August 2022


Drought conditions delay the return of cattle grazing in Wanstead Park

DSCF3300Quinny, Nina and Naru were the first cows to return to Wanstead Park in 2020. ©Geoff Wilkinson

Cattle grazing has not returned to Wanstead Park this year because of the drought conditions.

It follows an assessment by the City of London Corporation’s Grazing and Landscape Project Officer, who determined there simply wasn’t sufficient vegetation to support the cows. The situation is to be monitored in the coming months, and if sufficient moisture enables vegetation growth in the autumn, the cows will return later in the year.

English longhorn cows first returned to the park in 2020. 


Plans to build flats on Snaresbrook Station Car Park


A consultation over plans to build two linked blocks of flats on part of Snaresbrook Station Car Park launches on 7 September.

TfL has previously announced they will be closing the car park to allow development.

“We are holding three consultation events for residents to take part and find out more. We have two online events on Wednesday and Thursday 7 and 8 September. We also have a drop-in event, being held within Wanstead Library on Spratt Hall Road, on Wednesday 7 September (between 4pm until 7pm),” said developers Pocket Living.



Wanstead nursery owner is finalist in the Black British Business Awards

E4QoibwRwuRMjTK8Pa9l_Connie_Barrett-minConnie Barrett

The founder of a Wanstead nursery has been announced as a finalist in the Black British Business Awards.

Connie Barrett founded Kids in Charge – which is based at Wanstead Youth Centre and also in Ilford – in 2007. “As a mother of five amazing children, I set out to provide flexible, guilt-free childcare to parents.  A place where parents could be assured that their child is seen and treated as an individual and their needs are truly central to all planning and activities,” said Connie, who also works as a business coach, supporting entrepreneur’s and business owners via her Review, Refresh and Recast event.

The Black British Business Awards celebrates the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black professionals and business owners in the UK and empowers organisations with the necessary tools to attract, retain and progress their internal Black, Asian and minority ethnic talent. 

Connie has been shortlisted for the Entrepreneur Senior Leader of the Year award.

This year’s winners’ ceremony will be held in the City of London on 29 September.


Free to be kind

241833295_1248156165612163_7069054864140989380_nElsa and the kindness tree at last year’s Wanstead Festival

Elsa Arnold is well known locally for her work as a mental health advocate and for Spreading Kindness Through E11. Here, she outlines her work with east London charity Freedom 2 

I first connected with the founder of Freedom 2, Mel Manning, after setting up the Spreading Kindness Through E11 initiative, as their focus on creativity and well-being tied in with a lot of what my projects have also aimed to achieve.

As a passionate mental health advocate, particularly for young people, I saw the importance of the work FREEDOM 2 does in schools to support girls via their creative programmes, and I am grateful to now work closely with them through my role as their first youth trustee. 

We offer creative programmes to young girls aged 12 to 17 who may be at risk of exploitation. Based in east London and Essex, we focus on different areas of well-being to help build the girls’ self-worth and confidence, with the aim of providing space for self-expression in a way that feels comfortable for them. 

Programmes such as our FREEDOM 2 Create package provide resources for schools to be able to support their students’ emotional well-being in practical ways. We’ve seen, through running the sessions, how much value students find in having the opportunity to learn a new creative skill within the school day, having the space to talk to one another and explore issues that are important to them. 

In December 2021, we hosted an exhibition of several of the girls’ work from different schools at Fullwell Cross Library. The artwork displayed showcased a sewing piece in which the girls had sewn powerful words they felt connected with into fabric. Words included affirmations such as ‘I am strong’. The girls chose words and phrases personal to them, which were then sewn together into one large piece and hung in the window at the library. A huge value of FREEDOM 2 is empowering the young people we work with and giving them a platform to have their voices heard and know that they matter. We were pleased to be able to do this through our exhibition pieces. 

My role as a youth trustee also contributes towards this empowerment of youth voice. It is really powerful to feel you are being listened to and thought of, not only in the delivery of workshops, but in the decision-making of the organisation. I have learnt so much over the last year as a trustee. I’ve had the opportunity to edit their first-ever blog series and support events and new ideas for the charity moving forward. It’s been an extremely valuable experience, for which I’m very grateful. For a charity to recognise the importance of including young people throughout all of the work they’re doing is amazing and shows their commitment to the difference they are trying to make. 

We would love the opportunity to work with more schools, so do get in touch if that’s something you would like to be part of.

