June 2021


New book marks 150 years since Wanstead Flats protest

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Local historian Mark Gorman has published a book describing how a protest on Wanstead Flats 150 years ago helped preserve Epping Forest and other commons for public use in the face of unchecked development across London.

“On 8 July 1871, thousands gathered to protest. A campaign was in full swing – a campaign that renowned ecologist Oliver Rackham dubbed ‘the origin of the modern British environmental movement’,” said Mark.

Saving the People’s Forest is published by UH Press (£16.99).

Visit wnstd.com/saveforest


School Streets scheme to launch in Wanstead and Aldersbrook


Redbridge Council’s School Streets scheme is to be introduced at Wanstead Church School and Aldersbrook Primary School.

“Under the initiative, streets surrounding the schools taking part will be closed to vehicles for approximately one hour at the start and end of the school day, during term time, to eliminate dangerous traffic hotspots,” said a spokesperson. Cameras will be installed at School Streets sites over the summer to assess traffic flow, and enforcement will start from September.

Visit wnstd.com/schoolstreets


Frank Charles BEM: local resident honoured for tireless charity work


Wanstead resident Frank Charles has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his ‘hands-on’ charity work during the pandemic.

“I’m very honoured and humbled to accept the BEM award. Thank you to the Wanstead community for their amazing support throughout COVID-19. For this enabled me to do my charity work in the community supporting families and people in need,” said Frank, whose Give A Gift Appeal charity grants wishes to those with life-threatening illnesses, provides food for the homeless and, since the start of the pandemic, delivers supplies and treats to the staff at Whipps Cross Hospital.

“I would like to thank Haslers Foundation, Loughton; Carpenters and Dockland, E15; Greggs, Wanstead; Gail’s, Wanstead; Sue; Steve and Shelley; Irve and Lally; Rob and Jan; Tin In a Bin; Geoff; residents of Chester Road; The Corner House Project; Eton Manor Rugby Club; and The Cuckfield pub. Finally to Paula, my wife, who has been my mentor, motivator and support throughout.”

Visit wnstd.com/frank


Keith Fernett MBE: local resident honoured for services to the homeless


Wanstead resident Keith Fernett – former CEO of the charity Caritas Anchor House – has been awarded an MBE for his services to the homeless.

“Having had a successful career in management and consultancy, Keith took over the reins at Anchor House when it was facing a very problematic future. His radical approach  to addressing the issues turned the organisation into a beacon of excellence in the homeless world… Under Keith’s leadership, the buildings were renovated and £13m was raised for the homeless,” said a colleague.

Although he is now retired, Keith remains busy as a trustee of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy Trust in Newham, an adviser to financial exclusion charity Money A+E, and a director of Global Noticeboard, which is developing software for humanitarian purposes.


Endangered in Wanstead


The Wren Wildlife Group, London Wildlife Trust and Wild Wanstead have compiled a list of 10 species at risk of local extinction. In the fourth of a series of articles looking at each species in turn, Liz Ranger explores how to help the beautiful common blue butterfly

It’s depressing when a butterfly that used to be so abundant it has the word ‘common’ in its name now needs our help to survive and thrive. But that’s the situation in Wanstead for the common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus).

The common blue takes its name from the male of the species, which is bright and easy to spot with vivid violet-blue upper wings with a grey-beige underside. Their wingspan is about 3.5cm. The females are less obvious, and in southern England, their upper wings are often almost completely brown.

Although the common blue butterfly is widespread and its conservation priority is classed as low, in places around the UK there are local declines in its range – and Wanstead is an example of that.

Locally, the best places to see it are areas of unmown grassland in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats, but numbers in both locations have declined. Common blues need plenty of long grass where the wild flowers on which both the caterpillars and adults rely for food can thrive. They can live on road verges, meadowland, woodland clearings and in gardens and cemeteries.

In places like Wanstead – where residential gardens are one of the main habitats for local wildlife – common blues are up against it as more and more land is developed and lawns are swapped for paving and artificial grass.

