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Plaistow, Newham facts for kids

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Plaistow Underground Station - - 1471302.jpg
Plaistow Underground station
Greengate Street.jpg
Greengate Street, Plaistow
Plaistow is located in Greater London
Population 31,874 (2011 Census. Plaistow North and South Wards)
OS grid reference TQ405825
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E13
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • West Ham
London Assembly
List of places
51°31′27″N 0°01′28″E / 51.5243°N 0.0245°E / 51.5243; 0.0245

Plaistow ( PLAHST-oh or PLAST-oh) is a suburban town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Newham. It adjoins Upton Park to the north, East Ham to the east, Beckton to the south, Canning Town to the south-west and Three Mills to the west.

It was originally a ward in the parish of West Ham, hundred of Becontree, and part of the historic county of Essex. Since 1965, Plaistow has been part of the London Borough of Newham, a local government district of Greater London. The town forms the majority of the London E13 postcode district. Plaistow North and Plaistow South are two of the ten electoral wards making up the UK parliamentary constituency of West Ham.

The main roads are the A112; Prince Regent Lane, Greengate Street, The Broadway, High Street and Plaistow Road, which is a former Roman road; and the A124 (Barking Road), which passes south west/ north east through Plaistow and past the former West Ham United football ground. Commercial and retail premises are on the A112 at Greengate Street leading north and Prince Regent Lane south, leading 0.3 miles (0.5 km) to Newham Sixth Form College and along the A124.


The name "Plaistow" is believed to come from Sir Hugh de Plaitz (spelling varies) who, in 1065, married Philippa de Montfitchet, of the Mountfitchet Castle family, who owned the district. It is she who is reputed to have named it the Manor of Plaiz. A stow was a place of assembly (occasionally a holy place), but also described as a town or village, so it was the village of Plaiz, or assembly place within the Manor, "Plaiz-stow".

In his book "What's in a Name?", first published in 1977, author Cyril M. Harris states that c. 1200 Plaistow was recorded as "Plagestoue", derived from the Old English "Pleg", meaning sports or playing, and "Stowe" (place). It was a place where miracle plays were performed so it was a "playing place". While the book concentrates on the names of London railway stations, Harris seems to have confused Plaistow in Essex (and later London) with the Plaistow near Crich in Derbyshire, which is recorded as "Plagestoue" in the Darley Charters of 1200. The derivation from "Pleg" and "Stowe" appears to apply equally to all places called Plaistow, however.

In 1353 Sir Richard de Playz gave the manor to the abbott of Stratford-Langthorne.

Balaam Street is one of the oldest roads in Plaistow. The street was named for Hugh de Balun, who owned property in the area in the 12th century and belonged to the same family as Hamelin de Balun. James Kemble in his 2007 book "Essex Place-Names" says it was Balostret in the 1371 Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, but associates it with a Walter Balame.

Plaistow in Essex is reported as appearing as "Playstowe" in the county's Patent Rolls of 1414. This is also quoted by Kemble, another who cites the derivation from "plegstow" – a place for playing.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor was appropriated by the Crown, and granted to Sir Roger Cholmeley in 1553.

Daniel Defoe's 1724 work, "Tour of the Eastern Counties" (part of his “A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain”), mentions Plaistow as a town in which there had been much new building as well as repairs to existing houses since the Revolution.

Plaistow is connected with the legend of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin (born 1705; executed 1739). Several stories state that among Turpin’s first crimes was the theft of two oxen from his employer, a Mr Giles of Plaistow, in 1730. Turpin is alleged to also have run a smuggling gang which operated between Plaistow and Southend.

In Aaron Hill's time there (1738-1750) Plaistow was a rural village described as a day's coach journey from Westminster, despite it being a distance of only some 8 miles (13 km).

West Ham CP Ward Map 1867
Plaistow ward of West Ham Civil Parish in 1867.

In the 1870s Plaistow was described by John Marius Wilson in his Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales as a village, a chapelry and a ward in the Parish of West Ham in Essex. The population of the chapelry, which was constituted in 1844, was recorded as 11,214 in 1861. James Thorne, in his 1876 work "Handbook to the Environs of London", mentions Plaistow, Essex, as a village and ecclesiastical district of West Ham parish with a population of 6,699. Thorne recounts the changes to the old village of Plaistow, with the gentry, merchants and others of renown having gone and the occupations of the residents changed from agricultural and pastoral to manufacturing.

John Curwen opened the Plaistow Public School in 1844. His son, John Spencer Curwen (who founded the Stratford & East London Music Festival – the oldest English music festival – in 1882), published a paper called “Old Plaistow” in 1891 describing houses of the area.

It was not until 1905 that Plaistow was connected to the telephone network.

Plaistow had its own UK Parliamentary constituency from 1918 to 1950. It consisted of the Plaistow and Hudsons wards of the County Borough of West Ham, plus part of the Canning Town ward.

The area was heavily damaged during the Blitz in the Second World War.