For more information about FREEDOM 2, visit


Creating art (and artists)

Wanstead-Flats---St-Gabriels©Ron Filer

Ron Filer is well known on the local art scene, running classes at Wanstead and Aldersbrook venues. As he gradually retires from tutoring duties, he is keen to find a replacement that will keep the community creating

Hi friends, I’m Ron Filer. I was born in Buckhurst Hill and have lived in Aldersbrook for the last 53 years. I enjoyed painting when at school and was an original member of Bedford House Community Association, with famous art tutor Walter Spradbury (1889–1969).

Scouting was always a joy, pulling the trek cart from Buckhurst Hill to Gilwell Park (not so much traffic in those days). After leaving Walthamstow Technical College, I joined J Sainsbury’s as an apprentice refrigeration engineer. I served as scout leader in the 45th Epping Forest group, then called up for the RAF as an electrician on National Service duty for two years.

I married Margaret in 1959, who I met at Scottish dancing at 15 years of age through the Scouts and Guides. We moved to Aldersbrook, where I again took up Scout leadership with the 21st group and with three young children of our own! We are still happily married, now with grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.

I retired at 65 from the refrigeration industry but continued until this year to be on the committee of the 65-year-old London Refrigeration Society, which sadly had to close through Covid and a lack of new members.

 I continued many activities in retirement, including attending painting classes at Wanstead House. I’m now a long-standing committee member and president of Wanstead House Community Association, where many classes and clubs meet weekly for handicrafts, flower arranging, languages, dancing and art. I went on to become involved with Art Group Wanstead – formed in 2011 by Donna Mizzi – as treasurer and committee member. 

I have also been guiding folk at Age UK in the Corner House (Allan Burgess Centre) on Thursday mornings for over 11 years, where more senior guests do watercolours, chat and socialise. Then, each Tuesday afternoon, I do something similar at St Gabriel’s Church hall in Aldersbrook (as is the subject of my painting here) with a group at which anybody is welcome to ‘knit, paint and natter’ over a cuppa. 

I love to encourage painting activities through outdoor visits or working from photos or magazine articles. Interested? Why not give one or more of these Wanstead-based groups a try? These are local venues at which you can meet new friends whilst gaining new skills to share with others. 

All these local groups need new blood to organise and supervise and ensure many more years of friendly activities. I still paint, but I’m getting less mobile, so are you interested in helping me guide and teach others? Please get in touch if so.

For more information and to contact Ron, email


Chapter 9


The ninth Wanstead Fringe – which runs from 9 to 25 September – will include the first Wanstead Book Festival. Here, Giles Wilson offers a glimpse of some of the writers taking part

It amazes me to write that 2022 marks the ninth Wanstead Fringe, the annual celebration of culture which takes place each September and which started with about a dozen hastily arranged events in the summer of 2013.

With the exception of the year of lockdown, the Fringe has grown year-on-year, gradually expanding as more and different activities and new venues have been added to the line-up. This year’s new attractions include the launch of something that could become a big affair in its own right: the Wanstead Book Festival.

A joint effort between Wanstead Bookshop, Vision RCL and the Oxfam Bookshop, the festival will include local and national authors, and will cover everything from children’s books to music, crime and poetry.

Heading the bill is Hannah Lowe, the Ilford-born poet who last year won the Costa Book Award with The Kids, an anthology of sonnets inspired by her time teaching at City and Islington College.

Justin Webb, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, will be speaking about his memoir The Gift of a Radio: My Childhood and Other Train Wrecks, in which he unpicks his upbringing jostled between his mother’s undiagnosed psychological problems and his stepfather’s untreated ones. His former colleague John Humphrys says Webb is “a great broadcaster because he sounds like a real human being,” and we’re lucky he will be coming to our inaugural festival.

We’re also delighted that one of the most creative characters from around these parts, John Rogers, will be taking part too. He has built a huge following for videos of his walks during which he talks about the history which made east London. His book, This Other London, has been described as being like the adventures of a “redbrick Indiana Jones in search of the lost meaning of our metropolitan existence.” It will be a return to the Fringe for John, who in 2015 played the part of William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley in a mock trial staged on Christ Church Green, which is appropriate since Hannah Armstrong, the historian who has done more to document the history of Wanstead House than anyone else, will be giving audiences another chance to take a virtual guided tour around the former palace.

