May 2020


New wild flower meadow created by Wanstead Community Gardeners

L1220838©Geoff Wilkinson

A new wild flower meadow has been established on the traffic island between The George pub and Wanstead Tube Station.

“It was a tremendous project with a huge amount of work involved. We just managed to finish all the preparation and get the seeds footed in before the rain at the end of April. If all goes according to plan, we should have a wild flower meadow by July or August. We’ve sown a very tough mix of various grasses and flowers,” said Marian Temple of the Wanstead Community Gardeners.


South Woodford and Wanstead homes collect five tonnes of foodbank donations


A network of foodbank collection points at homes across Aldersbrook, Wanstead and South Woodford collectively received over five tonnes of donations in the first five weeks of the initiative.

The Tin in the Bin Network was established in April by Wanstead residents Julie Harvey and James Paterson, with 34 volunteers providing a drop-off point at their home to fill the gap left by the closure of regular collection locations.

“We’ve now dropped over five tonnes to Redbridge Foodbank and that continues to be more than a tonne per week! There’s a list of food the foodbank has sufficient stocks of, and we’ve had at least a further few hundred kilos of those supplies, so these have gone to support other initiatives in the community, looking after people in immediate need,” said James.

For a list of addresses, visit


Funding available for groups helping those affected by the pandemic


Redbridge Council has unveiled a new scheme to provide funding to local groups who are helping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Redbridge Social Action Fund will provide grants to support not-for-profit groups, including an initial funding pot of £10,000,” explained a spokesperson. Any not-for-profit organisation is eligible to make an application as long as their income in the last financial year did not exceed £100,000.

The first deadline is 5 June, and then fortnightly through to 31 July.



Councillor advice surgeries online


Local councillors across Wanstead and South Woodford are hosting advice surgeries online, in addition to supporting residents by phone and email.

With a spike in their casework, councillors from Wanstead Park, Wanstead Village, South Woodford and Churchfields wards have replaced their face-to-face surgeries with Zoom meetings and digital surgeries using Microsoft Teams.

Wanstead Village ward
Councillor Jo Blackman, Councillor Paul F. Donovan and Councillor Daniel H. Morgan-Thomas
Surgeries on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, between 10am and 12noon. Contact a councillor above for details.

Wanstead Park ward
Councillor Sheila A. Bain and Councillor Paul J. Merry
Surgeries on the first and third Saturdays of the month, between 10am and 11am. Contact a councillor above for details.

South Woodford ward
Councillor Beverley L. Brewer, Councillor Michael Duffell and Councillor Suzanne M. Nolan
Contact a councillor above for details of their surgeries.

Churchfields ward
Councillor Rosa Gomez, Councillor Stephen K. Adams and Councillor Clark E. Vasey
Councillor Rosa Gomez hosts online surgeries on a weekly basis on Mondays and Fridays at 3pm.
Contact the other councillors above for details of their surgeries.


Farmers’ markets to return to Wanstead and South Woodford


Organisers of the monthly farmers’ markets in Wanstead and South Woodford are preparing to return in June.

“Our first event will be on Sunday 7 June on Wanstead High Street. We will be following a strict social distancing criteria for our traders and customers,” said a statement from Ace Events Ltd.

The South Woodford market – which takes place on George Lane – is scheduled for the third Sunday of the month (21 June).



Coronavirus mobile testing unit in Redbridge


A mobile coronavirus testing unit will be in Redbridge on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 May. 

“Residents can apply now for testing but you may not see the Redbridge mobile unit appear on the booking system right away. If it doesn’t, please check back later,” said a Redbridge Council spokesperson.

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms can ask for a test and you need to get tested within the first five days of developing symptoms to be effective.

For more information and to apply for a test, click here.


