October 2021


Sparkling history

Jack Elsden TuffsJack Elsden Tuffs

As the Wanstead Historical Society celebrates its diamond jubilee, Denis Keeling looks back at the life and work of the Society’s founder, Jack Elsden Tuffs, and looks forward to a new programme of talks

The Wanstead Historical Society was founded in 1961 to promote a greater interest in Wanstead’s history. The founder and first chairman was Jack Elsden Tuffs (1922–1978), and this remarkable man is at the centre of our diamond jubilee celebrations.

Jack is mainly remembered for his book The Story of Wanstead and Woodford from Roman Times to the Present – which is illustrated by his own artwork and was published in 1962 – and for his excavations in Wanstead Park undertaken between 1947 and 1972, which sought to discover the site of a Roman villa and unearth its long-lost mosaic pavement. He made great progress in doing so, unearthing examples of Roman roofing tiles, hypocaust flue tiles, nails and pieces of tesserae, but failed to discover an intact part of the mosaic pavement, a goal which has eluded all subsequent excavations up to the present day.

Jack was known not just for his expertise, but for his ability to enthuse and motivate others to help with his projects and to promote interest in Wanstead’s history among the wider local community. He was particularly adept in his use of the media.

However, local history and archaeology did not exhaust his energy. He was also an accomplished artist, poet, musician, genealogist, dowser and conjurer, with his much-valued membership of the Magic Circle. He wrote the book on conjuring in the Teach Yourself series and delighted local audiences with his tricks.

We still follow Jack’s example all these years later. In our annual papers, we publish research of permanent value which adds to our understanding of many aspects of Wanstead’s past. At our monthly meetings – held in the Churchill Room at Wanstead Library on the first Monday of the month from September to May – we enjoy a variety of talks on historical topics. Chaired by Doreen Golding BEM, herself a local celebrity, these are very popular, and their quality, together with the friendly atmosphere, attract many visitors.

To celebrate our 60th anniversary, a special meeting will be held at Wanstead Library on 1 November, including a talk entitled A Stroll Around Snaresbrook by Lynn Jones, which will explore the history of local buildings and the development of the area. Next month, we welcome Jef Page, who will be explaining the story behind William Hogarth’s painting The Assembly at Wanstead House. And in 2022, our talks will include a look at the tithe maps of Redbridge and the history of Wanstead Flats.

Wanstead Historical Society’s 60th anniversary meeting will be held at Wanstead Library on 1 November from 8pm (visitors: £3). Call 07949 026 212 or visit wnstd.com/whs


Flamingo Fairs ready to rise again after facing the COVID heat

IMG_0356©JC and DM

Flamingo Fairs will return to Wanstead Library’s Churchill Hall on 30 October (11am to 4pm; free entry) for a vintage-and-more-themed event.

“Using artistic licence, the flamingo is depicted here flying phoenix-like with the heat of the pandemic behind her. But it emerges, according to Google, that the flamingo’s fiery plumage may have inspired the phoenix legend. Sceptical? Well, just look a the flamingo’s Latin name: Phoenicopteridae,” said organiser Donna Mizzi, who founded the fair 12 years ago.


Protecting play & places

IMG_6016Christchurch Green was designated an ACV because it is a ‘recreational facility furthering the social wellbeing of the local community’

David Wershof from local solicitors Wiseman Lee explains how an Asset of Community Value designation can protect community buildings and spaces – like Christchurch Green playground – from being lost

As we know, living in the London area creates huge issues for central and local government trying to design planning and development policies for us who live in this crowded region. The Green Belt, which imposes restrictions on development in the Greater London area and surrounding shires, is under constant threat from eager developers.

London boroughs are required to secure deals from local landowners who release land for new houses, flats and other developments in an attempt to satisfy the never-ending demand for housing.

In contrast, Assets of Community Value (ACV) are designed to preserve a building or other land which, as the title suggests, enhances use by a particular community. This includes cultural, recreational and sporting interests. Exempted from this description are, for example, homes and hotels, as well as land assets transferred between similar businesses.

