January 2024


TfL confirms four local bus routes will be restructured this year

DSC_3512©Geoff Wilkinson

TfL will be going ahead with the proposed changes to the W12, W13, W14 and 549 bus routes between the Walthamstow, Wanstead and Woodford areas following a consultation last year.

We received 863 responses to the consultation and would like to thank everyone who took part,” said a spokesperson.

The changes are expected to take place in September, with all routes restructured and the 549 withdrawn and replaced by an extended W14 route.

The new routes are available to view online. Visit wnstd.com/bus


Comedy night at high school


Wanstead Comedy Night is collaborating with Wanstead High School’s PTA to present a fundraising  event in February.

“There will be four brilliant comedians compared by Britain’s Got Talent finalist Graeme Matthews, plus a licensed bar,” said a spokesperson.

Headlining the show will be Tim Shishodia (Leicester Square New Comedian Of The Year 2010).

The event will take place on 9 February from 7pm to 9pm (tickets: £15).

Visit wnstd.com/9feb 


Calendar raises £3,000 for charity

DSC_4520-copy_Sunset©Deepak Dembla

A 2024 calendar featuring photographs of wildlife and locations across Epping Forest has raised more than £3,000 for charity.

“All the photos were taken by local photographers, including four from Wanstead,” said Don Taylor, who compiled the calendar.

The money will be shared between The Swan Sanctuary and the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.

Another calendar is planned for 2025.


Invitation to cattle grazing talk at Friends of Wanstead Parklands’ AGM

Longhorn-Cow(1)©Tony Morrison

The Friends of Wanstead Parklands is extending an open invitation to attend its Annual General Meeting on 22 February.

“As in previous years, the venue will be Wanstead Golf Club on Overton Drive. Doors will open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. After a short business meeting, Epping Forest grazier John Phillips will be giving a talk on cattle grazing in the Forest. Three cows are currently in residence in Wanstead Park and have attracted great public interest,” said a spokesperson for the charity.

Visit wnstd.com/fwp


Public survey about Wanstead Park


The Friends of Wanstead Parklands has launched an online survey to discover what issues are important to park users.

“Our members and supporters have a common interest in researching, promoting and protecting for the future the historic parklands that comprised the grand estate of Wanstead House. Your views will help inform the Friends and our actions to support the park, so please have your say!” said a spokesperson.

The results of the survey will be published after the group’s AGM on 22 February, which will take place at Wanstead Golf Club.

Take part in the survey here.


Public engagement events to discuss the future of Wanstead Youth Centre


Redbridge Council will host a series of  public engagement events at Wanstead Youth Centre to discuss the plans for a new education and youth hub at the Elmcroft Avenue venue.

The centre was closed last October to enable surveying work to begin for what the council describe as essential repairs. “The building dates from the mid-1940s and requires significant structural work to bring it up to a good standard. In April 2022, a survey of the building revealed that essential repairs were estimated to cost £2.4m,” said a council spokesperson.

The meetings will take place on 23 January, 1 February and 8 February from 6pm, with representatives from the council’s Education and Inclusion Team on hand to explain the detail and reasoning behind the proposals for the centre’s future.

All interested parties are welcome to attend.

An online survey has also been launched to gather residents’ views.

Visit wnstd.com/wycsurvey  


The high life

mauriceLeft to right: Maurice with friend Tony Dalton and biology teacher Mr Carr (1964)

In the third of a series of articles to mark Wanstead High School’s 100th anniversary, former student Maurice Tucker (class of 1965) reflects on his memories of dissecting a rat en route to becoming a geologist

I cherish my memories of Wanstead High School; the oak-panelled hall with all the names, the labs, the huts, the fives courts, the swimming pool, the traditions.

I realised from an early age (seven) that I wanted to be a geologist, so I knew which subjects to take (physics, chemistry and biology). For me, Mike (Jake) Carr (biology) was inspirational in my chosen path. We loved him; the admiration stemmed from him coming to school in leathers on his motorbike from Epsom, always an encouraging and a supportive teacher. I recall dissecting a rat and catfish (oh, the smell!), and cutting the aorta in a freshly killed rabbit in the A level biology practical exam was extremely messy!

Other teachers who had an impact on me were: Miss Alcock, with her corgi in the classroom and she talking to it in Latin (“sedate”); Mr Smethurst (history), my form teacher for several years; and Mr Simpson (chemistry), the mercury on the bench, lighting the gas from the taps and pulling the blinds down slowly behind his back!

I only recall one riot in the school – I can’t remember what the problem was but in assembly we all chanted: “WHS, WHS, what’s the matter with WHS?” Maybe it was school dinners!

