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News

Meet Santa at Wanstead Library’s festive rhyme time

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Wanstead Library will host a Christmas rhyme time session for children under five this month.

“Come along to this extra special festive rhyme time with a special visit from Santa. Enjoy rhymes, songs and stories with your child and meet other parents and children,” said a library spokesperson.

The event will take place on 18 December from 2pm to 2.30pm (free). Regular rhyme time events take place at Wanstead Library on Wednesdays (2pm to 2.30pm) and Fridays (11am to 11.30am).

Call 020 8708 7400

News

Wanstead resident prepares to deliver gifts to children in hospital

IMG_3495Frank Charles (Santa) at Acorn Children’s Ward last year

Local resident Frank Charles is seeking donations of new toys or books for his annual Christmas visit to Acorn Children’s Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital.

“The presents will go to children aged zero to 16 years who will be in hospital over the festive period and beyond, with this being the 15th consecutive year that I have delivered toys there,” said Frank, who founded the Frank Charles Give A Gift Appeal in 2004. Donations can be left at Wanstead Pharmacy, 75–77 High Street, up until 5pm on 20 December.

Visit frankcharles.org.uk

Features

Wanstead’s Social Society

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Wanstead Society chairman Scott Wilding explains why the group’s social events are just as important as their work to protect, preserve and improve the local area

The Wanstead Society was formed in 1997 with the aim of protecting and enhancing the built environment in Wanstead, Snaresbrook and Aldersbrook. But for a long time now, we have aimed to bring the community together through a series of annual social events in local businesses.

We have long sought to enhance the local environment by working with developers to ensure good design in new buildings, by planting trees in public spaces and funding gardening schemes across the area. But there is little point in improving the area if we don’t bring the people who live in it together.

This year, we held a summer social in the Nightingale pub, and a winter one in More Italy. Both laid on great food and a welcoming atmosphere, and we would like to say thank you to every pub or cafe that has held one of our socials. We are lucky to be spoilt with such good choices in such a small area.

These are informal events with free nibbles and a drink provided by us. We have been overwhelmed by the support from local businesses who have offered us rooms for free and discounted rates on food and drink. This is our opportunity to thank Wanstead Society members for their support and offer a chance to meet other members for a catch-up over a few informal drinks.

Ideally, we would like to have a social event every quarter in a local venue and open the society up to more people interested in what we do. Our aim is to hold a different event in a different part of Wanstead throughout the year. This is not only our chance to showcase what we do and bring people together to discuss local issues, but also to showcase a local business and what it can offer. The High Street, and its shops, cafes and restaurants, are more than just businesses. They are part of our community too. We need to support our many independent businesses as much as possible, and what better way than over a glass of wine and some good food?

The Wanstead Society has long campaigned for good urban realm and quality design for our area, but there is little point in protecting the fabric of a place if the people who live in it don’t feel part of a community.

Wanstead is lucky in that, unlike many parts of London, it has a thriving community. We hope we can play a small part in bringing people together and showcasing our fantastic local businesses.

If you would like to help us organise a social event, or offer your business as a venue, please let us know and together we can continue to help our community grow.

For more information on the Wanstead Society, visit wansteadsociety.org.uk or email info@wansteadsociety.org.uk
Features

Restoring Wanstead Park

32286359618_b6f9537b89_o©Christian Moss

In the seventh of a series of articles looking at the developing plans for restoring Wanstead Park, John Meehan, chairman of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, looks at what has been achieved in the park so far and explains what is still to come, and invites anyone who cares about the park’s future to become a member. Ornamental Waters photo by Christian Moss

The present campaign for Wanstead Park was started in 2005. Initially an ad hoc committee of concerned local people, the founders delivered a successful lottery-funded project to raise awareness of the park. About a decade ago, we reactivated a membership-based group called the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, which had been dormant for some time.

The Friends has grown into a dedicated group of volunteers, which works tirelessly with the City of London and other stakeholders to improve the Wanstead Park experience – both for its human users and resident wildlife!

The Friends has constantly been implementing small, much-needed projects to improve the park, for instance, a successful bid for £8,000 of Tesco funding to pay for new picnic tables and benches by the tea hut. They also paid for the restoration of the antique tables in the Temple.

More recently, the Friends also convinced the Field Studies Council to run a two-year education programme in the park for local schools and children, and they are currently agreeing a sponsorship with the Corporation to provide additional signage to help people navigate the park.

We have already been successful in convincing Redbridge to put signage on roads leading to Wanstead Park, which are now in place.

The Friends also runs events throughout the year, including children’s events at the Temple, talks by historians and historical novelists, information stalls at local fayres and shows, music concerts, quiz nights, walks and an upcoming Christmas event at the Temple.

One of the most important jobs the Friends do is to keep the local community informed of the park’s history, ecology and events through a variety of media. Our website is very informative and well used and we also produce four newsletters per year for members. However, our most impactful work is on social media, where the Facebook page has 1,366 members and the Twitter account has 1,867 followers (and 4,465 tweets).

