History of Harlow

Harlow was officially established in 1947 to relieve the overcrowding in north-east London. Harlow was originally an area of villages and hamlets. (Sir) Frederick Gibberd drew up a master plan of what Harlow would look like which was eventually approved by the government in 1949. The population started at 80,000 but then raised to 90,000 between 1952-1966. There are four main areas in Harlow and in those four main areas there are four residential neighbourhoods. In those neighbourhoods there are around 30-40 shops, public house, a library, and a small industrial area. Harlow was also one of the first towns to have built high rise buildings.

Here is a map of Harlow in 1980:


In 1947 the population of the new town was at 4,500, it then raised to 5,571 in 1951. However, it quickly increased to 17,000 in three years in 1954, then to 37,000 in 1957, 53,680 in 1961 and then to 78,087 in 1971. It reached an amount of 81,000 in 1974 but suddenly fell of 77,000 in 1976 and then surprisingly to 73,000 in 1979. Harlow’s new residents came from the boroughs of Edmonton, Tottenham and Walthamstow. Later on other residents came over from north-east London in he wider areas. Most people who had moved to Harlow were couples, who then had children, causing the population to increase, however there was a very low population of elderly people.

When Harlow had started to be built, the process began slow as there was a shortage of materials and labour due to the end of world war II.Engineering began in 1948 and then the construction began in 1949, which built around 120 houses. However, everything started to begin in April 1950, when Mark Hall North was built as it was an easier access to shops and other necessary living amenities.

The Burnt Mill station was rebuilt in 1961 and renamed Harlow Town Station. The reason for this was because the main railway between London and Cambridge was electrified. The previous Harlow Station then became Harlow Mill Station.

In the 1960’s due to the local shopping centres, cycle tracks being in the proximity of residents homes, the need for public transport decreased, except for buses that ran along the main road to the town centre. A depot for the buses was then built and then opened in 1961. However, due to the lack of bus services to certain parts of Harlow, people eventually started to have ownership of cars, which then meant that the huber of passengers using public declined again, which lead to bus services losing money. During 1974 a ‘pick-me-up’ service was experimented with which could be accessed by calling on your telephone or sending a postcard. This service was available between Old Harlow and the town centre.

Between the Stow and Mark Hall, a post office was opened in 1952. In 1956 another post office was opened, however it eventually became the head office in 1957. More branches were then opened in Bush Fair, Staple Tye, and Old Harlow.

Employment increased during the construction and making of Harlow town, as originally the master plan showed that two centres were going to be built to ease the flow of traffic and to stop overcrowding in the area. A main road was then built between Temple Fields and the Pinnacles to join the two together, which allows to ease traffic through the main part of the town. Extending the industrial areas began slow in 1950 due to no being able to get building licences and regulations surrounding them. Temple fields had twelve firms by 1950.The first factory opened in Pinnacles in 1956, by then the Temple Fields firm was almost fully developed. Engineering firms employed 15 per cent of the workforce in 1973, franking machines then employed 1,500 worker in 1979. The Harlow Engineering Training Centre Ltd. was opened at Staple The in 1967, in 1977 there were 200 employees.

As part of the economic growth of the town, commercial development was planned to be a part of it, however it was delayed until the late 1950’s due to the building of large office blocks. Adams, Terminus, Rothwell, and Westgate Houses and the Rows were completed by 1975 they are all multi-storey office blocks. Harvey House, a nine-storeyed block which is part of the final building phase of the town centre, which was expected to employ around 300 office workers by 1981.

The development corporation handled and provided housing up until 1978 when it was then managed by the D.C. In the 1950’s a few houses went up for sale in the quieter parts of Harlow. Between 1971 and 1974 the corporation  3,500 dwellings were sold to sitting tenants. In 1979 21,000 of the dwellings were owned by the D.C. In 1974 the Harlow constituency was formed. Up to 1979 all elections returned to a Labour member.

