Community group answers call to adopt iconic telephone box by Wanstead Station

IMG_2831The phone box before the restoration

The Wanstead Society is seeking to revitalise the iconic K6 telephone box outside Wanstead Station, with the Wanstead Community Gardeners high on the list of those wishing to put it to good use.

“This particular box has Grade II listed status with Historic England and, of course, it complements our beautiful Art Deco station perfectly. BT will decommission it, but leave the electricity for the top lights. Then it is ours to clean, paint and use. The project is in its early stages, but hopefully, by next summer, the shiny red kiosk will be brimming with plant life. Crowdfunding may be needed for the refurbishment, but possibly not for the purchase price – it’s £1,” said Eileen Flinter.

The K6 kiosk design was created by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.


Wild Wanstead


Planning some building work at home? Why not make sure it offers net gain for nature? Susie Knox explains why in the 23rd article of a series charting the Wild Wanstead project

In the last 25 years, an area of countryside and green space almost the size of Cornwall has been lost to development. Built-up areas in Britain increased by nearly 3,500 square kilometres, according to the UK Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, most of it in England. If someone had proposed to concrete over the whole of Cornwall, there would have been an outcry. But development is much more insidious than that. A little bit here, a little bit there. Each pretty insignificant, but collectively, adding up to a vast area of land lost to nature. 

The researchers calculated that between 1990 and 2015 there was a net loss of 1.9 million acres of grassland.

With so much more development still to come, it is good news that in the new environment bill, the government is embracing the concept of net gain for nature. It means that big developments will (allegedly) have to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. By measuring the value of existing habitats in biodiversity units, the net gain approach will hopefully encourage habitats of high biodiversity value to be avoided or preserved, given the difficulty and cost in compensating for them. It should also lead to new developments integrating wildlife-enhancing features into plans to boost their score of biodiversity units.

It seems a shame that in places like Wanstead, where most development is small scale or residential (extensions and driveways), no such rules will apply, and the gradual concreting over of suburbia looks set to continue. A little bit here, a little bit there. I wonder how many George Green’s worth of gardens have been concreted over in Wanstead during the last 25 years?

Maybe, as individuals, we should embrace the concept of net gain for nature, even if we aren’t forced to by law. For example, if garden land is being lost to make way for an extension, why not ensure the remaining garden becomes a haven for wildlife? Or put on a green roof and create a new area of vegetated land?

Suburban gardens are home to nearly 700 different species, and probably many thousands of individual creatures. What to us seems like a lovely extension or patio, or a neat driveway, is Armageddon to insects, birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and the many other creatures trying to live alongside us in Wanstead. Many people say they feel reconnected with nature following lockdown this year. Let’s hope those feelings turn to actions by ensuring our own home building projects result in an improved habitat for our local wildlife.

Ways to help nature gain while achieving the house of your dreams:

  • Incorporate green features in your new development.
  • Compensate for any loss of vegetation or habitat by making the remaining land even better for nature.

For example:

  • Use a small amount of hard surfacing and maximise space for vegetation.
  • Put a sedum or wildflower roof on extensions, sheds or garden rooms.
  • Opt for a green driveway.
  • Don’t put down plastic grass.
  • Switch areas of your lawn to no-mow in spring and early summer.
  • Plant trees and hedges around the edge.
  • Allocate an area to become a wild corner – with leaf piles, wood and dense vegetation.
  • Create a wild flower mini-meadow.
  • Start growing ivy or other climbers up your fences.
  • Add a wildlife pond or water feature.
  • Lift up old areas of gravel and slate and plant low-maintenance shrubs instead.

For more information on the Wild Wanstead project, visit

Why can’t you see me?

grace-1Grace at her mate’s 18th birthday garden party (with less than 30 guests)

Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into her life with cerebral palsy. In the third of a series of articles, Grace gets to party for the first time this year

Hi. It’s me again, Grace. You’re probably thinking: “Bloody hell, what more could she possibly have to talk about?” Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t know what to write about, but then I thought, why not talk about my first time going out since lockdown? So, here we go… you’ll probably want to sit down for this because, as my family say, when I have something to talk about, it’s never quick. So, I hope you’re comfortable.