Instead of the green spaces or community buildings that we enjoy and support being gobbled up as building projects, local people represented by community associations or not-for-profit organisations can nominate an ACV, such as the children’s play area on Christchurch Green, which was nominated and approved as an ACV in 2015 at the request of the Wanstead Society.

Given that an ACV furthers social wellbeing or promotes social interests in the local community, village shops, public houses, community centres, libraries and playing fields can be preserved for common benefit. And once listed as an ACV, the community will be informed if the asset in question is put up for sale within a five-year period. If there is a wish by the community interest group to purchase it, then any possible sale is put on hold for six months to allow sufficient time to raise funds, but after that, if no sale to the community group occurs, the landowner can sell it to whomsoever they choose.

Once a particular asset is listed, instead of its destruction to make way for another block of flats, local people can celebrate its social use. However, if during the five-year period community use falls away, then the prospect of the landowner getting their asset sold raises the prospect of the asset being lost to development. If the asset is listed but the landowner objects, then there is the right to raise an appeal to an independent body called a First Tier Tribunal.

Overall, however, ACVs which are integral to local communities can be preserved, which hopefully, we can all agree is an important legal and democratic process from which we can all benefit.

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


A lot to lose

DSCN3728-copy-2© Mike Edwards

In the fifth of a series of articles by plot holders at the Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Mike Edwards explains his green-fingered journey

One winter’s afternoon over 15 years ago, my partner Kathy and I went to see an allotment she wanted to rent to test her planting ideas for her then garden design business. We met the council representative and I looked unenthusiastically at the mud and a few leeks on our proposed plot!

But we took it on, and Kathy suggested I might like to grow some vegetables. Why? What was wrong with our weekly organic veg box? Sullenly, I agreed to give it a go.

However, with the wisdom and encouragement of a helpful allotment neighbour, I got stuck into, not only the mud, but ordering from seed catalogues. In the warm spring sunshine, I was sowing lines of seeds and happily getting earth under my fingernails. I felt content, and when the first seedlings appeared, and then the first tasty harvests were on our plates, I was hooked.

A couple of years later, I took over a derelict neighbouring plot and built raised beds and compost bins from discarded timbers I found in skips. By then, I’d seemed to acquire green fingers from somewhere and was growing everything from asparagus to zucchini.

I might be weary trudging back home with bags of onions, squashes and spinach, but knowing that my food miles are nil, my produce is fresh and free of pesticides, and that I’ve nourished the soil for the benefit of wildlife, a spring comes back into my step.

As well as the vegetable areas, after all these years, we have mature blackberry, blackcurrant and blueberry bushes, pear and apple trees, and an inherited fig tree, as well as a beautiful area that Kathy manages for cut flowers, and a wildlife hedge, comprising at least 10 different plant species.

Over the years, I’ve had to deal with a bigger variety of pests as the climate has changed, with warmer, wetter winters, badly timed cold spells and huge downpours, which all bring their challenges. As a result, every year is a learning experience, and I accept that occasionally, there will be a complete lack of a certain crop. I won’t use damaging chemical products to deter pests, as nature’s predators invariably come along to do the job naturally, but the scarcity of certain birds, amphibians and beetles as a result of man’s actions, means there is still a shortage of predators.

I will not be deterred, but the time has come for me to seek assistance with some of the heavier tasks in exchange for fruit and veg, and hopefully, some beneficial knowledge, so we can continue to share the undoubted health benefits of our allotment.

If you would like to assist Mike on his allotment, email editor@wnstd.com

To view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit wnstd.com/rlw


Local doctor organises London to Glasgow bike ride ahead of COP26

IMG_1159 As a paediatrician, the School Streets initiative ticks several vital boxes for Mark’s patients’ health

Wanstead resident Dr Mark Hayden will be part of a team of 30 paediatric healthcare providers cycling from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow this month.

The 500-mile journey will be drawing attention to climate change.

“Those who protect our children’s health now are riding to offer hope for our children’s future,” said Dr Hayden, who has organised the Ride for Their Lives event.

