May 2023


Comedy night at Wanstead Library with sign language interpreters

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A monthly comedy night at Wanstead Library that showcases comedians with disabilities and mental health conditions will include sign language interpreters at the event on 7 June (7.30pm; tickets from £1).

“After we received a small grant, I decided to use the money to make this night truly accessible. As well as having award-winning comic Don Biswas headlining, we have also secured the services of two BSL interpreters,” said Mark Nicholas, an autistic comic and promoter of the Laugh-Able event.



Wanstead Festival 2023: exhibitors and musicians invited to take part


The annual Wanstead Festival will return to Christ Church Green on Sunday 17 September, and local businesses and community groups are invited to book a stall.

“We are welcoming applications from general stallholders, exhibitors and crafters who wish to showcase themselves,” said a spokesperson for Vision RCL. Prices start from £15 for a charity pitch and from £30 for a commercial pitch.

Additionally, organisers are also looking for local bands, choirs and solo performers to complete the line-up for this year’s event. “This festival provides a great opportunity for local musicians to perform on a professional music stage. If you would like to take part, please get in touch by 30 June.”

The festival runs from 11am to 6pm and will feature music, dance, arts and crafts, rides, food and activities for all the family.

Organisations can book a stall here.

Prospective musicians should email for more information.


Wanstead teacher honoured at Redbridge Education Awards

344600944_794357405107145_1000010892388628024_nWanstead High School teacher Ian Sweet

Wanstead High School music teacher Ian Sweet has been named Secondary School Teacher of the Year at the first-ever Redbridge Education Awards.

“Over 350 nominations were received for more than 240 members of staff. The winners were chosen by an independent panel comprising a Redbridge councillor, a retired deputy headteacher and a member of the Youth Parliament,” said a spokesperson.

The event was held at Wanstead Golf Club at the end of April and hosted by local celebrity Eddie Nestor MBE.


Street parties across the borough celebrate coronation of King Charles

group-picture_US29899Street party on Hereford Road, Wanstead © Russell Boyce

An estimated 20,000 people joined street parties and events across Redbridge to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III earlier this month.

“There is such a strong sense of community spirit all across Redbridge. At the street parties, I heard many inspiring stories of roads forming WhatsApp groups to help their neighbours during the pandemic – these acts of kindness led to blossoming communities and close friendships, cumulating in these community events,” said the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal.


Redbridge Volunteering Fair

Volunteering Fair Twitter graphic final


Would you like to be more active in your community? Perhaps you’d like to develop new skills, improve existing ones or put your previous experience to good use in your local area?

Volunteering can be a great way to meet people, build confidence and even explore future job opportunities. 

Drop in to the Redbridge Volunteering Fair at the Town Hall (High Road, Ilford, IG1 1DD) on Tuesday 6 June from 11am – 2pm to find out more about the opportunities available in your area.

More than 30 different organisations will be there to promote a range of volunteering opportunities and community action initiatives. Staff from the Volunteer Centre will be on hand to chat, answer questions and sign people up to their successful volunteer matching service.

Volunteer Centre Redbridge is based at RedbridgeCVS and offers information, advice and guidance for anyone who lives, works or studies in Redbridge, who would like to find out more about ways to volunteer.  


A growing trail

PHOTO-2023-04-12-19-05-15A garden on the Lakehouse Estate

A number of residents from the Aldersbrook and Lakehouse Estates are preparing to open their gardens again this summer for the annual Aldersbrook Open Garden Trail. Ruth Martin reports

Fifteen gardens across the Aldersbrook and Lakehouse Estates will open their gardens to the public on 4 June. Some have opened before and some will open for the first time this year. 

The Aldersbrook Open Garden Trail has proved to be a very popular community event each year, with people out and about, walking around the estates and having the opportunity to see what their neighbours’ gardens look like. Although the design of most of the houses on each estate are similar from the outside, it is always a pleasant surprise to discover all the gardens are different, reflecting the owners’ interests and horticultural skills.

We will have the delight of looking at the smallest garden at the end of Empress Avenue, where only two people can really enter at the same time but, when they do, they will be able to appreciate the beautiful planting. Visitors will have the joy of viewing a shady garden on Merlin Road, an oasis of green with some interesting planting and a recently created stumpery. We will also be looking forward to viewing gardens that haven’t opened before on St Margaret’s Road and Wanstead Park Avenue. And the gardens on the Lakehouse Estate are full of colourful planting.

