London-over-the-border: Politics in Suburban Walthamstow, 1870–1914

  • Timothy Cooper


We now know that Sidney Low’s words were prophetic. There was indeed a remarkable transformation in the shape and function of the Victorian city occurring by the end of the nineteenth century, caused by the geographical dispersal of metropolitan populations. This ‘rise of suburbia’ affected most late Victorian and Edwardian cities and London most extensively of all.1 In some respects the phenomenon was not new: London had experienced the expansion of its suburban districts since at least the sixteenth century. However, the speed, extent and nature of suburbanisation changed dramatically from the 1870s with the emergence of efficient suburban railway services and cheaper fares which pushed suburbia deeper into the villages and towns surrounding London, making formerly rural villages like Walthamstow into suburbs of the imperial metropolis. It has long been recognised that this process had important implications for London politics. On the one hand it has been identified as a factor helping to institutionalise Conservative majorities in the new single-member suburban constituencies created by the Third Reform Act in 1885. On the other, it has been blamed for the de-radicalisation of London’s working class since it removed the skilled, affluent, artisanate which had provided its core political leadership in much of the century before 1870.


Town Planning Plural Vote Suburban District Urban History Wood Street 
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© Timothy Cooper 2005

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  • Timothy Cooper

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