Tuesday, March 22, 2016


As I stepped off the tube train at Leytonstone, it seemed an uninspiring station in need of a repaint.
It was only as I walked down the subway to the exit that the station's attraction became obvious. Leytonstone was the birthplace of the film maker, Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) and in his honour a series of mosaics lined the walls .
The 17 mosaics displayed were chosen by local people and were designed and made by artists Steve and Nathan Lobb, Carol Kenna, Claire Notley and Julie Norburn. I have chosen a couple of my favourites to share with you.

Hitchcock at work, directing the film Skin Game with Margaret Lockwood and Ingrid Bergman

Possibly the most famous and frightening scene of its time  - the shower scene from Psycho (1960). Who can forget that music.

The Birds (1963)

Young Alfred sitting on a horse outside his father's greengrocers shop on the High Road, Leytonstone  c1906

I was now keen to see what other interesting places were awaiting me. I realised that this was a much busier station than the majority of the ones I had so far visited. The statistics tell me that 11.05 million people used this station during 2014. To put that in perspective, of the 19 stations so far visited 15 had less than 5 million visitors during 2014 and the other 3 were between 5 and 7 million. As I get closer to the centre of  London I expect the numbers to increase.

The buildings close to the station had an art deco look about them so I presume they were built in the 30s and 40s.

This is Leytonstone library on Church lane. Built in 1934 above a Woolworths store and electrical appliance shop, it was awarded Grade II listed status in 2014 for its beautiful art deco interiors. Photos of it were used as propaganda during the war to show how ordinary people could easily access literature, science and philosophy books in public libraries as a contrast to Nazi book burning.

It was reopened in 2015 after a 1.5 million refurbishment. Delighted to see that some of our libraries are being well cared for and well used by the community.

Across the road from the library is the church of St John the Baptist. The church and churchyard were established in 1833 and the churchyard was once filled with 19th C tombstones. Many were destroyed when a landmine fell here in 1940. No-one was injured in the attack but other attacks in this area claimed the lives of  60 people with another 70 seriously injured.

This is the Red Lion on the High Road. This road began as a Roman track from London to Epping forest and became an important route for the long distance coaches, market carts and waggons from the 14th C onwards. There was a pub on this site from 1670  called the Robin Hood later renamed as The Red Lion in 1754. It was rebuilt in 1891 and since then has had a chequered history with various name changes and closures. It reopened as the Red Lion in 2011 and now seems to be a popular eating and drinking establishment.

Just behind the High Road is this group of Georgian Terraced houses erected for the wealthy merchants and businessmen.
Close by is the statue known as Leaf Memory. Created by Stephen Duncan it was inspired by the legends of the Green Man a theme that is found in a couple of places in Leytonstone with the Green Man roundabout at the top of the High Road.  The Green Man pub is featured in one of the Hitchcock mosaics in the station subway.

Close to the High Road, the Browning Road Conservation area consists of six terraces of modest early 19th century cottages. All have features of interest which contribute to the unique character and charm of the area.
Whilst none of the buildings in Browning Road are of sufficient interest to merit being listed, the area as a whole is of considerable historic and architectural interest in a Borough that had become dominated by 19th and 20th century patterns of housing. The style of these cottages and their informal layout were characteristic features of domestic country living. These simple two up, two down buildings were let on a yearly tenancy and unfortunately their date of construction hasn't been recorded although it is thought they were built around the 1840s.
By 1766 some 50 to 60 wealthy merchants and business men lived in the fine houses and employed many servants and small tradesmen and it is thought that these houses were erected to house them.

This is Leytonstone House, built in the 18th c as the home of the Buxton Brewing family. It was sold to the Bethnal Green Poor Law Guardians for £9,500 in 1868 and opened as a school for the Juvenile Poor the same year. Children between the ages of 3 and 14 who had been orphaned or whose parents were in prison or ill were sent here. Initially 370 children were housed here. The home closed in 1936 and reopened in 1937 as Leytonstone House hospital for mentally disabled patients. By the end of WW2 the hospital housed 220 female patients from all over England. By the 1980s care for the mentally ill had greatly changed and gradually residents were relocated back into the community. The hospital finally closed in 1994.
Most of the site is now a Tesco superstore as well as a health centre, offices and homes. The main building is  used as offices for a chartered accountancy firm. Many of the original buildings remain.

These were the boys cottages

This is looking towards the girls cottages with the building to the right being part of the school.

The back view of the main building.

Leytonstone House is next to the Green Man roundabout which takes its name from a number of inns and pubs on this site. One in particular was a regular stopping off point for Dick Turpin, the Highwayman.

At the other side of the roundabout is the High Stone, a mile marker. The name Leytonstone means the part of Leyton near the stone. This obelisk dates from the 1930s when the original stone was destroyed by a vehicle and had to be replaced. The base is part of the original stone and is thought to be  Roman.

Walking back to the station I decided to pop into this book shop/cafe for a sandwich. It was an unexpected surprise. The food was all homemade (including the bread) and delicious.

The walls and ceiling were decorated with posters and other bits and pieces.

A blackboard listed an interesting number of events that were happening this month from book clubs, wine tasting to quizzes.

I returned to the northern entrance of the station which is also a bus terminus. There are two bus stations at Leytonstone tube station, one on  each side of the station.This terminus was constructed over the top of the A12 dual carriageway.

 Standing in the middle of the bus terminus is this sculpture is called 'Time Terminus' and is made up of three buses from different periods of time.

Although I have now visited 19 stations there are still 30 more to see on this line. I wonder what else there is to discover.


  1. We love Alfred Hitchcock movies and his TV show. We watched all those episodes again on Netflix. Always quite a twist to his stories. I continue to be amazed by how much research you put into your explorations! Another fascinating read for everyone.

  2. Wonderful shots. Love that 'All you read is love' sign. Very clever.

  3. Very interesting place to visit. I love the bus sculpture

  4. The mosaics are wonderful and you showed my favorite Hitchcock movies. Wonderful that the Art Deco library has been preserved with such nice details, and the brick bus sculpture is unique.

  5. Another interesting stop. Love the murals especially The Birds. The bookshop looked a nice place to browse.

  6. Oh I wonder too, but it has been wonderful to share your quest. You really should look to publishing a book ... Or series of booklets...

    Wonderful history here in Leyonstone. The part about the Library, as used to contrast with Nazi book burning , was wonderful ...and the bookstore also sounded like my kind of place to hang out ( food too!).

    I loved this stop !

  7. Leyonstone looks like a nice place to live! I enjoyed looking at the mosaics of Hitchcock's films. I also enjoy small bookshops that have cafes like the one where you had lunch.

  8. How interesting I didn't know that Hitchcock was born in Leyonstone, the mosaics are very nice. The orphan house looks not very inviting and probably hasn't been a nice place neither. Leyton looks like a nice place !

  9. Wow - I love those mosaics.

  10. You certainly find the interesting stuff when you go off on these factfinding trips! The conservation area is charming and the Leytonstone House complex buildings are beautiful. I didn't know Hitchcock was from Leytonstone and it's great that they have celebrated his connection with the mosaics.

  11. I have found out that there are lots to see, if I go a bit further out....
    Interesting postings. Thanks for sharing.


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