Now is a good time to see common blues. There are two broods of butterflies each year (or even three if it’s warm) flying in May or June and again in August or September. Before emerging, the butterflies spend around two weeks in their chrysalis, which is olive-green or brown in colour and is formed on, or very close to, the ground by a food plant. The adults may live for around three weeks and females lay eggs that hatch after a week or two. The caterpillars are short, green and furry and may pupate either in late summer or not until the following spring – so are around for much of the year. Like many other species, common blue caterpillars secrete substances containing a nutrient that attracts ants. In return, the ants help protect the caterpillar from predators.

How to help:

  • Plant bird’s-foot-trefoil and white clover in your garden for the caterpillars – they’re pretty wild flowers that will tumble out of pots or can help spread over paving to green it up.
  • Let an area of your lawn grow long and naturalise with wild flowers.
  • Create a beautiful ‘butterfly border’ packed with flowers loved by the adult insects. Find out how to do it at wnstd.com/butterflyborder. Adult common blue butterflies drink nectar from flat-headed flowers, white and red clovers, knapweeds, ragworts and thistles.
  • Use the edges of your garden to create a habitat where the caterpillars can shelter during winter. Grow ivy over fences – it’s a wonderful plant for wildlife – or add a row of native shrubs along your boundaries.
  • Never use pesticides and lobby the council to stop using them.

For more information about the 10 species under threat of extinction in Wanstead, visit wnstd.com/the10


Vote for Wanstead resident’s charity in Asda’s Green Token Scheme

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Wanstead resident Frank Charles’ Give a Gift Appeal is in the running to receive funding from Asda’s Green Token scheme.

The charity – which grants wishes to those with life-threatening illnesses and provides food for the homeless – is on the shortlist for the Leyton Mills store, with voting taking place online.

During the pandemic, Frank started a foodbank from his own house and fundraised food and essentials to create parcels for people who were in need, delivering parcels to vulnerable, volunteering and helping the local community get back on tracks and feed their families. Now caring for the homeless in Stratford, he distributes the food as the number of people on the streets is rising.

At the time of writing, Frank’s charity has received 70% of the vote. Voting is open until the end of June.

Click here to vote.


Aldersbrook gardens


Four gardens on the Aldersbrook Estate will be open to the public on 4 July as part of the National Garden Scheme. Ruth Martin, Chair of the Aldersbrook Horticultural Society, takes a look at each

My own garden at 4 Empress Avenue is divided into two sections by a laurel hedge. The bottom part of the garden, which was previously a vegetable patch, is being rewilded with a bramble area, log piles and wild flower patches. It also has a pond, fruit trees and bushes, and a cutting garden. The borders in the top section are designed on the basis of colour, with a hot border of reds, oranges and purples. Opposite, there is a blue and yellow bed, and beside each of the coloured beds is a white bed, which do well as these areas are more shady.

The garden at 1 Clavering Road is an end-of-terrace garden that benefits from having a sunny aspect for the majority of the day. Additional space to the side has allowed the opportunity to create a kitchen garden using reclaimed wood for raised beds. A redundant children’s play area has provided ample space for a chicken coop, and several surrounding mature trees give plenty of shade and protection for the hens in all weather conditions. Excess produce from the kitchen garden and fruit trees is much appreciated by the hens, who reciprocate by laying eggs daily and producing manure for the compost bin, which is recycled back into the garden.

The 80-foot garden at 21 Park Road comprises three ‘rooms’. The first, nearest the house, has a tear-shaped lawn surrounded by beds containing evergreen shrubs for structure and perennials in mainly blues, mauves and purples. The fences are covered with climbers including white roses, jasmine and clematis. A curving brick path then leads you through a long pergola covered with more roses, clematis and vines beside a magnolia tree, which provides shade for pulmonaria, white foxgloves and other shade-loving plants. A gravel seating area surrounded by pots contains colourful bedding plants and a decorative log pile. The final ‘room’ has three wigwams of sweet peas, varied tomato plants and plentiful raspberries, leaving some room for more shrubs, flowers and climbers. A hotbin, erected this year to provide speedy composting, lives in the corner.

The final garden at 47 St Margaret’s Road is a typical north-facing suburban garden, full of colour all the year round, with a design based on curves. The garden demonstrates how a scruffy family garden can evolve, for example where the trampoline was is now a patio. The beds are tightly planted with an eclectic mix of semi- and shade- loving plants. The small, south-facing front garden demonstrates how off-street parking can be shared with sun-loving shrubs, perennials and edible produce, including a prolific olive tree.

