Chadwell Heath

Chadwell Heath, Barking & Dagenham/Redbridge

Although it is postally a part of Romford and administratively mainly in the borough of Barking and Dagenham, Chadwell Heath really marks the easternmost extent of the Ilford district

Hidden London: Tudor Parade, Chadwell Heath, by Stacey Harris

Records of Chad­well go back to the 14th cen­tu­ry, although the heath was called Black­heath until a lit­tle after 1600. ‘Chad­well’ is almost cer­tain­ly a cor­rup­tion of ‘cald wielle’, Old Eng­lish for a cold spring, so the asso­ci­a­tions with St Chad are wish­ful think­ing. The water from the well was said nev­er to have dried up and to have been good for eye com­plaints – which was a claim often made for spring water.

Whale­bone Lane is so called because of the arch made out of a pair of giant ribs that stood for two cen­turies at a toll­gate on the Rom­ford Road, the whale in ques­tion hav­ing been strand­ed in the Thames in 1658.

The heath was enclosed by the Crown in 1860 and part of it sur­vives as St Chad’s Park, the old­est park in the bor­ough of Bark­ing & Dagen­ham. The dis­trict now cov­ers a much larg­er area than did the orig­i­nal heath, because it has absorbed the neigh­bour­ing ham­let of Chad­well Street (which is the part with­in the bor­ough of Red­bridge).

The arrival of the Great East­ern Rail­way in 1864 brought some mod­est growth to the set­tle­ment and St Chad’s was found­ed as a chapel of ease to the church of St Peter and St Paul, Dagen­ham. The present church was built in 1895 and its clock tow­er was added soon after­wards to mark Vic­to­ri­a’s dia­mond jubilee. There are plans to extend and mod­ernise the church, and to fund this project by build­ing a small block of flats on the site of the church hall.

Sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment began in earnest at the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry and most of the present hous­ing stock dates from between the world wars. Shown in the pho­to­graph above,* Tudor Parade was built on the south side of the High Road in 1938.

The two halves of Chad­well Heath exhib­it dif­fer­ent socio-eco­nom­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics. Home own­er­ship (usu­al­ly with a mort­gage) is high­est on the Red­bridge side. The part that lies with­in Bark­ing and Dagen­ham has a high­er pro­por­tion of white, work­ing-class coun­cil ten­ants. The district’s prin­ci­pal employ­er is the Dairy Crest milk pro­cess­ing plant on Seli­nas Lane, which dou­bled its capac­i­ty in 2001. West Ham United’s train­ing ground is a mod­est facil­i­ty locat­ed off Sav­ille Road.

Chadwell Heath has briefly been home to the 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the boxer Frank Bruno.

The fictional Sir Chadwell Heath made a fleeting appearance in a 2010 episode of the American TV show Family Guy.

Postcode areas: Romford RM6 and RM8
Population: 24,278 (Barking & Dagenham’s Chadwell Heath ward and Redbridge’s Chadwell ward; 2011 census)
Station: TfL Rail (zone 5)
Further reading: Don Hewson, Chadwell Heath and the Road to Romford Market, The History Press, 2009
* The picture of Tudor Parade, Chadwell Heath, on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Stacey Harris, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.