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)