The four gardens are open from 12 noon to 5pm on 4 July (adults: £7; children: free). Pre-booking advised. Visit wnstd.com/ag


Home of art

Epping-Forest-House©David Kavanagh

Local artist David Kavanagh introduces his latest work and urges others with a creative streak to take part in Art Group Wanstead’s nature-themed challenge this summer, by displaying their own art in front windows and gardens

I am a local artist who has lived in Wanstead for the past 11 years, but originally come from the West Midlands. Drawing and painting have been passions of mine since an early age, having studied A Level art, then moving on to do a foundation art and design course, followed by a degree in interior architecture.

Unfortunately, in more recent times, I neglected my creative side a little, but like many people, the events of 2020 forced me to change course, and fortunately, this resulted in me rediscovering my passion for art. I have worked in architecture and design for a number of years, and continue to do so, which is reflected in my art; my favourite subject is the built environment.

Living in Wanstead provides a lot of inspiration for me; it has such an interesting architectural heritage and wonderful open spaces. In fact, I take a local walk almost every day, and often go out with my sketchbook in hand.

I was recently commissioned by City Place Coffee (the new café on Clock House Parade) to produce a series of artworks depicting local landmarks. It was a real pleasure to produce these, and great to have the opportunity to work with an independent local business.

My favourite medium is acrylic on canvas, but I also love producing ink drawings (as you will see if you take a look inside City Place Coffee).

Over the last six months, I have also produced a number of paintings of local landmarks, such as Snaresbrook Crown Court (featuring Bruce the black swan) and Christ Church, which you may have seen on local social media.

I have joined Art Group Wanstead and my most recent artwork is shown here, an acrylic on canvas painting entitled Epping Forest House. The subject of this painting is a dilapidated house on the edge of Epping Forest, which has been abandoned and is in the process of being ‘taken over’ by nature. I really enjoy the idea that man-made structures can be very quickly reclaimed by nature in the absence of human intervention. I think this creates a very interesting visual juxtaposition.

This painting was inspired by the title of Art Group Wanstead’s nature-themed challenge for local residents, which is ‘The Year Nature Took Centre Stage’. This project urges residents to use their creativity and show their own works of art in front windows and gardens this summer, and will become a ‘trail’ if enough people take part.

To view more of David’s local artwork, visit wnstd.com/kavanagh or follow him on Instagram @david.kavanagh.161. For more information on commissions, email kavanagh453@outlook.com

For more information on Art Group Wanstead’s nature-themed challenge for the summer, visit wnstd.com/art


Over 4,000 sign petition to save Wanstead allotment site

IMG_20210519_193033©Stephen Lines

A petition to ‘save Redbridge Lane West Allotments from Cadent’ has received over 4,000 signatures. 

“At the end of March, more than 40 plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments in Wanstead were left devastated by the news that global giant gas company Cadent was seeking to remove them and use the allotments to build a compound and car park to ‘upgrade’ their adjacent gas works. Almost three months later, Cadent have still not submitted any plans for the ‘critical’ and ‘essential’ work they say they need to do. From the outset, plot holders have been united in their opposition to Cadent’s proposals and quickly set up a petition to seek public support in taking their case to the Council. The petition attracted more than 2,000 signatures in less than a week.  With the petition today standing at over 4,000 signatures, the plot holders are now submitting the petition to the Council,” said a spokesperson for the plot holders.

Councillor Paul Merry added: “I urge Redbridge Council to reject Cadent’s plans to seize the entire Redbridge Lane West allotments to undertake work on their adjacent site. I call on Redbridge Council officers to urgently negotiate alternative proposals with Cadent Plc.”

