February 2021


Why can’t you see me?

gracie-1Grace with her assistance dog Scooby

Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into life with cerebral palsy. In the seventh of a series of articles, Grace confronts those who give her a strange look

Hi everyone. Last year was pretty rubbish for everyone, with so many people losing loved ones, but we’ve just got to say to ourselves that 2020 made us stronger, even though it was such a strange year! Hopefully, 2021 will be better.

My own mental health hasn’t been that great, including my anger. If anyone gives me a strange look, I get so annoyed at them. Some people look at me like I’m an alien or I shouldn’t be out, and I can lose it with them.

And here’s something funny. When I was little, there was this woman who was so mean to me just because her daughter had to share a school bus with me. Recently, I saw she had posted on the Facebook local community hub, looking for a dog trainer. For so many years I’ve been scared of this woman, but I thought ‘Why should I be?’ She can’t hurt me. I’m big and strong enough now. So, I commented that I know a really good dog trainer, but I’m not going to tell her who because I remember how mean she was to me and how she really upset me.

People responded saying it’s such a shame how she treated me. Then, get this, she deleted the post and blocked me! So, what does that tell you? She doesn’t want people knowing how she treated me and she didn’t even apologise for what she did.

I’m telling myself that I’m more grown up and responsible than a 43-year-old woman, and I really liked her daughter. I used to always help her at school and her daughter really liked me. She used to grab me whilst her mum was bullying me, but enough of the negative stuff! Let’s talk about the positive side.

There have been some upsides in these crazy times. One of them, for me, has been that I started to use platforms such as YouTube and Instagram more. And I’ve been lucky enough to get a monthly article in this magazine as well, which I’m so grateful for. I feel like I’m getting my message out to so many people now, and I’ve even had two interviews about my YouTube channel and trying to get more awareness for cerebral palsy, so I’m really grateful for everyone who’s subscribed to my channel for the videos.

Let’s talk about Christmas. It was a bit lonely, but thank God for Top of the Pops and – OMG – a few of my favourite singers were on there, such as Rag’n’Bone Man and Jess Glynne.

So, yeah, that’s all from me for now and I’ll see you next month.

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit wnstd.com/grace


Deep roots

Gravatts-window-cropped-contrastGravatt’s shop window by Sally Medcalf

Wanstead resident Jean Medcalf has published her first poetry book at the age of 89. To Everything There is a Season is a collection of lyrical, spiritual poems about nature. In the fourth of a series of articles, Jean introduces her poem entitled February, which prompts her memories of Nightingale Lane in the 1960s. Background artwork of the old Gravatt’s shop window by Sally Medcalf

February was the month I gave birth to my second child – having just moved into our new home in Wanstead weeks earlier in December 1960! Shopping with a pram and a toddler was tiring, so it was very useful to have small shops nearby on Nightingale Lane.

There was a little grocers run by Arthur and Kath Chumbley, who sold cheese the old-fashioned way – cut with a cheese wire and weighed on the scales – and ham and bacon sliced on a machine. There was Gilbert’s, the greengrocers run by Mr George Gilbert, who used to sit outside on a chair and chat to passers-by. If you had a surplus of apples, pears or plums from your garden, he would buy them from you.

Carver’s circa 1950s.
Photo courtesy of
Kevin Palmer, whose grandfather Charles Reddy Palmer (right) worked at the butcher shop on Nightingale Lane

There was also Carver’s the butcher and a fish-and-chip shop called Capital Fish Bar, which was so popular they often ran out of fish! In the mid-70s, it was called Michael’s and then it became the first Chinese takeaway we had ever seen, which was quite exciting. We even had a small hair salon near the Duke of Edinburgh pub.

The local children used to congregate around Ann’s, the sweet shop, with its shelves of tall glass jars of gobstoppers, sherbet lemons, aniseed twists and rhubarb and custards, all about sixpence a quarter. On the wooden counter were the cheap sweets: flying saucers, pink shrimps, black jacks and fruit salad chews at four for a penny. She also sold blocks of ice cream – the only choice back then was Neapolitan or raspberry ripple.

