May 2022


Road closures for RideLondon


RideLondon, an annual cycling event, will pass through Redbridge on 29 May.

Crowd zones will be set up along the route in partnership with local community groups so spectators can view the race and cheer on participants.

There will be some road closures in the west of the borough, including Hollybush Hill and Woodford Road. Roads adjoining the event route will have local access only for residents and businesses.



Development between Seagry Road and Draycot Road


An appeal has been launched over the refusal of planning permission to build flats on a strip of land between Draycot Road and Seagry Road.

A planning application to build five flats on the land was refused last December. The developer has appealed and it is now with the planning inspectorate to make a decision.

“This small patch is home to many mature roses, shrubs and wild flowers and is therefore an important spot for biodiversity, so Redbridge Council were right to stop this development. As more and more of us pave our front gardens or put down artificial grass, small patches of land like this are a crucial safety net for nature,” said Vanya Marks from Wanstead Climate Action, who is now urging others to help save the green patch.

The email address to send comments to is and the deadline is Monday 16 May.


A lot to lose

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In the 11th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Margaret de Jong reflects on 25 years of memories at the site

Almost 25 years ago in 1997, my husband, Wim, had taken early retirement, and really missed the companionship of his fellow mathematicians at the University of East London. I contacted the council offices and spoke to the young man in charge of allotments.

There was no waiting list then, so a few days later we were shown over the site on Redbridge Lane West, where we made our choice from three vacant plots. I paid the rent and arranged for us to start working there in time for my husband’s birthday in April. He started smiling again for the first time in months.

The chosen plot was sadly neglected and overgrown, but this merely added to the feeling of achievement as we dug beds, discovering and preserving old perennials like asparagus and horseradish among the weeds. I was still teaching full time, so Wim did most of the digging, and as the seedlings in trays on every windowsill in the house grew to suitable sizes, I ferried them down to River Close. It took more than a year to bring the whole area under control.

Over the next 20 years, Wim cycled down there regularly, growing an amazing variety of vegetables and bringing them home for me to cook or freeze. He tried ‘companion planting’, growing the ‘three sisters’ (beans, corn and squashes) up a wigwam of bamboo poles stuck through an old hubcap. Each summer, with Wim away at Open University summer school, my daughter and I rushed down there every evening to water and harvest the vegetables. Later, I took my parents there, and they gave advice and instructions, sitting in the sun in their wheelchairs as I weeded.

I like fruit and making jam, so I bought blackcurrant, redcurrant, gooseberry and raspberry bushes. We dug these in, sewing perennial and self-seeding hardy annuals like aquilegia, nigella and marigolds around them to attract bees. We also planted a lot of spring flowering bulbs to provide food for bees before the summer brought the lavender, sage and rosemary into bloom.

The Covid years were difficult. My father had gone but I was still looking after my elderly mother and increasingly frail husband at home. A helper from the Redbridge Respite Care Association used to push Wim down to the allotment in his wheelchair every week to sit in the sun and potter about. Friends and family helped keep the allotment going. Both Wim and my mother have now gone, and relieved of nursing duties, I am working hard to bring our allotment back to its former glory.

The allotment I got to cheer Wim up in the 1990s is now doing the same for me 25 years later as I cycle down there in the afternoon with my gardening tools in the basket on the back of my tricycle.

To view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit


History comes home


Redbridge Museum will open a new permanent exhibition later this year exploring 200,000 years of local history. In the fourth of a series of articles, Museum Officer Nishat Alam looks at some of the items on show

May marks the end of the Second World War in Europe, otherwise known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. For people across Redbridge who had suffered terrible aerial bombings, this was a welcome relief. In this article, I look at the impact of the war on the borough and how people in Wanstead and Woodford responded.

As the capital, London was a major target for wartime air raids, but surrounding areas, like Redbridge – then made up of the Borough of Wanstead and Woodford and the Borough of Ilford – were also affected badly. Redbridge was heavily bombed during the Blitz between September 1940 and May 1941, and then again by V1 and V2 bombs between June 1944 and March 1945. Wanstead and Woodford suffered 25 V1 and 14 V2 attacks, while Ilford was hit even worse. In total, 802 people in Redbridge were killed, 4,000 injured, 50,000 homes were damaged and 822 destroyed.

Air raids were expected even before war began, so precautions were put in place very early on. Gas masks were issued all around, children were evacuated to the countryside, and locals volunteered to be Civil Defence workers, many as Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Wardens.

