March 2021


Safety survey for local women


Local women are being asked to participate in a survey to help Redbridge Council understand how safe they feel living and working in the borough.

“Women in Redbridge are asked to share their experiences to shape future action. The survey, together with a series of listening events, will inform how the council implements the Women’s Night Safety Charter signed last month,” said a spokesperson.



Pre-order the first-ever large-scale history book of Wanstead House


Pre-orders are open for the first-ever large-scale history book of Wanstead House.

Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace will cover the history of the park, the house and its owners in unprecedented detail… it will fascinate anyone who enjoys visiting the park or has an interest in the Palladian mansion that stood at its heart,” said a spokesperson for the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, which commissioned the book in 2019.

Pre-orders receive 40% off the £45 retail price. Publication will be in March 2022.

How to order your copy of ‘Wanstead House: East London’s Lost Palace’

  • Go to
  • Create an account by clicking on ‘login’ and follow instructions. (You are advised to switch off any autofill options on your device).
  • Once you have created an account and logged in, return to the page for the Wanstead House book.
  • Click on the book and click BUY. (At this stage, the price will still show as £45).
  • On the Checkout page, type WANSTEAD40 into the Discount Code box and click APPLY.
  • Then follow the usual routines for completing the payment and shipping sections.
  • You will receive confirmation emails from Liverpool University Press.
  • The book will be published in March 2022.

‘We are truly devastated’: demolition of Victorian house on Sylvan Road approved

8-Sylvan-and-road8 Sylvan Road ©Andy Nutter

A 150-year-old Victorian house in Snaresbrook is set to be demolished and replaced with nine modern flats following approval by Redbridge Council’s Planning Committee last week.

“We are all truly devastated by this outcome,” said Kirsty Thomas, who was part of a network of almost 200 local and non-local residents who objected to the planning application for 8 Sylvan Road.

Planning Committee member and Wanstead Village councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas, who voted in favour of the development, stated: “When sitting on the planning committee I am obliged by law to act in a quasi-judicial capacity for the whole borough, not in my usual role as ward representative. As I said before voting, there was much in the application that was not good and I was sympathetic to the many residents who had objected on good grounds. However, committee members are bound by national planning policy to view applications with a ’tilted balance’ in favour of housing development, because Redbridge has failed the government-imposed Housing Delivery Test. The committee’s ability to refuse permission is consequently very limited as the likelihood of appeal dramatically increases, for which the council (and therefore all taxpayers) would bear the cost should committee members be found to have made an unlawful decision.”


Questionnaire for disabled residents in Redbridge


Disabled residents in Redbridge are invited to take part in a questionnaire to help local health and social care services understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them.

The questionnaire has been created by the local North East London Healthwatch, in partnership with the East London Health and Care Partnership (the eight councils and 12 NHS organisations in East London).

“This questionnaire for disabled residents will help us to understand what they are going through, in order to address any challenges and to plan future services.  In a recent Healthwatch Redbridge COVID-19 survey that we carried out we found there was some confusion amongst some respondents as they were unsure whether they met the criteria for shielding. We remain concerned that some people may have missed support they were entitled to,” said Healthwatch Redbridge CEO Cathy Turland.

Stage 1: Confidential questionnaire
The questionnaire is for disabled residents of Redbridge regardless of whether or not they regularly use health or social care services or have had COVID-19. The answers are strictly confidential. Those taking part will not be required to provide their names, the names of those they are caring for, or identifiable personal data. However, to involve participants in developing the recommendations from the questionnaire and for them to know what difference they make there is the opportunity to provide contact details.

Prize Draw
The questionnaire will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. As an appreciation of the time spent taking part, those who complete it and leave contact details will take part in a prize draw to win a £200 Amazon voucher or one of three £100 vouchers. The closing date for the questionnaire to be completed is 28 March.

The questionnaire can either be filled in online or the person wishing to take part can be interviewed by a Community Researcher in a way that works for them, including by phone or via a video link

Stages 2 & 3
There will be two further stages following on from the questionnaire. The second stage will be gathering further qualitative research and the third stage will be to develop recommendations for future service provision.

