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Though actually in the Borough of Havering, Romford is renowned as one of the major towns of Essex, the large county east of London stretching right to the coast.
The popular BBC soap ‘Eastenders’ is actually based on Dalston, but as inner east London becomes increasingly unrecognisable with a vibrant mish-mash of cultures and an increasing number of artistic young people, Romford still holds onto its decidedly cockney, West Ham-supporting, rhyming slang-speaking identity, despite being often derided for it.
Romford began as a market town 750 years ago and it’s still a retail mecca: as well as the outdoor market every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday there’s two huge shopping centres, the Liberty (Market Place, www.theliberty.co.uk) with over 100 high street names, and the more cheap-and-cheerful Mall (www.themall.co.uk).
The dogs are a big attraction round these parts, and Romford Greyhound Stadium (London Road, 01708 762 345, www.romfordgreyhoundstadium.co.uk) offers a cracking night out with racing Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays and a number of dining options onsite – great deals to take in a bit of proper east London culture include Fish & Chip Night (Mon & Wed), with a slap up meal, admission, race card and a pint for just £6.99.
There’s a cluster of bars in the town centre near the station, all commercial but lively enough – OneThreeOne (131 South Street, 01708 734 392, www.onethreeone.co.uk) is a stylish bar-club and Edwards (105-111 South Street, 01708 747711, www.edwardsromford.co.uk) won Best Bar in the 2007 Havering Nightlife Awards with a party atmosphere and very cheap food.
It’s on the far eastern fringe of Greater London, in Travelcard Zone 6, but as a metropolitan centre, there’s many trains to Liverpool Street via the National Express overground, fast trains taking less than 20 minutes.
|Hornchurch Station||6||District||3.29 miles|
|Dagenham East Station||5||District||3.57 miles|
|Dagenham Heathway Station||5||District||4.41 miles|
|Upminster Bridge Station||6||District||4.94 miles|
|Becontree Station||5||District||5.44 miles|
|Gidea Park Station||1.78 miles|
|Emerson Park Station||2.59 miles|
|Chadwell Heath Station||3.83 miles|
|Harold Wood Station||3.99 miles|
|Goodmayes Station||5.12 miles|