The cyclists will arrive in Glasgow as the COP26 summit starts.

Visit wnstd.com/ldngla


Cleaner & Greener

IMG_2162Solar panels on a Wanstead home

In the third of a series of articles providing an update on the Cleaner Greener Wanstead initiative, Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) looks at the challenges of tackling energy efficiency

One of the biggest challenges we face in the battle to reduce emissions and so cut global warming is a fundamental change in energy use. The use of fossil fuels needs to be phased out quickly. Renewable energy has to become the order of the day.

The government has recognised this demand, with a commitment for no new properties to have gas-fired boilers after 2025 – though with little detail or budget for delivery. There is also talk of a push for the replacement of existing gas-fired boilers, with technology like heat pumps and hydrogen-fuelled devices. Solar photovoltaic panels also have a role to play, though changes to feed-in tariffs have made them less economical for homeowners.

Some 56% of emissions in Redbridge come from buildings, with the council committed to switching to renewable energy for electricity in council buildings, as well as delivering retrofitting of insulation for hundreds of homes through the Go Green programme. However, council-based activities only account for 2.4% of total emissions in the borough.

Energy is an area where there needs to be a real reach out to individuals to act. And there are some fine examples in Wanstead of people taking just such positive actions.

One couple has solar panels on their roof that enables them to heat the house and charge their electric car. They also have low-energy appliances throughout their home.

Another household has solar photovoltaic panels on the roof supplying electricity and heating water. They also produce much of their own food from the back garden.

Another individual is taking advantage of the mayor’s Solar Together scheme, which buys up a large number of panels at a lower price. Selected fitters then assess the properties taking part and come up with a quote. The local resident who has applied for this scheme also intends to power his electric vehicle with energy captured from his roof.

We should all explore switching to renewable energy sourced suppliers, as well as exploring the potential to become our own micro-generator of energy. However, this technology can still be expensive and complicated, so the government needs to step in to help and ensure it is more accessible and economical. It’s only with that help that we are going to see the significant reductions in emissions from buildings required to turn the tide on climate change.

There is a long way to go to make Wanstead a sustainable energy centre, but the examples quoted show what can be done.

For more information on the initiative, visit cleanergreenerwanstead.org


Listen and learn

Screenshot 2021-09-28 at 11.49.33

In the 23rd of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces Jonathan Radford and Ashley Fripp, who will perform at Wanstead Library this month

This month, Redbridge Music Society resumes its programme of bringing high-standard, live musical events of all styles and genres to the borough with an evening of vintage Roaring Twenties jazz given by award-winning musicians Jonathan Radford (saxophone) and Ashley Fripp (piano).

We are also delighted to announce that Wanstead resident and international soprano Lucy Crowe is to become Redbridge Music Society’s new president. Many will remember how Lucy and her husband Joe showed their commitment to the local community during lockdown by performing outside local homes and hospitals.

Jonathan Radford initially studied at Chetham’s School of Music before completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Conservatoire National Superior de Musique de Paris, being the first British saxophonist to enter Claude Delangle’s world-famous saxophone class. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music. Jonathan has won many awards, including Commonwealth Musician of the Year, gold medal and first prize winner in the 2018 Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition and prizewinner in the French SaxOpen International Competition. He has performed throughout Europe at many prestigious venues, such as Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and the Philharmonie de Paris. He is a keen promoter of contemporary music and has premiered works by Betsy Jolas and Luis Naon. He is passionate about chamber music and co-founded the Yendon Quartet, a saxophone group that regularly broadcast on Radio France.

Pianist Ashley Fripp studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) with Ronan O’Hara and at the Scuola di Musica die Fiesole (Italy) with Eliso Virsaladze. He has performed extensively as a recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist across the globe and has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Musikverein and all major London concert halls. He has won many national and international prizes, including the coveted GSMD Gold Medal. He has collaborated with many orchestras and has worked with distinguished conductors such as Vasily Petrenko, Semyon Bychkov and James Judd. He recently completed his doctoral studies into the piano music of British composer Thomas Adès.