Only recently the Nuffield Trust, an independent health think tank, found that the health and wellbeing of disabled people continues to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and almost a quarter more disabled people experienced difficulties in access to health care for non-COVID-related issues compared to non-disabled people. They made up an estimated 60% of Covid-related deaths during lockdown from March to June last year.

Disabled residents in North East London – questionnaire


Deep Roots

IMG_7359-copy©Terry Law

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 fifth of a series of articles, Jean introduces her poem entitled Flourish, which prompts her memories of a thriving Wanstead High Street in years past. Artwork by Terry Law

Back in the old days, we had a wide variety of shops in Wanstead to cater for every need – anything from clothes, shoes, homewares, toys, bicycles, furniture, carpets, plants and building materials, so there was little need to shop elsewhere.

Many people will remember Dunhams the drapers, a lovely old-fashioned shop rather like Grace Brothers. It sold winceyette nighties, floral overalls, slippers, sensible stockings, baby clothes and haberdashery, and the stock was kept in old-fashioned wooden drawers with glass fronts. At the rear of the shop was the curtain department, festooned with all kinds of net curtains and presided over by a charming, chatty chap called Anthony.

Woolworths was a really useful shop catering for all our household needs. They sold good-quality Ladybird childrens’ clothes and, of course, Pic n’ Mix sweets. Other shops we used regularly were Attwoods the grocers – who used to pack our order in a box and my husband would collect it on his way home – Harveys the greengrocers and AJ Dennis the butcher, who made his own burgers.

There was a good garden centre with a huge range of plants, run by a very knowledgeable couple. Next door was a little boutique called Myshella and a tiny shop called Truffles the chocolate shop. The owner would put them in a little box with a hand-tied ribbon bow.  Nearby on Woodbine Place was the Wanstead Wool Shop – a very tiny shop with balls of wool stacked up from floor to ceiling, run by two sisters who would climb up a ladder to get the wool from the top shelf.

There were few places to eat back then, apart from the Wimpy Bar and the Alhambra Café on Woodbine Place. I remember when Nice Croissant opened, run by Kerry, our first pavement café in Wanstead selling beautiful French patisserie. Previously, it was Dickens the bakery who were well known for their hot cross buns.

In the 1960s we had a very tiny library on the High Street, in the building which is now Zoology. The new library was built around 1970 and seemed huge and modern by contrast. It had a mural on the wall featuring abstract dancers, created by Mr Woolner, the Head of Art at Wanstead High School.

A unique shop was Lewis Marine, a speedboat shop – in hindsight, an unusual shop for any London suburb, but we didn’t seem to think it strange at the time! Their sign can still be seen at the rear of the old Barclays building. Further along was the chemist’s Matthew and Son, with its striped sunblind and two big vials of liquid on display, one red and one green, and nearby was the Arthur Hands photography studio. One of my friends hinted darkly at strange goings-on in the basement – a dubious ‘club’ or parties, but we never found out if this was true or not!

My favourite was ‘Lady’ boutique, run by two lovely ladies called Rita and Di. They would always say: “Ooh, that really suits you!” “Oh, you’ve really lost weight!” They had chairs by the counter and customers would sit there enjoying a gossip and, sometimes, a Baileys!

by Jean Medcalf

While clearing out my shed some weeks ago,
I found some bulbs.
Stunted, forgotten, past their “plant-by“ date,
Every gardener knows what I mean.
I held them in my hands, weighing, cogitating.
Were they worth the trouble of planting?
Would knife straight stems grow
from curvy shoots?
I considered.

Give us a chance, the crocuses seemed to plead.
So I did, planted them into pots,
And let the sun do its work.
Some weeks later,
Sunlight and earth makes plants grow straight,
I found.

Give everything another chance to see the light,
Yourself included.

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

Walks Past Wanstead


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 guide. In the third of a series of articles championing these tours through time, we look at Wanstead Flats

Most of the Walks Past Wanstead series of free, self-guided history walks start on Wanstead Flats. The Flats offer splendid views of London to the west, a range of wildlife habitats, an array of bird life on its lakes, and a lengthy and fascinating history. It’s this history that we look at in this article.

