Today Hoe Street is lined with shops and furiously busy with traffic. But it has had its name for at least five hundred years. Two hundred years ago it was already a main road, but part of a Walthamstow that was still being described as:
“one of the largest and handsomest suburban villages near the metropolis… it is surrounded by beautiful woodland scenery and contains many handsome villas…”
Hoe Street itself was a wide but peaceful road, lined with tall trees. As late as the 1880s, a small boy moving to Walthamstow remembered riding in the furniture waggon and seeing the tree branches meeting overhead.
Most of the houses along Hoe Street were large, set back from the road in their own grounds. The Chestnuts still stands, but has lost all its once-extensive gardens.
Moving north, Grosvenor House was next, its site now occupied by a church; Grosvenor Park Road now runs along the route of what was once an avenue leading to its door.
Past what is now the turning to Queen’s Road, the Cedars (link) was the first of the mansions to go – when it was demolished, and the huge cedar tree in its garden was felled to make way for houses, people came from miles around to collect a piece of the wood as a souvenir.
With the coming of the railways and Walthamstow’s rapid growth, Hoe Street changed rapidly, and out of all recognition. Most of the big houses and their gardens vanished, making way for development. Hoe Street itself changed in character, becoming mostly a place for shops and premises for doctors, lawyers and banks.
Near the new Hoe Street Station a large hotel, now the Goose pub, was built, and did well providing accommodation for the many business travellers who now visited the town.
The junction between Hoe Street and the Lea Bridge Road became known as the Bakers’ Arms after the pub that opened there in the 1860s, itself called after the newly-built almshouses provided by the Bakers’ Company for members who had fallen on hard times.
By the early twentieth century, Hoe Street had become much as it is today – many of the same buildings still stand. Only the shops are different.