October 2022


Wanstead knitting group’s new range of poppies now on sale


Wanstead-based knitting group Social Knitworks has launched a new range of poppies.

“Our 2022 red poppies will raise money for the Royal British Legion. Poppies cost £4 each and are available to buy directly from us. Alternatively, if you are a local business and would like some poppies to sell on our behalf, please do get in touch,” said Liz Hickson.

The group has been knitting and crocheting to raise money for a variety of charities and projects since 2019.

Email lizzieofizzie@gmail.com


Wanstead nursery owner is winner of Black British Business Awards

E4QoibwRwuRMjTK8Pa9l_Connie_Barrett-minConnie Barrett

The founder of a Wanstead nursery was named Entrepreneur Senior Leader of the Year at the Black British Business Awards in September.

“As a mother of five amazing children, I set out to provide flexible, guilt-free childcare to parents,” said Connie Barrett, who set up Kids in Charge – which is based at Wanstead Youth Centre and also in Ilford – in 2007.

The Black British Business Awards celebrates the exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black professionals and business owners in the UK. 


Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School joins School Streets scheme

Screenshot 2022-10-31 at 16.40.22

Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School in Wanstead has joined Redbridge Council’s School Streets scheme.

It follows a consultation in June in which the initiative was supported. Vehicular traffic is now prohibited from entering Chestnut Drive and Highstone Avenue during term time. The restrictions are in place from 8.15am to 9.15am and from 2.30pm to 3.45pm. “Letters have gone out to residents on the affected roads, who must apply for a free exemption for their vehicle to avoid getting fined,” said a spokesperson.


Wanstead scenes and atmospheric East End photos on show in new exhibition

wansteadfiuntag©Geoff Wilkinson

Local photographer Geoff Wilkinson will be holding a new exhibition of images documenting the East End of London next month, with the display also featuring Wanstead scenes.

“The East End continues apace with change, which is why I still feel compelled to capture the traditional mood and atmosphere before it disappears,” said Geoff, who will be opening his gallery at 84 Nightingale Lane on 19 November from 6pm to 9pm for the show.

“In the time since my last exhibition in 2019, change seems to be happening at an even faster pace. These latest images, therefore, are even more significant. With these pictures, I have expanded the area I capture to include Wanstead and South Woodford. When I look at changing inner east London, it’s easy to forget the streets and buildings closer to home, which are also changing.”

Call 020 8530 1244


People’s Question Time comes to Redbridge this November


Residents will have the chance to put their questions to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Members of the London Assembly at an event in Woodford next week.

“Topics up for discussion include transport, policing, the environment and London’s economic recovery,” said a spokesperson.

People’s Question Time Redbridge – chaired by Assembly Member Keith Prince  – will take place at the Sir James Hawkey Hall on 2 November from 7pm (free; tickets required; livestream available).

Visit london.gov.uk/pqt


A lot to lose


In the 15th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Sally Parker recalls how she first discovered the site

One rather grey and miserable day in early March 2008, I was having a day away from the office working at home (working at home isn’t purely a phenomenon of lockdown!). At lunchtime I decided I needed to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Normally, I would have gone in the direction of Wanstead Park, but this time, for some unknown reason, I turned left instead of right out of our gate and then headed on to Redbridge Lane West towards the A12, past Wanstead High School and the leisure centre.

Despite having lived in our house for 17 years at that point, I had rarely, if ever, walked in this direction. Imagine my astonishment when I came upon some allotments behind tall metal gates on the other side of the road from the leisure centre. I had no idea these even existed. As a keen gardener, this started me thinking, and in no time at all, I had checked out allotments in Redbridge.

The following weekend I persuaded my slightly reluctant husband, Ray, to come and have a look too. We were lucky that day as two plot holders saw us peering through the gates and invited us in for a look around. These two (Gemma and Sandy) had been working their plot for just over a year at the time and we were very impressed with their warm welcome and enthusiasm and the progress they had made in developing their own plot in a relatively short time. Their beautifully fitted-out shed and immaculate raised beds, all painted in a shade of horticultural green, made a special impact.

Gemma and Sandy pointed out some plots close to theirs that had recently become vacant, and as soon as we got home, I applied (I did agree it with Ray first!). By the end of April 2008 we had signed our agreement and obtained the keys for our very own plot, and we set to work immediately.

At that time, Ray and I were both still working full time, but later that year I took early retirement and so had more time to spend on our new plot, which was completely overgrown with very uneven and compacted stony soil. By the end of that summer, and after a lot of hard work, we had established two beds and were able to grow courgettes and runner beans. It was very rewarding to be able to pick and eat our own fresh produce. By then, we had also put up a shed which Sandy fitted out for us with items all reclaimed from local skips, including a laminated floor and work bench and lots of neat and inventive storage spaces. We felt very lucky.

