The cows in Wanstead

This is the best article Wansteadium has ever published.

Dover Road, Aldersbrook. Photo Roger Godbold
Dover Road, Aldersbrook. Photo Roger Godbold

Our appeal for memories of cows wandering around Wanstead – as mentioned by Ewan McGregor last weekend – has borne much fruit.

Wansteadium reader June Mitchell wrote that she remembers the cows outside her home.

“A neighbour and I (both from farming families) herded them on to The Green. Many an unsuspecting driver had to slam on their brakes as a cow wandered across Whipps Cross Road. That’s why there are cattle grids on the approach to the Green Man roundabout.

“I recall my ex-husband coming home shortly after we moved here and saying with absolute amazement that he had been in a meeting at Whipps, looked out the window and saw a cow! It was not unusual to see a few of them meandering up Redbridge Lane West. It was a particularly large group that my neighbour and I thought we should get on to The Green. They were wandering all over the road and into front gardens and I was worried about them munching on privet. It took me back to watching my grandfather herding the cows in for milking. They could be dangerous, particularly around Whipps Cross and the Green Man roundabout. We miss them!

“We moved here in January 1982. There were cows around that year and thereafter. Don’t know the breed and often wondered who they belonged to. They were obviously not a dairy herd because they would have to have been milked. Never knew where their inside shelter was. I never saw anyone herding them. It was a mystery. They could be seen all over. Often on Wanstead flats. We herded them from all over the top of Redbridge Lane West on to The Green. Don’t know why we bothered. Later on they were in The Avenue. At least it got them off the road and out of people’s front gardens. I was told that the Epping Forest land was Common Grazing Ground and therefore anyone could graze cattle on it. Don’t think they got into Wanstead Park though.

“We assumed they were rounded up and taken in for the winter. They came and went. Anyone living around here was used to seeing them. Sometimes a few, occasionally a bigger group. They were just here! It was hilarious to see them all on the Green Man roundabout. If you drive round the roundabout you will see the cattle grids. I have a feeling it stopped when the tunnel went in but I may be wrong.”

Janet & Roger Godbold sent the photo above of Dover Road, dated from the late 70s or early 80s. Roger writes: “Unfortunately the grazing rights granted to certain Essex farmers for their cows to graze on Wanstead Flats were revoked several years ago due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. It must be remembered that the number of cows that actually made it back to the farms each year was less than the number that started grazing.” There were rumours, he said, about where the missing cows ended their lives. Best not go there.

On the March in Snaresbrook in 1964. Photo: Katriye Ibrahim

Katriye Ibrahim
wrote: “They use to visit our close eat our flowers, trim the grass & leave a deposit 1958- late 90s?”

Rose Marsh added: “When we moved to Wanstead about 23 years ago we used the launderette on the High Street for a couple of months. My 2 oldest daughters, who were then 1 and 3 years old, spent much of the time with their noses pressed to the windows looking out for the cows who used to wander up from Snaresbrook to graze on the grass area by the Church School. Now we have neither cows nor a launderette – not sure if that is an improvement to the area.”

Eileen Wray said she used to have cows regularly eating her hanging baskets at her house on Lake House Road. In the end she gave up growing them.

Cows on Wanstead Flats, about to chase kite-flying children. Photo: June Mitchell
Cows on Wanstead Flats, about to chase kite-flying children. Photo: June Mitchell
Photo: Katriye Ibrahim

More pics are welcome – please send to – with details of where and when the photos were taken. And if anyone can give a full answer of whose cows they were, what they were doing here, and what happened to them, we would be grateful.

A Parking P.S.

img_3431Breaking a self-imposed rule to say no more about parking for a while, we should note there is one point really worth registering from Friday’s public meeting which was attended by council leader Cllr Jas Athwal.
At the meeting he explicitly overruled the statement made by Cllr John Howard last Wednesday in which he said roads south of Redbridge Lane West, which includes Warren Road, St Mary’s Ave and Overton Drive among others, would not now be included in the parking scheme.
Cllr Athwal said everything was now back on the table and would be subject to the full consultation – so residents of those roads who might have been breathing a sigh of relief will have to engage with the consultation like everyone else when it happens.

Wanstead wins a FULL parking consultation

A typical parking scene, as captured by Google Streetview
A typical parking scene, as captured by Google Streetview

Redbridge Council has announced that it will, after all, conduct a “full and thorough detailed consultation” into its parking plans for Wanstead. It’s the second change in two days to the council’s proposals and followed a partial alteration which was announced on Wednesday. The results of the consultation will be published in their entirety, the council has promised.

The council statement reads:

Council announces changes to Wanstead parking plans after listening to residents

After listening to residents the Council Leader has announced it will be making changes to the parking plans that were set to be introduced in Wanstead in February. Our initial approach was to present a scheme to residents, take on feedback and make changes to the scheme so that a balanced approach could be found that works for residents, businesses and commuters. Further feedback over a period of up to 18 months would have been sought before the final scheme was consulted on as part of making any scheme permanent. Upon further reflection; and having listened to residents at both the Neighbourhoods Service Committee and at Cabinet, we have decided to carry out a full and thorough detailed consultation, with the results published in their entirety. Further information on the consultation will be sent to Wanstead residents in the coming weeks.

