September 2019


Bravo, Wanstead!


The big news for last year’s Wanstead Fringe was the event’s first professional theatre production. This year, there are three. Chloe Longstaff takes a look at each

Truly celebrating diversity in theatre, this year’s Wanstead Fringe is hosting three contrasting performances, offering something for all ages and interests.

First up is The Border, an outrageous Brechtian parable that explores the lines we draw between ourselves and other people. Staged by Theatre Centre, which was founded in 1953 and has decades of experience at bringing new writing to audiences, The Border is a timely and thought-provoking contribution to our questions of identity; life is about to be turned upside down for one small town as the border crossing is sealed shut, dividing here from there, us from them, this from that. In the midst of it all, Stranger, a young girl’s beloved dog, has gone missing. Will Stranger be found before the border closes, or will he be trapped forever on the ‘wrong’ side? This play is suitable for children aged 13-plus and will be particularly useful to young audiences, though relevant to everyone. It’s a must for anyone studying drama, citizenship and PHSE.

We Must Throw The Cows Down The Ravine is our next production, by an award-winning theatre company, adapted from the best-selling book Voices of the Labyrinth by Spanish author Ricard Ruiz Garzon, where the reality of schizophrenia is explored. Told from the view of both patients and family members, these true testimonials challenge the stigma and discrimination experienced by people dealing with mental health issues and help us realise each individual’s journey is a very personal one. The show was first produced in Caracas, Venezuela and is now touring Europe. In June, it opened at Teatro La Maquina in Valenica before moving to the renowned Teatro Español in Madrid. In July, it transferred to London where it was performed at the Cervantes Theatre, and it will now be performed (in English) at the Wanstead Fringe!

Last but not least is The Railway Children. This heart-warming tale is set to a stunning new musical soundtrack, bringing a touch of magic to the stage. When Roberta, Peter and Phyllis move to the country with their mother, they discover the joys of the steam railway and make new, unexpected friends. The only thing missing is their father. Brought to the Wanstead Fringe by the company who last year delighted audiences with sell-out performances of The Secret Garden and performed in the impressive Deaton Theatre at Forest School, this is an opportunity to see a West End-style musical right on your doorstep.

The Border: 13 September, 7.30pm at Aldersbrook Community Centre.

We Must Throw The Cows Down The Ravine: 13 and 14 September, 8.15pm at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church Parish Centre.

The Railway Children: 14 September, 3pm and 7pm and 15 September, 3pm at the Deaton Theatre, Forest School.

To book tickets, visit


Future for Whipps

Whipps Cross HospitalWhipps Cross Hospital

In the second of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Wanstead resident Charlotte Monro explains why she is supporting a petition calling for government funding

Our community desperately needs a new hospital. Rebuilding Whipps has wide support, not least in Wanstead, as I discovered when gathering signatures on the High Street for our petition calling on the government to fund the build.

Quite a team is now set up at Whipps, working on more detailed proposals for the new hospital. I recently attended a community partners’ workshop as one of five Waltham Forest Save Our NHS delegates. Redbridge was also well represented with Councillor Dan Morgan-Thomas and Mike New, chair of Redbridge Health Watch. We were told the redevelopment work from now until September is focused on (one) developing ideas for how health services will be delivered in the future and the size of hospital needed, and (two) options for the land occupied by Whipps. This will inform a revised ‘Strategic Outline Case’ to be submitted to the NHS powers that be in December, the first hurdle for government approval.

I believe it is vital that we, the communities who rely on our hospital, have a determining voice in these decisions. Certainly, this was the spirit among people attending the workshop.

Discussion about the future shape of services showed peoples’ concern that the hospital must be designed with enough beds. They challenged the realism of expectations that care in the community – already over-stretched – will significantly reduce the need for hospital care, and therefore the size of hospital needed. Back in 2016, the local health strategy made this assumption; some excellent community intermediate care services are now in place, but pressure on hospitals appears no less. “Rigorously evaluate predictions around bed numbers – have previous plans achieved what they promised?” is the message now recorded. Even the head of NHS England says the loss of beds has gone too far, we now need more.

