November 2023


Bright idea: permanent Christmas tree in Wanstead under consideration

_DSF1549©Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead’s temporary Christmas tree may become a permanent feature if the idea proves to be economically viable.

“It costs approximately £2,000 to buy and light the temporary tree. We are looking into the possibility of planting a tree in future years, but there are a range of things to consider, including maintenance costs,” said a council spokesperson.

The annual switch-on of the lights took place on George Green earlier this month, but if approved, the location of a permanent tree is likely to be the subject of debate.


National Trust talk about Christmas trees and festive gardening


Gardening at Christmas will be the theme for a local National Trust talk on 12 December.

“The festive season is usually regarded as a horticultural hiatus. But in this illustrated talk, we’ll see Christmas offers much to the gardener. We’ll look at colourful plants that brighten both indoors and outdoors, and study the most beloved Yuletide plant: the Christmas tree. Lavishly sprinkled with bad jokes!” said Nick Dobson, whose presentation will take place at the Woodford Memorial Hall from 10.30am (visitors: £3).

Call 07774 164 407


You better watch out


There’ll be plenty of festive cheer in and around Wanstead this December, with a number of events on offer for all the community to enjoy. Kris Kringle reports

Now that Wanstead’s Christmas tree is aglow, it’s officially time to feel festive. So, as the winter chill settles in and the scent of cinnamon lattes fill the air, take a moment to enjoy the spirit of togetherness and community celebration in and around Wanstead. 

Sneak and Peek
1, 2 and 9 December; various times (tickets: £12)
Redbridge Drama Centre, South Woodford
This endearing and entertaining musical for children of all ages will capture the magic of Santa’s world while showcasing the determination and heart of two young elves striving to become real undercover agents.

Wanstead Christmas Markets
3 and 16 December; 10am to 4pm
High Street, Wanstead

Wanstead’s monthly market (first Sunday of the month) will be joined by an extra event on Saturday 16 December, both with Christmas fayre, activities and entertainment.

The Duke Christmas Market
9 December; 12 noon to 6pm
The Duke, 79 Nightingale Lane

Stalls, food, drink and community fun with a festive twist.

Carols on the High Street
13 December; 6.30pm
Wanstead War Memorial

Led by the Parish of Wanstead and the Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts, this community event will get everyone singing and in the festive mood. Raising money for homeless charity Centrepoint.

Sparkle Christmas Fair and Vintage Fair
16 December; 11am to 4pm / 10.30am to 4.30pm
Wanstead Library and United Reformed Church

Creative and retro, two unique shopping events just nine days before the big day.

Santa’s Christmas Workshop
16 and 17 December; various times (tickets: £15)
Redbridge Drama Centre, South Woodford
Come and visit Santa’s workshop, where Santa and his hard-working elves are busily getting ready for the big day. Santa will be on hand to join in the fun and give every child a gift.

Santa’s Wanstead Drive-By
20 December; 4pm to 7pm
Santa will embark on a pre-Christmas tour of Wanstead, chauffeured through the streets by Elf Steve Hayden aboard his Parker Dairies milk float.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
21 December; 6.30pm (tickets: £7)
St Mary’s Church, Wanstead

A Christmassy hour brought to you by the Woodhouse Players, telling the famous story of Mr Scrooge.

Cakes and Carols
23 December; 1.30pm to 4pm
United Reformed Church

A free event for our senior community (over-65s), with home-made cakes and performances by young musicians. 


Wanstead part of Redbridge’s largest-ever community planting event

Screenshot 2023-11-27 at 14.55.18

Nearly 450 people took part in Redbridge Council’s recent community planting days, making it one of the largest planting events on record for the borough.

“The fun-filled days were held in Wanstead, Barkingside, Seven Kings and Ilford, with participants filling 64 planters with more than 1,000 flowers,” said a Neighbourhoods Team spokesperson.

A total of eight planters were filled outside Wanstead Station.

In a survey after the event, 90% said they had been inspired to get involved in more community events. 


Listen and learn


In the 34th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces local community choir Modality, who will perform a seasonal concert in Wanstead this month

Two enduring aims of Redbridge Music Society – currently celebrating its 75th anniversary season – are to encourage community participation and engagement in the musical arts and to promote and support local groups and musicians.

This month at Wanstead Library, local community choir Modality will present an evening of seasonal music and readings, directed by Jenny Ewington and accompanied by Ben Summers on piano. This will be followed in the second half of the evening by complimentary wine and seasonal food.

The Modality choir was founded by Jenny Ewington in 2016. It is a friendly, diverse, mixed-voice choir made up of 26 singers, ranging in age from mid-20s upwards. The choir has established a reputation for its imaginative performances, its quality, blended sound and great harmonies.

For several years running, Modality has been awarded first place in the choir section of the Stratford and East London Music Festival. Jenny directs two Modality choirs – an adult choir and a youth choir (ages 10 to 18 years) – who meet and rehearse weekly in Woodford. The choirs do much charitable work, in particular for Centrepoint, which supports and helps homeless young people.

Woodford-based Jenny Ewington is a qualified singing teacher (LTCL); during her 25 years of teaching, she has worked with singers of all ages, abilities and styles, and many of her students have gone on to careers in singing. Jenny also works in primary schools as a singing specialist, leads other choirs, writes vocal arrangements, leads workshops and creates performances. She strives to challenge her choirs musically (whilst having fun) and her mission is to bring joy, connection and vitality to people’s lives through the inspiration of musical performance. 