Sadly, we will shortly be losing this plot and our much-loved shed when our neighbour Cadent, the global gas giant, takes over part of our allotment to carry out an upgrade of its adjacent site.

For more information on Cadent’s plans, visit wnstd.com/cadentplan


Art: shows


Three venues across Wanstead will be displaying work by Art Group Wanstead’s emerging artists this month. Donna Mizzi reports 

Be sure not to miss the art being displayed by local artists at the Wanstead Festival, moved to Sunday 2 October. In addition to showing a fabulous range of work, Art Group Wanstead members will be running a rescheduled ‘Hands On’ workshop. The free, multi-media workshop will be open to children and adults.

Once that has whet your appetite, there will be more opportunities to enjoy a wide range of visual art from Art Group Wanstead members in the coming weeks and months.

Just a few examples of their work are shown on these pages. The Stow Brothers estate agent, which has generously supported our local artists year after year, is mounting a special exhibition in its High Street premises. It will run from Friday 14 October to early January. Kenny and Andrew Goad, the founders of The Stow Brothers, are keen to help more artists show their work, and are delighted to be creating an enjoyable browsing space for local residents and visitors to the area.

To introduce the changing exhibition, an opening reception is being held at the venue on Thursday 13 October from 6.30pm, with drinks and nibbles for artists and local people. Drop in if you can, or pop by to see the exhibition during office hours.

To help accommodate the artwork produced by our numerous members, the exhibition space is being extended during the first weekend, with extra art being shown at the Allan Burgess Centre, just a few steps away from The Stow Brothers. This ‘corner house’, used as a weekday activity centre by Age UK, will be open for the art show from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 15 October and from 12 noon to 3pm on Sunday 16 October.

The Stow Brothers is located at 117a High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL.

For more information on Art Group Wanstead, visit wnstd.com/art


Wildlife goes on…

The meadow pipit was once a common breeding bird on Wanstead Flats but has since been lost to the area. This is just one of many changes observed by the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group, which celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this month. Chairman James Heal reports

Fifty years ago, in 1972, many things were different; miners were striking, Ted Heath was prime minister, Sir John Betjeman was made poet laureate (more on him later), a pint of beer cost 16p, and the tragedy of Bloody Sunday occurred.

1972 was also the year that a small group of young people in east London formed something called the Wren Action Group. They wanted to find ways in which young people could be motivated to take practical action to understand and protect the natural environment around them. Fifty years later, and now called the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group, we are still going strong and are celebrating our half-century anniversary.

It is fair to say that the average age of Wren membership is somewhat higher than it was back in 1972, but the driving principles of engaging locally to promote and protect the wildlife on our doorstep – most particularly the southern end of Epping Forest around Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats, but also encompassing Leyton Flats, Hollow Ponds, Gilbert’s Slade and other areas across three London boroughs – are still alive and largely the same.

Some of the challenges facing the Wren Group are different. In the mid-1970s, Wren committee members went to visit fellow young members who had been locked up in remand homes. But some of the challenges remain the same. In the 1970s, Wren was concerned about falling bird numbers just as we are today.

Back then, members were noticing falling numbers of willow and even marsh tits; sadly, those birds have long since gone from our local area. Buzzards were rare birds back then and red kite sightings unthinkable, whereas today, both are commonly reported. And we have recently, sadly, lost meadow pipit as breeding birds on Wanstead Flats, which would have been common back then.

In the 1970s, the group wrote to Sir John Betjeman to ask him to be our patron. He responded earnestly but said he would agree to be “a patron, but not the patron” and so we reached out to another public figure who agreed to join Sir John. The Wren Group is hugely proud that Sir David Attenborough has also been a patron for over 45 years. Sir John passed away long ago, but we have just agreed a new partnership. We are thrilled that renowned international but locally-based artist Dr Gayle Chong-Kwan will join Sir David as a new patron. Gayle will address the membership on 8 October at our anniversary celebrations and will, no doubt, touch on the major piece of art she did recently inspired by Epping Forest.

Since Wren was founded, we have a huge amount to be proud of. We were instrumental in getting an ancient east London churchyard recognised as a nature reserve, we have organised hundreds of bioblitz events, walks and talks, we have worked with local children and youth groups, we have lobbied to protect local wildlife (such as successfully getting temporary fencing around the skylark breeding grounds on Wanstead Flats), and we have done thousands of hours of practical work helping to protect and enhance local habitats.

