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St Mary's Lane (Upminster Hill)

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Looking east past the Bridge House Inn and the valley of the Ingrebourne. The main route now known as  St Mary's Lane, but previously called Hornchurch Road or Upminster Hill, is the eastwards continuation of the road from Ilford. Heavily laden wagons frequently had trouble negotiating the hill which is also notable as the site of several well-known buildings, including Upminster's famous windmill, the former workhouse, the old Congregational Chapel and Hill Place, now the girl's secondary school of the Sacred Heart of Mary Convent.

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The term Upminster Bridge refers to the bridge over the River Ingrebourne, rather than the bridge over the railway which can be seen in this photograph. The Bridge House Inn still remains, although it was renamed the Hungry Horse for a short period, before reverting to its historic name.

A horse-drawn cartload of hay and its driver on their ways past Upminster Bridge heading towards Hornchurch around 1910. Already speculative house building has started to encroach the route but it was only in the 1930s that development was completed.

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Few passers-by in St Mary's Lane realise that the yellow brick Victorian building on the corner of Cranborne Gardens was, in the early decades of this century, the 16-bedroom Hollies Hotel. This was very popular with commercial travellers and other visitors to the area.

By: Tony Benton

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