today been in touch with police, local college repres­ent­atives and local community youth groups and repres­ent­atives. It is now confirmed the source of yesterday’s disorder was an alter­cation between two young women, from two different local colleges. It was not a gang-​​related incident but rather concerned a dispute involving their personal relationship with a young man.”

Hoe Street’s population is ethnically diverse, with no single group consti­tuting a majority. The two largest minorities are white British and the sub-​​group that is nowadays officially called ‘Asian/​Asian British: Pakistani or British Pakistani’. Islam is the second religion after Christianity. The ward is not affluent; of its 5,000 households, almost half have no access to a car.

Hell on Hoe Street (2002) is one of a series of Walthamstow-​​based crime novels by former probation officer Jeremy Cameron.

Postal district: E17
Population: 13,912 (2011 census)
Station: Victoria line terminus and London Overground (Walthamstow Central, zone 3)
See also: Walthamstow Queens Road


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