September 2023


Try the unique Walthamstow Green Hopped Pale Ale at the Wanstead Beer Festival


The Walthamstow Green Hopped Pale Ale will be one of the many beverages available at the Wanstead Beer Festival on 14 October, says organiser Paul Donovan

The Wanstead Beer Festival has been keen from the outset to promote beers from the local area. No beer does this better than the Walthamstow Green Hopped Pale Ale – a join enterprise between the Walthamstow Beer Project and the East London Brewing Company.

The project has been running for 10 years, involving local people in this not-for profit, community-based enterprise.

Participant Steve explains: “Folk, with access to a local garden, an allotment or even a pot, can grow their own hop plant (rhizome) from scratch. The hops are then harvested in September, then it is off to the brewery to have a fun day making the beer. There is a modest fee to be part of the project.”

This year set a new record, with participants growing 153 kilos of hops, which was enough to make 7,000 pints.

The beer will be available in bottles from the East London Brewery but there will be the chance for an early taste at the Wanstead Beer Festival, where the beer will be available.

So come along, try this unique beer and maybe join the hop growers and brewers next year.

The Wanstead Beer Festival will take place at the halls of Christ Church, Wanstead on 14 October from 1pm to 10.30pm. Visit




A botanical spectacle in an Aldersbrook front garden has been the cause of much excitement, says Alice Batsford, proud owner of the Aldersbrook Agave

My husband, son and I (and now joined by our newborn daughter) moved to Aldersbrook just over a year ago, and the garden was one of the first things that caught our attention. The people who lived here before us were very green-fingered, especially when it came to growing more unusual, tropical plants. 

The Agave in the front garden was impressive back then, but over the last few months has become a real spectacle in the area. Over the course of a week, it suddenly sprouted a spear and since then has grown progressively taller, now standing almost as high as the house with some large yellow flower heads. 

Agaves are usually found in North and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Given the weather conditions of where they are usually grown, they are rare to see in the UK – especially in flower.

They are monocarpic, meaning they only flower once in their lifetime (usually when they are between 15 and 20 years old) and will die after flowering. They are a distant relative of the asparagus family, which is not surprising when you see the stalk of the flower head. The sap can also be used to make tequila!

We’ve had lots of local interest with people knocking on our door to ask about it, and being opposite the primary school have overheard lots of pavement conversations between parents and children – so much so I put up a little sign to explain what it is!

It’s sad to think that because it uses up so much energy in flowering it will then die, so let’s enjoy the flowers while we can – the bees certainly are!

The Aldersbrook Agave can be seen opposite Aldersbrook Primary School on Ingatestone Road.

For more information on Agaves, visit


Can you help create new woodland in and around Redbridge?

Screenshot-2023-09-12-at-15.08.33Looking east from Wanstead Park to Valentines Park. ©2023 Google

A charity that protects London’s countryside is asking local residents to help identify new woodland planting sites across Redbridge.

“We plan to create a tree ring circling London, delivering a continuous community forest around the capital. The first step is identifying local areas that could be planted with new trees. One example already identified is land between Wanstead Park and Valentines Park, especially the overgrown spaces adjacent to the River Roding,” said a spokesperson for CPRE London.



HACAN East crowdfunding


A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to pay for HACAN East’s legal costs as it prepares to fight London City Airport’s expansion plans.

“We are a campaign group of mostly Londoners concerned about the noise and environmental impacts of the airport,” said a spokesperson.

Newham Council rejected the airport’s plans in July, with an appeal now set to be held at a public inquiry in December.



Wanstead High School PTA fundraising target of half a million pounds

DSCF0882©Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead High School PTA has launched a campaign to raise £500,000 in order to improve the school.

“Our children’s school site is crumbling and desperately needs a large investment to meet even their basic needs. But there’s barely the money in the budget to cover repairs, never mind improvements,” said Dennis Weeks, chair of the PTA.

Following conversations with pupils and staff, three projects have been identified: to build a covered area in the playground to give the children shelter, to install drainage on the often muddy school field and to refurbish the dilapidated school toilets. “We know this is a huge sum. And we don’t expect it all to come from parents’ pockets; there are other sources of funding we can tap.”

With the school celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, fundraising events will include a talent show, comedy and quiz nights and a centenary summer ball at Eton Manor Rugby Club next June.



Centre of Attention


Liz Martins from the Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre campaign group welcomes the council’s new plans for the venue’s future, but explains why their work is far from over

Redbridge Council’s undertaking not to demolish Wanstead Youth Centre for housing and retain it as publicly owned property was welcomed by all last month. However, Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre campaigners requested more information, particularly the full business case and details of how the decision to create an education hub and youth centre complies with the council’s statutory duties to provide youth services. 