The Black Lion public house in the High Street is one of the oldest landmarks in Plaistow and is reputed to date back to at least 1742. It was frequented by West Ham United football players especially such as Bobby Moore in the 1960s and '70s with several West Ham footballers spotted in the area since.

Plaistow formed part of the County Borough of West Ham in Essex until 1965, when West Ham joined with the County Borough of East Ham and small parts of Barking and Woolwich to form the London Borough of Newham.

The Plaistow North area is largely made up of a local authority housing estate constructed in the 1960s on a bomb-damaged site. The estate used to include five 14-storey 1960s tower blocks but much has changed and the area has undergone a major redevelopment programme.

Just before the end of the 1990s a £92M regeneration programme known as the Forest Gate and Plaistow SRB5 got under way, with the aim of renewing and revitalising neighbourhoods, creating jobs, building new homes and improving many existing ones. West Ham and Plaistow New Deal for Communities ("NDC"), part of a government programme designed to tackle social exclusion, community safety, unemployment and low educational attainment in areas of severe need throughout the country, was awarded £54.6M to bring about improvements to the local area over a 10-year period to 2010, with the intention of improving the quality of life and providing more opportunities for residents in the West Ham and Plaistow area. In March 2010 the NDC set up Newham New Deal Partnership ("Newham NDP"), a Not-for-Profit organisation, to continue providing community benefit to the NDC area and beyond, and continue the work carried out over the 10 years of the NDC Programme. Newham NDP works in partnership with the East London Business Alliance, East Thames Group, London Borough of Newham and One Housing Group to provide community benefits to the area either directly or in partnership with other stakeholders.

In January 2013 councillors approved a new housing development of both private and affordable homes on the site of the old Plaistow Hospital. Construction began in March 2013 with completion of Phase 1 in 2015 and Phase 2 in 2016.


Places of interest in the area include the 9.5 acres (3.8 ha) Plaistow Park (known as Balaam Street Recreation Ground from its opening in 1894 to its renaming in 1999), and the 10 acres (4.0 ha) Memorial Park which merges into the East London Cemetery. There are several small parks in the area, with the large West Ham Park 1 mile (1.6 km) north.

In Plaistow are Newham Leisure Centre, Balaam Street Leisure Centre and Newham University Hospital. Newham Sixth Form College's main campus is in the south-east, near the hospital.

The Terence McMillan Stadium, home to the Newham and Essex Beagles track and field athletics club and part of the Newham Leisure Centre, is located in Plaistow close to the hospital and the college. East End Road Runners is a running club based at the Newham Leisure Centre and was the recipient of England Athletics' award for London Development Club of the Year in 2011.

The West Ham Boys' Amateur Boxing Club is located at the rear of the Black Lion public house in High Street.

The 59 Club, possibly the largest motorcycle club in the world and a registered charity, is now based in Plaistow and located in the Swift Centre in Barking Road.


19th century buildings include St Andrew's Church (1868), mentioned in Thorne's work, and the adjoining vicarage (1871), both grade II listed buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The 1921 Memorial Baptist Church is also a grade II listed building.

Greengate House is a grade II listed building in Greengate Street. With a grand and ornate facade, it was built originally for the YMCA and opened in 1921. The building was demolished in 2010 with the facade retained and modernised. It is now used as flats. It was once used as an Art college by the University of East London and students included Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Lottery-funded work

Plaistow has benefitted from a number of lottery grants. Among the largest redevelopments are:

In February 2011 the Memorial Community Church in Barking Road received a National Heritage Lottery grant in order to clean and restore ten Memorial Bells, which include the names of more than 150 men who died fighting in the First World War. This, part of a larger restoration project, was completed in August 2011. The bells are cast with the largest number of names on any set of bells in the world.

In March 2011 the Memorial Community Church was awarded money by the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities programme, to improve community facilities there.

On 10 December 2012 Plaistow South was named as one of fifty areas of England to share in a Big Lottery Scheme grant of £200M. Plaistow South received £1M to fund locally-designed projects to improve the area.

Popular culture

Plaistow is referenced in the song "Plaistow Patricia" on the 1977 album New Boots and Panties!! by Ian Dury.

The location for the video shoot of "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" by the Human League was a house, painted entirely in red and surrounding terraced streets at the corner of First Avenue and Third Avenue in Plaistow. The area has since been redeveloped.



Plaistow and Upton Park tube stations are in the district. Both are served by the London Underground District and Hammersmith & City lines, which link the area directly to destinations in Central London, including the City, King's Cross, St. Pancras International, Westminster, and Paddington. Both stations are in London fare zone 3. Eastbound trains run towards Barking, Dagenham, and Upminster.

West Ham station is less than one mile from High Street Plaistow, in London fare zones 2 and 3. The station is on the Jubilee line and Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which links the area directly to several key destinations and interchanges, including Stratford International, London City Airport (Airport interchange), London Bridge, and Waterloo.

