Havering is the most north easterly of the London Boroughs and was formed in 1965 from Romford Borough and Hornchurch Urban District. Its southern border is the River Thames and the borough includes Rainham Marshes, which was made into a bird sanctuary in 2000. At over 40 square miles, Havering is one of the largest of the London Boroughs.

Population change

1966:250,190 people
1998:230,200 people

Havering has several older areas of settlement, notably the Essex market town of Romford, but its land was largely agricultural until 1900. In the first half of the 20th century It became a prime area for private and public housing developments. The Gidea Park Garden Suburb was built in 1910 - 11 as a showpiece estate by Sir Tudor Walter, an expert on social housing. He intended the estate to demonstrate models for future public housing. 100 architects entered the competition to design the houses on the estate, which is now listed as being of historical importance. Other estates in Havering include Harold Hill, a large postwar LCC estate, housing 25,000 people.

Much of the land around the Borough falls into London's Green Belt scheme. The scheme was introduced in 1955 to control metropolitan growth around London. Land falling into the scheme cannot be developed unless there are exceptional circumstances. Thanks to this Havering still retains something of its traditional Essex character.

Historic sites and buildings within the Borough include Langtons an 18th century house and garden situated in Hornchurch. The house belonged to the Massu family, wealthy Hugenout silk merchants in the City of London. The house was given to Hornchurch Council in the early 20th Century with the condition that the grounds remain open to the public. There is an unusually shaped lake and a bath house and gazebo.

A well known local landmark is the four sailed smock mill which stands in the valley of the River Ingrebourne in Upminster. The mill was built in 1803 by James Noakes to grind wheat and produce flour. In 1811 the mill was modernised and became powered by steam increasing its milling capacity considerably. The mill was finally closed in 1934 but since the 1960s has been preserved and is open to the public.

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