Leyton & Leytonstone
Cooper’s Lane, Leyton
We know how the rich lived in earlier times but it is harder to get an idea of life for people who did not have much money. We do have administration records for the ‘Poor Law’, the social welfare system of previous centuries. Criminal court records are another source of information. This article uses the censuses that have been taken every ten years for the whole of Britain. Details were recorded for each person, including those too poor to pay taxes such as the ‘rates’ that funded local government.
This article takes a look at the people living on Cooper’s Lane before Leyton was transformed from countryside to town. In 1841 Cooper’s Lane was a dead-end, leading nowhere, with clusters of dwellings. Not until the 1860s 1 were the fields of Leyton developed as streets of terraced housing. To the north, on the High Road (not called that until later), there was a brewery 2, opposite a line of buildings called ‘Frog Row’. This was just past James Lane (to use its later name) which led to Forest House and Epping Forest. To the south, on the east side, were the Rose & Crown and Three Blackbirds pubs. Next to the Three Blackbirds was a school, Ozler’s Charity School until 1846 when it became a National School 3.
The street is now, after the junction with Farmer Road, a short, straight Victorian terrace, probably of the 1890s (see the photos at the end of this article), looking onto the sheds and back gardens of Brewster Road.
The census sheets show that the residents of the earlier, less planned, homes in Cooper’s Lane had tough physical jobs or were unemployed.