Ted Kessler spent his career at NME and then as editor of Q magazine until its closure in 2020. His book, Paper Cuts, is the inside story of the death of the British music press, but also a love letter to it. A familiar figure in Wanstead, Ted has been described as a great writer by none other than Paul Weller. 

These and other authors will be taking part in what we hope will be the first of many Wanstead Book Festivals.

For full details and Wanstead Fringe event tickets, visit


History comes home

Valentine-from-William-WP-to-Catherine-TL-(C)-Redbridge-Museum© Redbridge Museum

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

In this article, I’m revisiting the stately Wanstead House, once part of what is now Wanstead Park and whose wealthy owner I wrote about some months ago. This time, I’m skipping forward in time to the Regency era of the early 1800s to look at the story of one of its later owners, Catherine Tylney-Long.

Catherine was born in 1789 in Draycot, Wiltshire, where she spent her early life. She was a descendant of Sir Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney, who had rebuilt Wanstead House 100 years earlier. In 1805, she inherited the estate as part of the Tylney-Long fortune, amounting to over £200,000 (around £20m today). She became the wealthiest heiress in the country.

Catherine’s new status attracted many eligible suitors, including the Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV. In the end, she fell for William Wellesley Pole, a nephew of the Duke of Wellington. He was handsome, fashionable and well connected. Catherine adored William, although it was clear to others he was trouble. Although William was charming and of noble birth, he had a reputation as a rake, addicted to gambling and womanising. But despite warnings about his improper behaviour, Catherine was in love. She learned who he really was through his many scandals but remained smitten. The two exchanged love letters, many of which are now in the collections at Redbridge Museum and Heritage Centre, like the Valentine’s card from William pictured here. 

The marriage in 1812 ultimately led to Catherine’s downfall and the end of Wanstead House. In their pre-nuptial agreement, William had gained control of over half of Catherine’s inheritance, including her properties, and was legally entitled to her earnings. 

Stories about William and Catherine’s lavish wedding and extravagant lifestyle appeared in gossip columns, a sign of success for the celebrity couple. William’s career also flourished when he became an MP. Yet he was still partying and gambling, squandering away Catherine’s fortune. The family travelled across Europe where William could avoid his creditors, and it was from Naples in 1823 that he sold Wanstead House for demolition for only £10,000 to ease his debts. He eventually abandoned a humiliated Catherine and their children in pursuit of a married woman. 

Catherine separated from William and returned to Draycot without him in 1824, resolving to “assert [her] rights” when he threatened to remove the children from her. Burdened by stress, her health deteriorated until she died in 1825, aged 35. 

Personal stories like Catherine’s – about the people behind the borough’s houses, shops and institutions – will be explored in the new Redbridge Museum, re-opening later this year.

Redbridge Museum is located on Clements Road, Ilford. Visit

To complete a survey on what else should go on display, visit


Changing the local outlook with a second pop-up art show

20220703_140157©Ron Filer

Art Group Wanstead’s monthly pop-up exhibition on Christ Church Green will return on 14 August.

“Our members will be putting up their work for the second time on the chain-link fences by the High Street from about 10.30am to 3.30pm. They aim to add interest for Wanstead, and to encourage local artists. Stop for a chat, or just check out the work as you walk by. You may even be inspired to pick up a paintbrush when you get home,” said a spokesperson.

The group welcomes all artists with a local connection.



A kind of magic


Redbridge’s Disability Awareness Festival returns to Christ Church Green this month. There will be information stalls, activities for people of all abilities… and a Freddie Mercury tribute act, says Sophie Donelan

The London Borough of Redbridge, in collaboration with its partners, One Place East, Vision, Uniting Friends and Redbridge Forum, will host the annual Disability Awareness Festival on Christ Church Green this month. This is the first face-to-face disability awareness festival since 2019, and the theme this year is ‘back to life, back to reality’.

The festival is a special occasion offering people the opportunity to participate in activities that are accessible to everyone, with or without a disability, as well as the chance to take part in a positive community event that can enhance their sense of well-being. This event is open to the wider Redbridge community and beyond.

We aim to provide a unique opportunity for participants with disabilities to showcase their talents, helping to improve self-esteem and confidence as well as learning new skills or becoming more independent. This is a great chance to strengthen community links between residents and service users with disabilities. 

On the main stage, there will be live music, dance and comedy performances throughout the day. There will also be outdoor games and activities, and the headliner will be a Freddie Mercury tribute act!