The Flats were cleared of woodland by the Abbots of Stratford in the 12th century to be used as pasture for sheep. Wool exports were the main source of national wealth and the large religious houses maintained huge flocks. Poor soil makes grazing the most productive use of the Flats, and gradually, sheep were replaced by cattle.

Commoners of Epping Forest have the right to graze cattle on the Flats, and drovers taking cattle to market at Smithfield also used the Flats to fatten them up before sale. Competition from railways ended droving in the 1840s, but local farmers continued to use the Flats as summer pasture until the BSE crisis of the 1990s.

By the mid-19th century, the Flats had become the eastern boundary of London. As the closest green space to the densely populated boroughs of West Ham and East Ham, the Flats became a favoured place for recreation. Funfairs attracted large crowds on bank holiday weekends and more sedate recreational activities took place through the year. Near Forest Gate, a bandstand and lake attracted families on summer Sundays. Nearby was an avenue of trees adopted by young people to parade up and down in their Sunday best, providing opportunities for courtship. The Jubilee pond was originally the home of the Forest Gate Model Yacht Club with regular competitions attracting large groups of participants and spectators.

The Flats also provided space for people to gather to advance political and moral causes. In the mid-19th century, evangelical preachers attracted large crowds. Chartists demanded votes for working men, and by the end of the century, Suffragettes were demanding votes for women. Political movements sought to mobilise support through meetings on the Flats. This was starkly represented in the 1930s by competition between the Communists and Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

Wanstead Flats’ traditional role as a place of assembly and recreation for East Londoners is the fundamental reason for the continued existence of Epping Forest as green space. The piecemeal development of common land by neighbouring landowners threatened this, leading to an organised campaign to resist encroachment. Following violent confrontations on the Flats, the City of London Corporation used the commoners rights they held, as owners of the City of London Cemetery, to persuade Parliament to pass the 1878 Epping Forest Act. This placed the whole of the Forest under their protection for the benefit of the community, the same basis on which it is managed today.

World War II saw the Flats pressed into service. Anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons defended London against bombing. Prisoner of War camps were built, initially for Italian soldiers captured in North Africa, and subsequently for Germans captured after D-Day. Allied troops assembled on the flats in 1944 before embarking for France. Allotments were established as part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. In 1943, an estate of prefabs was built opposite the Golden Fleece pub to house bombed-out families. An attempt in the 1950s to replace this with a larger, permanent council estate was successfully resisted, and the site returned to grass in keeping with the 1878 Act.

To view or print the walking guides and maps, visit

Why can’t you see me?

122176798_628100234530421_5149317726064794141_n-copyFrom Grace’s Instagram account: Just #dreaming about when #covid_19 will be gone

Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into life with cerebral palsy. In the eighth of a series of articles, Grace sets herself some social media goals

So, let’s start where we left off last month. I was saying I am pleased to be getting my message out about awareness of cerebral palsy to so many people via this magazine and through social media. My goals for 2021 are to obviously stay healthy – physically and mentally – but also to hopefully reach 5,000 subscribers on YouTube, to reach a million followers on TikTok and 10,000 on Instagram.

You’re probably thinking: ‘Why does every platform have different numbers?’ Well, it’s because some platforms are easier to gain followers than others; for example, on YouTube, people mainly upload once or twice a week, but there’s a lot of editing to do. One day, it took me eight hours to edit two videos and it can take up to a whole day to film (I mean a good 14 hours to film one or maybe two videos, depending on what kind of videos they are), but it’s so rewarding and worth all the work I put into it, otherwise my content wouldn’t be that good!

Moving on to TikTok, the key with this is that you have to be consistent with regular uploads, and by that I mean at least three to four times a day, be that a vlog or a dance video. With TikTok, the way to gain followers is to use as many hashtags as possible, especially trending hashtags and sounds. If you use a really popular sound and hashtags, then you should get on the ‘For You’ page, where people who don’t follow you can see your videos, as it shows random posts people have made. If someone likes what they see on the ‘For You’ page, they might start following you.