As well as private gardens, the Sunderland Way Community Garden will be open. This is a great community project with plots gardened by residents in that area of Aldersbrook, and there is always an interesting mixture of vegetable and flower planting.

Visitors will be able to avail themselves of plenty of refreshments during the day. Carolyn’s garden on Empress Avenue will be open – as usual – serving ready-made pizzas from her pizza oven, and many of the other gardeners will be serving homemade cakes with tea, coffee and cold drinks. 

We are grateful to The Stow Brothers for sponsoring our trail again this year. Their sponsorship has helped us to raise a lot of money for local charities, including CHAOS (providing holidays for local young people), the Magpie Project (a Forest Gate-based charity helping mums and children under five living in temporary accommodation) and the Woodland Trust (a charity which protects trees and fights for healthy, happy habitats everywhere). The trail map will be published on our website.

The Aldersbrook Open Garden Trail is organised by the Aldersbrook Horticultural Society, revived in 2018, which meets on the second Tuesday of every month at Aldersbrook Bowls Club with a range of speakers, both local and national.

The Aldersbrook Open Garden Trail will take place on 4 June from 12 noon to 5pm. Tickets for entry to all gardens will be available on the day (adults: £5; under-16s: free). Visit



scan0081The Fir Trees Pub, Hermon Hill, circa 1930s (now the Ark Fish Restaurant)

The latest novel by Peter Chegwidden is a tale of love and tragedy which draws on memories of growing up in Wanstead and South Woodford in the 1950s and 1960s. Here, the author shares some of those memories

Ah, memories. And childhood memories, often the best. I was born in Wanstead in 1949, living in Chestnut Drive before moving in infancy to Malford Grove in South Woodford. I started my education at Churchfields (Mr Williams was the Head) and after a day’s schooling, there was nothing better than a visit to Downey’s for sweets on the way home!

Dad made us a wooden toboggan for use when the Hollow Ponds were frozen and the land covered by snow – our sledge went much faster than the bought ones. Us means me and my beloved sister Kathleen, who later attended Gowan Lea. Both sister and school are now sadly long gone. 

Ah, memories. The cows from the nearby forest wandering up Malford Grove to graze uninvited in our front garden! Going shopping with Mum at the Home and Colonial Stores near South Woodford station. Hearing the eerie sound of the air-raid siren being tested at Gates Corner every morning. The council thinking it was a good idea to give Malford Grove pink concrete verges. Aargh! Standing on Pulteney Road bridge, watching the trains go by, occasionally seeing a shunting engine working in the coal yards there. Mum and Dad taking us to the Plaza cinema on George Lane to see a comedy film. Dad taking us to the green in front of The Drive to throw sticks at the trees in the hope of bringing some conkers down. Mum taking us on the 101 from Wanstead, past the park and across the Flats to feed the swans near the City of London Cemetery. Or letting us play on the swings in the park surrounding Christ Church. Even to a small child, it gave a village feel to Wanstead. 

Dear memories. For his business, Dad had several lock-up garages at De Gruchy’s (I think it was) on New Wanstead, a large complex I found fascinating. There was my first girlfriend, Nola, who took my illustrated love letters to school where the teacher held them up for the class to see. Blush. We were both 10. It didn’t last. Later, I went to school in Loughton, often travelling on the Green Line 720 coaches. 

Cherished memories. For worship Sunday morning, it was communion wine at Holy Trinity on Hermon Hill, then over the road to the Fir Trees for beer! The then vicar, Father Angwin, joined us there once. And I was now out of my teens. But there had been a ‘guiding star’ for my future in my childhood.

Near Snaresbrook Station was a road sign to ‘Maidstone A20’ (no doubt via the Woolwich ferry), and at 23, that was where I moved when my firm relocated. And I’ve been in Kent ever since. But my memories of Wanstead and South Woodford have never left.

Peter’s novel, The Valour of the Heart, is available from Amazon (Kindle: £2.99; paperback: £6.99). Visit


Wanstead Wildlife Weekend: discover what’s living on your doorstep

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A variety of nature-themed events will take place in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats next month as part of the Wanstead Wildlife Weekend.