We also asked if the consultation is to be meaningful this time round. The council should comply with its legal and moral obligations to consult when proposals are in their formative stage, with a view to reaching agreement. 

At the council meeting, the cabinet shockingly confirmed the centre would close from 15 October with no commitment on when it will reopen. Closing without a firm, or even tentative, start date for building works not only deprives the community of the services and facilities but leaves the site open to vandalism, while the council also loses out on vital income. 

Most of the people who spoke at the meeting, including four young people (Beth, Charis, Lily and Zak), asked the council to keep the centre open while plans are firmed up and a community forum and partnerships are established, as per their standing orders. The intent is “to bring the council closer to the local community.” Regrettably, these pleas fell on deaf ears, contrary to the council leader’s undertakings. 

We believe the closure will be premature, as it will take months, if not over a year, to develop plans, secure funding and complete the works. We have asked to meet with the council leader to discuss options for interim arrangements and counter proposals. 

Other speakers challenged the performance of Vision’s management of the youth centre, particularly from a financial perspective over at least the past five years. Our own calculations show the venue could have been generating three to four times as much income as Vision has achieved. No financial breakdowns were provided in the council’s report to substantiate the alleged income and expenditure levels now being quoted, making it impossible to submit counter proposals. Very importantly, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the council’s statement that the centre is not financially viable. We therefore requested that the council scrutinise Vision’s management.

We hope the leader’s assurances that “we owe it to you to get a centre up and running as soon as possible” prove to be accurate.

Wanstead Youth Centre is located at 144 Elmcroft Avenue, Wanstead, E11 2DB. For more information on the Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre campaign, visit or call 07403 649 306


Centre of Attention


The Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, explains the decision to convert Wanstead Youth Centre into an education and youth hub, and why it must temporarily close in order to do so  

With its bustling High Street, outstanding schools, green spaces and fantastic transport links to central London, Wanstead is one of the best places in London to call home.

Our council has shared plans to invest significantly in Wanstead Youth Centre, using ring-fenced education funding to create a new education and youth hub on the site. Our proposals will secure a better and brighter future for the centre, generations of local children and young people, and local community groups.

As it stands, the centre needs significant structural work to bring it up to an acceptable standard, and as a council, we need to make sure we’re spending taxpayers’ money wisely; that’s why it’s vital we provide a fit-for-purpose facility accessible to the community that operates on a sound financial footing. The proposals for the centre include co-locating education services, a tuition centre, an Early Years Play and Development Centre and providing new youth services. There will be refurbished space for community use and our hope is the centre will become an education and youth hub. There is a widely held misconception that the current youth centre provides council-run services for children and young people. The truth is there haven’t been any youth services commissioned through the centre since 2016. Instead, the centre serves as a venue for hire for local businesses. Following our proposed investment, council services would once again operate out of the centre, alongside a hireable community space. 

Redbridge is one of the lowest-funded boroughs in London, having lost around 63% of our government funding since 2010, which has forced us to make huge savings of £236m. Despite these challenges, we continue delivering vital services and investing in what matters most to our neighbours, which is why we’re proposing to renovate the centre and house additional council services in the space.

Unfortunately, leaving the centre as it is isn’t an option. Last year, a building survey laid bare the considerable structural work required to bring the facility up to modern standards. The centre needs investment, and by co-locating education services in the space, we can access additional ring-fenced education funding and provide new facilities. To move forward with our proposals, the site must temporarily close. Vision RCL are already working with businesses and groups currently hiring space to help them relocate.  

We’ve listened to local people who shared how important the centre is and found a solution which keeps the venue open in the long term while providing additional services. In the future, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to give feedback on the proposals and share ideas on how the new facility can best serve Wanstead.

To contact Councillor Jas Athwal, email


Curious about facial aesthetics?


Woodford Green dental practice Improve Your Smile will be hosting a launch event of Rejuveo Aesthetics on 30 September.

“Join us for refreshments and meet GP Dr Shaan Rashid and discuss your areas of concern with him,” said a spokesperson.

Attendees will have the chance to receive a free botox or dermal filler treatment on the day (check with the practice for terms), along with a 25% discount voucher for aesthetics treatments during October.

The practice is located at 162 High Road, Woodford Green, IG8 9EF.

Call 020 8504 2704


Council statement over crazy golf plans for Royston Gardens


Redbridge Council has issued a statement following activity by workmen at Royston Gardens (adjacent to Wanstead Park) amidst plans for a crazy golf course development.

