When Ilford became Redbridge back in 1965
- Credit: Archant
It was largely as a result of Ilford Borough Council promoting a bill in the Houses of Parliament seeking county borough status in the 1950s that in 1957 a Royal Commission was set up to examine the system and working of local government in the Greater London area.
Eventually, in 1962, a bill was introduced in Parliament broadly in line with the Commission’s recommendations - but crucially reducing the number of boroughs from 52 to 32.
Each of those boroughs was to have a population of around 200,000 people.
The bill received Royal Assent in July 1963, and became law as the Local Government Act in 1963.
Under the bill, Ilford – which at that time was an area of around 8,400 acres – was to join with the neighbouring borough of Wantead and Woodford.
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A brief debate raged over what the new borough should be called, but in the end the name Redbridge was chosen as a compromise.
The name comes from a famous bridge over the River Roding which was demolished in 1921. The bridge was made of red brick, unlike other bridges in the area, which were predominantly made of white stone.
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On April 1 1965, the London Borough of Redbridge came into existence and the time of the borough councils of Ilford and Wanstead and Woodford was over.
Although it has now been more than 50 years since that merger, the areas of Ilford and Wanstead and Woodford still have distinct identities.
In this time, perhaps one of the biggest changes has been the area on the northside of Ilford Hill – known as ‘the gateway to Ilford’.
Prior to the mid 1960s, this stretch of road from Ilford Bridge to Ilford Broadway had become very run down, but in 1967 work was completed on No.39 Ilford Hill, which at that point became the town’s tallest building.
This was followed soon after by British Telecom’s extensive Mill House building, which dominated that part of the town for many years.
The year 1974 also saw the Kenneth More Theatre open in Oakfield Road.