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Walthamstow has been host to many spectacular events, people and industries that have made and shaped the way we view today.


We've been incredibly lucky to be able to root through Vestry House's archives to uncover a lot of the amazing photographs and records from the area. As well as all the invaluable help from our friends at Walthamstow Memories. If ever you are on the hunt for more local knowledge, or even just a little bit curious, these are the best people to ask!


Here are just a small selection of Walthamstow Firsts that we've uncovered. 


Image courtesy of Vestry House
Image courtesy of Vestry House
Image Courtesy of Vestry House


Andrex the loo roll was invented here! Taking it's name from St Andrews Road this is really where that little puppy first came from.


Sold exclusively in Harrods, this brand was initially designed to be a gentleman's disposable handkerchief! 


Between 1892-1894 in a small workshop at the bottom of his garden, Frederick Bremer constructed the first British car powered by an internal combustion engine.


He made this just for fun!


You can see the actual car at Vestry House museum.


In the 1960s, Philips Records invented 

the pre-recorded cassette. 


The first tapes commercially available in the UK were made at their large factory in Walthamstow.

From the bottom
of our hearts
You auto know
Listen up!
It'll never
take off
Something for
the weekend?
The Queen
of Ices


On the 13th July 1909, Alliot Verdon Roe flew the first all-British powered plane over Walthamstow marshes.


A crack pot invention which many people said could not be possible!


In 1932, the London Rubber Company became Europe's first manufacturer of latex condoms, creating the brand Durex. The company quickly grew and set up a lot of factories around Walthamstow and Chingford. 


Up until the 1980's condoms were often sold in barbers to young men too embarassed to buy them from the chemist. Hence the code phrase 'Something for the weekend?'


Walthamstow-born Agnes Marshall suggested 'liquid air' to make ice cream back in 1901!


Dubbed the "Queen of Ices" she wrote many cookery books over her years, making her a much loved celeb chef.


In 1888 one of her books included a recipe for "cornets with cream", possibly the first publication of the edible ice cream cone.

Image courtesy of Dan Browne


Walthamstow legend William Morris revolutionised and inspired many processes in the textile industy.

(As well as being a poet, novelist, translator and socialist activist).


Visit the William Morris Gallery to find out more!


"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."


"I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few."




Ok.. So not strictly Walthamstow, but Hale End is less than a paddle away.


The Halex Xylonite Company brought their factories here, transforming the area and being the first place you'd go if you fancied a quick game as they allegedly supplied all of the world's ping pong balls from the end of the 19th century! 





The first deep-level Underground line to be built across central London since the 'tube boom' of 1905-1907 was the Victoria Line.


Bringing easy access to Walthamstow, the development of this line has dramatically transformed the way the area has developed over the years.


Now if only they could spell the sign correctly!

The doors will open on the right
You just got
"I do not want art
for a few..."
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