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The Drum

Read about the history of Leyton.

557–559 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, London, E10 7EQ
This was one of the first-ever Wetherspoon pubs. It was converted from a bar which had had an eye-catching display of drums hanging from the ceiling.

Prints and text about the history of Leyton.

The text reads: The ancient parish of Low Leyton was originally part of the Forest of Essex. It was so-called because much of the area was low-lying marshland by the River Lea.

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the arrival of illustrious residents, including the grandson of Sir Thomas More (Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII), and Nathaniel Tench, one of the first governors of the Bank of England.

In the eighteenth century Leyton High Road and Lead Bridge Road were the main highways in this area, where wealthy families bought land and built grand houses.

The 1803 to 1834 Thomas Bowdler was the curate (or priest in charge) at Leyton. He was the son of a famous father. Thomas Bowdler senior edited The Family Shakespeare and other works erasing anything he considered indecent, a literary approach that is now known as ‘Bowdlerising’.

Leyton and Leytonstone remained rural until the arrival of the railways in the mid-19th century, which coincided with the sale of some of the old estates. In 1894 Leyton became an Urban District Council, and two years later a new Town Hall opened in the High Road. By the early 1900s almost all of the old farmland had been built on, and suburbia had arrived.

Top left: View from Lea Bridge, c1880
Above: Leyton Green, 1900
Top right: Looking towards this site from Hoe Street.

Prints and text about the history of living in the area. 

The text reads: In the 18th century, wealthy merchants, bankers and professional men chose to build their grand houses in what was then the open countryside of Leyton and Walthamstow. The Chestnuts was built in 1747, and is now number 398 Hoe Street.

Its occupants included various city bankers. The last was John Francis Holcombe Read, who came to the area in 1851, and stayed for 40 years. He became chairman of the stock exchange and director of the Great eastern railway, and was prominent in local affairs.

The house and its extensive grounds were sold in the 1890s, and is now used by the Borough of Waltham Forest.

Livingstone College, Knotts Green, was originally Barclay House, built in the eighteenth century for the Barclay family, founders of Barclays Bank. The house was demolished in the 1960s, and until recently a tower block stood on the site.

A photograph and text about the silver screen.

The text reads: Cinema was officially born in Paris on 28 December 1895, when a tiny audience paid to watch 30 minutes of films made by the Lumiere Brothers. The first public film show in England was put on in London by Robert Paul, the ‘father of the British film industry’.

It was not long before film-making companies were creating longer, and better films. In 1912, AH Bloomfield and JB McDowell set up the British & Colonial Kinomatograph Company in a roller skating rink in Hoe Street, and short walk from this Wetherspoon pun.

It quickly became one of the most important studios in Britain, producing adventure films such as Dick Turpin and Lieutenant Daring. Many local people were used as extras in The Battle of Waterloo, which also featured scenes shot in this area. The Battle of the Somme was another British & Colonial production.

In spite of the success of these home-grown films, the Hoe Street studio could not compete with its mighty American counterparts, and British & Colonial closed down in the mid-1920s. it was followed soon after by the closure of another local film company, the Broadwest studios in Wood Street, Walthamstow.

Above: Filming The Life of Shakespeare at British & Colonial studios, 1913.

A print and text about Alfred Hitchcock.

The text reads: Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone in 1899, the youngest son of Emma and William, a poultry dealer and fruit importer. Alfred grew up in a religious household and was educated at the Jesuit school of St Ignatius.

He began working in the films industry in 1920, designing title cards for the London branch of the Famous Players-Lasky Company (later Paramount). Before long he was head of its title department. By 1925 Alfred had become a director, and the following year made his first film, The Lodger. He married his life-long partner, the film editor Alma Reville, in the same year.

During the next 50 years Alfred’s films earned him six Oscar nominations for best director – although he never won one – and a reputation as the world’s best maker of suspense films.

Leading actors, including Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart appeared in Hitchcock’s films. His box-office hits include North by Northwest, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Psycho, The Birds and Marnie.

Above: Directing The Mountain Eagle in 1925.

An illustration and text about William Morris.

The text reads: The London Borough of Waltham Forest was created by the amalgamation of the three old local authorities of Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford in 1965. The borough’s most famous son is the highly influential designer, craftsman, poet and socialist writer William Morris.

Morris was born in 1834, into a well-to-do family at Elm House, Walthamstow, which was then a village on the edge of Epping Forest. He moved with his family to nearby Water House in 1848.

However, eight years later his father lost a fortune in the city and the family had to leave. The house was bought by the newspaper publisher Edward Lloyd, and in 1950 it was turned into a museum celebrating Morris’ many achievements.

As a young man Morris had intended to take holy orders with his friend Edward Burne-Jones. However, the two men later decided to become artists.

In 1859, Morris married Jane Burden and moved into the Red House, Bexleyheath, which he designed and furnished with the architect Philip Webb.

It was at the Red House that the highly influential Morris and Company was founded. This association of craftsmen, which included Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rosetti, soon revolutionised house decoration in England.

Morris also founded the Kelmscott Press in 1890, using his own type designs and ornamental borders. Kelmscott Press was an important influence on English book design.

Morris was also noted for his poetry, including longer narrative poems such as the Earthly Paradise, and his many prose works, especially News from Nowhere, published in 1891. When William Morris died his doctor was asked to give the cause of death. He replied: “doing to work of ten men”.

Above: William Morris, top, photographed in old age, above, wood-block print.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk