In 1872 the Great Eastern Railway opened a new branch to Hackney Downs; to serve this branch a new junction was built to the west of Cambridge Heath Road. It also replaced a station called Mile End which was located on the eastern side of Cambridge Heath Road with a station immediately to the west of the new junction called Bethnal Green Junction. It served both of the Great Eastern Railway routes and had four platforms. The place-name Blithehale or Blythenhale, the earliest form of Bethnal Green, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon healh ('angle, nook, or corner') and blithe ('happy, blithe'), or from a personal name Blitha, but we prefer to think of Bethnal Green as 'Happy Corner'. The Green and Poor's Land is the area of open land now occupied by Bethnal Green Library, the V&A Museum of Childhood and St John's Church, designed by John Soane. In Stow's Survey of London (1598) the hamlet was called Blethenal Green, now called Bethnal Green. In 1678 the owners of houses surrounding the Green purchased the land to save it from being built on and in 1690 the land was conveyed to a trust under which it was to be kept open and rent from it used for the benefit of poor people living in the vicinity. From that date until now the trust has administered the land and its minute books are kept in the London Metropolitan Archives. Bethnal House, or Kirby's Castle, was the principal house on the Green. One of its owners was Sir Hugh Platt (1552–1608), author of books on gardening and practical science. Under its next owner it was visited by Samuel Pepys. In 1727 it was leased to Matthew Wright and for almost two centuries it was a mad house. Its two most distinguished inmates were Alexander Cruden, compiler of the Concordance to the Bible, and the poet Christopher Smart. Cruden recorded his experience in The London Citizen Grievously Injured (1739) and Smart's stay there is recorded by his daughter. Records of the asylum are kept in the annual reports of the Commissioner in Lunacy. Even today, the park where the library stands is known locally as "Barmy Park".
The economic history of Bethnal Green is characterised by a shift away from agricultural provision for the City of London to market gardening, weaving and light industry, which has now all but disappeared. The quality of the built environment had deteriorated by the turn of the 20th century and was radically reformed by the aerial bombardment during the Second World War and the subsequent social housing developments. In 1946 the station stopped serving the Great Eastern main line to Shenfield and two platforms were closed, though the remains of the Shenfield down platform are still visible. The Shenfield up (London-bound) platform was demolished and the tracks rearranged, coinciding with the swapping of services from the former fast tracks onto the former slow (resulting in the arrangement we see today). It is not known for certain when the station's name was changed, possibly when it ceased serving the Shenfield line. The station and all services that called here were previously operated by Abellio Greater Anglia as part of the Greater Anglia franchise. On 31 May 2015 they transferred to London Overground concession holder London Overground Rail Operations. There are trains for Cheshunt, Edmonton Green and Chingford at approximately 2 per hour per destination, the station serves both branches of the Lea Valley Lines. The station is in Travel Card Zone 2. The station has wi-fi, payphones and help points, but no toilets.
Connections: There are no bus routes serving the station or nearby.