Whether you’re from Essex or London can be a contentious debate depending on what town you call home.
Places like Dagenham or Romford, for example, constantly divide opinion – are they part of the capital or do they still belong to good old Essex?
It can sometimes be a generational thing too.
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Speak to someone who grew up around Romford in the 50s and they’ll likely defend Essex to the high hills.
Those who’ve perhaps moved there more recently may prefer to be staunch defenders on London.
All of this is due to a huge transformation back in the 1960s which saw London grow and parts of all neighbouring counties shrink.
The London Government Act 1963
Before 1963, London was completely overlooked by the London County Council.
However, that same year, the local government landscape was changed in an effort to match the ever-expanding London suburbs.
To replace the overarching London County Council, 32 London boroughs – along with the City of London – were created to better fit the shape of what London had become.
This reshaping meant that all surrounding counties had a bit of their area taken away and morphed into London.
The county of Middlesex was dissolved and was all but absorbed into London, with a few remaining parts given away to neighbouring Hertfordshire and Surrey.
Essex wasn’t left unharmed, as parts of Essex soon became controlled by the London Boroughs of Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Barking and Dagenham.
The towns within these boroughs ceased to be part of Essex, and all their residents became Londoners.
However, these towns still have their history and identity routed in Essex.
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Hornchurch was a historically agriculturally based town in the west of Essex, until the market town of Romford and industrial East End of London started changing the town.
The historical highlight has to be the 18th Century Langtons House, which is a stunning country home and a grade II listed building which still stands today.
It’s now part of the London Borough of Havering.
(Image: Stephen McKay)
The majority of Loughton’s residential area currently sits within the historical district of Epping Forest.
Within Loughton’s boundaries, there are 56 listed building that provide Essex with an astonishing amount of history and culture.
Although Loughton still comes under the jurisdiction of Epping Forest District, it is also part of the Greater London Urban Area and has a London Underground tube station.
(Image: Owen Dunn)
An ancient parish which straddled the river roding, Barking was once a sleepy Essex village focused on fishing and farming.
But the introduction of a station on the London Underground back in 1908 saw the town develop into a more industrial landscape.
It is now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
(Image: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham)
Dagenham was a mostly undeveloped and tranquil parish in Essex until 1921, when the London County Council began constructing the Becontree Estate.
The population skyrocketed from just over 9,000 to nearly 90,000 between 1921 and 1931.
It predictably became a part of London suburbia, and is now under the control of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
One that most Essex locals won’t realise is that West Ham once used to be part of the traditional county of Essex, before the small parish grew rapidly in the 1840s to become a large Victorian manufacturing area.
By 1901, it was the ninth most-populous district in the country and was the most western point governed by Essex County Council.
West Ham is now overseen by the London Borough of Newham.
Probably the main area of East London that we still try to claim is Romford, which was the most famous historical market town in all of Essex at one point.
It formed the, now defunct, administrative centre of the liberty of Havering – a governing body which straddled London and Essex.
Romford underwent a period of population growth prior to World War Two, meaning it got largely engulfed by London suburbia.
It now falls under the jurisdiction of the London Borough of Havering.
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