In 1951 Tany’s dell primary school was opened at mark Hall, however then moved buildings in 1952. Up until 1960, Mark hall was an annexe, however it changed once classrooms were added to Tany’s Dell. In 1954 Broadfields and freshwaters primary schools were opened, however, they were enlarged in 1955 and 1959. In 1969 an English language school was opened for West Sussex immigrant children. In 1954 Spinney and Cook’s Spinney were opened, however they were enlarged in 1955. In 1954 Potter Street primary school, Carter’s Mead were opened, they were built to replace Common Church school in their junior department. In 1958 an infant school was then opened next door once the Church school closed. In the 1960’s a Masonic hall was built and used as an annexe to replace the old school. In 1969 Tany’s dell and Burnt Mill secondary school opened a unit in their schools for children with partial hearing.  In 1969 Spinney infant school also then opened a unit for children who were physically handicapped. In 1968 other schools, such as Broadfields infant school and for a short time at Waterhouse Moor infant school in 1971 built a unit for children with disabilities and temporarily at Waterhouse Moor infant school in 1971. Between 1957 and 1968 Harlow technical college, the High (previously known as West Sussex college of further education) were built.

South West Essex technical college, Walthamstow had advanced work done in 1961 as children found it difficult to travel to the schools in time. The college then became an area technical college and in 1962 it was renamed. Neighbouring church and club premises were used to reduce overcrowding in the area in the 1960’s and 70’s. An annexe was then established in 1977 which was the former infant school at Waterhouse Moor. Burnt Mill opened in 1963 and Latton Bush opened in 1962, they were both used an evening institutes. Just before 1957, schools were initially planned to be bilateral schools, however they then became comprehensive schools by 1957. The schools were then officially named in 1964. In 1954 Mark Hall school was opened, it was used as a modern/technical school, which was then extended by 1973. In 1957 Brays Grove school was opened and then it was extend in 1967. In 1959 Latton Bush school was opened, which was also extend in 1972.and Passmores school, Tendring Road, opened In 1959 Passmores secondary school was opened, which was built to be part of Latton Bush school, however they ended up separating to different buildings in 1961, they both then got extended in 1969. Burnt Mill school, First Avenue, opened In 1962 Burnt mill secondary school was opened, which became part of Passmores school, however they also separated and moved to different buildings later in the same year and they both were also extended in 1969. In 1963 Stewards school was opened, then in 1969 building plans went through to make it bigger. St. Mark’s Roman Catholic school, Tripton Road, opened In 1965 St. Marks Catholic school was opened which was part of the Holy Cross primary school, they also moved buildings in 1966, the catholic school was then extended twice, once in 1967 and again in 1975.and moved to new buildings in 1966. In 1974 Katherine’s primary school was built and opened. Then in 1977 Sumners primary school was opened, however it was only up posed to be temporary to replace Westfield school whilst it moved buildings in 1978.  In 1978 Halowbury primary school in Old Harlow was opened. Then in 1972 St. James’s Chruch of England school was opened. A year later, in 1973, Maunds Wood school, Parnall Road, and Milwards school, Paringdon Road, were opened.

The Tom Parkin charity was founded by deed of trust In 1977 a charity was founded by deed of trust by Harlow Rotary club which was named The Tom Parkin Charity. It managed to raise £523 for education in Harlow, Sheering, Matching, and High and Little Laver. The original investment was provided with three yearly grants to students of £20 each in 1977 and £50 each in 1978 and 1979.

Buddhist Society, founded In 1968 the Buddhist Society was founded and built at the Dana Centre in Staple Tye. A Baha’i Faith group, formed Then in 1975 A Baha’i Faith group formed and is built and opened in some private houses around Harlow.

By watching a 10 minute video from the 1970’s i was able to find out that Harlow started off very simple with little to do, especially for teenagers as there were only a few shops. It was originally built to ease congestion and overcrowding in London, where as 70 years later, the population has gone up measurable amounts since it was first founded in 1947. There are many differences between now and then, such as there being a much better range of shops, there’s two local cinemas, more schools. However, Harlow is also now seen less of than when it was first built due to more people coming over from London and other places in England, people tend to see it as a dumping ground or a dull place to live.

I got all my research from http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol8/pp149-158




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