Gants Hill is an area of Ilford within the London Borough of Redbridge, 15 km northeast of Charing Cross.
The name ’Gants Hill’ may derive from the le Gant family, stewards of Barking Abbey, who were originally from the Ghent area (’Gand’ in French). The name ’Gantesgrave’ appears in records from 1291.
The area was remote farmland until after the First World War.
The government had begun to provide funds to subsidise public housing. The Corporation of London proposed an estate of 2000 cottages between Cranbrook Road and Horns Road but abandoned the project before it was even half way complete.
After the Eastern Avevue was carved through the site in the mid 1920s, a developer - Charles Lord - bought the abandoned Corporation of London site and largely completed the scheme. Especially profitable for him was the conversion of properties that faced the Eastern Avenue into shops.
The focus for the new area was the Gants Hill roundabout. Largely retail, the The art deco Savoy cinema was built in 1934 (but demolished in 2003) between the Eastern Avenue and Perth Road. The latter was the main road of the Commonwealth Estate in which the roads are named after cities of the then British Empire - Aden, Auckland, Colombo, Melbourne, Quebec, Toronto and Perth.
The rest of Gants Hill was urbanised in the 1930s. Valentines Park was created between Gants Hill and nearby Ilford.
Gants Hill station site (1938) (click to enlarge)
Gants Hill station opened on the Central line in 1947. It was designed by Charles Holden in a very distinctive style. The London Passenger Transport Board had provided advice on the Moscow Metro contruction. Gants Hill was constructed in a similar design.
The station took its name from the Gants Hill roundabout, the ticket hall being directly underneath the roundabout. During planning, the names ’Ilford North’ and ’Cranbrook’ were considered for the station.
The Central line was proposed to be extended as part of the 1935–40 ’New Works’ programme. A new underground section between Leytonstone and Newbury Park was constructed before the Second World War but building came to a halt in June 1940. During the war, the station itself was used as an air raid shelter. The unused tunnels between the station and Redbridge were used as a munitions factory for Plessey. Construction resumed after the war ended and Gants Hill station opened on 14 December 1947.