Most people have probably seen my post on the local Facebook pages saying I’ve been isolating since the beginning of March due to coronavirus. Because of my cerebral palsy, I’m very vulnerable. I’ve got a very low immune system. But on 28 August, one of my mates had a party because she turned 18. So, I was very excited to go to a party for the first time since December.

Obviously, my mum was shitting herself because there would be a lot of people there. But I was well excited! It took me two hours to do my hair and make-up to get ready because, you know, I had to look good. You never know, there could be a fit boy there. Unfortunately, there weren’t any fit boys.

I was filming and doing a photo shoot in my mate’s garden because – excuse my French – f**k me, her garden is huge, and by huge, I mean it’s like the size of, do you know the Wanstead part of Epping Forest? It’s probably not that big, but not far off! She’s got a lake – yes, a lake, not a pond, a lake – and a whole lot more. I mean the party was literally out of this world!

There was a bar, from which I got a passion fruit Martini. There were three big tents, one had a DJ in, another had a photo booth in and the other was a chill-out area, but I spent most of my time in the party tent, and talking to her nan. I know, you’re probably thinking I don’t have a life if I talk to nans, but we really got on. I think it’s because I’m really close to my own great nan. That woman is a nightmare: she goes to Westfield and she does every floor. She’s even been in – wait for it – Ann Summers. So, that’s why I think I got on with my mate’s nan.

By the end of the night, I looked a right mess. My shoes were covered in mud. I’m surprised I managed to walk in them because they were knee-high heels.

At 1am, we called it a night. It took an hour to get home.

So, yeah, that’s everything that happened to me when I was released from lockdown.

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit

Glass full of inspiration

Jenny-Glass-0317038Arriving Home by Pippa Davismoon Photo by Mathew Cameron Wilton

Art Group Wanstead member Pippa Davismoon works with clay and glass. She has just started teaching a new glass fusing evening class, and believes making things can enhance your wellbeing

Ever since I can remember, I have needed to make things. I now believe it’s fundamental to a rich and rewarding life. Since finishing at Central St Martin’s Art School with a distinction in glass in 2011, I have worked in kiln-formed glass and ceramics alongside drawing and print.

Teaching and running local workshops are also part of my art practice, being passionate about how making can enhance wellbeing. I’ll be running glass evening classes and Christmas workshops again this year.

I first fell in love with the colours of studio glass when studying architecture in Liverpool. The cathedral has coloured glass in its dome, and when light shines through, beautiful colours fill the space.

I started working with glass 10 years ago, finding it as inspiring and beautiful then as I do now. Glass is exciting to experiment with and a very forgiving medium. It can be refired up to seven times. When you open the kiln, it’s like opening a present from a friend.

Working with ceramics is a slower process, meditative and relaxing; during this time, you can adjust and develop your work. I also often work with porcelain, as despite its technical challenges, it’s a sensuous clay, producing an exquisite finish, glazed or unglazed.

During the last Wanstead Festival, I worked with Elsa Arnold (from the Spreading Kindness Through E11 initiative), running a workshop for people to make kindness bunting, which was displayed in local shop windows.

Currently, I am working on Lockdown Lessons, a participatory word game made out of ceramics.

To view more of Pippa’s work, visit or follow her on Instagram @pippadavismoon

Pippa runs glass fusing evening classes at Bedford House Community Association. For more information, call 020 8504 6668 or visit


Whole, in two!

Mulberry-fall-14Assessing the mulberry tree on Wanstead Golf Course

A 300 year-old mulberry tree at Wanstead Golf Club has split in two – a victim of the summer’s hot, dry weather. But this is just the beginning of a more recumbent phase of old age, says Peter Coles

Since Roman times, mulberries have been planted in London for their delicious fruit and medicinal virtues. Today’s trees help to tell this tale.

I first visited the veteran black mulberry tree (Morus nigra) at hole seven on Wanstead Golf Course in 2018. I was invited to do so by local resident and mulberry enthusiast Claire Weiss, and I remember being excited to add it to the Morus Londinium database. Morus Londinium is The Conservation Foundation’s mulberry mapping project in London. This particular mulberry could date back to the 1720s, perhaps planted as a fruit tree in the kitchen gardens of the (long since demolished) Wanstead House.