With Instagram, again, the way to gain more followers there is to post consistently, but you don’t have to post as much as with TikTok. I aim to post a picture once a day, but the picture has to be good quality, and like TikTok, use as many trending hashtags, or even create your own so others will start using it. For example, I’ve created the hashtag #journeywithcerebralpalsy. I have my regular hashtags saved on my phone so all I’ve got to do is paste them in. At the moment, I’ve worked out that I get one or two likes per minute because of the hashtags.

There’s also a livestreaming platform called Twitch. I’m interested in starting to use that, but because of my anxiety, I’m a bit nervous about it!

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit

To follow Grace on Instagram, visit

To follow Grace on TikTok, visit


Duck, duck, excuse


No more excuses. If we are to tackle plastic pollution, the plastic industry needs a rigorous shake up, says Wanstead Climate Action member Tina Nieman Da Costa. Artwork of Egyptian geese in Wanstead Park by Kathy Taylor

Plastic has been an important factor in the advancement of our civilisation. This fact is true in all aspects of our lives. Many of the essentials we enjoy would be impossible if not for the inexpensive and durable properties of this magical man-made substance.

That acknowledged, we produce 270 million tonnes a year to feed our addiction, eight million tonnes destined for the oceans as discarded litter. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) or ‘Garbage Island’, located in the Pacific between Hawaii and California, is estimated at 1.6 million square kilometres, three times the size of France.

One of the reasons plastic pollution is so bad is because no one producing it – or using it as a major part of their product – is required to recycle it, and therefore producers do not have to make plastics easier to recycle or be part of the clean-up effort.

Britain is one of the world’s largest producers of plastic, and yet exports 70% of its plastic waste to developing countries with little to no environmental regulations, allowing greedy opportunists to take advantage of lax laws and a voiceless populace for profit.

New rules regarding the export of plastic waste came into effect in January 2021. Agreed by more than 180 nations under the Basel Convention, a system of ‘prior informed consent’ for all exports of difficult-to-recycle or contaminated plastics will be in place. Though this has been welcomed with much optimism, it can hardly be described as slamming the brakes on a runaway industry.

Garbage Island is only one of five sites plastic is clustered in large amounts where ocean currents meet. The effect on marine life is well documented and is of major international concern, as well as micro-plastics entering our food chain and the very air we breathe, the true effects are yet to be determined fully.

Our continued addiction to plastic has now reached detrimental proportions, and like any other negative, habitual practices, an intervention is required.

Several solutions have been discussed, most notably a complete ban on new oil plastic production. In theory, forcing the industry to look for alternatives, like plant-based plastics, which breakdown in composts, or mine and recycle existing plastics from landfills and the aforementioned Garbage Island.

The plastic industry needs a rigorous shake up. There is no consumer-based solution, regardless of how much a plastic bag costs on your weekly shop.

What is required will take leadership, strong government and cooperation from all stakeholders to take control of an issue that will end in a mass petro-chemical poisoning of our air and oceans and a plastic-wrapped planet Earth.

For further reading, try Karen McVeigh’s article in The Guardian ( And check out the Wanstead Climate Action website if you’re interested in radical environmental action in the countdown to the global environmental gathering at COP26 this November.      

For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit


Screenshot 2021-01-27 at 09.24.24

To young kids, Joseph Elliott is a pirate named Cook. To older kids, he’s the author of epic fantasy novels with an unconventional heroine. And to Wanstead residents, he’s a neighbour as well

Hi, my name’s Joseph and I’ve been living in Wanstead for just over four years. For me, Wanstead is the perfect location for life as an actor and author; close enough to London for auditions and meetings, but far out enough that it doesn’t feel oppressed by the hectic speed of the city. With its art trails and Fringe Festival, it’s a real creative hub, and I love being a part of the local community.

I’ve been acting professionally for the last 12 years, mainly in comedy and children’s TV. Those of you with small children might recognise me from leaping about in ball pits dressed as a pirate in the BAFTA-winning CBeebies show Swashbuckle. Last year, I co-created, wrote and starred in Big Fat Like, a comedy sketch show for CBBC, which parodies the bizarre world of YouTube. From hyperactive vloggers to singing pineapples, the show has it all, and the majority of it was written in Wanstead – a couple of shots were even filmed here! If you’d like to check it out, the whole series is available on BBC iPlayer.

