June 2022


New open-air art display in Wanstead aims to give plenty of food for thought

IMG_4300© Teresa Witz / www.teresawitz.com

Although there are no plans for an art trail this year, artists from Art Group Wanstead will start a pop-up display on Christ Church Green’s chain-link fence on 3 July, with a view to making it a monthly event.

“At the very least, it will add colour and interest for local people and visitors to enjoy and contemplate. But, who knows? The idea could eventually become a little Bayswater Road,” said the art group’s founder, Donna Mizzi, referring to the landmark display covering Hyde Park fences on Sundays. If the Christ Church Green art experience proves popular, members have some innovative ideas that could be introduced, such as talks and workshops.

“Admittedly, much of its success will depend on the weather!”

The group welcomes all artists with a local connection, and membership is free. Visit wnstd.com/art


Wanstead well-being group invite suggestions for next discussion


A new group advocating the importance of well-being will be holding regular meetings in Wanstead to discuss a wide range of health issues.

“We held our first coffee morning at The Duke last month on the subject of the menopause. The aim is to create a sense of community and for people to share their tips through personal experiences, along with the experts in the group. We are open to suggestions on what our next topic should be,” said Jyoti Marwaha, who founded the group with Komal Khetia.

Visit wnstd.com/wb


Nightingale Lane one-way system now in operation


A new one-way system has been introduced on a section of Nightingale Lane, preventing traffic from driving towards the High Street between Wellesley Road and Grosvenor Road.

“Due to consistent complaints of rat-running and vehicles mounting the pavement, there was majority support in the consultation for a no-entry point. The signs and the posts have been installed, and surveys will be conducted in the next few weeks to establish compliance levels,” said a spokesperson for Redbridge Council.


Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School: School Streets clean air consultation is open


Redbridge Council is consulting on creating an additional five School Streets schemes, including one at Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School in Wanstead.

The initiative aims to reduce traffic around schools to protect local children from accidents and air pollution.

“Under the proposals, welcomed by head teachers and parents, non-residential vehicles from outside the zone cannot enter streets surrounding the five schools for a period at the start and end of the school day, during term time only,” said a spokesperson.

Residents who have cars registered to an address inside the zones will still be able to use their cars during this time.

“This will eliminate dangerous traffic hotspots near the schools and make children less vulnerable to road accidents by creating a much safer journey to and from school.”

If approved in Wanstead, Chestnut Drive and Highstone Avenue will become pedestrian and cycle zones between 8.15am and 9.15am and 2.30pm and 3.45pm, Monday to Friday.

The consultation is open until 27 July 2022.


Wanstead Village councillors resume in-person advice surgeries


Wanstead Village councillors have restarted their in-person advice surgeries at the Allan Burgess Centre (in the Corner House, located at 2 Grove Park).

Sessions take place on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month (excluding August) from 10.30am to 11.30am.

“As pandemic restrictions have now eased, we are pleased to return to in-person meetings. There’s no need to make an appointment, just drop in,” said Councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas.

Wanstead Park councillors will be resuming their surgeries from September.


Family cycling in Wanstead Park raises over £1,000 for new playground


Over 100 people took part in a 3km family bike ride around Wanstead Park’s Ornamental Water earlier this month to raise funds for a new natural play area.

“We’ve received over £1,000 in donations so far, and more contributions are welcome to help us buy equipment for the Wanstead Park playground,” said Gill James of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

Work on the new play area’s woodland trail – which will be located on former scrubland behind the Temple – began on 13 June.

Visit wnstd.com/parkplayarea


A lot to lose

IMG20220508174040©Stephen Lines

In the 12th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Stephen Lines talks about negotiating with nature

Our current allotment plot is the fourth my partner and I have had, the second on Redbridge Lane West. On first viewing, it was clear the plot offered a daunting challenge. The site was characterised by anthills and craters from previously removed fruit trees. Half of the plot was covered in briars and overgrown with sedges and grasses. Carpets laid down to suppress weeds had a thick covering of soil, and white, waxy roots had established themselves among the weave.