Can our new hospital be a model for environmental design? This we also asked. Surely, as we face the tipping point for climate change, this is a time for a carbon neutral hospital. The healthcare sector is responsible for anywhere from 3–10% of all carbon emissions worldwide. But some hospitals around the world have paid dividends through design features, such as those that allow natural sunlight to permeate throughout the building, offering the dual benefit of cutting back on winter heating costs and offering proven health benefits for patients over artificial lighting. So, where and how the new Whipps is positioned on the site could be crucial. Expertise in environmental design must be brought in now.

Such an investment in a new hospital with enough beds for the growing population is a priority. Without adequate funding, it cannot happen. Please sign our petition and share it.

For information on the future of Whipps Cross Hospital, visit
To view the petition, visit


A picture is worth a thousand words: Wanstead photographers’ talk

IMG_0314Stefan Rousseau (left) and Geoff Wilkinson are both Wanstead residents

Two award-winning professional photographers will be offering an insight into their working lives at a Wanstead Fringe event on 11 September.

Geoff Wilkinson, who runs Gallery 84 on Nightingale Lane, and Stefan Rousseau, the Press Association’s chief political photographer, will tell the stories behind the images that make it into the newspapers and magazines.

Entitled ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, the event will take place at Geoff’s gallery from 7.30pm to 9pm (tickets: £10).



A taste for murder: celebrate Agatha Christie Week at the library


A murder mystery evening will take place at Wanstead Library this month to mark Agatha Christie Week.

“Join a cast of colourful characters all set on dining with death! When Mr Boddy asks Lady Peacock to be his bride, the wedding breakfast turns to dead-over-dinner, as the new vicar, Rev Green, hears confessions,” said a spokesperson.

Set at Waddingtons Hall, participants will need to question the suspects to catch the killer.

The event will take place on 14 September from 6.30pm (tickets: £6).

Call 020 8708 7400


Central Line upgrades between Wanstead and Leyton to reduce noise


New track and sound absorbent pads are being installed on local sections of the Central Line to reduce noise.

“We fully understand the effect that noise from the Tube can have on local residents, which is why we will be carrying out work on the Central Line between Leyton and Wanstead to try to minimise this,” said Peter McNaught, London Underground’s Director of Asset Operations.

“This work is scheduled to be completed within the next two months during engineering hours, so will cause no disruption to customers.”


Stargazing evening to kick off Wanstead Fringe 2019


An evening of stargazing in the grounds of Wanstead Cricket Club will mark the start of this year’s Wanstead Fringe.

“There are two chances to see the night sky through powerful telescopes with experts on hand to show you what to look out for,” said organiser Ricardo Cerezo. The free event will take place on 6 September from 8pm to 9pm, and will be repeated the following evening. “One of England’s great astronomers, James Bradley (1693–1762), is buried in the churchyard next door.”



The cow returns: artist’s bovine model to roam Wanstead streets


Local artist Karen Humpage has been constructing a large model cow which will be wandering around Wanstead on 7 September (10am to 1.30pm) as part of the art trail.

Last month, Karen published a book featuring artwork and anecdotes of the cows that once roamed freely in the local area. “People will be encouraged to take a selfie with the cow for a suggested donation of £2, which will go to the charity Compassion in World Farming. The cow will also be at the Wanstead Festival,” said Karen.



Pupils’ time-themed art to decorate Wanstead High Street


Clocks and timepieces will appear along Wanstead High Street this month, attached to trees, fences and street furniture.

“They are the work of Aldersbrook and Wanstead Church primary schoolchildren for Art Trail Wanstead (7 to 22 September), which has a ‘Time’ theme. Local artist Brenda Coyle was invited to run some exciting art-based classes at the schools. Together they managed to create hundreds of Dali-inspired melted clocks, plaster of Paris timepieces and colourful sun-catcher hourglasses,” said trail organiser Donna Mizzi.


