Rush Green, Barking & Dagenham/Havering
A predominantly white working-class neighbourhood situated south-west of Romford
The hamlet, with its green where the rushes grew, was first recorded in 1651 and retained a concentration of small farms until the late 19th century. In 1871 the Romford burial board opened a cemetery on Crow Lane to replace the former parochial graveyard. The first residential development was the Birkbeck estate of 1885, consisting of West Road, Wolseley Road, Grosvenor Road and Birkbeck Road.
Romford council built some of its earliest houses in Rush Green in the 1920s. A mission hall was provided at Rush Green in 1946 and the brown-brick St Augustine’s church was built on Birkbeck Road in 1958, later gaining its own parish made up of corners of Romford, Dagenham and Hornchurch.
Rush Green College was established in 1961 and has since expanded to become the main campus of the vocationally oriented Barking & Dagenham College.
The area has seen significant housing association building in recent times, and there has been a small increase in the size of its ethnic minority population. Rush Green hospital closed in 1995 and its site has now been covered by houses arranged in a series of cul-de-sacs with flowery names.
Despite the open spaces that flank it on most sides, Rush Green feels like an untidy part of east London’s peripheral sprawl. The fact that it straddles two boroughs may have contributed to the locality’s unfocused form. (Click here to see the borough boundary on Streetmap.)
The entertainer Max Bygraves lived on Thornton’s Farm Avenue after the Second World War and performed in local pubs.