As well as an actor, I’m also an author. My debut novel, The Good Hawk, was released last year; described as a mix of Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials (a comparison I’m delighted with), it was a Sunday Times Book Of The Year, and praised as ‘thrilling’ by The New York Times. Set in a mythical version of Scotland, it’s an epic fantasy adventure, featuring a protagonist with Down’s syndrome. During the early days of my acting career, I worked as a teaching assistant at a special educational needs school and Agatha – the unconventional heroine of the novel – was inspired by some of the children I taught during that time. She’s brave, feisty, impulsive and, in my opinion, totally awesome. My second novel, The Broken Raven, continues the trilogy and was released in January.

Children with special educational needs (SEN)have always been part of my life. My mother is a primary school teacher specialising in SEN and, as a child, my parents provided foster care for kids with additional needs.

A large proportion of my books were written in Wanstead. Pre-lockdown, I spent my afternoons writing in Wanstead Library or in one of the coffee shops on the High Street. During lockdown, Wanstead Park has become an absolute haven, and I can often be found jogging around its lakes whenever I need to clear my head or find inspiration.

I occasionally leave signed copies of my books in the Little Free Library on Overton Drive because it’s such a fantastic initiative, so next time you pass, keep your eyes peeled! Do also support the local and independent Wanstead Bookshop. They can arrange signed copies of my books and are giving away free signed bookmarks with every purchase.

For more information on Joseph, visit To order copies of his books, visit

Crime of the Times


In the first of two articles, local dog trainers Colin Spence and Sarah Mcleod-Cerezo discuss how you can reduce the chance of your dog being stolen, an increasing problem yet to become a specific offence

There has been a huge upsurge in the demand for puppies and dogs due to more people being at home and seeking companionship during the pandemic; indeed, the Kennel Club has stated that searches for puppies on their site increased by 168% in 2020.

So, dogs are being stolen to meet the demand for breeding and as family pets. And at the time of writing, dog theft is still not a specific crime (we urge you to sign the petition calling for a change in the law). Further, dog theft has now become organised crime throughout the UK, with some police forces now receiving double the number of reports of dog theft.

Some things you can do to try and reduce the chances of having your dog stolen when out on a walk include:

  • Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and switch on your tracker, so your location can be found if you need to call the police.
  • Add the local dog wardens’ number to your contacts. For Redbridge, call 07815 512 833.
  • Always carry a personal alarm with you and have it clipped to your treat pouch.

By law, all dogs must be microchipped. Check your dog’s microchip is up to date at the vets, or buy your own scanner so you can check regularly. If the chip has become dislodged and can’t be found, you may not want to take your dog out until this has been rectified, otherwise no one will know who the dog belongs to if stolen or lost.

When a newly acquired puppy or dog is taken to the vets, it is not a legal requirement for the vet to check the microchip, but if you are a new owner, it may be worth asking them to do so to verify the source of your dog is the same as you have been led to believe.

Choose a well-fitted, comfortable collar or harness with suitable lead. Do not personalise the harness with your dog’s name.

Let those you leave at home or a local friend or family member know your planned route and approximate duration of your walk. Choose your routes in advance, seek routes that are well lit, populated and open with no blind corners. Vary your routes. Be visually observant from the moment you leave your home. Note who is around. Is anyone sitting in a car for extended periods with no obvious reason?

Where possible, walk in pairs or in groups (depending on lockdown rules at the time). Two or more people are less approachable by thieves and your dog is less likely to be taken from you physically.

To sign the petition to make dog theft a specific crime, visit

For more information on Colin’s K9 Training Services, call 07931 460 451


Bereavement Café


Judy Noble is one of several volunteers from churches in Wanstead and South Woodford who have been hosting Bereavement Cafés since 2016. Having stopped in lockdown, sessions will now resume virtually

We are about to start up our Bereavement Cafés again – by Zoom! We had been running these cafés for several years before lockdown, and now see our way to opening up again. The cafés offer a safe and friendly place for people who are struggling with the feelings of loss after the death of someone close to talk with others.