Building history

The-Shrubbery-1940-bombingBombing of The Shrubbery in Grosvenor Road in September 1940

In the first of two articles, Dr Colin Runeckles discusses his findings following research into a Wanstead and Woodford Borough Council building survey carried out in 1949

While I was putting together my January talk on ‘Building Wanstead’, Sue Page at the Heritage Centre in Redbridge Central Library handed me an archive box and wondered whether I would be interested. Inside was a survey carried out after WWII about the condition of every building in the Wanstead and Woodford Borough Council area. The area that I have so far input into a spreadsheet – nearly 5,500 entries – covers Wanstead and Snaresbrook.

The date of the survey appears to be late 1949. There are no building dates after 1949, and on the second from last page, there is a note to the effect that a Ministry of Labour camp on Wanstead Flats is “Now redundant at 27.10.49.” I haven’t managed to ascertain whether this survey was a local initiative or part of a national review. Although all buildings have an original or rebuilding date for those suffering excessive bomb damage, some of the older dates are dubious given other evidence, such as building plans or where they appear on old maps.

What does it tell us about the damage to buildings in WWII? There are 50 vacant plots listed due to buildings being destroyed by enemy action and relating to 43 houses, five shops and houses (49–57 High Street Wanstead), Park House on the corner of Blake Hall Road and Overton Drive that had been converted into flats shortly before the war, one block of The Shrubbery on Grosvenor Road, and the Isolation Hospital close to Wanstead Park. A further 103 buildings had already been fully repaired. Again, this mainly relates to houses, although it also includes one of the parts of Woodford House on the corner of Eagle Lane. Over 2,800 are shown as having “Substantial war damage repairs”, and when I eventually get to building plans of the post-war period, it will be interesting to make a comparison of the two sets of data. All of those fully rebuilt or showing vacant plots could be plotted on a map to show a more detailed picture of the significant areas of damage caused by enemy action in Wanstead. For example, 54 Hermon Hill is extremely close to houses destroyed in Sylvan Road (36–38 and 23–25) and almost certainly due to the same incident.

But there was some building carried out in this period – two canteens (presumably for workers in the underground tunnels) for Plessey’s were built around 1940 – one in the car park of The George, the other in Highstone Avenue. A building on the High Street shown on post-war maps just north of Clockhouse Parade is revealed in the survey to be a British Restaurant (communal kitchens set up by the Ministry of Food).

Next month’s article will look at what the survey can tell us about post-war building developments.

For more information on the Redbridge Museum and Heritage Centre, visit

Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir leader to join 24-hour fundraising event

nc-3Nicola Cain

The leader of the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir will take part in a 24-hour fundraising event tomorrow (19 May) in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Rock Choir, which has 32,000 members nationally, will host #RockChoir24, a non-stop event via their Facebook page from 11am on Tuesday 19 May to 11am the following day.

Throughout the day and night, the Rock Choir team will host an energetic schedule of dynamic singing sessions, themed musical events, songs from the decades and social musical events as well as sessions aimed at teenagers and younger children. There will be something for everyone to enjoy. A virtual music Rock Choir festival, which can be experienced from the comfort of everyone’s own home,” said a spokesperson.

Nicola Cain, who looks after the choirs in Woodford and Wanstead, Ealing, Hampstead and Marylebone, will be leading some of the live sessions in the fundraiser.

The event is aimed at the general public and not just Rock Choir members. Donations can be made via the Facebook donate option on Rock Choir’s Facebook page as well as a text option, which can be made by texting SING5 to donate £5 or SING10 to donate £10 to 70500.


Floating ideas

93507320-1BB2-4BDC-ACE8-44A61219B734©Geoff Wilkinson

Rising at Molehill Green in Essex, the River Roding passes through the Wanstead and Woodford area en route to the Thames, bringing with it a very real flood risk to local homes. In the ninth of a series of articles, Laura Hepworth from the Environment Agency reports on the River Roding Project, which aims to reduce that risk

The River Roding has a long history of flooding causing devastating and widespread impacts to north-east London. With the impact of climate change, flooding is predicted to happen more frequently unless we act now. This project will reduce flooding to over 2,000 homes by 2080 and improve the resilience of businesses and infrastructure to flooding incidents in the Woodford and Ilford area.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to deliver our flood risk management projects where it is safe for our teams and delivery partners to do so. The safety of our staff, partners and the communities we work in remains a priority for us. This includes undergoing critical activities to operate, maintain and develop key flood assets and respond during flooding events. In these difficult times, we will ensure that any work done will be within Public Health England’s guidelines.

