West Ham had its own senior judge for many years.
The picture is of the Recorder's procession in 1953 in Church Street, having left West Ham Church it is going to the Court House in West Ham Lane. In front is the beadle, and the procession is headed by George E. Smith, Town Clerk and Clerk of the Peace (who later became the first Town Clerk of Newham), and Alderman William Gillman, Mayor, followed by Walter Raeburn, Esq., Q.C., the Recorder, and his Clerk. Arthur Lewis, MP for North West Ham can be seen together with Aldermen the Mesdames Parsons, Harris, Cook and Barnes; the aldermen are followed by the councillors.
In 1889 West Ham became a County Borough under the Local Government Act, 1888. This Act established County Councils which took over the ancient administrative functions of the county Quarter Sessions. Essex County Council is formed.
In1894 West Ham is granted its own Quarter Sessions of the Peace with its own Recorder and obtained its own Coroner the following year. The sittings dealt with criminal cases and administrative matters such as licensing.
Quarter Sessions - as the name suggests - were held four times a year in each county and county borough. The terms were Epiphany (January), Easter (April), Midsummer (July) and Michaelmas (October).
A Recorder was a senior judge of some important urban centre and was a part-time appointment as the office holder was usually a distinguished lawyer with their own practice. The position carried a great deal of prestige.
The Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions, 1966-1969, led to the abolition of courts of assize and quarter sessions in 1971 and the establishment of a new Crown Court to deal with business from both. Newham comes under the jurisdiction of the Crown Court at Snaresbrook, Leytonstone. Civil matters are dealt with at Bow County Court in Romford Road, Stratford. The Coroner's functions have transferred to the Court in Walthamstow.