June 2022


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


Conservation rules

Screenshot-2022-05-06-at-15.16.28There are 16 conservation areas in Redbridge

Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee talks about conservation areas, the restrictions they impose on homeowners and, ultimately, the benefits they create for the common good

There are about 10,000 conservation areas in the UK, which says something for the ageing housing stock as well as parks, historic town centres and canals we have in this country.

Whilst newly built houses have their advantages, many people are drawn to buying in a conservation area with its protected neighbourhood status. Interestingly, research has revealed there is a premium of about 9% to be added to the valuation of conservation area houses. Many of these are in our communities of north-east London and west Essex, with their architectural features and picturesque surroundings.

Consequently, it is known there are conservation area restrictions on the type of work you can carry out on your property. Beware, therefore, of the strict penalties if, as a houseowner, you break the rules. The restrictions vary from one area to another according to what is set by the local authority.

The normal permitted development rights that benefit houseowners are displaced in conservation areas if the council imposes Article 4 Directions, which then lay down specific restrictions on what you can do to improve your home. Consent will be required, for example, if you want to demolish a gate, wall or fence of over one metre in height if it borders the road or higher than two metres if it does not. Permission is also required for cladding, side extensions, new construction of sheds, outbuildings and swimming pools or if you wish to install satellite equipment which faces the road. Solar panels also have restrictions as well as alterations to roofs. Even changing the colour of window frames and doors and the lopping of trees are caught by these rules. Lack of knowledge if you carry out such works without permission is no defence.

It follows that talking to your council at an early stage is vital because failure to do so could ultimately be punished by a substantial fine or, at worst, a two-year prison sentence. On the plus side, some councils offer grant aid for the extra costs and, of course, the additional protection does mean you will not see poor quality development, thereby making your area more desirable.

If you have carried out work on your home before the conservation area rules in your community came into force you can perhaps count your blessings, because such works following these rule changes may prevent you from proceeding or force you to reduce the extent of the building work you have in mind.

This is one more example of restrictions being placed on individual freedoms because of the ‘common good’ argument which conservation areas are intended to achieve.

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


One small step to Wanstead House: presentation about moon landings

moon-1Apollo 15 lunar module pilot James Irwin salutes the US flag

Those interested in space exploration are invited to join members of the North East London Astronomical Society on 19 June for a talk about the Apollo programme.

“My presentation will look at each Apollo mission where they walked on the moon. I will start by debunking the conspiracy theories about fake moon landings,” said Jerry Workman, who has met two of the 12 men to have walked on the lunar surface.

The event will take place at Wanstead House from 10.30am (first-time visitors: free).

Email stevek1951@hotmail.com


Well done, ma’am


As the nation celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Wanstead resident Eileen Flinter reflects upon her memories of the monarch’s 70-year reign

When I was six, I saw my mother cry for the first time. We lived in a tenement in Glasgow and I was in bed suffering from chickenpox when Mum came into the room, wiping her eyes and crying. “The King is dead,” she told me. It was February 1952.

By June 1953, we had moved and our home was a fish and chip shop in Manchester. My parents, like millions of others, bought their first television to watch the Coronation. I can remember perching on the arm of a chair in our crowded sitting room as the young queen was crowned and family and neighbours watched in reverent silence.

My brother and I were two of the many children who were given Coronation mugs at school. We used our Coronation mugs on a daily basis for years. One of the mugs still survives. As the Queen passed more and more milestones, this shabby piece of crockery was elevated to the status of family treasure and put away for safety.

By the time of the Silver Jubilee in 1977, I was married and living in Dublin. This was not the easiest place to look for red, white and blue bunting or Union Jacks, so I watched the events in Britain on the BBC and spoke to my parents on the phone.

When the 2002 Golden Jubilee took place, I was living in Wanstead. My daughter remembers that everyone in the estate agents where she then worked was told to wear red, white and blue that day. She also remembers I bought her Union Jack shot glasses which she and her friend used as ashtrays when I was out one night. Apparently, I was mad with them for abusing the gift – and for smoking!

Ahead of the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, my granddaughter was taken to see the Queen and Prince Philip in Valentine’s Park. Niamh had her photo taken wearing a Union Jack hat and clutching a flag. This photo is stored in her memory box, along with the mug she got at the Cranbourne Avenue street party, and the 1953 mug from her grandmother.

Fast forward another decade to the Platinum Jubilee. From Brexit to the pandemic and an 11-year-old asking me if we are going to have a nuclear war, the intervening 10 years have been tumultuous and unsettling for many, and tragic for some. And the Queen has not been exempt personally, losing her husband and enduring the most tragic of all funerals for anyone, let alone doing so in the glare of cameras. She is left dealing with the fallout of the shameful behaviour of her favourite son and the absence of her cheerful grandson.

Around these landmarks, I have grown up and grown old, but the young girl who inherited the Crown whilst on holiday in Africa has gone on doing the same job, day after day and year after year. It is a formidable employment record. For all of us, there have been good times and bad, happy times and sad over the last 70 years.

