Roman Road, E2

Road in/near Mile End, existing between the 1850s and now

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Road · Mile End · E3 ·
JANUARY
1
2000

Roman Road commemorates the ancient route from London to Colchester without being actually that road.


Roman Road got its name in Victorian times. Archaeologists discovered the original Roman road between London and Colchester in the 1840s – running parallel to this one.

The Roman Road is now one of the main roads in East London running from Bethnal Green in the west to Bow in the east. It traverses two postcodes, E2 and E3.

The modern Roman Road evolved from a footpath called the ’Driftway’ which ran beside a windmill on the present site of Ford Close. Old Ford was then the main road and a toll road linked Mile End to Grove Road in Hackney.

The Metropolitan Board of Works started to build Roman Road from the 1850s onwards along the line of the Driftway. This extended Bethnal Green Road and Green Street eastwards and was paid for by local residents and businesses. In the 1870s, plans to extend the Roman Road to Stratford fell through. In the 1930s, Green Street was merged into Roman Road – and all the shop and house numbers were changed accordingly.

As the road was built, housing, trades and manufacturing, most famously the Bryant and May Match Factory, developed.

The Roman Road was originally lined with streets of Victorian housing of mixed quality. The area was typical of the East End with the very poor and well to do living only a street apart.

Roman Road was a centre of Suffragette activity with the headquarters of the East London Federation of Suffragettes at 400 Old Ford Road. Their newspaper, Women’s Dreadnought was published from 321 Roman Road.

The first flying bomb in London fell 200 yards from the Roman Road in Grove Road in June 1944.

With post-war slum clearance, a large slice of the Victorian housing disappeared, to be replaced by housing estates.


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VIEW THE MILE END AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

VIEW THE MILE END AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

VIEW THE MILE END AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

VIEW THE MILE END AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE MILE END AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

Mile End

Mile End is recorded in 1288 as ’La Mile ende’ and means ’the hamlet a mile away’.

It was a mile distance from Aldgate in the City of London as reached by the London to Colchester road.

In around 1691 Mile End became known as Mile End Old Town because a new unconnected settlement to the west and adjacent to Spitalfields had taken the name Mile End New Town.

Excavations have suggested there were very few buildings before 1300.

Mile End Road moved to its present-day alignment after the foundation of Bow Bridge in 1110. In the medieval period, it was known as ‘Aldgatestrete’, as it led to the eastern entrance to the City of London at Aldgate. The area running alongside Mile End Road was known as Mile End Green, and became known as a place of assembly for Londoners, as reflected in the name of Assembly Passage.

For most of the medieval period, this road was surrounded by open fields on either side. Speculative developments existed by the end of the 16th century and continued throughout the 18th century. It developed as an area of working and lower-class housing, often occupied by immigrants and migrants new to the city.

Mile End was hit by the first V-1 flying bomb to strike London. On 13 June 1944, this ’doodlebug’ impacted next to the railway bridge on Grove Road.

Mile End underground station was opened in 1902 by the Whitechapel & Bow Railway. Electrified services started in 1905. The first services were provided by the District Railway (now the District line); the Metropolitan line followed in 1936 In 1988 this section of the Metropolitan was renamed the Hammersmith & City line.

In 1946 the station was expanded and rebuilt by the Chief Architect of London Underground, Stanley Heaps and his assistant Thomas Bilbow, as part of the Central line eastern extension, with services starting on 4 December 1946.
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