Esk Way, RM1

Place Name

From the River Esk in Scotland, the name comes from the Roman word Isca and means water. Several British rivers have derived their name from the word including the Exe and Usk. This street name comes via a Yorkshire man who made his home in Romford. It is one of a cluster of roads around Rise Park with names that have a romantic Scottish connection. The estate was built between the wars by property speculator Thomas England, better known as Tommy. England was a pharmacist, who moved to Romford from Yorkshire to be an assistant at a chemist shop. He had a keen eye for an investment and in the late 19thCentury began to buy up farmland and property in the area including the very shop where he had found his original employment in what was then Essex. It was said that by by the early 1900s England owned half of Romford and would have been a millionaire if he had kept it all himself. But he believed that his assets should be used for good causes and he gave away money for numerous projects as well as land for parks, scout halls and new church buildings among many others. He married a local woman called Esther, who like him was a devout Methodist. During the First World War he extended his ownership of local land buying farmland in the area then known by its old name Risebridge. Following the war there was a demand for housing, and in the 1920s he began developing the Rise Park estate. England donated the land for the 23-acre public park, to Romford Council. The park opened in 1937. In the same year the Rise Park estate went on the market, through local agents Hilbery Chaplin. The promotional literature claimed that with its rural atmosphere and various different types of houses this was “undoubtedly one of the most attractive estates in Romford… For the housewife who requires less work and does not wish to climb stairs there are bungalows, detached or semi-detached.” Prices started at £610 freehold. The idea of naming the streets after places in Scotland was as local historian Professor Ged Martin, writes, “a marketing ploy – the less romantic Glasgow, Motherwell and Dundee do not feature.” At the end of the 1940s Thomas and Esther retired to Clacton, while retaining their connections with Romford.  In 1953 England formed The Norwood Settlement and, following his death in 1960, his wife, Esther, formed The Newton Settlement, both gave away – and continue to giveaway – money for projects that help promote the Christian faith.  Still shunning the limelight, the Settlements were named after the maiden names of the mothers of the respective founders.  Mrs England died in the summer of 1985, still alert in mind, a few weeks short of her 99th birthday. Having no children, the bulk of the Englands’ estate was left to The Methodist Home Mission, The Methodist Missionary Society, The United Society for Christian Literature, The Foreign Bible Society and The Salvation Army.


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