Wanstead news roundup, 5.9.11; Art, hope, murder and mystery in Wanstead

• It’s festival week in Wanstead, with the annual party on Christchurch Green taking place next Sunday, 11 September. That is also launch day for the Wanstead Art Trail, an ever-more ambitious showcase of art in shops and other buildings across Wanstead. A fantastically produced brochure is widely available, and is also online here.

• The proposals to introduce pay and display parking restrictions to central Wanstead have, in case you haven’t heard, been dropped. It follows a campaign and mass petition, organised by Michael and Valerie Powis of Grosvenor Road.

• The former Russell’s cafe bar, currently undergoing renovation, is reportedly becoming a Turkish restaurant.

• Could this be another sign of a green shoot in the Wanstead micro-economy? Cafe Voyage at Snaresbrook station has extended its opening hours: now 6am-5pm on weekdays and 8am-2pm on Saturdays.

• Hedgehogs, a cause close to Wansteadium’s heart, are still being spotted. Alasdair Bain sent this photo, reporting: “Saw this little guy trying to hide behind the bamboo in my garden.” Coming soon in Wansteadium, what you can do in your garden as autumn approaches, to make it a hedgehog friendly zone.

• Meanwhile mink are still being spotted in Wanstead Park. Last week one was seen dragging a coot to an untimely death while perplexed parents and toddlers were feeding the ducks. Other coots watched on.

• An item of interest in Wanstead Oxfam: a double vinyl EP of Magical Mystery Tour in near mint condition, with the original booklet and artwork – a snip at £100. Contact the shop directly if you are interested. 020 8530 3413 or oxfamshopf8092@oxfam.org.uk

• And items recently added to Wansteadium Classifieds include a piano, an iPhone 3GS and a tumble drier. Details here, at www.wansteadium.com/classifieds, where you can also sell your unwanted goods to other Wanstead residents, for free.

Wanstead find-a-book service

Now this feels like real progress. Wanstead’s pride and joy, the Oxfam bookshop, is now offering to take orders.

If there’s a second hand book, CD, DVD or even LP you are after, the shop will take a note of your desire and let you know if it becomes available. To make things even easier, it’s all being co-ordinated through the shop’s Facebook page, which you can find here.

To Wansteadium this all feels like a pretty smart move.

• Incidentally, the shop will be holding a ‘do’ on 9 March from 7pm, for supporters and potential volunteers to get together over tea and cakes and find out more about the charity and the ways people can get involved.

Exclusive: Wanstead to get bookshop at last


Wansteadium can reveal that after years of waiting, Wanstead is to get its own bookshop. OK, it’s a charity shop, and will sell second hand books, but nevertheless the news could give Wanstead High Street the boost it has been needing.

Oxfam is advertising for a shop manager for its new Wanstead Bookshop – clearly one of the charity’s specialist bookshops rather than a general charity shop – at a salary of £16,170 plus £2,030 London weighting. Job applications are open until 16 August.

It is not yet clear where the new shop is to be sited, but there are various empty premises which would be ideal, including the former Horsfall and Wright, the vacant Jenningsbet shop, or even the new shops in the former Cuckfield Garage. It’s probably too far-fetched to imagine them wanting to occupy the now closed Andrews’ Builder’s Merchant building, romantic as that might seem.

According to the Bookseller magazine, which has described Oxfam as “the Tesco of the second-hand book business”, it is now the third biggest bookseller in the UK, selling 12 million books a year and making around £20m in profit. It has 130 specialist second-hand shops; sales grew 7% in 2009.

The shops are not without controversy, though, especially when they have opened near existing bookshops. As charity shops they only have to pay 20% of the business rate that other bookshops would have to find, and of course generally rely on volunteers to run it and are selling donated stock. But with the nearest bookshops being the Living Oasis Christian bookshop in South Woodford and the Woodford Green Village Bookshop a 10-minute drive away, there are not likely to be many opponents of this news.