We are a group of volunteers from St Mary’s in South Woodford, Christ Church in Wanstead and St Gabriel’s in Aldersbrook. Anybody, with any faith or none, who wants a chance to talk about these things can join us.

“Grief doesn’t end with the funeral, but that is the point at which the level of community and social support we get from those around us can sometimes begin to lessen. As life for others returns to some sort of normality, it can be hardest for those experiencing the grief most profoundly to continue to process the thoughts and feelings they continue to feel, in many different ways and at unexpected times,” said Fr Martyn Hawkes when he helped found the cafés in 2016.

We are not therapists but we are very good listeners. We have some training and we have experienced something similar ourselves. Before lockdown, we offered these meetings in a café meeting space at St Mary’s or Christ Church. The atmosphere of quiet peace there created the calm which helps these conversations.

We know that, for many reasons, it can take a long time after a death to feel enough at ease with ourselves to get on with living our lives alongside our memories and thoughts about those we loved. You may have lived with this person for a long lifetime, had complex and important relationships with them, and experienced an unexpected and shocking loss. More so, perhaps, after COVID-19. We offer people space to talk about their situation over a cuppa when often this may be difficult to do within their own circle.

It’s not quite the same by Zoom but you can join us, in a comfortable chair, with your own cuppa to hand. In a few months, we hope to return to meeting properly, face to face. In the meantime, we hope you will join us online. The meetings are drop-in, so you can come once, come occasionally or come often. You’re always welcome to join in, share and listen. This starts, and sometimes finishes, in a group, but even on Zoom, we can organise space to talk to one another in a ‘break-out room’.

We will be offering a morning and an afternoon session every month. Mornings will start on 16 March from 10.30am to 11.30am (continuing on the third Tuesday of each month). Afternoon sessions will start on 6 April from 2pm to 3pm (continuing on the first Tuesday of each month). We look forward to meeting you there.

To join the Bereavement Cafés on Zoom, use the following Meeting ID and passcode:
Meeting ID: 883 9411 1083
Passcode: 12345

Community events and new sustainable café coming to Christchurch Green

Screenshot-2021-03-05-at-15.04.45The new café kiosk is to be located behind the toilet block along Woodbine Place's boundary with the Green. ©2021 Google

Redbridge Council’s Leisure partner Vision has announced plans to deliver COVID-safe community focussed events and family activities on Christchurch Green this summer, with a new café kiosk to act as a focal point and meeting space. 

“A new licence, applied for in February, will enable Vision to work with local groups and residents to host a range of activities in the park, like children’s storytime, poetry readings, outdoor book clubs and potentially small film screenings,” said a spokesperson.

The new café kiosk – which is expected to be located behind the bathroom block along Woodbine Place’s boundary with the Green – will be run with ‘thought to the environment’, avoiding single-use plastics and using local supply chains, serving coffees, teas, pastries, fruit, sandwiches and cakes. There will be limited seating (tables and chairs and deckchairs) outside the single-story structure, which will measure approximately 6.5m x 3m, and operating hours are likely to be from 10am to twilight (9pm during peak summer).

The location of the kiosk will enable deliveries to be made without vehicles needing to access the Green and its external appearance will be ‘designed in consideration of the Green and the Wanstead Conservation Area requirements’.

The café will have an alcohol licence, providing a limited offering, allowing the kiosk to complement events. “All staff will be fully trained in managing public behaviour to ensure the Green remains a welcoming family-orientated space.”

With littering a growing problem, Vision have confirmed there will be additional bins located around Christchurch Green, and litter picking patrols are to be expanded. To support the café and small events, there will also be a daily staff presence on-site.

“With summer approaching, we want to support local people to enjoy our parks and green spaces as much as possible. Wanstead benefits from such an active, creative community, and our council wants to engage with local people and groups to help organise activities from craft workshops, talks, Sunday afternoon Jazz all the way to puppet shows and school choir performances, all centred around a small café space serving locally sourced products,” said Councillor Kam Rai, Cabinet Member for Finance, Culture and Leisure.