A variety of organisations and charities will focus on providing support and service information for individuals with disabilities on the day, and many people will be holding information sessions to consult and advise on options available so that those with a disability can become more independent. This is a family-friendly event, and there will be a wide range of workshops offered throughout the day, such as music, dancing, arts and crafts, sports and wellness. 

Not only do we aim for this to be a fun event for all, but we also aim to improve both the mental and physical health of participants through accessible sports and links to health and well-being activities and services. Redbridge Council and its partners believe the health and well-being of residents, and having access to information, is of great importance, so there will be a chance for attendees to have health check-ups, including with the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

There will also be local businesses selling a wide range of goods in our market area, and refreshments available from the food and drink village. 

Please show your support and come along. We hope to see you there!

The Disability Awareness Festival will take place on Christ Church Green on 24 August from 12 noon to 5pm. For more information, visit


Dragons & damsels


Tim Harris from the Wren Wildlife Group describes some of our most fascinating insects: dragonflies and damselflies, which thrive in Wanstead Park, like this four-spotted chaser photographed at Perch Pond

Take a stroll along one of the lakes in Wanstead Park on any warm, sunny day from May to October and you have a very good chance of seeing one of our many local dragonflies or damselflies – perched on a lily pad, grasping an iris blade, sunning itself on a path, or whizzing past in pursuit of prey. 

Collectively known as the Odonata, according to fossil records, these flying insects have been around for some 350 million years. There are 46 species in the UK, and 21 have reliably been seen in Wanstead.

Unless we take up pond dipping, we only see the last and shortest stage of their fascinating life cycle. Dragonflies and damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis with three life stages, rather than butterflies’ four: egg, larva, and adult. Fertilised females inject many tiny eggs into aquatic vegetation near the water surface, or – depending on the species – deposit them loosely in water. Within a few weeks, the eggs hatch into larvae. This is the longest stage of a dragonfly’s life. Over the course of one, two, or even five years in the case of the golden-ringed dragonfly, they are active underwater predators in freshwater lakes and rivers. As they grow, the larvae are able to eat ever-larger prey, including other insects, snails, leeches, tadpoles and even small fish. 

When they are ready, the larvae climb out of the water and up the stalk of an aquatic plant and squeeze themselves out of their larval ‘skin’. Sometimes, these discarded exuviae can be found still attached to vegetation. The newly emerged adult dries its wings and legs in the sun and, when strong enough, takes its first tentative flight.

The first species to emerge locally is the large red damselfly, which can sometimes be seen by tiny garden ponds in late April, while common and ruddy darters can even be seen on warm days in October. Adults typically live no more than a fortnight, though some may fly for eight weeks before they perish. If they successfully mate during this time, they will have kick-started another generation. 

In Wanstead Park, the margins of Shoulder of Mutton, Heronry, and Perch ponds are alive with these colourful insects on warm summer days; the bank at the east end of Perch Pond is as good a place as any to watch a variety of behaviours. There, aggressive male dragonflies can be seen chasing off rivals, while females lay their eggs among the waterside plants. And sometimes, dozens of coupled pairs of damselflies can be seen mating on the wing or on mats of weed. 

With global climate change, some continental species are colonising southern England. Others seem to be struggling. In our area, they have both unpolluted water and emergent vegetation, and that’s why they’re thriving. If you see anything interesting, you can report your sighting to the British Dragonfly Society (BDS). Better still, join the BDS and help their efforts to conserve these beautiful creatures.

For more information on the British Dragonfly Society, visit

For more information on the Wren Wildlife Group, visit


Paint the town pink: join the Haven House Sparkle Walk this September


Haven House Children’s Hospice is inviting residents to sign up for this year’s Sparkle Walk.

“Grab a team of friends and family and help us paint the town pink with a 10km walk through Wanstead, South Woodford and some parts of Epping Forest,” said a spokesperson for the Woodford Green charity. The event – which starts and finishes in Wanstead – will take place on the evening of 2 September. “Every participant will receive a T-shirt and a glass of fizz at the finish line!”



London City Airport consultation: more flights over Wanstead


A consultation on London City Airport’s expansion plans is open until 9 September.

“Wanstead is facing the prospect of more flights from City Airport at weekends, in the early mornings and late evening. The airport argues only quieter, cleaner aircraft will be used during these hours. However, the aircraft are only significantly quieter on departure and within about four miles over the airport. So for Wanstead, that difference could be negligible,” said a spokesperson for campaign group HACAN East.