“The owners submitted an invalid planning application. Once this is made valid, it will be published and public consultation will commence. Enforcement officers have been on site and determined there was no breach of planning legislation. We’ve referred the matter to the police Wildlife Crime Unit.”

A petition has been started. Visit


Carving out memories

2_DSF2107©Geoff Wilkinson

Chainsaw artist Marshall Lambert has created three new wood carvings for the play area in Wanstead Park, a place he used to visit as a child. Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

I was born in the East End some 60-odd years ago, and as an urban kid, I found the parks and green spaces I fell in love with offered an entirely different playground to my usual surroundings.

Many years later, just as the new millennium dawned, I found myself mooching around Hainault Forest and happened across a guy carving the woodhenge that was to be placed around the forest for people to find as they explored the woods. He had started the project carving the life cycle of a frog, and although it was rough cut and nowhere near finished, I was very impressed with his work. In conversation with the artist, he suggested I could carve if I chose to. But my thinking at that time told me I couldn’t do such an artistic thing. Plus, how could I afford tools? So, that was that.

Roll on 2014 when, by chance, en route from a family visit to a volunteer group at Audley End House, I saw Andy Butcher’s version of the Tiki head theme. Once again, I was impressed with this guy’s work: carvings made on seven-foot-tall logs. Long story short, I saved up and purchased one, which is still in my workshop today. From there, we struck up a friendship and I was encouraged by him to have a go. This time, the ‘I can’t’ thoughts were silenced.

I got a second-hand Sthil, a little domestic chainsaw that was perfect for the job, and a cheap grinder. I had begun. Later that year, I moved into a small woodland to get closer to the wood resource I was working with. Rough living, but I enjoyed it. Then, after a couple of years selling my bits roadside and to the odd person here and there (these small sales encouraged me to keep at it), I got my first project, which was to carve a 12-foot standing tree trunk in a local school. That project was well received and word soon got around. After that, I was asked to carve a fallen tree in Henry Reynolds Park for a natural play area. Then other projects came along, in Valentines Park, Lodge Farm Park and Raphael Park to mention a few. And then carving for a 12-piece animal sculpture trail in Highams Park, partly funded by the Arts Council. This was a fantastic boost for me.

Around March 2022, I was asked to carve some pieces for another natural play project in Wanstead Park, and in July 2023, I found myself carving in the park I used to roam as a young child. Mad how life twists and turns, eh? I feel chuffed that my work is so well received.

A big thank you to all those who have aided and assisted me – past and present – to allow me to get my art out there.

To see more of Marshall’s chainsaw art, visit


Discovering Wanstead


Madeline Wong is an artist from Hong Kong now living in Wanstead and applying her passion for painting old buildings to the landmarks she is discovering here

Since I was young, I dreamed of becoming an artist. I also aspired to be a teacher. Unfortunately, my family’s economic environment couldn’t provide me with artistic nurturing, but after graduating from university, I became an art teacher, which became my lifelong career.

Some 15 years ago, I left my teaching position of 20 years, having fulfilled that ambition, drawing a simple, yet unfinished conclusion to the first half of my life. Transitioning from full-time teacher to housewife, my pace of life slowed, and I decided to reignite my interest in painting. In the process of painting, I found joy in life and pursued my unfinished dream of being an artist in the second half of my life!

Hong Kong has undergone rapid change in recent years, and the fast-paced life there can be overwhelming, making it difficult to catch one’s breath. When I take a moment to pause, I realise things around me have vanished without a trace. Old values have also faded and become blurred. Many old buildings and even the skills of experienced craftsmen are gradually being eliminated due to the loss of economic value. However, to me, these scenes and the small characters in the city are the fragments of my life and the pieces of my growth. Hence, I enjoy roaming the streets, exploring historical sites and searching for subjects to paint. I hope to use colours to preserve past emotions and memories, capturing fleeting encounters and vanishing moments, allowing my art to retain a strong local flavour.

Ten months ago, I left my native Hong Kong and moved to the UK, settling in Wanstead. Exploring the community has become a means of understanding the local culture. Many beautiful historical buildings have captured my attention and I couldn’t resist putting them into my paintings, like Christ Church pictured here.

Since I don’t have many local friends, I have been sharing my finished works in community groups online. Through this, I also got to know more about the local landmarks. I discovered these historical buildings hold unique meaning for individual residents, just like my own desire to preserve certain architectural scenes; they are puzzle pieces of my life. And so, I completed one artwork after another, and painting has become my daily life and motivation here in Wanstead.

Apart from old buildings, I also love painting flowers. In the UK, beautiful flowers can be found everywhere during spring and summer, which truly brings joy to the heart! I hope to share my floral paintings with everyone soon.

To view more of Madeline’s paintings, visit