The other favourite was Gravatt’s, which repaired typewriters and sold toys, run by Mrs Long, a kindly, grey-haired lady in a navy overall. It was rather dark inside as the window was completely crammed with toys: catapults, jigsaws, fuzzy felt, pea shooters, cap-guns, little dolls, puzzles and metal paintboxes for half a crown – several weeks’ worth of pocket money!

The Nightingale pub was run by a landlord called Jock. The corner door of the pub was for off-sales; it led through to a tiny wood-panelled corridor, where there was a jar of arrowroot biscuits, a penny each. The landlord kept white doves in a dovecote in the little garden behind the pub.

There was B. Forster the builder further down, and at the bottom of Elmcroft Avenue was a rag and bone yard with a horse and cart. The horse was called George and the children used to give him apples.

Going up Nightingale Lane, on the right-hand side was a junkyard called Cardy’s run by an elderly chap, and on summer days, he would often close early and hang up a sign to say ‘GONE FISHING’!

Further up, near the top of the road, was S.E. Bamforth, the clock and watch mender, a little, venerable white-haired man with a collarless shirt, who peered over the top of gold-rimmed specs. The shop was tiny – filled with ticking clocks – and very dark, illuminated only by a hissing gaslight.

So, we could get most of our shopping just around the corner. Once a week I would push my heavy pram up Nightingale Lane to the big High Street shops. I will tell you about them next time.

by Jean Medcalf

February: lipchap nipnose dripnose
Frostbite chilblains and boys’ mauve knees;
February: steam breath ice crack hoarfrost
Fern windows leaf rime and falling silent snow.

February: crunchgrass snowcreak stiffmud
Stonesong on iceponds; sheets rigid on the line;
February: hot toast warm slippers muffins
Coalfires scorched legs and pictures in the flames.

February: hotmitts earmuffs greatcoats
Balaclava helmets and warm woolly vests;
February: snowdrops primrose crocus
Blacktwigged almond blossom, pink before the leaf.

February: candlemas purify expiate
Barebranch stripbare nothing to hide;
Daffodils greenspear upthrust through the earth
Trees deciduous decide to bud again.

Jean’s book To Everything There is a Season is available in paperback (£4.75). Visit wnstd.com/jean


Walks past Wanstead

ba-obj-14682-0001-pub-print-lgWanstead House by Richard Westall (1765–1836). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Russell Kenny and Paul Hayes have devised a series of self-guided history walks around the Wanstead area, which can be followed on a phone or from a printable map. In the second of a series of articles championing these tours through time, we rediscover Wanstead House

Wanstead Park, as we know it today, was designed as a setting for the grand Palladian Wanstead House, built in the reign of George I, and which replaced the previous house on the site, the Tudor Wanstead Hall. Our Rediscovering Wanstead House walk looks at some of the features, still in and around the park landscape, that remind us of its grand origins.

Today, we can still walk down Evelyn’s Avenue, named after diarist John Evelyn. It was first planted in the late 17th century by Sir Josiah Child, who purchased the original Wanstead Hall and improved the parkland around it.

The alignment of key features in the landscape show us the grandeur of the Hall’s replacement, Wanstead House. The Straight Canal is a stretch of water that lines up with the Glade, a grand avenue of trees rising towards the site of the House, now marked by a sizeable dip in the ground near Wanstead Golf Club. The trees on either side of the Glade hide two ‘mounts’, small hills built for viewing the gardens. Viewed from the rear of Wanstead House, the canal gave the impression of a much larger lake system. Continuing on past the site of the House leads us to the Basin, a large ornamental lake designed to add to the grandeur of the approach to the front of the House. This approach lay along part of the current Overton Drive, the end of which is flanked by the original gate posts of Wanstead House, and bear the initials of the man who completed it in 1722, Sir Richard Child, the 1st Earl Tylney, and the son of Josiah.

The Temple and the Grotto, still handsome structures in the park, were built around 1760 by John, the second Earl Tylney. John didn’t get to enjoy them much, however, because around the time they were built, he was embroiled in a homosexual scandal and fled abroad. He lived in Naples for the rest of his life. There is a bit of John still in Wanstead though. His heart was sent back when he died and sits in a jar in the crypt of St Mary the Virgin church.