“Become a wildlife explorer for the weekend. Join butterfly, bird and bat walks, spider safaris, minibeast hunts, workshops, children’s activities, pond dips, picnics and much more. Discover what’s living on your doorstep!” said a spokesperson for the Wren Wildlife Group, which is organising the two-day series of free events for 24 and 25 June.



Looking back

Screenshot 2023-04-24 at 16.37.54John Dexter and the park keeper’s lodges, circa 1960s

Wanstead Park has been a constant for the whole of my life, yet it’s a place of evolving change, reflects Paul Donovan, who believes humankind must take a step back to move forward 

Life is a conveyor belt of change. Human beings are constantly seeking to get off the journey, settle and feel some security of tenure. But you cannot stop the journey. The thought occurs when looking back at people and places around us. 

When I was a child, John Dexter was the park keeper in Wanstead Park. We’d always see Mr Dexter around, a respected, imposing figure. He kept order as well as doing much work in the park. I was at school with Anne, his daughter. The Dexters lived in one of the park keeper’s lodges by the Temple. John left the park in the early 1990s, moving locally. He died recently. Ann put up a number of pictures of John from the old days, in front of the Temple and various other places. They brought back memories of great times.

Another memory was refreshed when standing recently by the Shoulder of Mutton Pond. The area immediately adjacent to the east used to be open grassland. We used to play football there. Earlier still, a couple of guys came in all weathers to swim in the lake. I only found out later that one of the guys was the father of a later friend of mine. He used to cycle from Dagenham for a dip. Now, that area is totally covered in bramble, a good terrain for the birds, but no one would know what it was like before. No one swims in the lake. Times change.

The park, of course, has a long history, with people from across classes and generations enjoying the area. The recent photo exhibition of COVID times by Russell Boyce marked another period. A time that is already being looked back on as part of the story of the park.

Getting older can seem a lonely business, as those you have known die off. The net can appear to be closing in. But more positively, looking back should show the way forward. Learn from the past to progress in the future.

Not everything in the past was great. People can come to romanticise the past as they grow older, a resistance to the inevitable. Moving forward, we do have more knowledge as to how to work in harmony with nature, not seek to dominate it as has so often been the case in the past. The promotion of biodiversity and efforts to combat climate change are to be welcomed. Never forgetting these crises have largely been created by the reckless behaviour of human beings. If humankind is going to survive, it most certainly needs to learn the lessons of the past. Indeed, maybe for the first time in recent history, there needs to be a step back in order to progress forward. A need to live more simply and tread lighter on the Earth. This will be a progression, that is likely to come when we recognise our own mortality and that we are only part of a passing phase in the history of life. Enjoy our time here, learn from the past and look to the future.

Paul Donovan is a Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward.


Composting workshop in Wanstead


Redbridge Council is running a series of free composting workshops this week as part International Compost Awareness Week (7 to 13 May), including a session on Christ Church Green.

Around a third of waste produced in Redbridge is food waste. Households can help reduce this figure by putting their food waste to good use through composting, which is nature’s process of recycling food waste into nutrient rich sustenance for your garden. It’s also a money saver, as it a means you don’t have to buy compost for your garden.

“To help people get started on their composting journey or to get more tips if you’re already doing it, we’re running several community-based composting workshops,” said a council spokesperson.

The workshops will cover:

  • the basics of composting
  • do’s and don’ts
  • troubleshooting
  • busting composting myths
  • a sorting activity
  • Q&A session

Workshop locations:

  • 11 May 2023, 1pm-2pm, Hainault Forest Country Park, Hainault
  • 11 May 2023, 6pm-7pm, Christchurch Green, Wanstead
  • 13 May 2023, 12pm-1pm, South Park, Mayfield
  • 13 May 2023, 2pm-3pm, Uphall Recreation Ground, Loxford

Tickets are free, but booking is required.


Stag search


Wren Wildlife Group member Sybil Ritten needs help surveying Wanstead’s stag beetle population this summer

Would a walk on a balmy summer’s evening in our local area appeal to anyone? It appears that Bushwood, Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park have never had a survey for stag beetles (Lucanus cervus), despite there being areas which are suitable habitats for their breeding and despite them being found both within these areas and on the surrounding streets.

