Fairlop Plain in the London Borough of Redbridge falls within the ecclesiastical parish of St. Peter’s Aldborough Hatch, the northern boundary of the parish running along Forest Road, with the Central Line on the west, Hainault Road on the east and roughly following the A12 on the south.

Until 1851, much of the area was forest land. Following deforestation that year straight roads were built and farms sprang up to serve the fresh vegetable London markets. Much of the housing in Aldborough Hatch was built in the 1930s with the Oaks Lane Estate being a major post-war development.

Recent sand and gravel extraction on Fairlop Plain commenced in the 1950s but in the a planning application was submitted to extract on Aldborough Hatch Farm over the area stretching north from St. Peter’s up to the present southern boundary of Fairlop Waters.

It was this that prompted the Revd. Bill Barnes, Vicar of St. Peter’s from 1966 to 1982 to form the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (AHDA) to monitor and protect the environment of Aldborough Hatch and specifically to ensure that the proposed sand and gravel extractions did not affect the buildings of St. Peter’s – the church being Grade II Listed (1862) and the church halls Locally Listed (1867).

The Revd. Barnes was the first Chairman of the AHDA, Joan Sullivan was Vice-Chairman and Ron King, Treasurer – Joan Sullivan, John Coombes, John DeBere and one or two others are surviving founder members (although there could be others). Early members included Vivien Bendall and Linda Perham, MPs for Ilford North, and myself. Later chairmen included Frank Sinclair, Ron King, Kip Pedge and Chris Gannaway. I had two bouts as chairman – the last occasion for the past 15 years or so.

Further information about sand and gravel extraction will be found in the file on this website entitled Briefing – sand and gravel extraction on Fairlop Plain.

The AHDA has worked with and for local residents on a variety of issues affecting the area, notably in opposing the building of the London City All-weather Racecourse at Fairlop Waters. The AHDA works with Ward Councillors and Council Officers to ensure that Aldborouh Hatch is a safe and pleasant place in which to live.

Jenny Chalmers