Like all dynamic organisations, we have tried to adapt to the times. We know our virtual meetings during lockdown were welcomed by those who may not have felt safe to go outside. We also, increasingly, engage through social media with our members and followers as well as through our digital newsletter and I hope we will continue to adapt and grow, to help embrace new local and wider challenges (doing our bit to fight the climate crisis, stop biodiversity loss and encourage greater diversity in local engagement with wildlife). If we do that, we might even be around in another 50 years. I hope so.

For more information and to join the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group, visit wnstd.com/wren


Listen and learn

bellaBella Tromba

In the 27th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces the brass ensemble Bella Tromba, who will be performing in Wanstead this month

A main aim of Redbridge Music Society is to encourage local community appreciation of the musical arts by bringing a diverse range of high-standard, live musical events to the borough at affordable prices. This month, at Wanstead Library, we are putting on a special concert of royal-related music entitled Monarchs, Music and National Unity, dedicating it to the life and work of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The concert will be performed by the brass ensemble Bella Tromba: Jo Harris, Rebecca Toal, Katie Lodge and Emily Ashby. The evening will explore how music and monarchy have impacted on each over the centuries and how both have the power to unite people in times of national crisis and celebration. Music to be played will include works by Handel (Royal Fireworks Music), King Henry VIII, (Greensleeves), John Bull (The King’s Hunt), Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance March No.1), Parry (Jerusalem), Jack Pettis (Bugle Call Rag), Telemann, Arne, Holst and others.

Bella Tromba, founded in 2004 by four students at the Royal Academy of Music, is an all-female brass quartet whose current members regularly perform with the London Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, the Britten Sinfonia and at leading West End shows and Championship Section Brass Bands. The group perform using a variety of trumpets, including B-flat trumpet, flugelhorn, bass and piccolo trumpets. They have created an outstanding brass repertoire of works by leading composers and arrangers and have been key to the success of the trumpet quartet. 

The group’s dynamic and engaging recitals have reached audiences nationally and internationally and they have broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Their commitment to inspire young players has led to educational collaborations with a number of UK music academies and to international performances at brass industry conferences in Canada, Germany and Poland.

Bella Tromba has been awarded Selected Artist status by Making Music and is a recipient of the Dorothy Parkinson Memorial Prize and the Dartington International Summer School Scholarship. Support from the Park Lane Group, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust and the Britten-Pears Foundation has ensured a wealth of commissions by many contemporary composers. 

We do hope you can join us for this very special evening of commemorative music-making.

Bella Tromba will perform at Wanstead Library on 25 October from 8pm (tickets on the door; visitors: £12: members: £8). Call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision RCL and affiliated to Making Music.


Home Field

_DSF9420©Geoff Wilkinson

Following last month’s article about the immediate past and possible future of Wanstead’s Evergreen Field, Dr Colin Runeckles digs into the archives to find out more about the history of the houses which once stood there. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

The tithe apportionment of 1841 for Wanstead shows there to be a house on this site owned and occupied by Joseph Knight. At the time, this was known as Wanstead Cottage with nearly two acres of land, which stretched up to what is now Wanstead Place, where Knight also owned two properties. Knight died in September of the same year and the house was sold at auction in April 1842, where it was said to have “good out-buildings, stabling, coach-house, productive garden, pleasure ground, and two paddocks, bounded by a new brick wall and natural fences.”

George Duley is listed in the 1851 Post Office Directory but it is not until his death in 1855 that it is said he was of Evergreen Lodge. It is not clear whether the house was simply renamed or rebuilt to turn Wanstead Cottage into Evergreen Lodge. Mr JT Winney took over the house for a time but the house came up for sale again in 1870, and then again in 1873. It is maybe here that its most significant owner, John Cockett, enters the picture. The earliest reference I can find for him living at the Lodge is having been named as an executor in an article from June 1876. About this time, the Cocketts were joined in the house by their nephew, William Patrick Tulloch Forbes. Forbes would later marry and live in Sylvan Road where he and his wife Edith had their only child, Douglas Tulloch Forbes, later to serve as a lieutenant during World War One when he was fatally wounded in early 1916.

John Cockett’s name was to come up in Ilford circles when, at the sale of the Clements Estate in August 1879, the following week’s Chelmsford Chronicle noted that a Mr JE Cockett, Wanstead, bought three lots, numbered 13–15, totalling just under three acres. It would appear the land was not to remain in Cockett’s possession for very long since a Rate Book of 1882 listed houses in Queen’s Road, laid out on lots 13–15, were owned by Ilford builder George Barnes.

