Ilford is a name that was known to William the Conqueror and to most monarchs down the ages as they passed through this hamlet on the Great Essex Road, probably on their way to the royal palace of Havering. Its Saxon and medieval manor estates were long under the sway of the mighty Barking Abbey and Barking had the parish church and the port. The Abbey set up Ilford Hospital Chapel, now the oldest surviving building in the town centre. By the early 19th century the coaching trade produced prosperous inns in a growing village and by 1830 Ilford was a separate parish, building its own church. Nine years later the railway came and brought dramatic growth. The old estates were broken up for housing and by 1888 Ilford gained civic independence. No longer a mere ward of Barking, it next became a borough, with a splendid Town Hall, within forty years of having its first council.
In this new book, the author, who has been researching Ilford's history for over twenty years, provides a vivid account of its entire past; from prehistory, when mammoths roamed the Thames valley, up to the present day, when new communities, often from Asia, are contributing energy and enthusiasm to its continuing development. Her very readable narrative is splendidly illustrated and pays attention to all those long-departed people who built and developed the modern town, from Thomas John Barnardo to Archibald Cameron Corbett and William Peter Griggs. Though now a 'suburb', Ilford retains its own character, whose essence has been captured in this very welcome and attractive book.