However, it is a sheltered plot, bordered on two sides by a hedgerow of hawthorn, spruce, rowan, a young oak and a willow. To the rear of the allotment, a designated wild area is populated by crab apple, rose trees and blackberries. In spring, the blossoms fill the air with a heady fragrance. In autumn, amber leaves and ruby-coloured berries add a hint of warmth on cold, darkening, misty days.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work on this small plot of land, not just for the chance to grow fruit and vegetables, but also to do what I can to maintain the natural environment on and around the plot with as little human interference as possible. Allotmenteering is essentially negotiating with nature. There is no real choice in this as nature will always have the upper hand!

You can plan to manage the predictable, but you can only adapt to the unpredictability of nature’s whims. Last year provided opportunities to adapt. Late frosts damaged the bean crop. An unusual abundance of ants successfully harvested blackfly, which dined frequently and well on tender green shoots, drastically reducing some crops. A couple of hours of torrential rain last summer all but destroyed the potato and tomato crop. The usual suspects arrived punctually; slugs, snails and birds enjoying tasty green leaves and juicy soft fruits just hours before the perfect picking time.

Adapting to the unpredictable is something all of us plot holders on Redbridge Lane West have needed to do over the past months. Cadent, whose property adjoins the allotments, is seeking to reduce the number of plots to enable them to undertake necessary improvements to their gas works.

It has taken some time and effort, but my partner and I have now created a plot that we can work on and enjoy. Using physical activity to achieve something creative and to be able to take pleasure in what you have grown and what you have left to nature are among the main motivations for having an allotment plot.

It is for these reasons, along with the other benefits of being on a community allotment, that negotiations continue with Cadent, aiming to minimise the loss and disruption to plot holders on Redbridge Lane West.

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


History comes home

statiue-1© Redbridge Heritage Centre

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

If you’re a resident of Wanstead or Woodford, you are very likely to have come across this statue before. It’s of one of the most well-known figures in British history, Winston Churchill, who served twice as Prime Minister as well as the Member of Parliament for Woodford. The photo was taken by Fred James, who lived in Wanstead and Woodford from 1905 to 1975. It is now held in the collections at Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre, where a refreshed display about Churchill is currently in the making.

Churchill remains one of Britain’s longest-serving politicians to this day. He started his political career as a Conservative MP in 1901, but was a controversial figure from the start, disagreeing with many government policies and defecting to the Liberal Party in 1904. He rejoined the Conservatives 20 years later, standing successfully as MP for Epping, which at that time covered the areas of Wanstead and Woodford. Churchill served Epping from 1924 to 1945, and when Woodford was made its own constituency, he held the seat until he retired in 1964.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and in 1940 became Prime Minister, leading the Allied forces to victory. His famous wartime speeches and military skill made him a national hero.

Victory in Europe was declared on 8 May 1945 and Churchill was the guest of honour at Wanstead and Woodford’s official victory celebrations the following year on 1 June 1946. Photographs of the event held at Redbridge Heritage Centre show him inspecting a Guard of Honour and addressing the crowd as he opened the gala on Woodford Green.

Churchill was voted out in the 1945 general election. Many voters didn’t think he could match Labour’s promises of post-war reform. But he was back in government in 1951 and remained so until 1955 when he retired as Prime Minister due to ill health. He continued to serve as MP for Woodford and attended local public engagements. In 1959, the statue of Churchill was unveiled on Woodford Green in recognition of his wartime service.

Churchill was well known for his controversial views, often informed by his imperialist politics. Many of the statements he made about nations that had been colonised by the British are today considered racist, but were not necessarily unique in opinion at the time. Following the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in June 2020, the statue was vandalised in protest of these statements.

Redbridge Museum’s display about Churchill hopes to explore his role as a leader as well as varying public opinion about him.

