The station was opened by the Great Eastern Railway (as Hoe Street) in 1870 when a line was opened from Lea Bridge to a temporary station called Shern Hall Street which was east of the Hoe Street station. The line that the Chingford branch uses today was opened two years later in 1872 with the branch being extended later to Chingford in 1873. The GER was taken over by the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923. On 29–30 May 1937 the London and North Eastern Railway put on a railway exhibition in the station yard. In 1948 the railways were nationalised and responsibility for operating the station fell to British Railways (Eastern Region). The line was electrified in the late 1950s with electric services commencing on 12 November 1960. Early services were formed of Class 305 EMUs but initial technical problems with these saw replacements by Class 302 and Class 304 EMUs. The station became an interchange station and the eastern terminus of the Victoria line with London Underground services starting on 1 September 1968. The station's present name was changed at this time.
The Hoe Street market, an excellent shooping center, extends down to St James station. The up-side station building is a remarkably well preserved example of a mid-Victorian country station. The main entrance to the above-ground station is on the down side and is opposite the local bus station, which was revamped in summer 2004. Until August 2015 (when they were closed down), there were three staffed ticket windows, leaving only a number of ticket machines to serve the majority of the traffic that enters the station. The entrance to the tube was revamped in early 2006. There is a smaller entrance and ticket office on the up line, providing convenient access to the car park; however, the ticket office here is normally unstaffed outside peak hours. A subway was built in 2005 under the busy Selborne Road linking a new bus station with a new Victoria line ticket office. Ticket barriers control access to all platforms. A footpath link, called Ray Dudley Way, providing a shortcut to nearby Walthamstow Queen's Road, opened in August 2014. Walthamstow Central station is in Travel Card zone 3. The station has wi-fi, and escalators but no toilets.
Connections: Victoria Line. Gospel Oak to Barking Overground (at Walthamstow Queens Road). London Buses routes 20, 34, 48, 58, 69, 97, 212, 215, 230, 257, 275, 357, W11, W12, W15, W19 and 675 and night routes N26, N38 and N73 serve the station and bus station.