It therefore came as quite a shock when Bob Ward, manager of Wanstead Golf Club, informed Claire the tree had split in half during the very hot, dry weather of August, which had been followed by strong winds.

But, like many other veteran mulberry trees that collapse, this is just the beginning of a new phase. “The collapse of this tree should not be seen as a catastrophe but rather as a natural progression in its continued growth. Without doing anything, the natural order will be for some of the branches, now touching the ground, to root and grow independently of the parent trunk. The part still upright will also lean over and, at some point, do the same. Our oldest mulberry trees have all lost their original trunks and survive as a collection of stems rooted in this way,” said dendrologist David Alderman, who helped assess the damage.

Not so long ago, when an old tree like this keeled over, the urge would have been to think it was dead, or at least to chop up and  remove the fallen section. Nowadays – and especially in the case of the Wanstead Golf Club mulberry, which has lots of room around it – the advice is to leave it alone.

According to David, the size and age of the Wanstead mulberry qualify it for the national hall of fame: “The size of the tree makes this a remarkable specimen! I measured the tree to be 7.5m tall x 2.97m girth at 0.8m above ground level. Very few mulberry have intact measurable trunks of circa 3m in girth and although not the oldest mulberry, this is the second largest, most intact mulberry in Greater London… Out of 500 specimen mulberry in Britain, the Wanstead tree is 9th largest when comparing only those surviving with a clearly identifiable short trunk.”

This said, black mulberry trees can live for several centuries under the right conditions, but their long, spreading branches may need to be supported. Wanstead Golf Club is very proud of its venerable tree and has assured us they will do whatever is needed to preserve it.  We will follow this story with great interest in the months to come.

For more information on Morus Londinium, visit

Tonnes of Good

PHOTO-2020-04-16-14-49-19Donations ready for delivery to the foodbank

James Paterson reflects on the success of the Tin in a Bin (TinaB) network – which he established at the start of lockdown with fellow Wanstead resident Julie Harvey – and explains why the initiative is still vital

It all began so simply! Julie Harvey, a regular donor to the Redbridge Foodbank via St Mary’s in Overton Drive, set up a system outside her house where neighbours could drop goods to be added to the church collections. Julie decorated her front windows with signs asking people to “Put a tin in the bin,” and left her recycling box out to collect these.

When lockdown was imposed, churches had to close their doors to the public, and one immediate consequence was the end to regular weekly donations on Sundays; the foodbank was deprived of an important supplier, hampering their vital work. So, I came up with a solution: a large plastic chest in front of my house where people could drop donations instead. The problem was, Drummond Road is neither very central nor convenient. Nevertheless, the availability of the two drop-off points at mine and Julie’s houses was publicised on the Wanstead Community Hub Facebook page.

Immediately, donations started to come in. Amazingly, people also volunteered to become drop-off points as well, and the Tin in a Bin Network was born! It grew rapidly, and the network now has 35 collectors across Wanstead, South Woodford and Aldersbrook. It has become affectionately known as TinaB! Responding to requests, we also set up a PayPal pool for those who preferred to donate money.

TinaB volunteers bring donations to me and Julie. They’re sorted and taken to the foodbank. The first week, incredibly, saw donations of 700kg. The second week, we received 1,345kg, which is still a record. We now drop an average of 1,000kg to the foodbank weekly, reaching over 10 tonnes at the end of June. As at 5 September, the total donated to the foodbank was 16.65 tonnes! In addition, we distributed surplus food the foodbank didn’t need to local initiatives supporting people in crisis, including hotels housing rough sleepers, Frank Charles’ worthy Feed the Streetz and the Magpie Project, to name a few. These donations weighed around another two tonnes.

Julie and I are so thankful to our community for their continuing support. We are also grateful to the Wanstead Village Directory for frequently publicising the network. Sadly, the need for the foodbank has increased steadily during the pandemic, and the continuing crisis – with the end of the furlough scheme – is likely to increase the number of people who rely on its emergency support.