Fred and Daisy James were a couple living in Wanstead at the time. They became ARP Wardens for Aldersbrook and were based at Post 43 on Herongate Road. Their duties were to sound air raid sirens, ensure people followed blackout protocol, and report on bomb damage after air raids. They would also help to put out small fires caused by incendiary bombs, as can be seen in the photograph here, taken by Fred James. Fred documented his experience as an ARP Warden through photography and in pocket diaries. In one entry, he reported that two bombs fell on Belgrave Road at 4.30am on 10 September 1940: “Two houses were demolished and 30 or 40 badly damaged.” He goes on to write about his team’s response to the raid and expresses sympathy for the casualties.

Victory in Europe was announced on 8 May, and Wanstead and Woodford held 43 street parties to celebrate the end of the war. There were games, singing, dancing and large, decorated tables of party food lining the streets. Official celebrations for Wanstead and Woodford were held the following year with a gala on Woodford Green on 1 June 1946 attended by the Prime Minister and local MP Winston Churchill.

Redbridge Museum’s displays about the Second World War will explore the impact of the war on the borough, using stories like the James’ and objects such as the equipment used in the photograph above.


Unsafe as houses


Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee talks about fraudulent property transactions and the work that needs to be done to protect us from dishonest operators

Anyone who causes financial loss through dishonesty causes deep upset. Solicitors are required to carry out checks to safeguard clients from fraud.

Take a situation where you find a property to purchase. There is nobody living there and the estate agents say the owner is living abroad. The price is over £1m. You like the house and your offer is accepted. You instruct your solicitor to proceed. What nobody will likely tell you at that early stage is that your seller only has a mobile number and an email address and there is no existing mortgage on the property.

Your solicitor ascertains that a limited company owns the property and a Companies House check shows the company only came into existence after it was shown as the owner at the Land Registry. Not only is this suspicious, but legally wrong. Your solicitor is introduced to the seller’s solicitors, which is a known name but showing a new branch office, whose address details were not previously known. The solicitors only have a mobile number on their letterhead and emails, which immediately raises suspicion. When the mobile number is called, a recorded message states the caller will receive a callback. Clearly, something does not seem right.

Property transactions attract dishonest operators because the financial rewards are so high. So, here is a small flavour of what solicitors have to do to protect their clients and themselves from dishonesty:

Carry out checks in relation to the conveyancer acting for the other party.

Adopt a procedure to check against the significant risk of fraud.

Enhanced checking that the client is who they say they are and an assessment which identifies the warning signs of fraud.

Checking the identity details provided are genuine. A false passport or energy bill could dupe anyone if it looks genuine.

The Land Registry has launched a new biometric identity checking procedure, which hopefully will protect us all from losing our property to a fraudster. However, identity theft could lead to a crook making a mortgage application in your name and securing a mortgage advance before disappearing with the money. You, of course, have no knowledge of the transaction until the lender writes to you a few months later.

The newspapers, TV and social media now seem to carry stories of fraudsters every day. It is still rare but on the increase. All of us now have to be wary of those we deal with. Remember, a good fraudster will be charming to put you at your ease.

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

Local Elections 2022News

Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park election results


Wanstead’s five Labour Party candidates have all been elected as councillors, with Labour holding overall control of Redbridge Council.

In Wanstead Village ward, Paul Donovan, Jo Blackman and Daniel Morgan-Thomas each held their seats with an increased majority.

In Wanstead Park ward, Sheila Bain also held her seat with an increased majority, and is joined by new councillor Bayo Alaba.

Both wards were among the highest voter turnout in the borough, with Wanstead Village seeing 42.65% of voters take part and Wanstead Park seeing 44.8%, compared to a borough average of 33.73%.

Click here to see the full breakdown of votes across Redbridge and in Wanstead wards.


Prize-winning pianist and cellist to perform at Wanstead Library

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Redbridge Music Society will host two prize-winning musicians at Wanstead Library this month.

Pianist John Paul Ekins and cellist Timothée Botbol will perform works by Dvorak, Debussy and Mussorgsky on 17 May.

“John Paul has won 19 prizes at international competitions and Swiss cellist Timothée was awarded the Grand Prize Special at the Augustin Aponte International Music Competition in 2017,” said a spokesperson.

The recital will begin at 8pm (tickets on the door; members: £7; visitors: £10).

Call 07380 606 767


Coming to Wanstead


Following numerous messages of support for the author of last month’s welcome address, we invited Oleksandra Vietrova to tell us more about her move from Ukraine to Wanstead

If you read my welcome address in the previous edition of the Wanstead Village Directory, you will already know that I’m a Ukrainian who moved to Wanstead in the autumn of 2020.

My family and I used to travel a lot. We’ve visited many of places around Europe and the US. We even moved to California and lived there for quite a while, but then returned to Ukraine. California was… different! Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing time. The place was such a contrast to Europe that it took me a few months to get used to their way of living.