The many supportive comments on the petition include:

  • “Plots cannot be put on hold temporarily. This proposal would require the plot holders to start again and spend years recreating their space. It must be rejected.”
  • “Using this allotment site for construction work will destroy it for gardening. Soil structure is built up over years and years and will be destroyed by heavy equipment and pollution. The community that nurtures the allotments is also something that can and will be destroyed. You can’t take away their land for two years and expect them to be able to come back to a stripped landscape and still be the thriving community they are now. This is outrageous.”
  • “This is a central part of our community, with both individuals and families benefiting, learning about nature and producing their own produce. To take this away from the individuals that have spent years maintaining their plots and disrupt local wildlife is to diminish their importance. Now more than ever our green spaces and well-being needs to come first and foremost.”
  • “The allotments have proved invaluable for plot holders mental wellbeing during the Covid pandemic, combining fresh air and exercise, locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables with no air miles or environmentally damaging processes.”
  • “The largest single allotment is taken up by the much-praised charity ‘Sprout There!’ project, run by the charity Uniting Friends. They provide a therapeutic horticulture programme for adults with learning disabilities.  The potential loss of this vital resource is causing huge distress. Our son comes here with Uniting Friends. They all have a learning disability and it gives them a feeling of being involved outdoors, gaining confidence & a great opportunity to learn new skills.”

To view the petition, click here.


Deep roots

Gordon-&-baby-Wanstead-ParkJean’s late husband Gordon with their baby son in Wanstead Park

Wanstead resident Jean Medcalf published her first poetry book last year. To Everything There is a Season is a collection of lyrical, spiritual poems about nature. In the eighth of a series of articles, Jean – who celebrated her 90th birthday last month – reflects on memories of her late husband and the birth of her children

The month of June is, of course, when Father’s Day falls, and brings back memories of having my three babies. I had my first baby in Wanstead Hospital, and it was not a happy experience. Hospitals at that time were very strictly run, ruled with a rod of iron by a stern matron, and it was rather intimidating.

Fathers were not allowed to be present at the birth in those days. Babies were kept in the ‘nursery’, separate from their mothers, and we were not allowed to go in there. We were not allowed to bathe our babies or change their nappies. There was a strict regime: we mothers were only permitted to see our babies at four-hourly intervals when it was feeding time. They were fed and taken away again. If the babies were hungry between these times, they were left to cry. We all knew the cry of our own baby, and it felt very sad not to be allowed to go and comfort them.

What made the hospital birth so awful for me was the fact that, having given birth, my baby was taken away to be cleaned up and weighed. The nurse then returned alone, so I timidly asked: “Can I see my baby?” She snapped: “I haven’t time to play bloody silly games. My shift’s finished and I’m going home!” I didn’t hold my baby until hours later for the appointed 9am feeding time.

We expectant mothers attended the antenatal clinic, which was in a large house on the corner of Hermon Hill and Eagle Lane. After our babies were born, we went to the baby clinic in Cromwell Hall at Wanstead Congregational Church. There the babies would be weighed, and we were given free welfare cod liver oil and orange juice concentrate.

I had a large heavy pram; in those days, it was considered safe to leave a baby in a pram outside a shop, and it was thought to be healthy to leave a baby outside to get fresh air in all weathers, even when it was snowing!

After my time in Wanstead Hospital, I vowed my future babies would be born at home. We had the community midwife, Nurse Turner, who will be remembered by many, as she attended all the local births from the 1940s onwards, even during air raids. She was a little, round, grey-haired Welsh lady, who arrived on her bicycle with a basket in all weathers.

Giving birth in my own home was completely different, with kind Nurse Turner to look after me, my husband there and no need for pain relief, except a couple of aspirin and some gas and air. My child was born late one night in the bedroom of the house where I still live, which was warm and cosy with a glowing coal fire, and put straight into the arms of her father, to be welcomed into the world.

For Father’s Day
by Jean Medcalf

If you can keep your head when babes beside you
Are screaming bright blue murder through the night;
If you do not despair when new wives panic
But make them think that things will turn out right;
If you can wash a pile of dirty nappies
And, smiling, ask if there are any more;
If you can hold your child and not disown it
When bachelor friends come knocking at the door;
If you can bath your daughter without drowning
Though soapy slippery limbs are all awhirl;
If you are full of love towards your daughter
And think she is a most delightful girl;
Yours is a family and all that’s in it
And, what is more,
You’ll be a Dad, my dear.

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


K9s after COVID


Colin Spence runs dog training classes in Snaresbrook and has been working with man’s best friend for over 20 years. Here, he explains the importance of training puppies bought during the pandemic

COVID-19 has had an awful impact on us all since March 2020, and we are still feeling the after-effects moving forward. Many dogs have also felt the effects of covid, including puppies that were bought during the pandemic and were not able to have the right socialisation and habituation period that they so need.

