A key element of the T2K near detector is the ND280 electromagnetic calorimeter (ECal), consisting of active scintillator bars sandwiched between lead sheets and read outwith multi-pixel photon counters (MPPCs). The ECal is vital to the reconstruction of neutral particles, and the identification of charged particle species. The ECal surrounds the Pi-0 detector (P0D) and the tracking region of the ND280, and is enclosed in the former UA1/NOMAD dipole magnet. This paper describes the design, construction and assembly of the ECal, as well as the materials from which it is composed. The electronic and data acquisition (DAQ) systems are discussed, and performance of the ECal modules, as deduced from measurements with particle beams, cosmic rays, the calibration system, and T2K data, is described.