A great way to prepare for flooding is to create a personal flood plan, allowing you to have useful information ready to use in an emergency. This includes taking measures such as:

  • Preparing a bag of essential items to take with you if you have to leave your home, including medication, warm and waterproof clothing, phone chargers and important documents like passports, insurance documents and contact numbers. Keep this in a safe place!
  • Creating a checklist of things to do to protect your family, such as turning off the electricity and gas to prevent a fire.
  • Consider moving sentimental items upstairs.
  • Check your building and contents insurance policy covers flooding.
  • Look at the best way of stopping floodwater entering your property and how to use appropriate property protection products, such as flood barriers or air brick covers. A directory of these products is available from the National Flood Forum (
  • Make sure you understand the flood warning codes.

You could also create a community flood plan to coordinate responses and to decide what practical action to take to support each other before, during and after a flood. Plans like these are great in helping the community get back on its feet after a flooding incident.

If your property is at risk, you can sign up to get free flood warnings by phone, email or text message. This is beneficial as you will have time to prepare in case of a flooding incident and be able to warn your neighbours to help better protect your local community.

We are always looking for local residents to be our eyes on the ground, checking and reporting on river levels and providing photographic evidence. If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch.

To find out if your property is a flood risk, visit

To register for flood warnings, visit

To check the River Roding webcam, visit

For more information on the River Roding Project, visit or call 0370 850 6506


Thank You


Wanstead resident Andy Nutter had no hesitation in volunteering to help the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic

The creation of the NHS in the aftermath of the Second World War was a monumental achievement, and the NHS has grown to be our most treasured national asset.

Today, it employs over a million people and provides a vast range of services to all of us, sending us out healthy when we are young, mending our injuries and curing our illnesses. It is there for us at every stage of our lives.

The NHS now faces its most difficult challenge since its formation, so when the call went out at the end of March for volunteers to help, it was of little surprise that over 700,000 people signed up.

Living close to Whipps Cross Hospital, I wondered if there was an opportunity to help out at the hospital where my three children were born, and where we have been looked after for the last 25 years. A quick online search found their appeal for volunteers to help them deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

I completed an occupational health questionnaire, a DBS check and watched a series of training videos, answering some simple questions on each.

My start date arrived. Bring some ID. After four years of retirement, it felt like one of those long-forgotten first days at a new job. Exciting, with a few nerves thrown in to spice it up.

Myself and five other new volunteers were given a tour of the hospital and an explanation of the types of work we might be asked to do. The welcome was warm and friendly and we were immediately made to feel appreciated.

The aim is to use volunteers to do those tasks which take clinical staff away from providing care. Whether fetching medicine from the pharmacy, equipment from stores, moving documents around the hospital, taking food and drinks to staff, or even doing their personal shopping, we do anything that helps a medical professional to spend more of their time directly treating patients.

Our wellbeing is paramount to the hospital. Whipps, like all hospitals, are experts in keeping people as safe as possible, and I don’t feel any more likely to catch Covid-19 inside the hospital than in a supermarket. I may catch it. I expected to catch it anyway. But if you have anxieties about catching it, then volunteering in a hospital may not be for you.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week. The people are inspirational; the volunteers, the staff who lead and teach us, the staff we are supporting. They form one enormous team all pulling in the same direction and being supportive of each other at this difficult time.

Why don’t you come and join us?

For more information on volunteering, visit or call 020 8535 6772