The new position seems to Wansteadium to be a complete victory for those Wanstead campaigners – and, to be frank, this website – who were demanding a consultation take place.

On Monday our (first ever) editorial said:

Unless Redbridge Council undertakes to do the proper consultation, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that this scheme is nothing to do with improving parking – it’s simply an easy way to raise cash for the council. For a political party to do that in an area where it doesn’t stand to make significant electoral losses would just be shabby. It’s time to show that that’s not the case.

As far as Wansteadium can see, this is everything we were asking for.

The #WeWantSay campaigners welcomed the announcement and have issued a letter in response to the council announcement and will proceed with tonight’s meeting at the Scout Hall.

A new set of questions for Redbridge Council

IMG_3482Redbridge Council has backed down on the full extent of its dramatic plans to change parking restrictions in Wanstead, and is promising some consultation. But there are many unanswered questions to which they must provide answers before Wanstead residents will know if they are serious about having listened to the protests.

Here are some which spring to mind. Wansteadium readers should feel free to add them via the comments field (or contact us on

  1. When will you publish the details of the revised proposals including timings of restrictions and maps of streets where they will operate?
  2. How meaningful can your consultation be with just an extension of four weeks before the scheme starts?
  3. This time will you be holding public meetings to consult on the proposal?
  4. How will any further amendments which may be suggested be agreed and implemented in time before the March start date?
  5. Will the installation of 800 poles around Wanstead at a cost of £93k be halted pending the consultation?
  6. Will poles which have already been installed, in places such as in Overton Drive, but where the restrictions will not now apply, be removed?
  7. Is your amended plan also on an “experimental” basis or are you implementing this scheme in the proper manner, as specified in this House of Commons briefing note?
  8. How will the council be monitoring the impact on shops on Wanstead High Street? Will it undertake now to be open and transparent about any findings it might make? [This question remains unanswered since we first asked it in December.]
  9. How will success or failure of the scheme be judged?
  10. How much has Redbridge made from parking charges and fines from drivers in Wanstead? Where does the money go, and will the council undertake to be open and transparent about the increased sums it will raise through this scheme? [This question remains unanswered since we first asked it in December.]
  11. Will the council undertake not to include the £93k expenditure on poles and infrastructure in its decision about the success of the trial? [This question remains unanswered since we first asked it in December.]
  12. How are people who, for whatever reason, don’t have a mobile phone going to park on the High Street?


Breaking: Redbridge backs down over parking! (Kind of)

The white ring on the pavement marks a particularly pointless spot for a planned parking sign
The white ring on the pavement marks a particularly pointless spot for a planned parking sign

Redbridge Council has – sort of – backed down over its unconsulted parking plans which would have dramatically changed parking rules across Wanstead.

The council is reducing the area which will be subject to residents’ restrictions, and it now intends to do a consultation on the plans. The start of the scheme will be delayed for a month until March while this takes place.

Under the revised plans, pay and display restrictions will still apparently be introduced on the High Street, but residents’ restrictions will now not be introduced on roads south of Redbridge Lane West (Warren Road, St Mary’s Ave and Overton Drive and others). A statement published on the council website says: “Other roads such as Grove Park and The Avenue are now proposed to have a mixture of pay and display and residents’ permit spaces.”

No further detail is given, but the new plan will be delayed while consultation takes place. Cllr John Howard, responsible for the scheme, said: “We’ve come at this project with an open mind. We want to find a parking solution that is right for the area, that deals with the present and future pressures on parking spaces but also takes into account the needs of businesses, residents and shoppers. As part of our continued commitment to listen to our residents we will once again be writing to people in the affected area and making them aware of the changes.”

Opposition to the council’s scheme was mounting, with 2,281 people signing a petition demanding proper consultation take place.

Wansteadium readers have been at the forefront of tackling the process the council was using.

  • Reader ArrGee pointed out that the council was breaching its own parking strategy document which committed it to “provide a fair and consistent approach to the way we manage parking, while sustaining long term economic, social, and environmental well-being for everyone.”
  • Reader Fin highlighted that a House of Commons Briefing Note SN6013 said that traffic regulation orders “(whether temporary, experimental or permanent) are only to be used for single streets (not more widely)“.
  • Fin also pointed out that secretary of state guidance on the Right to Challenge Parking Policies states: “[P]arking strategies cannot simply be about restricting parking. They need to meet the best interests of road users, communities and businesses. Inappropriate parking rules, over-zealous enforcement and high parking charges drive people out of town centres, push up the cost of living, harm local shops and make it harder for people to park responsibly and go about their everyday lives.” It adds: “[L]ocal traffic authorities should consult as widely as is necessary to ensure that all of those affected by the orders have the opportunity to comment…by putting in place a petition scheme that allows people and businesses to raise petitions about the parking restrictions in place for a specified location”.

Some of these points were included in a motion tabled for discussion by the Conservative group at next week’s full council meeting which reads in part: “This Council further agrees to request Cabinet to ensure that all future parking schemes will involve full consultation as outlined in the Parking Strategy and that it will not in the future use the device of a ‘experimental scheme’ to circumvent the requirement for consultation with local residents.”

Leaders of the parking action group will now need to take stock over the revised proposals and see whether they meet their demands over consultation.