Jonathan and Ashley will be performing works by the great American saxophonist Rudy Wiedoeft and others, ending with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The evening will be dedicated to the memory of local jazz pianist Keith Nichols, who died earlier this year.

Jonathan and Ashley will perform at Wanstead Library on 26 October from 8pm (booking required; visitors: £10; members: £7). Call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision RCL and affiliated to Making Music.


Why can’t you see me?


Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into life with cerebral palsy. In the 10th of a series of articles, Grace has nothing but praise for the people of Colchester

Hello everyone. I’m back. Did you miss me? I’m so sorry I have been quiet lately. With TikTok, it’s literally a full-time job and I’ve also been on holiday for a while.

A lot has happened. I went to see Olly Murs in Colchester, which I was expecting to be really good like any other concert, but it was even better! You’re probably thinking, how can it be even better? Well, let me tell you. First of all, the access area was right next to the stage, fenced off from the crowd, so it didn’t feel like a ‘disabled’ area because we were the same level as the able-bodied people, and still next to them. The only difference: we weren’t all crammed together like everyone else, so that was brilliant. Not only that, the people in the access area were lovely. When I go to concerts in London, people on the access platforms are always trying to get the best spot, so they push in front of me and then I get angry! The people in Colchester couldn’t have been nicer.

When we got there, I found a spot, but it meant that I’d have to bend my neck up to see, so straight away, someone said: “That doesn’t look comfortable. Tell you what, we’ll move along and you can sit here because the view is much better here.” And when Mum left me, everyone made sure I was OK. Olly has a song that always makes me cry. He sang it, so I burst out crying, and then people were giving me tissues. So yeah, they were amazing.

Earlier that day, I spotted a photographer taking pictures. I saw him in front of me so I obviously posed. I’m not going to turn down a photo when I’m all done up! A few days later, a guy we know messages Mum, saying there were two pictures of me in the Colchester Gazette, which then made the Clacton Gazette. So that was so cool.

Over the summer, we were staying in different places in the Clacton area. One week, we stayed on Lee Wick Farm for a few nights with one of my friends, Syd, which was so lovely. Syd is non verbal, but she’s exactly like me: fully there and understands everything. But because she can’t talk, people don’t talk to her. We went to a restaurant and the waitress was lovely. She spoke to Syd and she took her time to understand her, which made Syd so happy: someone took their time to speak to her and not to her assistant.

When we went back to where we were staying in Frinton, I got to know a guy who was there. Frinton is a very quiet place; well, let’s just say we caused mayhem! We went up to the shops with Aitch blaring out (he’s a rapper). Then we went to a cocktail bar. I didn’t drink. I was still hung-over from the night before!

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

To follow Grace on TikTok, visit wnstd.com/gracetiktok


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 eighth of a series of articles looking at each species in turn, Liz Ranger explains why it’s time to give toads a helping hand

Poor old toads get a bad rap – accused of having warts, featuring in witches’ brews and being used as an insulting description of someone. It’s a shame because if ever there was a little creature to welcome to our gardens it’s a toad. They are the friend of anyone trying to grow plants or veggies, sneaking up on slugs, aphids, ants and other insects and using their sticky tongues to hoover them up.

Common toads can vary in colour from greenish to grey-brown – sometimes with dark markings. Their skin is dry and bumpy, and when scared or threatened, they have a neat trick of secreting a vile-tasting substance as a defence against predators.

Common toads spend much of their time on dry land, but in early spring, they return to the pond in which they were spawned to find a mate and reproduce. Toad spawn is laid in long strings and tadpoles emerge in 10 days. After breeding, toads return to drier areas where they may spend long periods over summer, hidden away during the day and hunting for slugs and other food at night. Toads sit out the winter, burrowed in mud or under logs or a compost heap.