Royalist or republican, it is hard not to offer the Queen respect and admiration for a life lived in complete dedication to a job and way of life that came to her accidentally. Elizabeth’s recent birthday photo with two ponies signalled the life she would have chosen for herself. Most of us have no memory of another monarch. So familiar that she is just there, an unconsidered part of our lives. We owe her our very warmest wishes. She has done us proud. Take care, ma’am.


Primary school ‘marafun’ raises money for PTA’s hardship fund


Pupils from Nightingale Primary School completed their annual ‘marafun’ challenge last month.

“Walks took place all over the area, with the children covering 1,174km in total! They raised £2,100 for the school’s hardship fund, supporting low-income families with school-related costs,” said a spokesperson.

Peter Hughes, parent and owner of event sponsor Gotto Trattoria, said: ‘’We were thrilled to be able to support the ‘marafun’, to bring families together and for the children to contribute to their community.’’


Communal compost

IMG-20220226-WA0000Yann’s own compost bin

A communal compost bin will be temporarily installed on Christ Church Green this month. The only thing you have to do is to throw in your fruit and veg scraps, says Yann Corre

Every year, London Local Authorities collect more than 3.6 million tons of waste, and generating more rubbish for waste collection day means more lorries using more fuel and causing more air pollution and greenhouse gases to be released. Considering the current geopolitical and climate situation, there is an urgency to reduce our fuel consumption and carbon footprint in general.

But there is good news! There is one simple thing households can do that would lead to a huge reduction in waste: composting!

Some 30% to 40% of rubbish thrown away could be composted, including garden waste like dead leaves, grass cuttings and twigs, and kitchen waste such as uncooked fruit and veg scraps, coffee grounds and certain tea bags. Composting is a brilliant way of dealing with food waste, as well as scrap paper and card.

The general principle is to mix around 50% soft green material (grass clippings, weeds, uncooked vegetables) with 50% woody brown material (prunings, wood chippings, shredded paper, cardboard or dead leaves). This mix is important to maintain optimal moisture in the system; if it gets too wet, the compost bin can become smelly. Mixing the compost regularly is also crucial as it is an aerobic process (with oxygen).

Composting significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It doesn’t take up much space and produces a soil improver that’s great for the garden and perfect for growing your own plants.

For Wanstead residents who don’t have space for their own compost bins, and for people willing to try this experience, Cleaner Greener Wanstead and Redbridge Council will install a shared compost bin on Christ Church Green this month. It will be placed on the grass verge near the entrance of the church (Wanstead Place), open to everyone, for a few weeks.

As an experiment, we aim to invite as many people as we can to start composting. The only thing you have to do is to throw your fruit and veg food waste into the bin and we will manage it. The compost generated could be used by everyone for gardening.

Workshops, support, advice and tips will be provided to teach you what food waste can be thrown in and how you can store your kitchen waste for a few days in your home before dropping them into the communal bin. Our approach is totally flexible, so do not hesitate to contact us for any information.

Let’s get composting!

The Christ Church Green communal compost bin will be available in early June. For more information on the initiative, visit wnstd.com/compost


(No) sitting back

IMG_0295The fire-damaged area of the playground has been fenced off

Ask not what your council can do for you, ask what you can do for your community, says Councillor Paul Canal as he updates on the appeal to replace the benches damaged by the Christ Church Green arson attack

Setbacks and challenges always bring the best out of people and communities. As bleak as the Covid pandemic was, people across Wanstead and Woodford rallied round in a remarkable display of mutual support. From foodbanks to shopping, hospital lifts to home visits, our community came together as never before.

The recent arson attack on the Christ Church Green children’s playground elicited a similar fantastic response, with an outpouring of sorrow and generosity raising over £5,500 through the crowdfunding appeal I launched after the act of vandalism.

It was suggested by some that we should have sat back and demanded the council – through the parks’ operator Vision – fund the repairs and replacement of the damaged benches. After all, we pay more tax and rates per person than most of the borough, goes the argument, and deserve our fair share back. That is a valid view, but I would suggest there is a bigger picture to consider.

Resources are constrained, and Vision simply don’t have the capital budget to do all they want to do, let alone what we would like as a community here in Wanstead.

We also live in one of the wealthier areas of Redbridge, where people have the capacity and the will to contribute to their community, which has been demonstrated time and time again.

I would suggest the kindness of our community, exemplified by generous donations from businesses such as Nightingale on the Green, Smile In London dental clinic and North London Loft Rooms, along with dozens of individual benefactors, has had a positive effect that extends beyond our borders.

Not only has our local community funded the repair and replacement of equipment on Christ Church Green, but we have also allowed Vision to invest in playgrounds for less well-off children in a more deprived part of the borough. This seems particularly fitting for a playground named after a church.

Vision will receive £3,000 of the funds raised, £2,000 to replace the benches in the playground and £1,000 to provide a new bench on the green. The balance will be donated to the Wanstead Fringe, allowing Giles Wilson to put on an even more ambitious programme for 2022; our community at its best.

Wanstead and Woodford, thank you. I am humbled to live in such a great community.

For more information on the Christ Church Green Playground Arson Appeal, visit wnstd.com/arsonappeal

Paul Canal is a Conservative councillor for Bridge ward.