Silver service

DSCF5389© Geoff Wilkinson

As the Wanstead Society prepares to celebrate its silver jubilee, the group’s chair Scott Wilding reflects on their work to date and looks forward to the next 25 years of ‘protecting and enhancing Wanstead’

The Wanstead Society celebrates its silver jubilee in 2022, and as we have been active now for nearly a quarter of a century, we thought it would be good to take a look back at what we think we got right, where we can improve and how we might change to meet the challenges of the next 25 years.

The Society was formed in 1997 when the average cost of a pint of beer was £1.84, leaded petrol was around 60p a litre and the average cost of a three-bedroom terrace house in Wanstead was around £190,000. How times have changed. What hasn’t changed is the Society’s founding principles of protecting and enhancing Wanstead.

Our main aim 25 years ago, when a small group of like-minded individuals got together, was to prevent overdevelopment in Wanstead and protect its historical characteristics. This soon branched out to a wider movement to help improve the area where we live. Over the last quarter of a century, the Society has taken on a variety of projects, from aiding the start of the Wanstead Festival, working with others to create the first art trail, paid for bins and benches on Christchurch Green, planted trees and bulbs, offered advice to help start the South Woodford Society and funded the Wanstead Community Gardeners. We have also spent many hours working with developers to secure good-quality design for new and existing buildings in Wanstead.

While we haven’t got everything right over the last 25 years, we can be proud that our contribution has made a difference to our community.

Looking back to take stock of what has been achieved is always worth doing. It reminds us of how far we have come. But, if the Society is to remain relevant over the next 25 years, we have to adapt and change.

The next quarter of a century will present challenges not yet invented. But one challenge facing us now, and in the future, remains: the climate crisis. Nowhere will escape the effects of changing weather and an altered environment. To pass on a better Wanstead to a future generation, we will update our constitution to have a greater environmental focus, form stronger links with local schools and environmental groups as well as maintaining our core commitment to a better urban realm.

The pandemic has showcased how valuable our parks and green spaces are, but also how important our community is when things get tough. For this reason, and with the advert opposite this article, we hope you will want to find out more about us and join our action group.

For more information on the Wanstead Society, visit wansteadsociety.org.uk or write to:
Wanstead Society, c/o Wanstead House 21 The Green, Wanstead, E11 2NT.