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Harold Hill: A People's History

This history project was written at the turn of the millennium. Mostly constructed from interviews and the archive of the Romford Recorder and Romford Times, it aims to tell a story of the Harold Hill housing estate in outer east London from the 1940s to the 1980s. This covers the period from its construction as an LCC “out-county” housing development up until the Right to Buy.

Other sources include the local history archive at Romford library and the Pelling Collection at the University of London.

Many of the people interviewed for this project have now passed away, and the historical characters mentioned are two or three generations removed from the current residents. Some are still remembered, but others are mostly forgotten.

The 20 years from the late 1990s onwards were not, for various reasons, a particularly good period in Harold Hill’s history. But the estate is changing. Harold Hill is now a mixed community with different languages and races. I welcome this change. The opening of Crossrail, which runs to nearby Harold Wood directly into central London, will bring further transformation.

Written 20 years ago, I enjoyed working on this project and that shows in the text. It’s a celebration of working class class life and living. At 50k words, it’s a large read, so I’ve broken it down into readable chunks. The site is designed to be read linear or non-linearly. You can read the whole thing from start to finish, or you can dip in and out of the various sections.

Andrew Walpole, March 2023