In recent years, our work has focused on attracting a substantial funding package from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and we have played a very active part in shaping and producing a Parkland Plan to guide that work, in partnership with the Corporation and others.

The latest draft of the Parkland Plan has been completed and was featured in the November Wanstead Village Directory, whereas the implementation of the lottery bid awaits the structural assessment of the four lakes in the park, which involves checking their stability under flood conditions (see our feature in the October Wanstead Village Directory).

The Friends committee meets every month to coordinate our work. We are now a registered charity, with stated charitable objectives agreed with the Charities Commission and properly maintained accounts.

Our Annual General Meeting, usually held at Wanstead Golf Club, gives regular members and interested members of the public an opportunity to ask questions about the work of the Friends and quiz speakers from the Corporation of London.

If you wish to be involved in the ongoing development of the Parkland Plan, and actively contribute to the thinking behind it and the local community, please consider joining the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

To join or donate to the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, visit wansteadpark.org.uk or email wansteadpark.org.uk@gmail.com
News

Would you like a cycle hangar installed near your home?

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Redbridge Council is rolling out cycle hangars across the borough.

“The response from residents so far has been very positive, with the vast majority looking forward to having somewhere safe to put their bikes. In neighbouring boroughs, hangars have proved popular and helped foster a cycling culture – hopefully, the same will happen in Redbridge,” said Councillor Paul Donovan.

“If you are interested in having a hangar close to where you live, please get in touch.”

Email jack.redman@redbridge.gov.uk

News

Sights and sounds of Christmas: brass band and screening of The Snowman

Image---The-Snowman-flying©Snowman Enterprises Limited

A performance of The Snowman soundtrack by Redbridge Brass Band will accompany a local screening of the festive film this month.

“That magical sound of a brass band is something many associate with Christmas. It conjures up the aroma of hot chestnuts, tinsel, fairy-lights, carols and, of course, Christmas shopping trips,” said band member Dave Wallace. Three performances will take place at St Gabriel’s Church in Aldersbrook on 14 December (3pm, 5pm and 7pm; adults: £12; under-15s: £6; under-2s: free).

Visit wnstd.com/snowman

Features

Making Christmas

WANSTEAD-CHRISTMAS-CARD©Katie Clement

Visiting a Christmas market is the perfect way to get into the spirit of things, says Rosie Nolan, organiser of Local Makers Market. Christmas card illustration by Katie Clement

The first event I organised in Wanstead was a Christmas market in 2013. I called it Wanstead Makers Market at the time. I’d just moved to the area and had organised craft markets previously, so thought maybe I could do the same here.

It became a popular and well-attended event, so I then started to find other venues around east London to hold the market. This is when I decided to change the name to Local Makers Market so it was not tied to one location. It has since taken place in Dalston, Hackney Wick and Stoke Newington. Wanstead is the place we hold the most events though and it’s our favourite location!

Wanstead is such a great place for artisan markets as the local community really appreciate handmade products. Many of the visitors to the market comment on the exceptional quality of the stalls and the variety of items on offer. I think the other great thing about Wanstead is that it has a village-like feel and the people here love to attend local events. This is something the traders have also noticed – they always comment on how lovely everyone is in Wanstead! Another reason people enjoy the market is the pop-up cafe, run by local business Herons Nest Bakery. There’s always a queue to get to the fantastic cakes.

The market is curated, meaning a mixture of makers are hand-picked for each event, ensuring different kinds of products and disciplines are on show, such as textiles, jewellery, ceramics and illustrations. Each event also has a range of new stallholders who have never traded with us before. This keeps the markets fresh and interesting.

The Christmas Local Makers Market will take place at Christ Church hall on 7 December from 10am to 4.30pm (free entry). Visit wnstd.com/makers
Features

Listen and learn: Keith Nichols

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In the 19th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces us to local jazz pianist Keith Nichols, who will be performing at Wanstead Library in early December

One of the aims of Redbridge Music Society is to bring high-standard live musical events of all styles and genres to local venues at affordable prices, performed within a social and genial atmosphere. On 3 December, Keith Nichols will provide a programme of festive music performed in his own inimitable way at the Churchill Room in Wanstead Library.

Keith is considered to be a foremost authority on classic jazz and ragtime and is a widely respected exponent of the Harlem Stride style of jazz piano playing – a style developed in the large cities of the American East Coast during the 1920s and 1930s. He also specialises in all older jazz piano styles, including Scott Joplin, James P Johnson (“the father of stride”), Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.

Born in 1945 in Ilford, Keith took piano and accordion lessons at the age of five, becoming Great Britain junior champion on accordion in 1960. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, he turned professional and toured for seven years with the jazz-comedy band Levity Lancers, in which he played piano, trombone and tuba.

Over the years, Keith has toured extensively in the UK, Europe and America and has performed at many major world venues, such as London’s South Bank Centre and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He first visited the USA in 1976 as a member of Dick Sudhalter’s New Paul Whiteman Orchestra and in 1977 helped form the Midnite Follies Orchestra. Also in the 1970s he formed the band New Sedalia and helped with the formation of the Ragtime Orchestra.