So, in addition to seeking additional drop-off points, we are now planning to approach other churches and schools to see if we can further expand the network. We are also publicising the initiative on a wider basis to encourage people in other areas to start their own TinaB networks.

To send a message to the network, email

The current Tin in a Bin network is as follows:
  • 8 Drummond Road,
  • 43 Langley Drive,
  • 46 Overton Drive,
  • 36 Felstead Road,
  • 46 Buckingham Road,
  • 17 Wanstead Place,
  • 40 Grosvenor Road,
  • 33 Nightingale Lane,
  • 36 Dangan Road,
  • 39 Leicester Road,
  • 1 Warwick Road,34 Seagry Road,
  • 120 Overton Drive
  • 6 Woodcote Road,
  • 2 Church Path,
  • 76A New Wanstead,
  • 51 Cambridge Road,
  • 106 Belgrave Road
  • 12 Aldersbrook Road, Aldersbrook
  • 92 Herongate Road, Aldersbrook
  • 96 Harpenden Road, Aldersbrook,
  • 28 Clavering Road, Aldersbrook,
  • 36 Dover Road, Aldersbrook,
  • 90 Wanstead Park Avenue, Aldersbrook
  • 4 Forest Close, Snaresbrook,
  • 33 Deynecourt Gardens,
  • 10 Eaton Rise,
  • 14 Wellington Road,
  • 29 Avon Way, South Woodford,
  • 30 Rose Avenue, South Woodford,
  • 27 Pelham Road, South Woodford,
  • 99 Cadogan Gardens, South Woodford
  • 38 Eastwood Road, South Woodford,
  • 18 Cranbourne Avenue,
  • 1 Hurstwood Avenue, South Woodford
  • 9 Fullers Avenue, Woodford Green
  • 12 Richmond Way
  • 36 Bressey Grove
  • Outside Brading Food and Wine, Brading Crescent, Aldersbrook
The list of items needed is as follows:
  • Razors and shaving foam
  • Tooth paste and toothbrushes
  • Tinned Meat
  • Tinned Tomatoes
  • Tinned Potatoes
  • Tinned Fruit
  • Rice Pudding / Custard
  • Jam
  • Long Life Juice
  • Sugar
  • Toilet Paper
  • Small Bags of Rice
  • Shampoo
  • Squash
  • Deodorants
  • Tins or Packets of Custard
  • Peanut Butter
  • Shower Gel
  • Small Jar of Coffee/ tea bags
  • Small Multipack Snacks

Litter pickers call for people to stop dumping face masks


Litter pickers have called for people to dispose of face masks properly after 15 people joined last month’s socially distanced clean-up event.

“It was great to see people continuing to come out to keep the streets of Wanstead clean. One recurring theme, however, was the number of face masks that seem to just be discarded on the ground… it is selfish and irresponsible behaviour. Take the masks home and dispose of them appropriately,” said Councillor Paul Donovan. The next litter pick will take place on 17 October.

The event takes place on the third Saturday of the month from 10am, meeting on the corner of High Street and Woodbine Place.



1KH_8938.jpgSyrian refugees Obama Basheer, 8, holds her sister, Joud, 6 months

In the third of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area – Eleanor Taylor reports on the group’s Home Office application

Thanks to all the support we’ve received from people in Wanstead and the surrounding areas, we’ve been pressing ahead with our project to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the area, and we’re delighted our application has been accepted.

When we last wrote in June, we were in the process of writing our application to the Home Office. This was a complex task that involved working with the Community Sponsorship Team at the Resettlement, Asylum Support and Integration department. We completed a long questionnaire, detailing how we will support the family and help them work towards independence once they are here. Our core group of volunteers were working for a number of months to complete the process.

Following submission, we had a detailed pre-approval meeting (virtually) with the Home Office in July. This was a nerve-racking experience, but we are pleased to say our application has recently been successful.