We can still see the earth bank in Reservoir Wood, which once held back water used to feed the lake system in the park. The area was drained in the early 19th century and new planting took place, including the spectacular Repton Oak, which is also still there. The name references fashionable landscape designer Humphry Repton, who gave advice to famous spendthrift William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley on remodelling the park. It was due to William’s financial mismanagement that the contents of Wanstead House were sold off in 1822 and the house itself demolished and sold for building materials in 1825.

There’s lots more on this walk that show how Wanstead House is still visible in the landscape.

To view or print the walking guides and maps, visit wnstd.com/walkspast


Adjoin the party


The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to building works near neighbouring properties. Adem Esen from local solicitors Wiseman Lee explains

If you are planning to undertake works to your property, such as converting your loft or extending your house, you may have to give your neighbours notice in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed and have certain rights and protections. If there is a disagreement, the Act provides a mechanism and process for resolving disputes.

Works covered by the Act include:

  • New structures, such as an extension on the boundary between two properties.
  • Work to an existing party wall or structure.
  • Excavation near to or below the foundation level of neighbouring structures.
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or thicker.
  • Removing chimney breasts from a party wall.
  • Cutting into a party wall beam.
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall or fence.

Notice must be given in writing and include certain information, and in some cases, plans showing the work proposed. If you and your neighbour cannot agree, you must appoint a surveyor. You can appoint a joint surveyor or each of you can appoint your own. The surveyors will then agree the terms of an award.

The award is a legally binding document that will deal with matters including:

  • The work that may be carried out.
  • How and when the work will be carried out.
  • The amount that each party will pay for the work (including the surveyor’s fees).

The word surveyor is not defined, but you cannot act as your own surveyor. Any surveyor acting on the behalf of either party must be qualified and wholly impartial. If there is a dispute as to who to appoint, the Act says you can appoint a surveyor on behalf of your neighbour if they refuse or fail to do so. This is important as it prevents delays to projects.

The Act may grant surveyors and contractors legal access to your neighbour’s property during usual working hours to carry out certain building works.

When carrying out the building works, you must avoid causing unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining owners and occupiers and protect your neighbour’s property from damage, and must fix or pay for any damage caused.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000


For the trees

2296©Geoff Wilkinson

Redbridge Council’s Principal Arboricultural and Horticultural Officer Peter Marshall heads up a team responsible for thousands of trees across the borough. With Wanstead’s felled trees due to be replaced over the next two months, Peter explains the scope of his team’s work. Photo of Christchurch Green by Geoff Wilkinson

Did you know Redbridge Council maintains 40,000 trees and 128 hectares of woodland in the borough? It’s a big job and takes a very special team from Redbridge Council to maintain it all.

The borough’s Arboricultural and Horticultural team – made up of specially trained staff –are responsible for the maintenance of the council’s 21,000 trees on the streets, 19,000 trees in parks, schools, housing and welfare sites, grass verges and shrubs on streets, and assisting with maintaining council woodland.

To ensure the trees stay healthy and cared for, my team carry out annual inspections of all street trees to recommend work to maintain them – and once every three years to recommend pruning work.

Inspections on the remaining council trees in parks, schools, housing, welfare sites and woodlands are carried out on a three-year rotation. Trees in the Wanstead and South Woodford areas are due to be inspected for pruning in 2022.

Trees are usually only removed when they are dead or decayed, in line with council policy. When pruning and felling is recommended, the work is normally grouped by borough wards and completed by the end of March the following year. My team normally fell a tree on the street to a waist-high stump and then return to remove the stump just prior to planting a replacement tree.

Planting is carried out between November and March, and planned street planting in Wanstead and South Woodford is aimed at being completed between February and March 2021.

In addition, there is also about 160,000 square metres – equivalent to 22 football pitches – of highway grass cut eight times a year, and 20,000 square metres of highway grass cut once a year as part of the Grow Zone project to create wild flower meadows in the borough to improve biodiversity. A quarter of these Grow Zones are in Wanstead and South Woodford.