In 1882, Cockett applied to the Local Board to build four houses at the north end of the estate. These were known as St Augustin, Tryfan, Overton House and Dowlais House, and later 16–22 High Street. The Cocketts were to reside at Evergreen Lodge until the opening years of the 20th century. John Cockett was to die in October 1902 and the notice in St James’s Gazette said he was very well known in the railway world, having been manager of the railway advertising department for WH Smith & Sons. His widow, Sarah, moved to Pinner shortly afterwards and the house went to the Warren family, firstly to Joseph who died shortly afterwards in June 1904, then to his widow, and then to his son, Frederick. However, one act of John Cockett’s executors is relevant to our understanding of how the Evergreen Field came to be as it is today. The Redbridge Heritage Centre holds a plan for the building of two houses just south of the four built in 1882. These were known as Royston and Summerfield, later 24–26 High Street. 

The house came up for auction again in June 1921 at Harrod’s in Brompton Road, and for this, the Essex Record Office holds the auction catalogue, which contains a full description of the house. It was three-storeyed with a basement, had a large porch, three good-sized rooms and a billiard room (installed in 1903) on the ground floor as well as kitchen, scullery and store cupboards. On the first floor, there were six bedrooms and a bathroom, and on the upper storey, there was a large servants’ bedroom, store room, three box rooms and a photographic darkroom. In size, it would appear to be similar to the Manor House across the road.

Now, you might have noticed in the previous article there was mention of two houses, whereas I have only so far written about one. Two years after the sale in 1921, the old stable was converted into a house. In the 1924 Kelly’s Directory, it was shown as Hailey’s Cottage, but by 1927 it had been numbered as 28, Evergreen Lodge itself as number 30.

By 1933, the Lodge was occupied by a physician and surgeon, Eric Long, who had previously carried out his practice in a large house across the road. As the previous article says, the two houses were bombed, but the 1949 building survey carried out by Wanstead and Woodford Council states they both had “substantial war damage repairs” and were now occupied again. The 1952 and 1955 Kelly’s Directories show both houses occupied, number 30 by another physician and surgeon, Arthur Boney.

The last reference I could find to the house was in a February 1967 edition of the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, which reported that Ann McGeever of Evergreen Lodge, E11, had been left £100 under the terms of a will. If the Lodge and the converted stable were demolished in 1967, we’re left wondering what circumstances led to that action.

To view the Evergreen Field development proposals, visit wnstd.com/field


Hugs you keep


A quilt is a hug you can keep, says Jane Turner, who, along with other members of the Marsh Quilters, makes quilts for sick children. An exhibition of their work will be held in Wanstead this month

Some 25 years ago, I went to an evening class to learn about patchwork and quilting. I loved it and I was hooked. I made my first quilt, which is still hanging on the wall at home. Since then, I have made many quilts and accumulated lots of fabric and equipment. I now belong to a group called Marsh Quilters, which meets regularly in Leytonstone.

The Marsh Quilters formed in 1979 when a group of women who supported the Save The Walthamstow Marshes Campaign began meeting in their homes to create a quilt. This quilt was used by the Walthamstow Marsh Society to promote the marshes as an educational resource. From this humble beginning, other quilts were made to raise funds for charities, and we celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2019.

After I had made quilts for all my family and friends, I wanted to carry on making them but wanted them to be useful. One of the members of Marsh Quilters was a coordinator for a charity called Project Linus. The name comes from the character Linus in the Peanuts cartoon. Linus always has his security blanket with him. Project Linus provides handmade quilts and blankets to sick, terminally ill and traumatised children. Volunteer coordinators cover all the areas of the UK, collecting quilts and distributing them.

I started to make quilts for children and passed them on to the coordinator, Linda. In 2018, I joined Linda as a coordinator for the east London area. I collect quilts from my fellow quilters, check them, label them and distribute them. The quilts are for any child up to the age of 18 who is in need of a hug. We can help to provide a child with tangible evidence that someone cares, along with the physical reassurance that comes from being snuggled in a quilt.

We make quilts of all sizes and in many designs using cotton fabric. The quilts and blankets are all washable and they are for the children to keep. We take quilts to The Royal London Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, The Baby Bank and to foster care agencies. All the London hospitals are covered by coordinators. The hospital staff are very keen to have quilts to give to the children in their care because it makes the environment less clinical. Some of the children have multiple visits to hospital and often take their quilts along with them.

In the last five years, Linda and I have given away more than 1,000 quilts. I still make some myself, but the majority of them are made by other members of Marsh Quilters. We will be holding an exhibition of our work in Wanstead this month, and I will be there with a display of Project Linus quilts.

The Marsh Quilters will be holding an exhibition of their work in Christ Church hall on 15 October from 11am to 4pm. For more information, visit marshquilters.org