The station opened as "George Lane" on 22 August 1856 as part of the Eastern Counties Railway branch to Loughton, which was eventually extended to Epping and Ongar in 1865. The station then formed part of the Great Eastern Railway's system until that company was merged into the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923. On 5 July 1937 the station was renamed "South Woodford (George Lane)". Historians have pointed out Woodford's historic roads as evidence of its 'residential nature', as these roads provided reasonably easy access to Woodford, but no further on. There were two roads to Woodford, the 'lower road' (now Chigwell Road) and the 'upper road' (now Woodford New Road). The 'lower road' was often beset by flooding from the Roding, as it still is today, and was continually considered to be in need of repair. In fact one of the illustrious persons to be inconvenienced by the road was King James I. The 'upper road', being less used than the 'lower road' was probably in a worse condition, and the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike Trust undertook its repair and overhaul in 1721, and extended it to Whitechapel. The Trust did such a fine job it was given responsibility for the 'lower road' as well. In 1828, the Trust built the 'Woodford New Road' from Walthamstow to Woodford Wells, and was soon after connected to the newly built Epping New Road.
The station has two entrances, one on each side of the line. George Lane originally crossed the railway tracks with a level crossing immediately to the north of the station, but this was closed and the road split into two when the line was electrified. The footbridge can be used without a ticket, as unusually for stations on the Epping branch, the footbridge is outside the ticket gateline. The station has step-free access to and from the eastbound platform only. Train frequencies vary throughout the day, but generally operate every 3-7 minutes between 07:03 and 22:39 eastbound and between 06:22 and 22:19 westbound. Amenities include payphones, toilets, a bridge, waiting room and car park.
Connections: London Bus routes 179, 549, W12, W13 and W14, and night route N55 serve the station.