The original 1854 route of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway passed through the south of the parish of Hornchurch near the River Thames without stopping; the nearest station was at Rainham. Between 1885 and 1888 a new route authorised as the Barking and Pitsea Railway was constructed, that provided a direct service from Fenchurch Street to Southend, avoiding Tilbury. The station at Hornchurch opened on 1 May 1885; the next station to the east was Upminster and to the west was Dagenham. The Whitechapel and Bow Railway opened in 1902 and allowed through services of the Metropolitan District Railway to operate as far as Upminster. The District Railway converted to electric trains in 1905 and services were lost at Hornchurch as they were cut back to East Ham. The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway was purchased by the Midland Railway in 1912 and was amalgamated into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway on 1 January 1923.
The station consists of two side platforms—numbered 1 for westbound and 2 for eastbound—located either side of the running tracks. There are four tracks through the site, with the platforms located on the northern pair. Another pair of tracks to the south are used by c2c outer suburban services and there are disused platforms on those lines. The operational platforms are mostly covered by station canopies with a waiting room and toilets on the westbound platform. The red brick ticket office is located at street level above the platforms, to which it is connected by a covered footbridge stairway.
Following the collapse of Metronet, responsibility of station upkeep was transferred to Transport for London in 2008. Works were planned to include provision of tactile strips and colour contrasted handrails for the visually impaired, installation of closed-circuit television cameras, passenger help points, new electronic departure information displays on the platforms, a new public address system, and improved lighting. Transport for London has assigned the station to the 'limited works' category and plans to complete these improvements incrementally, according to the need to preserve assets. The station does not have step free access from the platforms to the street, although there are two out of use lift shafts from the platforms to the booking hall.
Connections: London bus routes 193, 252 and 256 serve the site of the station, providing connections to Hornchurch town centre, County Park Estate, Collier Row, Harold Hill, Harold Wood, Noak Hill, Queen's Hospital and Romford.