Cranbrook, Redbridge

A late-Victorian and Edwardian estate in north Ilford, also known as Cranbrook Park; the Cran Brook itself feeds the pond and lake in Valentines Park

Hidden London: Cranbrook pub sign, showing the bird (and brook) that were the origin of its name
(Former) Cranbrook pub sign

The first official mention of the manor of Cranbrook was in Barking Abbey records of 1347. At the northern end of the district a tannery operated from the mid-15th century until 1840.

From the end of the 19th century, local MP Peter Griggs developed two estates of “substan­tially built housing” called Central Park and Cranbrook Park. The houses were designed for comfort­able, middle-class family life. Each contained four or five bedrooms and modern features like gas fittings and indoor lava­to­ries. The streets were endowed with grand names such as Kens­ington Gardens, Empress Avenue and The Drive – and Cranbrook was publi­cised as being: “Without question the choicest position in Ilford and surrounding districts.”

To the west, land on the edge of the Wanstead Park estate was also sold for building. The 500-year history of Cranbrook Hall – which included holding prisoners from the Spanish Armada – ended with its demo­li­tion in 1900 to make way for the new housing. Cranbrook Castle, a folly erected in 1765 on what became the Port of London Authority’s sports ground, survived until 1923. It had been intended as a mausoleum but was never used for the purpose. Shops were added on Cranbrook Road between 1924 and 1930.

In 1995 PC Phillip Walters was shot and fatally wounded after being called to a distur­bance at a house in Empress Avenue, where a police memorial has since been erected.

Like much of Ilford, the Cranbrook ward has a large Asian popu­la­tion, including Hindus, Sikhs and espe­cially Muslims. There is also a signif­i­cant Jewish minority.

George Tasker moved into a newly built house on the Cranbrook Park estate in 1898 and went on to write a definitive history of Ilford and its environs. Redbridge Museum features a re-created scene in Edwardian Cranbrook – with a view through the window into Tasker’s front room.

Postcode area: Ilford IG1
Population: 12,780 (2011 census)