Stratford station is also nearby, to the north of the district, which is served by the Central and Jubilee lines, DLR, and National Rail trains. This links the area to destinations across North East London, Essex, and East Anglia. Canning Town station is to Plaistow's south-west on the Jubilee line and the DLR.

Once Crossrail opens, the area will also be linked directly to London Heathrow Airport and Reading through the nearby Custom House station.


Plaistow is on the London Buses network, served by routes: 5, 69, 115, 147, 241, 262, 276, 300, 325, 330, 473, N15. Routes 69 and night bus N15 run overnight through Plaistow.


The Greenway, a shared-use path, runs through Plastow. The route runs unbroken from Hackney Wick to Plaistow via the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, and West Ham. Eastbound, the route runs towards Newham University Hospital, East Ham, Beckton, and Cycle Superhighway 3 towards Barking. The Greenway runs atop Joseph Bazalgette's Northern Outfall Sewer. It is a part of Transport for London (TfL)'s cycle network, numbered Cycleway 22.

Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) runs along the northern edge of Plaistow, through Stratford. The route runs non-stop and mostly traffic-free westbound towards the City, via Bow, Mile End, and Whitechapel.

Cycle Superhighway 3 (CS3) runs along the southern edge of Plaistow. The route runs non-stop and mostly traffic-free towards the City, via Canning Town, Poplar, and Limehouse. The route continues beyond the City traffic-free to Lancaster Gate (Hyde Park), via Westminster and Buckingham Palace, providing Plaistow with a direct, continuous cycle link to destinations in the West End. Eastbound, CS3 runs to Barking.


Plaistow is linked to other areas of London and South East England by road. Roads which run through Plaistow include:

The  A13  runs along the southernmost edge of Plaistow. The road runs westbound towards the City of London, passing Canning Town, Poplar, and Canary Wharf en route. Eastbound, the road carries traffic towards Barking, Dagenham, the UK-Motorway-icon.svg M25 , Tilbury, and Southend-on-Sea.


Nathan Kemp, assistant headteacher at Tollgate Primary School in Plaistow, won Teacher of the Year in the 2012 annual national Teaching Awards, the first ever overall Teacher of the Year instead of there being separate awards for primary and secondary schools.

Michael Patient of Tollgate was one of the winners of a Pearson teaching award in 2014, winning a silver award for outstanding new teacher of the year.

Notable residents

Arts and entertainment

Aaron Hill, writer and dramatist, lived at Hyde House during his retirement and until his death in 1750. William Holl the Younger, noted portrait and figure engraver, was born in Plaistow in 1807.

Singers David Essex, Ronnie Lane, Sandra Kerr, Jade Ewen, Mumzy Stranger and Alison Hinds were born in Plaistow, as were comedian and folk singer Richard Digance and grime artists Ghetts and Crazy Titch. Singer and entertainer Joe Brown was born in Lincolnshire but lived in Plaistow from the age of two. Rapper 21 Savage was born in Plaistow and moved as a youth to Atlanta in the United States. Record producer Norman Newell was born in Plaistow.

Actor Terence Stamp attended Tollgate Primary School and Plaistow Grammar School. Actor Honor Blackman was born in Plaistow, as were actors Jimmy Akingbola, Ron Pember and Roberta Taylor and comedian, actor and playwright Andi Osho.


Multi-times Olympic athlete Fred Alsop was born in Plaistow in 1938.

England international footballers Sol Campbell, Tony Cottee, Rob Lee and Martin Peters were born in Plaistow.

England international speedway rider Reg Fearman was from Plaistow. He managed England and Great Britain national teams, and was also Chairman of the British Speedway Promoters' Association.

Edward Temme, born in Plaistow, was a member of the British Olympic Water Polo teams of 1928 and 1936 and was the first man to swim the English Channel in both directions. He is reputed to have swum non-stop in both directions and to have achieved this feat twice.


Other famous residents have included:

  • William Clowes, one of England's early surgeons whose books were the leading surgical writings of the Elizabethan age, who spent his retirement in Plaistow until his death in 1604.
  • Sir Thomas Foot, Lord Mayor of London, who used Hyde House in High Street as his seat in the 17th century.
  • Edmund Burke PC, Irish statesman and author who moved to England and became a Whig Member of Parliament (MP), who lived in Plaistow c. 1759–1761 on Balaam Street.
  • George Edwards, sometimes referred to as the father of British ornithology, who retired to Plaistow in 1763 until his death in 1773.
  • Luke Howard, who in 1802 devised the naming and classification of clouds and cloud formations still in popular use today, and who operated a business in pharmaceuticals in Plaistow from 1796 until 1803 when he moved the business to nearby Stratford. He continued to reside in Plaistow until 1812, when he moved to Tottenham. The family's pharmaceutical business was instrumental in the development of quinine and both Howard and his son, quinologist John Eliot Howard (who was born in Plaistow), were elected Fellows of the Royal Society.
  • Roderic Gregory, biologist and professor of physiology who isolated gastrin (the stimulator of gastric acid), born in Plaistow in 1913 and awarded the CBE in 1971.

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