Valley of discovery

River-Roding-May-2019-3--(c)-Anna-MacLaughlin©Anna MacLaughlin

Francis Castro, senior nature conservation ranger for Vision RCL, is keen to champion the Roding Valley and invites you to join him for a late summer walk through this local hidden gem. Valley photo by Anna MacLaughlin

The Roding Valley is one of the hidden gems of east London, part of the area’s industrial landscape but also retaining some of its rural charm. It is a great way to explore the borough and for those looking for a more rural getaway.

The Nature Conservation Ranger Team, part of the Parks Team for Vision RCL, have a walk scheduled for 7 September, which will be our longest walk yet, completing the trilogy of Roding Valley guided walks we have held throughout the year. It will take in the entirety of the Roding Valley through Redbridge, as we make our way to Wanstead Park, starting from Ray Park in Woodford Green.

Totalling around 7km each way, we will be travelling along one of the great assets the borough has in terms of a green corridor, one that maybe not too many people know about.

The aim of our walks has been to showcase the value of the Roding Valley in terms of a walking route and for its connection with other green spaces.

As a dog owner and keen walker who lives locally in the borough, finding nice walking routes in and around the Roding Valley has been something I have been doing for many years, not only to keep my dog fit but also myself, physically and mentally.

The Roding Valley is largely what we term a country park and wild space. This does not mean we do not manage it, but its management is geared towards wildlife and protecting the naturalness and wildness experience, which is what we want visitors to take away with them. It is not easy, especially with the M11 and A406 roads thundering right through it (it has taken many years, but I seem to be immune from the hum of the motorway), but somehow the Roding Valley and the River Roding have persevered from what has been, quite recently, disastrous disturbance and destruction, through the passion and action of those who have and are managing it, as well as committed volunteers and residents.

It will never be the same or have the same value for wildlife and people as before the motorway came through. Some people will even remember the area before the M11 and A406 and how rural the Roding Valley used to be and the meanders the river used to have. However, this does not mean it has no value. Indeed, we must do the upmost to protect what we have and make it better.

We still have regular sightings of kingfishers and little egrets along the river; grey wagtails can sometimes be seen using the river as well. The valley is also home to many small mammals, from weasels and water shrews to badgers, with other creatures of interest including stag beetles and grass snakes, which you can sometimes spot while walking the paths. On the river, you may get lucky and spot a juvenile otter that has strayed south from its breeding grounds further north in Essex. Unfortunately, the habitat quality means that, at the moment, we have not recorded otter being able to breed or survive along our stretch of river. Eels can sometimes be spotted in the water too – the River Roding used to be a good place to see them – however, their decline has been noted.

Our walks are put together to help improve local knowledge of this hidden and not so well known wild space, and to inspire its continued use, protection and the ways we can make it better for the future. We look forward to seeing you on one of our walks soon.

The Roding Valley late summer walk will depart from the James Leal Centre in Ray Park, Woodford Green at 9am on 7 September (free; booking required). The walk will last approximately five hours and is suitable for children aged seven and over. Some paths will be unsuitable for wheelchairs. For more information, visit or call 020 8559 2316

Storytime with a difference: family drag queen performance at local libraries

d1931Mama G of Petite Pantos, which produces ‘pantomimes with a social conscience’, championing LGBTQ+ issues, feminism and positive representation of race and gender

The magic of panto and storytelling will come to local libraries this autumn with a series of performances by drag queen Mama G.

“Created by popular panto dame Robert Pearce, Mama G tells stories about being who you are and loving who you want, to children and their families, and anyone who’ll listen! She has spread her message all over the UK at libraries, theatres, museums and festivals, as well as making appearances in America and Canada,” said a spokesperson for Petite Pantos.

The ‘storytime with a difference’ will take place in Wanstead (2 October, 2pm), Woodford Green (4 October, 10.30am) and South Woodford (8 October, 2.30pm) as part of Redbridge’s annual Fabula Festival, which celebrates the arts and libraries and their power to transform lives. Suitable for children aged three and over, all shows are free to attend.

“These performances will feature published works and new writing that will make you laugh, think and love.”

Click here for more information.