The timing couldn’t be better, as the situation for refugees across the world has become even more dangerous over the summer. The devastating explosion in the port of Beirut is estimated to have impacted thousands of Syrian refugees who had been forced to move to Lebanon, having already endured disaster in their home country. The family we will be welcoming to Wanstead will also be Syrian, displaced by the conflict there and currently living in a refugee camp in the Middle East. We have the opportunity to help one family escape from the constant dangers that life as a refugee can inflict.

There are still delays to the process due to Covid-19 restrictions, with UK embassies shut for visa applications. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration announced in mid-June that resettlement departures for refugees would be resuming, so we are looking forward to pressing ahead.

Our next steps are to prepare as much as we can while we wait for the various agencies to match us with a suitable family. We are preparing a guide to Wanstead, which we hope will tell the family everything they need to know about our community, and help them feel welcome as soon as they arrive.

We are so grateful for the ongoing support shown by everyone in Wanstead and the surrounding areas, and as soon as we know more about the family who will be joining us, we will need lots more help, especially from people who have experienced the system or who have relevant language skills. In the meantime, if you are able to help or would like to donate to our project, please get in touch.

For more information, follow the group on Twitter @RefugeeWanstead or email

Wanstead community appeal for rough sleeper survival kits


The Corner House Project – a Wanstead-based initiative that supports the homeless – is hosting a drive-through for donations of clothes and toiletries at Wanstead Cricket Club this month.

“Items can be dropped off in the car park at 1 Overton Drive between 11am and 2pm on 17 and 18 October. This will enable us to make up survival kits to distribute to those who are struggling,” said a spokesperson. Items needed include gloves, scarves, woolly hats, sleeping bags, deodorant, toothpaste and sanitary products.



Swan lakes

fullsizeoutput_11048©Tracey Adebowale-Jones

In the third of a series of articles celebrating the swans that reside on the lakes of Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats, Tracey Adebowale-Jones explains why flight training could have been delayed for the cygnets on Ornamental Waters

At the end of summer, the swans on the Ornamental Waters in Wanstead Park were literally locked down at one end of the lake – in an area known as the canal. This was because the water levels in the lake were drastically low following the summer’s heatwave, and so the swans were unable to swim out.

It made food scarce and their lives were in danger. At this time of year, the juveniles have grown enough to start to learn to fly, and swan watchers were concerned that if water levels did not rise, they would be unable to learn their flight skills.

Adults begin to move their juveniles away now as they think about starting new families, and if a younger swan remains, it can often turn nasty as the adults chase their children away. Luckily, the stopcock, which releases borehole water, was turned on and water flowed into the lake. The water levels became high enough for the swans to swim out of their lockdown and their flight training began.

At the time of writing, there are three youngsters out of four now remaining on the lake. We assume the fourth has flown away, although we can’t be sure where to.

You can now clearly see the white of the cygnet’s feathers as they turn into beautiful adult swans and begin their new lives in a flock – until they find a mate and start to seek a territory to raise their own family.

Through our growing network of volunteers, we are able to tell each other when we have concerns about a local swan’s health or safety. We would like to thank everyone who supported our plea to feed them whilst they were trapped and would ask people to continue to do so as we head into the winter months.

For more information on The Swan Sanctuary, visit To report any concerns about the health and safety of a local swan, call 01932 240 790

A successful season for Wanstead and Snaresbrook Cricket Club


Wanstead and Snaresbrook Cricket Club have enjoyed a successful nine-game cricket season, with the first, second and fifth XI each winning their respective leagues, and the third XI finishing runners-up.

The first XI won the premier division with a final day victory over Brentwood last month, dismissing their title rivals for 193 and reaching their target with 17 balls to spare.

“At one point we thought we might not have any cricket this summer, so to have such a successful season is a credit to all members,” said club chairman Martin Pluck.


Wanstead roads resurfaced in highways improvement programme


Wanstead Place and St Mary’s Avenue have both been resurfaced as part of a Redbridge Council £6.7m highways improvement programme.

“As part of the programme, we will be delivering significant enhancements to our highways network, which will greatly benefit residents and visitors to the borough. More than 20 roads have already been resurfaced since June under the initiative, with a number of other roads across the borough set to benefit from vital improvements for 2020/21,” said a spokesperson.