Mr Cowan, the headmaster, sadly died during my time at the school, and, being form captain, I attended his funeral. A memorable and sombre occasion for a 14-year-old.

I played rugby for five years, then hockey, and played for Wanstead Hockey Club later; I also played cricket and tennis for the school teams. But it was a long walk every Wednesday afternoon to the playing fields by the river. And the cross-country runs around the three lakes in Wanstead Park (well, a stroll around one lake) were tedious. I was a Saxon, but we were always being beaten by the Romans. My brothers, Eric (1946–51) and Robin (1949–54), both went to Wanstead as well (sadly, both now deceased); Robin was a heart-throb to the girls and a discus champion. 

I am now a geologist, a carbonate sedimentologist (now attached to the University of Bristol). I still publish (the fourth edition of my textbook Sedimentary Petrology is just out) and undertake research, but only on limestones, rocks that fizz, any age, any place, all round the world. My latest topic is Fossil Viruses: The New Frontier in Earth Sciences, with a paper published in Nature magazine last July! 

Wanstead was a marvellous school – and I am sure it still is. In my sixth-form class of 52 students, all went on to higher education except for three. My close friends were John Saville, Tony Dalton and Bob Greatorex.

Abeunt Studia in Mores.

For more information on Wanstead High School, visit wansteadhigh.co.uk


Park Life

Fox-4©Don Taylor

In the eighth of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Don Taylor presents his shot of a Red Fox in the snow 

I took this photo of a fox in the snow a few weeks before Christmas 2022 in the City of London Cemetery, which lies adjacent to Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats. There are several families of foxes there, and when the snow came that year, I just had to head over and bide my time to get the shot I wanted.

Foxes develop a thick winter coat, so their cold-weather behaviour isn’t much different from any other season. They devote most of the winter to hunting or foraging, with no need for a den until the mating season begins. So, it’s not uncommon to find a fox sleeping in the open beneath a blanket of snow! They breed from January to March. 

I now work part-time for the Corporation of London. I retired fairly young and wanted to do something in the outdoors. I do some litter picking over Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park and through this, I’ve got to know some great photographers. And it was because of these connections that I put together a 2024 calendar of Epping Forest photos.

I must say a word of thanks to the other volunteer litter pickers and groups who do such a wonderful job looking after our open spaces. Sarah Shaw leads the Wanstead Flats Pickers and Gill James coordinates the Friends of Wanstead Parklands’ monthly clean-up. And not forgetting Eileen Elton, a one-woman band (unless her sister is over from Australia). Alongside this, I’ve also discovered the Wren Wildlife Group and always love meeting up with their members. 

I also belong to the Orion Harriers running club and I’ve completed many marathons. I love adventures and probably the maddest, most dangerous activity I took part in was driving a Tuk Tuk 2,000 miles through India!

I love Epping Forest, and having only taken up photography in the last few years, it has provided everything I need to snap away!

For more information on the Epping Forest 2024 calendar, visit wnstd.com/ef24


Listen and learn

rmsRedbridge Music Service students

In the 35th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces Redbridge Music Service, whose students will be performing in Wanstead this month

During its current 75th anniversary season, Redbridge Music Society is focusing especially on two of its long-standing aims – promoting and supporting young musicians, especially those residing within the borough, and bringing a diverse range of musical styles and genres to the people of Redbridge. These aims will certainly be realised when the students of Redbridge Music Service put on a recital in the Churchill Room of Wanstead Library this January. 

Redbridge Music Service, based at the John Savage Centre in Hainault, is the jewel in Redbridge’s musical crown, and throughout the many years of its existence, it has nurtured numerous talented young musicians, a large number of whom have gone on to become professional musicians.

Redbridge Music Service is the lead organisation of the Redbridge Music Education Hub and has a reputation for exceptionally high-quality music education. All music hubs establish local plans involving opportunities for students to progress and create music together, especially through live performances. To this end, Redbridge Music Service provides a wide range of instrumental and vocal tuition in schools throughout the borough – even at nursery and reception level – with instruments being available for hire from the service’s instrument centre. Redbridge Music Service also provides opportunities for its students to perform music together, and every year presents over 50 local concerts, ranging from concerts at the John Savage Centre to public recitals, such as this Wanstead performance, and other events at Redbridge Town Hall. Every two years, there is also the well-renowned Redbridge Schools’ Choral Festival at the Royal Albert Hall.

Being involved in musical activities and gaining performance skills is very beneficial for a young person’s development and learning to play a musical instrument can significantly improve cross-subject developmental qualities, such as self-confidence, imagination and creativity, memory and co-ordination skills and communication, team and social skills.

