|Phillimore & Co Ltd; ISBN 0-85033-922-7|
ROMFORD came of age in the decades between 1920 and 1940. There had been some growth in the ancient but small market town after the railway arrived, in 1839, but it was not until after the First World War that the great and rapid expansion of Romford and neighbouring villages occurred. The war itself was a catalyst, with thousands of troops billeted in the town and introduced to the delights of the Essex countryside.
Romford never looked back. The '20s and '30s saw a growing influx of new housing, new people, new shops and new ideas. Within a generation the small town surrounded by fields, portrayed in Brian Evans' earlier book, Bygone Romford, had become the centre of a vast, suburban landscape. Gidea Park Garden Suburb, created in 1910, provided a nucleus for thoughtful development amid parkland and a golf course and, as the surrounding countryside was built over, mature trees were retained, new ones planted and a more imaginative road planning approach employed than in other places. Collier Row, which was still a village until after the First World War, gradually built up into an impressive suburb, though relics of its rural past remain. Enlightened town planning throughout the Romford area retained and created green spaces, avenues and parkland, which softened what could have been a disastrous decline from rural to suburban landscape.
The camera has recorded every phase of the great transformation and the author has, with his usual skill, selected a superb range of old photographs, each carefully captioned, to illuminate his very readable narrative and to bring to life, vividly and visually, those scenes of change that older residents will remember. This new book complements his earlier book, which concentrates on the Victorian period, both by covering the more recent past and, at the same time, the newer parts of greater Romford. It will be warmly welcomed in this part of old Essex.1
1 From the dust jacket.