Piano accompanist Ben Summers studied at Balliol College, Oxford and the Guildhall School of Music, where he specialised in double bass. Today, he has a varied playing career working with London Orchestras and X Factor winners; he has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium, has given live radio broadcasts and has recorded at the Abbey Road Studios. In addition to piano and double bass, Ben plays bass guitar and organ; he also composes and conducts. Ben has been working with Jenny and Modality since 2019. 

Please come and start your run-up to the Christmas festivities in a friendly and convivial atmosphere!

Modality will perform at Wanstead Library on 5 December 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.


Christmas market date


A Christmas market will take place on Wanstead High Street next month.

Stalls will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 16 December.

The festive market will run alongside Flamingo Fairs’ Christmas event at Wanstead Library (11am to 4pm) and the Wanstead Vintage Fair at the United Reformed Church (10.30am to 4.30pm).

The Christmas market will be in addition to the regular monthly market on Sunday 3 December. 


Date set for the return of the Wanstead Beer Festival in 2024

beerOver 400 people attended the event in October

A date for the second Wanstead Beer Festival has been set.

It follows the success of the first event in October, which raised over £3,000 for local good causes Tin in a Bin and The Wanstead Charity.

“The enthusiasm for the inaugural event meant diaries were opened and a new date fixed. The next Wanstead Beer Festival will take place at Christ Church halls on 12 October 2024. It was excellent to raise money for local charities and, hopefully, even more can be raised next year,” said organiser Paul Donovan.


Cambridge Park cycle lane

Screenshot 2023-11-27 at 12.12.55

Redbridge Council launched a consultation earlier this month over plans to upgrade the current advisory cycle lane on Cambridge Park and improve the pedestrian crossings.

“The proposed route will form part of the wider borough cycle network and connect the High Street to cycle routes south of Cambridge Park, including Blake Hall Road and Aldersbrook Road,” said a spokesperson. The survey closes on 3 December.



Local historians publish an illustrated history of Wanstead Flats

WFlats---Illustrated-History---CoverLooking south across Wanstead Flats towards Forest Gate (circa 1900)

Two local historians have published a new book about the history of Wanstead Flats.

“Once part of the riverbed of the Thames, in medieval times the Flats became grazing land. Over the last two centuries the Flats has hosted funfairs and football, become a site for political protest and been a key part of London’s anti-aircraft defences in two world wars,” said Mark Gorman and Peter Williams. Wanstead Flats: A Short Illustrated History (£10) includes a number of never-before-published photos.

Wanstead Flats: A Short Illustrated History is available from The Newham Bookshop, Stone Mini Market, Leytonstone High Road and Number 8 The Emporium, Sebert Road, Forest Gate.



Decision delayed: planning application for Evergreen Field

Wanestead-view-1How the development would look from the High Street

A decision on the planning application to build a four-storey block of flats on Evergreen Field has been delayed.

The application – which was submitted in July – now has a target date of 29 December. The fenced-off patch of land on Wanstead High Street has not been inhabited since 1944, when two homes that stood there were bombed and then demolished in 1967. If approved, the development will include a nursery on the ground floor along with 24 flats and a new public open space.



You better watch out for Santa… on his milk float

santafloat©Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead will welcome Santa early this month as he embarks on a pre-Christmas tour of local streets on 20 December from 4.30pm.

“You can’t beat seeing how much children enjoy seeing Santa. It’s a fun community event that injects a bit of extra magic into Christmas. Please have some change ready for the elves’ charity collection buckets,” said organiser Amy Moore.

In what is now an annual Wanstead tradition, Santa will pass through the streets aboard Elf Steve Hayden’s Parker Dairies milk float.

The route is as follows:

Gordon Road, Cambridge Park Road, Dangan Road,Addison Road, Spratt Hall Road

Wanstead Place, Wanstead High Street, The Avenue,Gloucester Road, Buckingham Road, Hereford Road,Leicester Road

Warwick Road, Rutland Road, Grosvenor Road,Nightingale Lane, Rodney Road

Elmcroft Road, Deynecourt, Eaton Rise, LorneGardens, Cowley Road, Wellesley Road, HalsteadRoad

Nelson Road, Wellington Road, Wanstead HighStreet, Herman Hill, Alexandra Road


Village Vouchers: support good causes and save money at local shops and cafés

Screenshot 2023-11-27 at 12.06.33©Geoff Wilkinson

The Wanstead Village Directory has launched Village Vouchers, a new initiative to help residents save money whilst supporting the local economy and good causes.

Published in collaboration with the South Woodford Village Gazette, Village Vouchers is a booklet filled with 100 discount vouchers for shops, salons, cafés, pubs and restaurants across the two areas.

“From free cake with a coffee to money off a massage, Village Vouchers is designed to get people excited about shopping locally. A huge thanks to all the businesses that are taking part,” said editor Lee Marquis.

Priced £4 and valid until 31 March 2024, the booklets are being sold by local schools and charities, who retain up to half the proceeds. Copies can also be purchased online and collected from the High Street, with shoppers invited to select a good cause to support.