Redbridge Music Service encourages its students to explore music from a wide range of historical periods, genres and traditions and this will be very evident at the recital at Wanstead Library, when the students will perform an eclectic mix of music and musical styles. Their recital is now a standard annual feature in Redbridge Music Society’s calendar and is always a popular and well-attended event. Please come along and support our borough’s exceptional young musical talent!

Students of Redbridge Music Service will perform at Wanstead Library on 23 January from 8pm (tickets on the door: £8). For more information, call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision RCL and affiliated to Making Music.


Robbed of Banks?

IMG_4780Site of the former NatWest in Wanstead

With South Woodford’s Barclays set to close in February, and with NatWest having left Wanstead in October 2023, our high streets have suffered another blow, says Delia Ray

News that Barclays on George Lane will close on 23 February means no high street banks will remain throughout Wanstead and Woodford. In a remarkably short time, bustling branches of banks once competing on every street corner have become empty husks – or even been reinvented as an artisan bakery. 

The changes come on the back of a growing use of digital banking. Barclays state 94% of its South Woodford customers mostly bank online. They also say that fewer than 10 customers regularly use the branch for all their transactions. Other banks cite similar figures. Given these numbers, the banks claim it’s too expensive to staff branches. Perhaps it’s no surprise they are pulling out of smaller sites, to focus on densely populated areas such as Barkingside and Walthamstow – at least for now. Nationally, the number of bank and building society branches fell by about 34% between 2012 and 2021, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Closures force customers into challenging journeys. They also lead to fewer cash machines (at least, free ones). Research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2022 found that older people, people in poor health or on lower incomes, and those less able to manage their finances, depend more on cash. In 2019, the FCA identified bank closures would affect much the same groups. 

People adept with computers, who pay for everything through their phone, may meet the loss of local branches with a shrug. But many who find online banking difficult welcome the support of bank staff. Transactions are not always straightforward. Small businesses which take cash will always need somewhere to deposit their takings.

What does this mean for Wanstead and Woodford? Fortunately, South Woodford recently regained its Post Office, where banking functions can still be carried out. As in Wanstead, visiting the Post Office to send a parcel or run through a passport application provides a sound reason to visit the High Street – and visit local shops at the same time. The Nationwide Building Society recently pledged to keep its current branches open until 2026, which means they’ll remain for now in George Lane, South Woodford.

But if local services continue their decline, one option for us may be a banking hub. The number of hubs – shared spaces letting customers of multiple banks perform everyday banking tasks – is growing across the UK. Sharing makes them more viable than a branch of a single bank. Post Office staff operate counter services, where you can withdraw and deposit cash and pay bills. Bank representatives visit at different times. It’s early days, but with queues forming outside hubs as far afield as Brixham and Rochford, this innovation could restore vanished services. It could even revitalise our high streets.

For more information on banking hubs, visit wnstd.com/bankhub


Ageing well


The Grapes Wine Society will mark its 30th anniversary in 2024. Meeting in Aldersbrook, the club is keen to expand its membership and welcomes novices and sommeliers alike. David Rowley reports

Grapes Wine Society is a friendly club that meets regularly to learn about, discuss and, of course, taste wine. The meetings are a sociable way to spend an evening.

The usual format of the evening starts with a chat and a glass of wine. Then, one of the members will present a selection of wines on a theme of their choosing. That might be a particular grape variety, a country recently visited, a style the member has researched or a brand they would like to explore. There are usually six wines to taste, starting with white, occasionally rosé, and ending with red. The red wines are paired with bread and cheese. At the end of the presentation, we vote for our favourite white and red and overall winner.

Members of the club pay a small annual fee to cover rent and other expenses. Then, a fee is paid for every meeting they attend – this pays for the wine and food. Members are welcome to bring guests to the meetings.

Throughout the year, there are several special events, such as an anniversary dinner, a barbecue and a fine wine evening. Occasionally, there are also outings to English vineyards. These special events are especially popular with the families and friends of members.

The club was founded in 1994 as an extension to wine-tasting classes held at Gearies, part of the Redbridge Institute of Adult Education. The fortnightly meetings originally took place in Ilford, but have recently moved to St Gabriel’s Church hall on Park Road in Aldersbrook. Meetings take place fortnightly.

One of the main advantages of a wine appreciation club is that it gives you an opportunity to taste lots of different wines. Many people have a favourite wine and will often buy this time and again. Some people believe they don’t like red wine or won’t drink Chardonnay. They don’t experiment because they do not want to waste their money on a wine they may not like. But a wine club lets you sample a wide variety of wines. That may be wines from a country with unfamiliar grape varieties; wines from a shop or retailer you don’t normally visit; or wines that are more expensive than your usual budget. By joining a wine club, you get to try before you buy. And you might just discover a new favourite.

