The area is distinct from Bow, which lies immediately to the north and east. The area has become better known as Bromley-by-Bow due to Bromley tube station being renamed to Bromley-by-Bow in 1967, to prevent confusion with Bromley railway station in the London Borough of Bromley. Over time the station’s name has become applied to the district itself.

Bromley-by-Bow was opened as a railway station called ’Bromley’ by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway in 1858.

The construction of the Whitechapel and Bow Railway allowed the District Railway to start serving the station in 1902. Electrification of the system followed in 1905.

The District Railway was incorporated into London Transport in 1933 and the Hammersmith & City line (then part of the Metropolitan line) started operating services through Bromley on 4 May 1936.

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