Prior to moving to London, we had never visited the UK. One thing that was a bit scary about this move was London’s weather. Having lived here for one-and-a-half years now, I have no idea why London’s climate has such a bad reputation! Maybe it was the books I read or the ongoing global climate change. But London’s weather was a pleasant surprise for me and every single one of my Ukrainian friends who ever visited the city. Now, it feels ridiculous that I was thinking London’s climate was worse than what we are used to back in Ukraine!

In Ukraine, the temperature goes from -20°C in winter to 40°C in summer, with a gloomy autumn and a never-ending snow melting and freezing cycle in early spring. All the books we Ukrainians read make us think the climate in London is so much worse! It is hilarious! It is laughable how often friends who learned that we moved to London asked with a pity in their voices: “Oh… isn’t the weather horrible there?”

A mild climate was a welcome gift, but it was not the only one. Having seen many countries and cities in my life, I’d be challenged to recall even one other place on Earth as comfortable for life as Wanstead. It’s amazingly quiet and still full of birdsong in the morning. It’s green, beautiful, surrounded by parks and nature with a vast variety of plants and wildlife, yet in only five minutes one is on the High Street with its shops and restaurants, and in only half an hour on the Tube, in the centre of one of the world’s largest cities.

Local people are truly awesome. So kind, friendly and helpful. So proactive and loving in their small homeland, Wanstead. I never cease to be amazed by the talents of my neighbours, by the heritage they cherish, by the empathy they have towards people and nature. Wanstead Community Gardeners, Tin in a Bin and all the other local projects are nothing short of impressive. Wanstead is a gift that keeps on giving.

In finding Wanstead, I feel like I’ve found the best place in the world.

To read Oleksandra’s welcome address from the April 2022 issue of the Wanstead Village Directory, visit


Our precious stones

L1230259©Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead Park has been described as the jewel in east London’s crown. In the second of a series of articles documenting restoration work on the park’s 18th-century Grotto – a gem in its own right – John Sharpe of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands reports on a royal visit. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

Representatives from the Friends of Wanstead Parklands were thrilled to be invited by the Heritage of London Trust (HoLT) to a prestigious visit to Wanstead Park last month by their patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

The event was conceived to celebrate the completion of the first stage of works to the historic Grotto’s landing stage, funded by HoLT and the City of London Corporation, and marked the stabilisation of the Grade II listed structure. The Grotto has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since November 2017, with the landing stage deteriorating in 2020, putting at risk the entire structure. The Duke was shown the success of the repair work, with the retaining wall now safely rebuilt and invasive plant life extracted.

The Grotto itself enjoys a long and curious history as part of the estate of the long-lost Wanstead House. It was constructed between 1760 and 1764 as an exotic venue for theatrical entertainments with many activities taking place on the lake just in front of the Grotto. Inside, the upper rooms were adorned with shells and crystals, mirrors and a mosaic pebble floor.

Tragically, a fire that broke out in 1884 left the Grotto a ruin. Heritage of London Trust partnered with the City of London Corporation to spearhead a new restoration programme for the landing stage last year.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester met representatives of the Epping Forest Charitable Trust, Heritage of London Trust, Friends of Wanstead Parklands and young refugees as part of HoLT’s Proud Places programme. The programme offers young people from challenging backgrounds an opportunity to get involved with London’s heritage. Proud Places takes groups on site visits, and shows them the craft skills involved and facilitates creative workshops. The young refugees were excited to have a chance to see the Grotto.

The Duke was delighted to see the works which are a part of a wider plan for the restoration and maintenance of the structure. The Duke inspected the conservation work and spoke with the young people to welcome them and share his interest in the Epping Forest area, for which he is the ranger. The Duke also practised as an architect before succeeding to his elder brother’s titles and becoming a more active member of the Royal Family. The Duke impressed those he met last month with his knowledge and level of engagement with the Grotto project.

The Friends of Wanstead Parklands were delighted by the Duke’s visit, and greatly appreciate the personal interest he is taking in this project. It’s very gratifying to see the Grotto’s importance recognised by a royal visit as work begins to secure its future. The intervention by the Heritage of London Trust is proving a catalyst for critical action.

Dr Nicola Stacey, HoLT director, said: “It was wonderful to show the Duke progress on the Grotto. It’s one of east London’s hidden gems and so important that it is restored for the public – and the local community – to enjoy again.”

For more information on Wanstead Park’s Grotto, visit


Blossoming Friends

DSCF8575©Geoff Wilkinson

As the Friends of Christ Church Green takes shape, Colin Cronin explains the new group’s aims and invites residents to the founding meeting. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The local playground on Christ Church Green has been a source of enjoyment for so many of our junior residents of Wanstead, but also a source of pride for their parents, fellow residents and local businesses too. It is a facility that the community crowdfunded for back in 2015, raising over £100k. 