So, I am planning to do a transect survey this summer in Bushwood and wondered if anyone else would be interested in doing the same in this or an adjoining area, including Wanstead, Aldersbrook or Leytonstone.

Stag beetles are part of the Saproxylic group of beetles, so are found in areas where there is a supply of dead and decaying wood. After around six years as larvae, they pupate and emerge as adults to find mates from late May to early August. The males searching for females tend to migrate to surfaces of warmth, hence often being found on pavements and roads.

Briefly, the transect survey will entail choosing a 500-metre patch where you walk and record what you see six times during June and July at sunset. If possible, you should walk from west to east and it needs to be above 12ºC, with little or no wind, and dry. There seems to be a dearth of surveys within woodland and wilder green spaces, but if it is more convenient, a transect on streets or a local park is also acceptable. The time, date, temperature, humidity and wind speed are recorded and the amount of live and dead wood habitat is estimated for each walk. If you are lucky enough to come across any stag beetles (alive or dead), you can take a photograph to confirm your identification. The adult male is distinctive (pictured here), but the female bears a resemblance to the lesser stag beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus), which has a wider distribution but is matt black as opposed to a shinier, dark conker-brown colour.

Your survey can then be uploaded to the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), or if preferred, you can return forms to me so I may scan and upload them. It will be easier to retrieve the data as a group if we submit the collective data to one account, and I am willing to take on this role. The data is ultimately fed into the National Biodiversity Network and the European Stag Beetle Research Group. I hope to also encourage people to report any isolated findings through the PTES website. 

Apart from the PTES website, you may also find Maria Fremlin’s articles and papers a great resource. She has been studying the beetles for 20 years. Currently, she is looking at egg development in the stag beetle female, so would value it if anyone finds a dead female to dissect (open the abdominal sternites and take a photograph). Alternatively, if you can get them to me quickly, I am happy to perform the task!

To contact Sybil for more information, email

For more information on the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, visit

To read Maria Fremlin’s articles, visit


Not for sale


Since 2013, a seller is required to state whether Japanese knotweed is present on their property. Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Axiom DWFM looks at the legal implications of this invasive weed

Imagine you are in the process of buying a house, and on receiving a form from your solicitor entitled ‘Property Information Form’, which features in all residential conveyancing transactions, you read that Japanese knotweed has previously been found at the property but has been treated by a specialist firm with a guarantee. Do you cancel your purchase or still proceed, not least because you really like the house?

Everybody has heard about this pernicious weed, but it seems as if it is a distant menace. It may be the stuff of legal and financial nightmares, but if it has been treated, is that enough? Well, it has the potential to damage man-made and natural structures and has been estimated to be present in every 10 square kilometres of the British Isles.

Court cases involving knotweed are likely to increase as a result of a recent Court of Appeal decision in Davies vs Bridgend Council, which is regarded as a landmark ruling. These cases, however, have had a difficult recent history when in 2018 the Court of Appeal decided in Williams vs Network Rail Infrastructure (NRI) that Mr Williams could succeed in his appeal but not on the grounds of NRl’s land causing a private nuisance through encroaching knotweed to Mr Williams’ land. He succeeded because of the loss of what is called the amenity value and use of his property.

It is clear that once warned of the presence of knotweed, a landowner is under a duty to treat it and will be liable if there is a history of failure to do so. That will give rise to a court claim which in the Williams and Davies cases included a right to claim for the loss in value of their respective properties. In the Davies case, the significance of what was decided was that a landowner can recover compensation for the stigma attached to his house, even after successful treatment by a specialist contractor with a guarantee in place.

Thus, there is still the possibility of a value reduction of the property after treatment and buyers walking away from the purchase or offering less for the property. It might prevent mortgage lenders from lending on a property or prevent homeowners from carrying out improvements to landscaping or building works which would otherwise increase the value of their property.

As a seller, never be tempted in the form you complete to answer ‘no’ to the questions about knotweed which is sent to the buyer. Failure to report or deliberately conceal knotweed could lead to the seller being sued for misrepresentation and liable for compensation due to the stigma attached to their property, as well as treatment costs.

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