Many dogs are continuing to feel the stresses and are now experiencing anxiety-related behaviours. Some carers may have noticed these behaviours, but many others may have not yet realised their puppy is showing signs of early anxiety.

My fellow trainers and I have been helping dog owners address this by showing them how to help their puppies gain confidence and start to learn how to exist and learn around other animals and humans in a safe environment. Experienced trainers will have a good understating of all puppy-related behaviours, and how best to deal with them humanely by using science-based, positive reinforcement methods.

Whether it’s a training need or a behavioural need, a good trainer is equipped to deal with and support you through the process. If the dog’s anxiety is so severe that classroom training is not a viable option, the process can be completed in your home setting, where the puppy is more likely to have good associations with their familiar surroundings and is more likely to succeed.

Dog training classes should be filled with fun and, of course, lots of learning, not only for your puppy, but for you too. The owner needs to learn how to work as a team to fill their puppy with much-needed confidence.

The lessons learnt will be invaluable as these new skills can set your puppy up for the rest of their life. You need to be committed to learning and committed to being consistent. Equally important is for puppy and owner to both have fun together, as without fun, puppies can become very bored. Fun helps them learn and keeps them focused.

Trainers will teach you how to make a connection and to get your puppy to look to you for guidance.

Teaching recall is, in my opinion, the most important thing. A good and reliable recall could save your dog’s life by preventing them from running into a difficult situation. You’ll also need to learn how to relax your dog by teaching them to rest on their settle mat.

Classes are an invaluable place to start learning the basics of puppy training and using positive reinforcement to get good, solid training results. But that’s not to say older dogs can’t take part as well.

Colin’s K9 Training Services holds classes on Wednesday evenings at the Scout Hut, 72 Hollybush Hill, Snaresbrook. For more information, visit wnstd.com/colinsk9


Waste not


In the first of a series of articles about reducing waste, Joanne Smallman from Redbridge Council’s Neighbourhood Team explains what is being done in the borough to tackle the issue and how we can all play a part

Redbridge Council collects the fifth-highest amount of rubbish in England; 22 million sacks of household waste a year at last count. It’s a statistic we’re determined to change, and can change, but we can only do it by working together.

By taking simple steps to reduce, reuse and recycle, every resident can play their part in helping lower the amount of waste being produced, and Redbridge Council is here to support you every step of the way.

One of the reasons Redbridge collects more waste than other boroughs is because, until recently, residents have been able to leave out unlimited rubbish sacks for collection each week. This provided little incentive for households to reduce, reuse or recycle. Many items which could have gone into the recycling box ended up in household waste instead, resulting in more rubbish and more rubbish sacks on collection day.

The borough-wide move to wheelie bins was a big leap forward towards reducing household waste and improving recycling rates. Only waste contained inside the bin will be taken away, so no side waste by the bin, please! This encourages residents to put more items in their recycling boxes and explore waste reduction ideas to ensure there is enough space inside the wheelie bin for the average household waste that can’t be recycled.

A staggering 50% of waste collected in Redbridge is food waste, but there are lots of ways we can all cut back on it. By making small changes to the way we buy and use food in the borough, we can change the amount of waste, which will also have a big impact on the environment and save you money! Each small act can add up to make a big difference.

For example, fridge optimisation: did you know your fridge should be below 5°C? In fact, the average UK fridge temperature is set at a way too hot 7°C. This is terrible news for milk and other food items kept in the fridge, which can perish quickly when not stored at the right temperature.

And do you know the difference between food date labels? Best-before dates refer to quality: after this date, it might not be at its best, but it will still be safe to eat. Use your senses to make a judgement. Use-by dates refer to safety: you must not eat food past this date, even if it looks and smells OK. You can freeze food right up to and including the use-by date.

Each year, UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food that could be eaten, with some of the most common products being milk, bread, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas and poultry. If every person stopped throwing away food for just one day in the UK, it would do the same for climate change as taking 14,000 cars off the road for a whole year.

For more information and tips on reducing food waste, visit wnstd.com/ourstreets