Picture of church


Contents of chapter

Doubtless, there have been many societies, committees, groups, clubs and other organisations at Cranham which have left us no trace of their existence. It is sad that so much energy and enterprise should go unrecorded. Even enduring organisations have no good record of their history, for example the 1st Cranham (All Saints) Scout Group. As a small community, before being a London suburb, and before modern transportation, Cranham must have entertained and socially supported itself. So a plea from the author: please deposit all unwanted records, cash books, accounts, minutes, correspondence, copies of advertisements, etc., at the Essex Records Office.


A pre-eminent Cranham organization, the vestry was usually compose dof the principal residents of the parish. This committee existed at Cranham before 1601, when its duties were expanded to the maintenance of the poor. Likewise, its powers declined with the reforms of 1894. The vestry minutes are complete from 1643 to 1906 (191), and have been used in the compliation of previous chapters (see chapter 10).


The Local Government Act of 1894 provided for the establishment of Parish Councils. The aim was for this council to take over the responsibilities, or at least the civil duties, of the vestry. This relieved the Church from an onerous burden. Roads, public order, and other matters became the remit of the parish council, and it was empowered to levy a rate for these purposes (265).

At Cranham, this innovation did not, at first lead to much innovation: the inaugural council was Rev.C.J.R.Cooke, Alderman F.R.Thorogood, W.Drake, and J.Flack, all prominent churchgoers and previous members of the vestry (61). Not only that, but the electorate also comprised the same small group who had controlled the vestry: elections were usually by show of hands of the landowners of the parish, never numerous in Cranham before the First World War. Dissatisfied candidates could demand a poll to be held within 21 days, but there is no record of a poll at Cranham until 1934. The parish councillors to 1934 (Table 13) show how there were often long periods of stability in Council membership.

The Council was under pressure to amalgamate with neighbouring councils from at least 1928. The arguments for this revolved around the concept of economy of scale. The Cranham Parish Council passed a resolution in favour of amalgamation with Great Warley on March 29, 1929, but Great Warley was not to be wooed. This small event was probably unforeseen as the most important determining event in the government of the parish. Cranham then turned its attention westwards, leading to its inclusion in Greater London more than 35 years later.

On November 29, 1929 the Cranham Parish Council opened negotiations with Upminster, with a view to amalgamation and application for urban status. Progress was slow. On April 4, 1930, a new plan was approved, that would amalgamate the parish councils of Hornchurch, Upminster and Cranham as an Urban District Council. The Cranham Parish Council met for the last time on March 16, 1934, and its members took their seats one week later in the new Hornchurch Urban District Council (HUDC).

And so, on April 1, 1965, Cranham found itself in Greater London. The London Borough of Havering was constructed by amalgamating the HUDC and the Borough of Romford. There was no opportunity in 1965 to reverse the decisions more than thirty years before; Cranham could not have separately reverted to Essex. A pamphlet, issued to all schoolchildren, written anonymously in 1964, celebrated the inauguration of this new London Borough; entitled "The History of Havering"(146), it spared just six lines on Cranham. Only our postal address now reminds us of our historic relationship with the East Saxons.

A minor error of topography has resulted. The London Borough of Havering has erected on the Horndon Road a sign announcing its entry into the Borough, and informing the driver that he or she has entered Cranham. In fact the driver has not: the sign is about 3/4 mile too far east, and he or she has entered a part of North Ockendon.


A Church Council, without statutory powers was established in 1906. Its mandate was "to advise the Rector and the Churchwardens about church matters". The Church Council met quarterly, and its minutes survive (147).

The function of the Church Council appears to have been to enable the airing of views, and to test opinion. For example, in June 1906 it noted with some disapproval that the atendance of farm labourers at Sunday Services was declining. Later that year it introduced a clothing club, and raised £4-6-8d. for a new ventilator for All Saints'.

In 1907, new ground was broken in two ways. Firstly, the Church Council protested about the form of the Sunday Service, and its music; the Rector, James Nance, was not moved. Secondly, and surprising for its early date, the Cranham Church Council clearly expressed its support for the inclusion of All Saints' into a new Diocese, centred at Chelmsford, some 7 years before the event.