Redbridge Museum is located on Clements Road, Ilford. Visit wnstd.com/rm

To complete a survey on what else should go on display, visit wnstd.com/rms


Restoring the Roding

dreamstime_m_107528552Brown trout have distinctive black and red spots

In the fourth of a series of articles, Thames21 Catchment Partnership Development Officer Will Oliver explains why he is in search of brown trout in the River Roding

The brown trout is a species of fish native to UK rivers. Unlike some other native fish species which have wider tolerance levels, brown trout are ‘picky’ when it comes to exactly where they call home.

In general, they will only be found in rivers that have clean, unpolluted water with a range of high-quality habitats. The riverbed must also have areas of loose gravels free from fine sediment for the trout to spawn in. Some brown trout, for reasons still not fully understood, migrate out of rivers and into the sea to feed, before returning to rivers to spawn later in their lives (in a life cycle similar to that of a salmon). Known as sea trout, these fish require a river channel to be free of barriers, such as weirs and dams, to complete their migration. For these reasons, brown trout require the entire river system to be healthy and functioning as close to its natural state as possible.

On the face of it, it may therefore seem misjudged to mention the River Roding in the same sentence as brown trout. The Roding has suffered degradation throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries and has been affected by sediment pollution from the intensively-farmed upper catchment, as well as pollution from road run-off, wastewater and combined sewer overflows in the more urban stretches. Sections of the river have also been dredged through history, removing the gravels that brown trout depend on for spawning.

However, it’s highly likely the Roding would have once held good numbers of brown trout and there are still some areas in the upper Roding where the habitat and water quality remains good enough to potentially support some small, relic populations of the species. Additionally, compared with many of the other major tributaries of the Thames, the Roding has the fewest barriers to fish migration.

It therefore seems possible that trout could still exist in isolated populations within the Roding. If this is true, then work to improve the habitats and water quality of the Roding could encourage these populations to expand. If this is not the case, and pressures on the Roding have caused trout populations to undergo localised extinctions, then it is possible that by improving spawning habitats and making barriers to migration passable, sea trout – which are known to be present in the Thames Estuary – could be encouraged to return to the river to spawn. Generally improving the water quality and health of our rivers will, in turn, attract a greater variety of wildlife and plants.

If you have seen or caught brown trout in the Roding or any of its tributaries, then we would love to hear from you.

For more information on the Thames21 project and to get in touch, email will.oliver@thames21.org.uk


Walk this way


Alison O’Connor established Tinder Sticks in 2018 to encourage people to connect with nature. Here, the former Epping Forest Keeper explains why the project’s guided walks in Wanstead Park are so much more than just a walk in the woods

I live, love and worked in Epping Forest, spending five years as a Forest Keeper on Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park from 2003 to 2007. That part of the Forest will always hold a special place in my heart, so when I heard of the opportunity to share my passion for it, I jumped at the chance!

Four years ago, I set up Tinder Sticks, a social enterprise dedicated to getting people outdoor confident. We do this through nature connection and bushcraft activities, which we provide for children, families and adults in Epping Forest, Hainault Forest and at Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham.

We are committed to breaking down the socio-economic barriers stopping people from accessing and enjoying the outdoors, and as a Community Interest Company, we can apply for funding to ensure everybody has access to our events. We strive to make a percentage of all of our events free or partially funded for individuals and families on a low income.

In March, we were awarded funding from The City Bridge Trust to improve access to Epping Forest, and in April, launched ‘A Walk in the Woods’. Our project runs from April to November and is made up of monthly events at three key sites in Epping Forest: Wanstead Park, Hollow Ponds and Highams Park Lake. Running on Tuesday mornings at 10am, these free events are for adults. We walk, explore and discover new parts of the Forest. But we also deliver nature-connection workshops, such as wild flower drawing, mindfulness and bushcraft activities, including foraging, campfire cooking, whittling and even making string and jewellery from plants and trees.