Highway shrub beds – covering an area equivalent to seven football pitches – are also pruned up to twice a year, depending on the obstruction they may pose to pedestrians and vehicles.

Where weeds grow up in footpaths, kerb edges and shrub beds on the street, my team carry out a spot treatment with herbicide to control growth up to five times a year, as required.

We also work closely with the Neighbourhood Street Scene Engagement team on numerous community projects to spruce up the borough’s neighbourhoods. These have included:

  • Installing railing planters and troughs outside schools and business.
  • The spring bulb giveaway.
  • Tree planting within schools.
  • Community adoption of shrub beds and adopting street tree pits.
  • Working with Trees for Cities, planting new trees in east Ilford and a new woodland near Seven Kings park.

Green spaces improve air quality, boost wellbeing and make the borough look and feel better. In addition, they can provide healthy spaces for wildlife to flourish.

Redbridge is one of the greenest boroughs in London, and we want to make the most of our green spaces so local people can enjoy them now and for years to come. To help achieve this, the council is currently working on a Green Urban Landscape policy that will create a plan for managing and improving council greenery across the borough.

For more information on the work of Redbridge Council’s Arboricultural and Horticultural team, visit wnstd.com/trees


Art club’s virtual exhibition, with hopes for October return to Wanstead

Screenshot 2021-01-27 at 09.29.21Tulips ©Peter Wilkins Incoming Tide ©Irene Thomas

Essex Art Club will unveil it’s first-ever online exhibition this month.

“Our club has held annual exhibitions locally for many years – and survived two world wars – but we had to cancel our Wanstead House exhibition in 2020. In its place, we have rewritten our website to host our first online exhibition, with works for sale… We hope to be able to resume some activities in spring, and be back in Wanstead with a real exhibition in October,” said club chairman Mary Springham.

The virtual display will run until April.

Visit wnstd.com/eac



1KH_8938.jpgSyrian refugees Obama Basheer, 8, holds her sister, Joud, 6 months

In the fourth of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area – Eleanor Taylor reports on the family’s imminent arrival

We are delighted to be able to write this final instalment of our refugee project series, and update readers on the outcome of the initiative. In our last article, we confirmed that our application to resettle a Syrian refugee family in Wanstead had just been successfully accepted by the Home Office, and we are now being matched with a family by the UNHCR.

Once the final details are confirmed, we are hoping to welcome our matched refugee family at the airport by the end of this month. We will then be working with the family to help them settle into the local area, which will be particularly challenging in light of the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Thank you so much to all of you in the Wanstead and surrounding communities who have given us your well-wishes, encouragement and kind donations over the last year. It has been so heartening to know that our local community is ready to welcome a refugee family. We have received so many generous donations of household items, volunteers’ time and money to pay for the family’s essentials, and we truly could not have achieved this without the help and support of those of you who have followed our journey.

Our family will be moving to safety in London as part of an initial scheme to resettle a limited number of refugees from the Syrian conflict, but a subsequent scheme to resettle another 5,000 Syrian refugees has been postponed indefinitely. It is now up to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to determine whether this second scheme will go ahead, and whether these vulnerable people will be able to restart their lives in the safety of the UK.

The situation for refugees from the Syrian conflict is as precarious as it has ever been. Fires have recently destroyed temporary refugee housing in Lebanon, and the threat of Covid-19 – without access to adequate hand washing and sterilising facilities – continues to worsen.

The good news is that you can still help. A number of organisations have launched campaigns, such as Refugee Action’s Missing Piece campaign, to ensure the Home Office agrees to restart the planned scheme to resettle Syrian refugees in the UK. By writing to your MP, you can ask them to lobby the government on your behalf, and on behalf of Syrian refugees who remain in unsafe, unsanitary camps across the Middle East.

We will be continuing to work with our new family throughout 2021, but as we are sure you will understand, we want to maintain the family’s privacy as they build their new lives here. However, if you have any queries about the campaign, please do get in touch.

For more information, follow the group on Twitter @RefugeeWanstead or email refugeewelcomewanstead@gmail.com