It was heartbreaking, therefore, to learn that a mindless act of vandalism late one Saturday night in April could see such a community asset go up, at least partly, in smoke!

Whilst there has been a very admirable, laudable and well-supported crowdfunding campaign to replace the damaged equipment, I believe the proper course of action should have been to put the onus back onto Vision RCL, who manage our open spaces in Wanstead. Vision RCL are now a profitable charity, so should not have required money in excess of our Council Tax to replace the damaged equipment. I applaud the good intentions of our superb community, however, I fear it sets a dangerous precedent in allowing Vision RCL to abdicate their financial responsibility in such a way going forward.

Christ Church Green needs a number of improvements to protect it, not least of which should include CCTV coverage of places like the playground and the now newly installed café kiosk. After years of just doing ‘upkeep’, it has become clear that Christ Church Green requires serious attention from Vision RCL. Sadly, examples of graffiti in and around the Green are on the rise as are examples of bad lighting in places and vandalised trees and benches.

Our community’s engagement and interest in our local Green and ensuring its protection and ongoing improvement is exactly why the Friends of Christ Church Green is being formed.

The Friends of Christ Church Green will seek to act as a lobbying group that is governed by local residents with the purpose to liaise with local councillors, council officers and Vision RCL. It will ensure our Green is protected from any unwanted activities, is invested in and maintained accordingly.

A draft constitution is being drawn up and a public meeting will be called after May’s local elections to debate that constitution, what we as residents want and expect from this important group and to elect the Friends’ committee members.

We all have an individual voice, but sometimes a collective shout can be more effective. I hope you will join us at the Friends of Christ Church Green founding meeting (date to be confirmed) and voice how you want our Green to look for the future.

For more information on the Friends of Christ Church Green and to get involved, email


An author’s story


Caroline Moir will be discussing her debut novel Brockenspectre at Wanstead Library this month. Here, the author, teacher, stage manager and mother reflects on her journey into writing

I was born in the Sudan and had a peripatetic childhood – West Indies, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, and lastly, Syria. When I wasn’t in those countries, my father was.

What really got me writing was the feeling I had that, so far away from us, my father needed entertaining. My first effort was a poem along the lines of ‘Roses are red…’ I wrote letters describing, in particular, the doings of my impetuous brother and our free-ranging dog. Being sent to boarding school, I became eloquent about disgusting food and walking in crocodiles. Above all, I complained I was bored. There were no books to read, which worried my father a lot.

So, I was sent to another school that had a library full of Edwardian books suitable for girls, like me, who would become secretaries and get married. I often wonder how I managed to end up as me, a feminist from the age of 16 and later a university graduate, even gaining a PhD.

My parents didn’t possess the classics. However, they did enjoy novels set abroad. Because of my upbringing, I was entranced by the settings and hooked by the storytelling. And I wrote. I wrote to my family and my friends, and they wrote back. I still have all their letters.

Both as a teacher and with a family, I didn’t write as much. Then I started again. Then I more or less stopped because I returned to work. Twenty years later, I left teaching to write full time. Do I regret not really writing in those years? Yes and no. I might have been published earlier, but bringing up children, being a stage manager for a dynamic youth theatre, and teaching take a lot of creativity.

And I read a lot. A child on my hip, the book in my left hand, I stirred soup with my right. My seven-year-old was forced to wave her arms in front of me to get me to lift my eyes from the page. And I learnt a lot. About writing plays. About writing novels. About writing with a sense of place.

A nomadic child tends to be made an observer – I attended 10 schools – and, in my experience, continues to have itchy feet. I have taught in Newfoundland and Spain, lived in the States and visited my in-laws in India. All have wormed their way into my writing, but I think it is to the Sudan I owe my sense of place. My first memory is of being on a trek in the bush, sitting under a thorn tree eating cold roast guinea fowl my father had shot the day before, and spooning up cold baked beans as the accompaniment. The space was immense. The place made me happy.

I was lucky to have had the time to read. And write. And travel. And get published.

Caroline will be talking about writing and getting published at Wanstead Library on 11 May from 2pm to 3pm (free; booking required). Visit


Co-op Local Community Fund


Applications for a new round of community funding by Co-op open on 3 May.

“Applicable projects should be promoting fairer access to food, mental well-being services or education and employment. And this year, there is also a new category for projects that help people protect biodiversity or tackle climate change,” said Diana Varakina, Co-op Member Pioneer for Wanstead and South Woodford.