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Leyton Marsh (Porter's Field Meadow)


Plan of 'Leyton Marsh and 'Low Leyton Marsh' Marsh in 1861.  © Mapco

Leyton Marsh (Porter's Field Meadow)

Leyton Marsh once extended across a vast area of open land beside the River Lea within the Parish of Leyton, both north and south of Lea Bridge Road. 

The Marsh is former Lammas Land. This was divided into strips on which hay was cultivated. After the hay  harvest, between 1 August  and 25 March, Parishioners could exercise ancient rights to freely graze their cattle and horses.

Development gradually encroached on the open Marsh through the nineteenth century. Railways, gas companies, sewage works and the East London Waterworks Company acquired land and closed footpaths and bridleways, sometimes by stealth. There is a long history of opposition and protest in defence of the Marshes.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority compulsorily purchased the Marsh in 1971. Nevertheless, encroachment continued with the development of the  Lee Valley Ice Centre and the Lea Valley Riding Centre. 

Today, the remaining fragments of open and semi-open land are divided into separate spaces with various names: Leyton Marsh; Porter's Field Meadow; Marsh Lane (Jubilee Park); The Waterworks Centre etc. The name Leyton Marsh (or Porter's Field Meadow) is still generally applied to the Marshes north of Lea Bridge Road, extending northwards to the Boundary of the Parish of Walthamstow. 

The name Porter's Field Meadow is thought to refer to  the market porters who hauled farm produce from the open fields to the London Markets. One of the main routes, the 'Market Porter's Route' or Black Path, transects Leyton Marsh from north east to south west.

Rubble from buildings bombed in the Blitz was dumped on the Marsh during World War II. This raised ground levels above the natural flood plain of the River Lea. As a result, the northern boundary of Leyton Marsh (the old boundary of the Parishes of Leyton and Walthamstow) is marked by a steep tree-lined embankment with the Walthamstow Marshes below and beyond.

The Marsh was the location of the Lea Bridge Fair until the development of the Ice Centre.

The raised embankment across Leyton Marsh with a cycle route on top is the remains of an old aqueduct of the East London Waterworks, long since infilled.

A £6m temporary basketball training venue was constructed on the Marsh for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.



Leyton: Economic history, marshes and forests', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 197-205

© leabridge.org.uk December 2012