Until the 1920s, there were no houses in Downham. The area was farmland, much of it belonging to Holloway and Shroffolds Farms. In the 1890s there was a rifle range near Rangefield Road.

In 1920-23 the London County Council (LCC) bought the farmland in order to build a new housing estate there. It was named Downham after the Chairman of the LCC, Lord Downham - the name was very appropriate because Downham means 'the village on the hill'.

This was one of the 'cottage estates' built by the LCC on what was then the edge of London. Because there was plenty of land available, most of the dwellings were two-storey houses with gardens rather than flats.

The disadvantage of being so far from central London was that many breadwinners had a very long journey to work. A tram lane was included in the main road, and there was an all-night tram service. The names of many of the roads, and of Malory School, are taken from the legends of King Arthur. Unfortunately we do not know why these names were chosen.

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Archive Collection pages with connections to Downham:

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