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Upminster Windmill 027.jpg
Upminster Windmill
Grid reference: TQ560865
Location: 51°33’21"N, 0°15’4"E
Population: 25,361  (2011)
Post town: Upminster
Postcode: RM14
Dialling code: 01708
Local Government
Council: Havering
Hornchurch and Upminster

Upminster is a town and ancient parish in Essex, located at the eastern edge of the Greater London conurbation. It is home to the eastern terminus of the District Line of the London Underground. Upminster Windmill, formerly known as Abraham's Mill, is a smock mill and one of the few surviving windmills in England. The speed of sound was first calculated accurately by the Reverend William Derham in Upminster.



The placename Upminster is first recorded in 1062 as Upmynstre and is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Upmunstra.[1] It is formed from Old English upp and mynster, meaning the large church on high ground. The high ground of the parish church being in relation to the valley of the River Ingrebourne and the Upminster Bridge over the river shares the name.[1] An alternative explanation suggests the upp could refer to the geographical relationship to a church at Barking or Tilbury in Anglo-Saxon times.[2]

Economic development

There was an ancient farmstead from the 1st century to the 3rd century in the Upminster area, and agriculture was the predominant industry throughout the following centuries. The area was once wooded, but clearances in the 12th century gave more land over to arable farming; and by the 17th century there were a variety of crops and livestock. There was a growth in market gardening in the 19th century. There have been a number of windmills in Upminster and one of which, a smock mill built in 1803, remains.[3] Local industry included a tannery, gravel extraction and a brick works that was connected to the railway station by a tramway in 1895.

The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway from Fenchurch Street was extended from Barking to Upminster in 1885.[4] The underground Whitechapel and Bow Railway opened in 1902 and allowed through services of the District Railway to operate to Upminster. The District converted to electric trains in 1905 and services were cut back to East Ham. Delayed by World War I,[4] electrified tracks were extended by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway to Upminster and through services resumed in 1932.[5][6]

Urban development

The parish had three early centres of activity; the village around the church and the settlements of Hacton and Corbets Tey. The estates of Gaynes, New Place and Upminster Hall were purchased during the 17th century by merchants in the City of London. This caused a significant number of buildings in the town to be constructed or improved. Upkeep of the three bridges crossing the Ingrebourne were the responsibility of Upminster, as the adjacent Hornchurch parish was in the Havering liberty and was exempt from responsibility because of its charter. Although the opening of the station was key to the development of the suburb, land was not purchased for development until 10 acres were secured in 1901.

Electricity was introduced in Upminster in 1926. Gas main supply came from Romford in 1872 and from 1905 there was gas street lighting. The area was served by good spring water, with mains supply provided by the South Essex Waterworks Company from 1836. Works on the sewerage system began in 1899 in Upminster village and Corbets Tey. In 1922 sewage works for Upminster and Cranham were opened in Great Warley. Land for Upminster Park was purchased by the parish council in 1929.

Speed of sound

The speed of sound was first accurately calculated by the Reverend William Derham, Rector of Upminster, thus improving on Newton's estimates. Derham used a telescope from the tower of the church of St Laurence to observe the flash of a distant shotgun being fired, and then measured the time until he heard the gunshot with a half second pendulum. Measurements were made of gunshots from a number of local landmarks, including North Ockendon church. The distance was known by triangulation, and thus the speed that the sound had travelled could be calculated.[7]


Upminster rises to about 20ft above sea level to the north and is about 50 ft above sea level to the south. It rests on a layer of loam, above sand and gravel in the south and London Clay to the north. It is bounded in the west by the River Ingrebourne and there is a stream running east-west, just north of Corbets Tey that has been dammed to form a lake. It has formed part of the continuously built-up area of London since the 1930s[8] and is contiguous with Cranham to the east and Hornchurch to the west. To the north and south there is open land that forms part of the Metropolitan Green Belt and there are open spaces formed by Upminster Golf Club and Upminster Hall Playing Field to the north, Upminster Park and Clock House Gardens to the south, and the Ingrebourne Valley linear park to the south west. The town is effectively divided into north and south parts by the railway line. The north is predominantly residential, with the southern part containing the main shopping area. Further south it becomes predominantly residential again.


Upminster is identified in the London Plan as a local district centre with 400,000 sq. ft of commercial floorspace.[9] It is not considered a significant commercial office location.[9] Within Havering, it is identified as one of seven town centres in Havering,[10] with a retail area extending along Station Road, St Mary's Lane and Corbets Tey Road.[11] The unit sizes are mostly small with the largest outlets the Roomes Fashion and Home department store, the Roomes Furniture and Interiors furniture store, and the Aldi, M&S Simply Food and Waitrose supermarkets.


Upminster station southern entrance. There is another to the west

The town is served by Upminster station on the London-Tilbury-Southend Line and the London Underground, in London fare zone 6.[12] The western part of the town is also served by Upminster Bridge tube station. Upminster and Upminster Bridge are on the District line of the London Underground, with services to Richmond, Ealing Broadway and Wimbledon via central London. The station at Upminster provides services to Fenchurch Street via West Ham; Shoeburyness via Basildon; Southend via Chafford Hundred.[13] London Overground operate services to Romford via Emerson Park.[14] There are Transport for London bus services to Hornchurch, Romford, North Ockendon, Lakeside Shopping Centre and Cranham.[15] To the south of Upminster is Damyns Hall Aerodrome. The A127 road to the north is the main radial artery to central London, with the A124 road terminating in the town. The M25 motorway is located about a mile and a half to the east of the town centre.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford. 
  2. Blair, John (2005). The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society. Oxford University Press. p. 102. 
  3. Richardson, John (2000). The Annuls of London. Cassell & Co. ISBN 1-84188-135-X. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "London, Tilbury and Southend Railway", Local Studies Information Sheets (Barking and Dagenham Council), 2008, http://www.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/4-heritage/local-history/information-sheets/pdf/info-sheet-10.pdf, retrieved 8 February 2010 
  5. Rose, Douglas (1999). The London Underground: A diagrammatic history (7 ed.). Douglas Rose. ISBN 1-85414-219-4. 
  6. Christian Wolmar (2005). The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever. Atlantic Books. p. 268. ISBN 1-84354-023-1. 
  7. Fox, Tony (2003). Essex Journal. Essex Arch & Hist Soc. pp. 12–16. 
  8. Robson, William (1939). The Government and Mis-government of London. London: Allen & Unwin. pp. 26–27. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mayor of London (May 2006). "The London Plan: East London Sub Regional Development Framework". Greater London Authority. http://www.london.gov.uk/archive/mayor/planning/srdf/docs/east-srdf.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  10. "Town centre management". Havering Council. 14 October 2008. http://www.havering.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=379. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  11. "Havering UDP: District Centres (schedule 7)". Havering Council. March 1993. http://www.havering.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=2304&p=0. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  12. Transport for London (March 2009). "High frequency services". Greater London Authority. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/high-frequency-services-map.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  13. c2c (May 2009). "Train Times". National Express Group. http://www.c2c-online.co.uk/content/download/13431/171193/file/Full+Timetable.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  14. "Table 6". National Express East Anglia. May 2009. http://www.nationalexpresseastanglia.com/content/download/33035/382359/file/Table+6+Shenfield+to+Liverpool+Street.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  15. Transport for London (March 2008). "Buses from Upminster". Greater London Authority]. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/upminster-2272.pdf. Retrieved 6 February 2010.