The Church Council meeting appear to peter out about 1908. There were several poorly attended meetings before the minutes cease.


The Upminster and Cranham Trades Council existed between about 1920 and 1925. It met at different places by rotation, including at "The Plough" public house in central Cranham. It served as social club and low-brow political organisation for labourers and workmen. It disbanded officially in 1928, and its role was taken over by the Labour party.


Cranham had its own branch of the Labour Party from about 1926 until the outbreak of the Second World War. Its secretary for the whole period was B.G.Bonnington. There is no evidence of any communist activity in the parish, and the Labour Party campaigned on behalf of the candidates for the Romford constituency, wherein the parish lay, until 1928.


A service was held at All Saints' on June 23, 1911, to commemorate the cornation of King George V. This service was followed by a dinner at the Boyd Hall, and then teas and sports competition at the Wantz meadow (TQ571(7)866(8). So successful was this event that it was decided to hold it annually.

After two years, the festival was shifted to May Day. At Chelsea, Ruskin had instituted a May Festival (12), and Cranham tried to imitate this high-society event. Each year a May Queen was elected, and a fete was held. Typically, this was on the first Sunday in May at the Wantz meadow.

As described elsewhere (chapter 5), there was a new Rector in 1926, Dr.Wright. In a local newspaper, Dr.Wright described the May Day festival in rather derogatory terms; he thought that it was badly organised and an inappropriate event altogether. There was a storm of local protest, culminating in a meeting of about 50 people at the "Mason's Arms" public house; their intention was to "call to book" the Rector for his allegations (61)..

Although the festival survived, there was nonetheless some degree of reform. Between 1926 and 1929, the festival was held under a regularly constituted society, and in 1927, the fete was held up at Coombe Green (near the junction of Front and Squirrels' Heath Lanes; TQ579(2)904(0)), rather than at Wantz corner, in order to attract people from Great Warley. The Annual General Meeting of the Society was held at the "Mason's Arms" in September each year. Meanwhile, the Rector had not relented.

Finally, in 1929, the Rector prevailed, and the Society was wound up in November of that year. However, it was noted that May Queens were still to be elected, and a procession was to be held each year, ending at the War memorial (presumably that still standing in the green at Great Warley).

There are no further notices in the newspapers of May Queens. The memory of the tradition is now well and truly lost.


There have been three Scout troops and two Guide Companies at Cranham. In recent years, the Guides have outnumbered the Scouts, especially in the younger (Brownie) age groups. All these groups have their ups and downs, from year to year. It is sad that most of the Scouts and Guides rarely remember their leaders' names, since most are referred to by pseudonym as "Baloo", "Kim", "Skip", "Killick", "Brown Owl", etc.

The longest surviving Scout Group is based at All Saints', and comprises one Venture Unit, one Scout Troop, and two Cub Scout packs (named Cherokee and Iroquois; the former perhaps a co-incidental reference to Georgia). There is little documentation of its origins. It must have existed at least as early as 1949, because there is a Rover Scout banner with this date laid up in the church. The Group meets in pre-fabricated buildings behind Boyd Hall, these being re-used, post-Second World War, pre-fabricated houses. The huts belong to the Scout Group, although the land on which they stand is church property. It is on the basis of a free ground rent that the Rector requires that the Group presents itself at church parade on the first Sunday of every month, except August.

The 1st Cranham Park Scout Group meets at St.Luke's church, and dates from about 1959. There are two Scout Troops, and two Cub Scout Packs. Sometimes there is a Venture Unit. The Group meets in substantial buildings on the church property.

The 3rd Cranham Scout Group is based at the Coopers' and Coburn School, and is without church affiliation. There are no Cub Scouts, a single Scout Troop, and in some years a Venture Unit.

There have been a maximum of two Guide Companies, a Ranger Unit, and three Brownie Packs at any one time at All Saints'. One of the troops has migrated from St.Luke's, via a private meeting place at the junction of King's Gardens and Front Lane, to All Saints', arriving in about 1970. This migratory company was led by the late Mrs.White, wife of "Killick" Claude White, in charge of the 1st Cranham (All Saints') Scout Troop at that time. Their co-ordinated Scout and Guide activities culminated in a joint encampment in The Netherlands. The dedication of this husband and wife team, over many years, would deserve special notice in any parish history.

