For one thousand years the county of Essex stretched westwards from Harwich to Waltham Cross on the River Lea. The county boundary then continued south along the course of the Lea to the River Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf, before turning eastwards following the north bank of the capital’s river all the way to Shoeburyness.
This changed in 1965 with the formation of the Greater London Council. Five new London Boroughs were created, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Havering and Waltham Forest becoming in effect Metropolitan Essex in London.
Whilst only a tiny proportion of the land was taken, nearly one third of the existing Essex population was removed from the county. Despite these changes over two generations ago, many residents who live in these boroughs still refer to themselves as Essex people, as does much of the media. London’s Metropolitan Essex endeavours to tell some of the fascinating stories of Essex now in London.
Newly created Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest became just five of the 32 new London Boroughs. Essex was not the only county to be truncated. The new GLC took territory from Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire. Middlesex, much of it abutting the River Lea, and which had existed for 1000 years, ceased to exist as a county.
Despite the five new boroughs having been part of London for two generations, it is still the case that, for much of Dagenham, Romford, Hornchurch, Ilford, Chingford and Woodford, the local inhabitants and much of the media still consider these areas to be, at least geographically, part of Essex today.