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1965 to 1979

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the history of Leyton and Leytonstone

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The population

Once the post-war economy began to improve, Leytonstone and Leyton became less attractive as a place to live for those with a little money.  From the 1970s onwards most largest houses were subdivided into flats which were typically sold to ‘first time buyers’, young couples with little savings purchasing their first property.  The remaining bigger houses were often occupied by people with left-wing views, displaying CND posters in a front window 1.  The loss of better-off people to other areas accentuated the character of Leyton as the home of people lacking coventional ambition.

In this period London lost its leading position in British manufacturing and distribution of goods and materials.  Into this economic and social disaster came large numbers of immigrants from former colonies.  Many people who had grown up in Leyton moved out.

Jerry White, a former Chief Executive of Hackney Borough Council, writes : “Population turnover in inner London was immense.  In Islington, the very crucible of change, it was clear by the early 1970s that a major transformation was taking place in the class make-up of its population.  Skilled working-class people, the district’s backbone for fifty years, were moving away to the new opportunities in New Towns or the outer metropolitan areas of Hertfordshire, Essex and elsewhere.  Their place was being taken by a polarized population of middle-class gentrifiers and unskilled workers, many of them newcomers from the Caribbean, Africa and the Mediterranean.  Two-thirds of Islington residents in 1961 were no longer there in 1971, having died or moved away, and it is certain that turnover increased during the 1970s.” 2  Something similar happened in Leyton in terms of an exodus of skilled working-class people, but little of Leyton was attractive to middle-class gentrifiers.

1  Personal observation

2  Jerry White ‘London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People’