The modern settlement originated in Anglo-Saxon times, when the king owned Havering Palace and the surrounding lands. As one of Edward the Confessor's primary residences, the palace has existed since at least 1465. It consisted of the parishes of Havering atte Bower, Hornchurch and Romford, which were part of a liberty from 1465.
Documents dating to the 12th century mention the name Havering. In the Middle Ages, historians debate the origins of this name, linking it to the legend that Edward the Confessor received a mystical ring from Saint John the Apostle, which gave him the name. Located at Romford, in a chapel dedicated to the king, stained glass commemorates this event (from about 1407).
A significant amount of residential land use was mixed with parkland and farmland during the 20th century and into the early 21st century due to the London Underground and fast rail services to central London.
There were two distinct phases to the development of the borough. The first middle class suburban developments were built between Victorian and Edwardian times. In the late 19th century, railway lines from Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street were built through Havering, which led to the creation of the garden suburbs of Upminster, Emerson Park, and Gidea Park (also known as Romford Garden Suburb).
New stations at Elm Park and Upminster Bridge were built on the District Line in the 1930s as it was electrified and extended to Upminster. Along the route of the new Underground line, new industries such as Ford Motor Company's plant in Dagenham caused a wave of mostly working-class developments.
Further north in the borough, Harold Hill and Collier Row were constructed to address the chronic housing shortages and early slum clearance programs in central London.
Industry & Commerce
There are over 7,000 businesses based in Havering. Romford is the main commercial hub of the borough with a small district of mostly office development close to the railway station. Rainham Steel headquarters are located on Elm Park's boundary to the south of Rainham and the River Thames. In other areas of the borough, light industry has declined, and major employers such as the former Star Brewery are no longer operating.
With the opening of the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence, the London Development Agency (now GLA Land and Property) has encouraged new industrial development in the south of the borough.
As well as the main retail district, Romford is home to several interconnected or neighbouring shopping arcades, including the Liberty Shopping Centre, Mercury Mall, and Brewery Shopping Centre. In the north of Romford, Romford Market is the largest market in the borough and the surrounding area. There are also extensive high street shopping areas in Hornchurch and Upminster.
A significant part of Romford's economy is based on the night-time; the borough boasts one of the highest concentrations of bars and clubs outside of the West End with excellent public transportation.
In May 2006, Havering London Borough Council applied to the Government for permission to construct a 'super-casino' in the south of the borough, but the application was denied.
With a population of 237,232 in 2011, the borough covers 43 square miles. The population density of Havering is lower than other London Boroughs because there are large areas of parkland and over half of the borough is protected by the Metropolitan Green Belt. These areas of development are extensive but rarely intense. With a 4.5% unemployment rate, it has one of the lowest crime rates in Greater London.
In Havering, the white ethnic group population is significantly higher than those in other outer London boroughs (87.7% – 2011 census). Black Africans make up the largest minority ethnic group (3.3%). Having a Simpson's diversity index of 1.10, the Upminster ward of the borough is the third least ethnically diverse in Greater London.