There is another Guide Company at St.Luke's, together with a Ranger Company. There appear to be no Guides at the Coopers' Company and Coburn School.


In the summer of 1978 there were numerous street associations at Cranham, with the aim of celebrating the Silver Jubillee of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. They were formed for each street, or for a close combination of streets, for example, Cranham Gardens, Rustic Close, and Park Avenue all comprised one association. The association for The Meads and Rectory Gardens, on the old glebeland, won a prize offered by a London newspaper for the best decorated streets. The bench at the triangular entrance to Rectory Gardens was painted with a Union Jack for several years afterwards to commemorate this achievement.

The associations were more than decorating agencies. They arranged street parties for the public holiday in 1978, and several were still meeting regularly as late as 1981. The Cranham Gardens /Rustic Close / Park Avenue Association was still running day trips by coach as late as 1984, known as "Street Outings" by the inhabitants ! The Eversleigh Gardens and Ingrebourne Gardens Association continues to work for charity. These associations were truly a catalyst for social interaction, in what has become a dormitory suburb, which always risks slipping into a collection of anonymous people.


The Cranham Residents' Association produced the first suggestion to amalgamate the Parish Council with that of Upminster in 1927 (see above); indeed, this is the first record of that Association.

In 1929, a Residents' Association of 60 founder members existed, but its relationship to the forerunner is unclear. The main role was to encourage the development of local amenities and to draw attention to their deficiencies. For example, as early as 1929, the Residents' Association was pointing out that the road junction at Wantz Bridge was dangerous because of a limited line of sight for drivers stopped at the end of Moor Lane; mirrors were demanded. The modern invention of a mini-roundabout is the current solution, and seems fairly durable.

The Cranham Ratepayers' Association (CRA) was formed in 1937. In that year, its nomination, Cllr.H.H.Wake, was elected Chairman of the Hornchurch Urban District Council. Thought to be in abeyance during the war years (1939-45), the CRA has grown vigourously since. The Cranham electoral district joined Upminster in 1958. As local government councils have grown larger, so has the influence of the national political parties upon them. The CRA, or "The Ratepayers" as they have have become known, has stood against this influence, seeing their role as relatively apolitical agents of the electorate, and certainly not as the agents of national parties with the intention of the extension of national viewpoints into local affairs. The local amenities are still the Ratepayers' greatest concern, and their achievements include the absence, these days, of flooding at Wantz Bridge, the enclosure of the open drainage along St.Mary's Lane, the two Cranham Social centres, and the co-ordinated effort to remove the M25 about a mile to the East.

It is probably fair to say that with an electorate of largely middle class freeholders, that the Ratepayer's positions recently have more closely resembled those of the Conservative than other political parties. Nonetheless, it is a notable achievement for our parish that Cranham is known as a Ratepayer's stronghold, uniquely, amongst the various districts contained within the London Borough of Havering. This is one of very few places in all of Greater London where this happens, and the Tories are acutely aware that they cannot rely upon Ratepayer's support.

Table 13. Parish Councillors at Cranham (61). Occupations are given when they were reported in contemporary newspapers.
December 7, 1894Rev.C.J.R.Cooke
May, 1896S.Hollowbread (Farm bailiff)
J.Flack (Beerhouse keeper)
W.Palmer (Farmer)
H.W.Robinson (Farmer)
E.Palmer (Farmer)
The 1896 council was re-elected every year until 1901
March 8, 1901R.N.Eve
March 11, 1904R.N.Eve
From 1904 to 1922The Council was always composed of five out of the eight men elected in 1901 and 1904
March 17, 1922J.Anderson
March 30, 1926Henry Brown
P.J.Knight (Railwayman)
S.Laing (Insurance agent)
April 18, 1930J.Anderson (Chairman)
Anderson died in 1931, and Flurry took the Chair. H.H.Wake replaced. Anderson on the Council, and himself took the Chair in 1932. The Council met for the last time on March 16, 1934, when the parish was absorbed into the Hornchurch Urban District Council.