Being outdoors in nature has been proven to reduce stress levels and increase feelings of positivity. Now, evidence from the Mental Health Foundation shows us that the quality of our relationship with nature is part of the reason for its positive impact on our well-being. Often referred to as connectedness, a stronger connection with nature means we have a stronger emotional attachment to our surroundings and the mental well-being benefits increase. ‘A Walk in the Woods’ does just that; it provides a deeper, stronger connection with nature along with showing you how to use the natural environment to thrive (not just survive) through the bushcraft activities. These hands-on activities will make you focus on the here and now, taking you away from the stresses and strains of daily life at home or work, and are known to particularly help people suffering from anxiety and depression.

So, you see, these events are actually so much more than a walk in the woods! If you would like to join us, please sign up for free. At our next event on 14 June (10am), we’ll be hosting a discovery walk, looking for animal signs and learning about the trees and plants in Wanstead Park. Then, on 5 July, we’ll be looking at the different plants and trees that can be used to make string and jewellery. And on 6 September, we’ll be spotting signs of autumn as we walk to Bushwood and back.

I hope to see you on one of the walks soon. And if you are part of a community group that may benefit from ‘A Walk in the Woods’, get in touch and I can arrange an event just for you.

For more information and to register for the walks, visit wnstd.com/tindersticks


Goodbye ‘N’ good luck

RB013-270721-Masud-Beg-2-sized-19.5© Russell Boyce

Marian Temple of the Wanstead Community Gardeners leads the farewell tributes to Maz Beg, who is retiring after 24 years behind the counter of Heads ‘N Tails, the High Street shop that sells ‘everything’

In 1998, Maz Beg arrived in Wanstead to open the ‘everything’ shop, Heads ‘N Tails. It sold pets, pet food, pet paraphernalia and just about everything else. How pleased we were to have an ‘everything’ shop. Wanstead had been sadly lacking in such a thing, especially after Brian Jobber of the much-loved Andrews hardware and everything else shop had retired. An ‘everything’ shop is what every high street needs and many are sadly devoid of such a thing.

The first thing Maz did when the shop opened was to invite customers to list what they would like him to stock. He has continued in that vein ever since. Maz will get anything for you. If it’s not at the wholesalers, he’ll order it on Amazon. Either way, it will arrive at the shop or at your door if bulky. At some time, the ‘everything’ expanded to include plants, seeds and associated garden stock, wool and haberdashery.

The Wanstead Community Gardeners have greatly appreciated Maz’s unfailing generosity over the years. Any spring bulbs not sold came to us. Thus, the daffodils along the fence by the wide grass verge in Wanstead Place are all from Maz, and more get planted every year.

In the Gravel Garden over the far side of George Green, the first spring flowers that appear are the hyacinths, all from Maz.

We have never paid full price for anything bought for the community gardens, whether plants, hose connections, water butt taps or whatever. Joy of joy, he was always happy to lend us his battery drill. So useful when a trailing cable would create all sorts of problems. Maz’s generosity to our group has been a generosity to Wanstead.

Now, after years of working long hours, it’s time for Maz to retire. How lucky we were to have him for the past 24 years! The new owners have a similar shop in Queen’s Road, Buckhurst Hill and hopefully will continue with the same stock, but without the wools and maybe the plants. That would be a pity! Perhaps we can persuade them to continue with the plants. So many people buy them from Heads ‘N Tails and the display makes a welcome splash of colour in the High Street.

Well, Maz Beg will be a hard act to follow. A person who has gone so many extra miles for his customers that he must have worn a groove somewhere.

We will miss him, but he goes with our very best wishes and appreciation of the difference his presence has made to our community. Well done, Maz. Enjoy your retirement, whatever you do.

Heads ‘N Tails is located at 21 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2AA. For more information, call 020 8989 6945


Wanstead Park’s visitor centre open on selected dates for the summer

DSC_2129©Geoff Wilkinson

The Temple – Wanstead Park’s visitor centre – reopened in May and will continue to welcome visitors for four days each month throughout the summer.

Exploring the history of the park through the Roman, Regency and Victorian periods to the present day, the Temple will be open from 12 noon to 5pm on 11, 12, 25 and 26 June (free entry), and will continue to open on the second and fourth weekend of each month until September. The Temple is an 18th-century, Grade II* listed building.

Visit wnstd.com/temple