Keith has written many arrangements and transcriptions in the 1920s and 1930s style and has made three solo albums for EMI and many for Decca (including one with Bing Crosby) and the American Stomp Off label. In 1990, he was invited by musical director Bob Wilber to play the piano part of Hoagy Carmichael on the soundtrack of the feature film Bix.

Currently, Keith is freelance and continues to perform and record prolifically, as well as lecturing on jazz history at the Royal Academy and Trinity colleges. He is also a well-regarded authority on Fats Waller.

Keith’s distinctive playing, humorous personality and warm engagement with his audiences always make for a particularly enjoyable evening. And next month’s event will end with the music society’s annual festive celebrations with plentiful complementary refreshments. Start your run-up to this year’s Christmas season by joining us in an evening of high-quality festive entertainment.

Keith will perform at Wanstead Library on 3 December from 8pm (tickets on the door: £10; members: £7). For more information, call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure and is affiliated to Making Music.
Features

Religion and revolt

moseley-2Oswald Mosley addressing a large crowd on Wanstead Flats in July 1938

At next month’s meeting of the Wanstead Historical Society, Mark Gorman and Peter Williams will explain how Wanstead Flats was used as a venue to spread political and religious messages

Take a fascinating journey through the history of the flats showing how this semi-regulated space became the base for the free expression of ideas, whether religious or political, at the end of the 19th century.

Some notable local characters from Leytonstone stand out. Bushwood, it turns out, was our local Speakers’ Corner. The talk will also discuss how the conservators, the City of London Corporation, sought to exercise control and some of the court cases that ensued.

Political and religious groups have long seen Wanstead Flats as a natural meeting place, as ‘public property’ for the use of the people. However, since the passing of the Epping Forest Act in 1878, the City of London, as ‘conservators’ responsible for managing the Flats as part of the wider forest, have tried to control and restrict such uses. This is the story of the struggle between these two differing views of Wanstead Flats.

Up to the mid-20th century, the main means of communicating political or religious messages was through mass meetings and processions with bands and banners. Often unable to afford (or banned from) meeting rooms and halls, radical political and religious groups sought out large open spaces for their gatherings. Wanstead Flats, located within easy reach of the London of earlier times, and since the late Victorian era surrounded by housing, was seen as an ideal meeting place.

Radical politics in Victorian times were dominated by one great issue: the vote. Even after the reform of Parliament in 1832, working people still had no say in running the country, and the vote was a key demand from the time of the Chartists through to the end of the century and beyond. At the same time, many people were seeking alternatives to the mainstream Anglican Church in an era of great religious fervour.

Religion and politics were often interwoven, and open-air meetings were a prime means of passing on radical political and religious messages. The unfenced ‘public spaces’ of Wanstead Flats were an obvious venue for both.

At the same time, Wanstead Flats had for many years prior to 1878 been a temporary home to travelling communities, above all to Gipsies, who, despite local disapproval (and sometimes harassment), were a familiar part of the local scene. We shall see how some members of this community were to become involved with the wave of religious enthusiasm of the Victorian era.

Mark and Peter’s talk will take place at Wanstead Library on 2 December from 7.30pm (visitors: £3). For more information, call 07949 026 212
Features

The old East End

DSCF4946©Geoff Wilkinson

In the first of a series of articles, local photographer Geoff Wilkinson discusses his new exhibition – entitled ‘Quick! Before it goes’ – depicting London’s East End, an area which resonates with many residents here.

Growing up in London’s East End was a fascinating experience for a young boy. In the 1950s, bomb damage from the war was still very much evident. Living mostly in Stratford, I remember the area just to the right of the old Angel Lane street market which had been completely flattened. No houses or buildings remained; it was just a playground or used for parking vans and cars, such as there were. Perhaps it is the memories of this loss of buildings and architecture that has made me so determined to photograph what is left of the old East End.

When I opened my Whitechapel exhibition last year at the gallery, it was interesting to see the various reactions of the visitors when they saw the photographs. Many of my generation were delighted to see pictures of streets where they had grown up and played or perhaps the buildings where their grandparents had lived. My daughter’s generation, mainly young professionals, reminisced about nights out at bars and restaurants and living in fashionable flats in Whitechapel or Hoxton. For many of these visitors now living in Wanstead, Woodford and the surrounding areas, the common theme, regardless of generation, was the sadness of the familiar places disappearing.

It was the memories shared with me and the emotions the photographs evoked in people that persuaded me to continue on this theme, to capture a wider area of the East End, including Hackney, Bethnal Green (as shown here), Mile End, Bow and much, much more.

Geoff’s exhibition of East End photographs opens on 24 November and runs until 1 March at Gallery 84, Nightingale Lane, Wanstead, E11 2EZ. For more information, call 020 8530 1244 or visit wnstd.com/gw