By the middle of the 19th century Walthamstow had a population of 5,000 people and was a rural retreat for London businessmen. The nearest railway station was at Lea Bridge and a horse bus service ran from Walthamstow to meet the train services. The 1860s saw the beginnings of suburban development in the area encouraged by a number of developers hoping to attract the middle classes to the area. The Great Eastern Railway (GER) was promoting a scheme in 1864 but this found little favour with one developer James Higham who promoted a competing scheme which would have run from a junction just north of Stratford station. However, by 1867 the GER was in financial difficulties and although construction work had started on the branch it had ceased by 1868. Housing construction was continuing apace and Higham approached the GER board with money to build the line. Time was running out on the 1864 act but parliament extended this and instructed the GER it should build a branch from its main line between Stratford and Tottenham Hale to Walthamstow. The GER managed to raise funds and a single line branch was built from just north of Lea Bridge station to a temporary station at Shern Hall Street with intermediate stations at St James Street and Hoe Street. The permanent terminus at Chingford opened on 2 September 1878. It had been planned to extend the line to High Beach and indeed a bill was deposited before parliament in 1882. However Queen Victoria visited Chingford on 6 May 1882 to declare the forest open to the public and opponents of the extension used the possible desecration of the forest as an effective way of stopping the extension in its tracks.
St James Street station opens onto the street of the same name. This section of the A1006 is the local high street. Shoppers have an easy route from the southernmost end of the market to the railway station, which provides a fast and regular route to the top of the market (Walthamstow Central) or into Liverpool Street. After the transfer of the "West Anglian" portion of the former WAGN franchise to National Express East Anglia, the station was redeveloped. A dual staircase was constructed, allowing passengers to access the train platform without passing through the main body of the station itself, and permitting the ticket office to be locked up overnight. The typical off-peak service is: 4tph to Chingford from platform 2, 4tph to Liverpool Street from platform 1. St James Street station is in Travel Card zone 3. The station has wi-fi, payphones and help points but no toilets.
Connections: London Buses routes 106, 253, 254 and 393 and night route N253 serve the station.