As the club approaches its 30th anniversary, we are looking to recruit new members. If you would like to expand your wine horizons and make new friends, the club would be delighted to hear from you. We welcome novices to sommeliers!

The Grapes Wine Society meets on alternate Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm at St Gabriel’s Church hall in Aldersbrook. For more information, email grapeswinesoc@gmail.com


Freeze SUVs in Wanstead?


Within this most desirable of local neighbourhoods, some rather large shapes which circulate the streets cast a troubling shadow, says Liz Bodycote from Wanstead Climate Action

I moved to Wanstead from an inner London borough eight years ago. Beckoned by the trees, as parts of ancient forest nestle amongst the layers of development down the centuries, it feels such a privilege to make a home here – to enjoy the friendliness of neighbours and the benefits of independent local businesses. Yet within this most desirable of local neighbourhoods, there is a troubling issue which needs to be addressed.

Wanstead’s wealth seems to bring with it a lot of awfully big cars on its roads – those urban jeeps and their crossover cousins, collectively known as ‘sports utility vehicles’ or SUVs – our home-grown contribution to the 330m on the planet, which in 2022, emitted nearly a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). Where did they come from? There was a time, back in the day, when the automotive lust was for ‘sleek and lean’. Now it seems to be for ‘big and butch’. How did that happen? What drives us as drivers?

It is likely the beginning of the story starts with that engine of our economic system: profit. Early in the life of SUV production, car manufacturers found they could command a profit margin of around 25%, in contrast to only 5% for the ordinary cars on the roads at the time. From thence, advertising was called in to do what advertising does – to create an appetite for ‘goods’ (or ‘bads’?) we didn’t know we needed. So, as the certainties of our world seem to be breaking down and our politicians seem unable to deliver the safety and security we are looking for, how appealing are the images of command and control over rugged nature, spectacular and remote, or the lure of well-apportioned protective spaces within.

But, of course, we feel we can see through the adverts. Fact is, it feels a safer and better ride from higher up there at the wheel. There’s more room for all the kids and kit. Much easier as a family – you don’t have to keep bending down with that dreadful battle to get the kids into the car seats. My mother, who has mobility problems, finds it much easier to get in and out. There will be many and varied personal reasons why an SUV feels better than the car we had before. And in this, we are bang on trend. The SUV share of new car sales in Europe has risen from 7% in 2006 to over a half of sales by the beginning of 2023.

And yet, not only is there reason to doubt the real increase in safety and protection SUVs deliver (certainly for the pedestrians and other road users with whom they may collide, and also for the drivers and passengers of SUVs themselves), the weight of their carbon cost is undeniably heavy.

At a time when it is critical for our children and grandchildren that we start to eradicate fossil fuels from our diet, the global oil consumption of SUVs increased by 500,000 barrels a day between 2021 and 2022, (for non-SUV cars there was little change) and the CO2 emissions from driving them increased by nearly 70m tonnes. For a sense of how outsized the SUV impact has become, we could try and take in the International Energy Agency’s calculation in 2021, that if the world’s SUVs constituted an individual country, it would rank sixth in the world for absolute emissions!

Though the sale of electric SUVs is on the rise, switching only the energy source whilst keeping the design is unlikely to be compatible with the needs of our climate. These energy-hungry vehicles require significantly bigger batteries than average electric cars, so adding to pressure on battery supply chains and the critical minerals needed to make them. It seems clear that costs of what have come to be our treasured car comforts are well beyond the capacity of the planet on which we all can live.

In street surveys undertaken by Wanstead Climate Action and at the last Wanstead Festival, people were asked to rate how concerned they were about the climate crisis on a five-point scale, from ‘not worried’ to ‘terrified’. The overwhelming majority clustered around ‘seriously concerned’ to ‘terrified’. Though taking into account those who stopped to take the survey are likely to be those tending to be concerned, it could be taken as an indication there is a community in Wanstead for whom the climate emergency is a pressing reality. With SUV ownership being such a significant contributor to hastening climate breakdown, is this an area in which we can review our lifestyle choices so that Wanstead can become greener for us all?

A friend of mine drew my attention to the world’s first advertisement for the car in 1898. It urged ‘dispense with a horse’. As we begin 2024 in Wanstead, is it possible to contemplate it as a year where we might now ‘dispense with the SUV’?

To pursue this conversation, email wansteadclimateaction@gmail.com

For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit wnstd.com/climate