It’s not too late to spot a toad – the best time is at night between February and October – but you’ll have to be lucky, because despite being called ‘common’, they’re actually getting rarer. It is difficult to accurately assess toad populations, but in Wanstead, people are saying they now come across them less frequently in their gardens. Common toads are classified as a biodiversity priority species under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act because of recent declines. The problem is loss of the habitats where they live, particularly the removal of ponds and vegetation, and the drainage of wet areas of land. As green areas become more fragmented and we build more roads, more toads are being killed by traffic as they migrate to and from their breeding ponds.

How to help

  • Create habitats in your garden where toads can live and feed, like a long grass area or piles of old wood or leaves in a shady location. Have an open compost heap for vegetable peelings and garden waste.
  • Build a wildlife pond – find out how at wnstd.com/pond
  • Help minibeasts thrive in your garden to provide food for toads. Don’t use slug pellets or pesticides. Invertebrates love dense undergrowth where they can hide away, so why not leave a corner to go wild?

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


Driving it forward: fundraiser to buy a van for local charity worker

frank-1Frank’s car is no longer adequate for all the deliveries he makes

Wanstead resident Frank Charles is raising money to buy a van to support his charity work feeding the local community.

Frank – who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to charity – runs a foodbank out of his spare room, helping families in Waltham Forest, Newham and surrounding areas.

“Having a van will help immensely, for collecting and delivering food, clothes, furniture and other basic, yet vital items. I really appreciate all the support,” said Frank.

Visit wnstd.com/vanforfrank


Find Your Voice


Wanstead resident Dan Slipper finds being a member of Redbridge Council’s new Community Voice panel inspiring and is keen to represent a wide range of views at the meetings

A recent national newspaper profile of Wanstead described residents as a community-minded bunch. Support for the Wanstead Fringe and the pretty gardens created by the dedicated work of the Wanstead Community Gardeners seem to support this impression. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been evidence of people coming together to support each other, not only in Wanstead but across Redbridge and throughout our amazing city. This increasing willingness to work together is now being harnessed by Redbridge Council because as well as the positive, there are also challenging parts of community life.

I am a member of the new Community Voice panel set up to give residents an opportunity to air their views on a range of topics. The first two sessions have focused on issues currently of concern to residents across the borough, namely crime and antisocial behaviour. These meetings have enabled residents to share their opinions and honestly express how they feel about the council, which has sometimes had to take what they say on the chin.

Session One focused on crime and explored what was taking place across the borough, the effect of the pandemic on levels of crime, what residents and the council could do about it, and the role of the police. There were some shocking stories about experiences in different areas of the borough as well as inspiring reports about residents working together to keep each other safe. There was discussion about CCTV and frustration about a failure to communicate with residents when action against crime was being taken by the council. There was also widespread concern about a lack of police officers on our streets.

Session Two explored antisocial behaviour. Residents across the borough spoke of their experiences, including street begging, drug use, noisy neighbours and fly-tipping. Many expressed concern about poor communication once a report of antisocial behaviour had been made.

Some might think of these as disheartening sessions, but I find them quite inspiring. For some time now, frustrations have been building around the world about many issues – global, national and local – which have sometimes resulted in different views trying to shout each other down and a lack of agreement on anything. Community Voice is something different. It seems like a genuine attempt by Redbridge Council to bring people together, to give them a chance to air their views, to explore solutions, and to work for a better borough for us all.

It might be me attending the meetings, but I represent your views. So, please share them, either in the Wanstead Community Forum Facebook Group or message me direct.

For more information and to contact Dan, email danielslipper@googlemail.com


Proposal for artificial grass football pitches on Wanstead Flats

Screenshot-2021-09-22-at-09.34.17The project seeks to provide additional facilities at the Harrow Road football site on Wanstead Flats ©2021 Google

The City of London Corporation is exploring the feasibility of installing artificial grass pitches (AGPs) on Wanstead Flats.

“The proposed project aims to reduce the overall footprint on the Flats taken up by sport by replacing 17 of the grass pitches with three AGPs. This means around 34 acres of Wanstead Flats can be recreated for ecological benefit… At the same time, the durability of artificial grass will increase football pitch availability [for the community],” said a spokesperson.

A public consultation is expected this winter.