Congratulations Sheila

Picture: Redbridge

Congratulations to Wanstead Park councillor Sheila Bain who this week became Mayor of Redbridge. She said in her year in office she was hoping to help raise the profile of community groups, among others.

“We are a diverse borough,” she said. “This diversity is reflected in the range of positive activities across Redbridge. I particularly want to shine a light on our volunteers, people who do not even consider themselves volunteers but make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

Celebrate 21 years of Wanstead guerrilla gardeners

The Wanstead Community Gardeners – who adopt and care for otherwise unloved bits of greenery – are this weekend celebrating their 21st anniversary in an event at the Corner House where it all began.

The guerrillas issued a communiqué which said:

Great things often start with small actions. This particular small action happened on 3rd April 2003, when Marian Temple ran out of patience! The Corner House garden, on Wanstead High Street, was waist high in weeds and take away food rubbish. What could be a beautiful garden was just a wasteland.

With Council permission, a group of enthusiasts turned it into the garden that everybody loves today. That was the beginning. The community gardeners now care for approximately 40 sites around Wanstead, and it is one of the reasons that our village is so beloved by residents and visitors alike. Wanstead Community Gardeners formed the blueprint from which many other community garden groups have successfully developed.

This Sunday, 19th May, from 2pm onwards, the Wanstead Community Gardeners are celebrating their 21st year. They hope you can pop along to join them in the back garden of the Corner House, for tea, cake and a chat to the gardeners. There will be lots of photos to look at and there might even have a few plants for sale…

The Bull has a new owner

(Google Streetview)

While the eyes of drinkers have been looking at the future of the George, just up the High Street another Wanstead pub has changed hands.

The Bull, formerly the Manor House, has been bought by the Livelyhood Pub Group, a small chain of independent neighbourhood pubs based in South London. It has pubs in Clapham, Balham, Wimbledon, Elephant & Castle and Crystal Palace.

The chain says all 22 jobs at the Bull are safe and that the team will begin planning renovations to take place in winter 2025.

Announcing the deal, Livelyhood described its pubs as “focusing on social spaces for eating and drinking at the front and entertainment areas with big screens for hosting sports, live music, quiz nights and other events at the back”.

Sarah Wall, founder and owner of Livelyhood Pub Group, said: “We’re delighted that The Bull Pub is now part of Livelyhood Pub Group and can join us on our journey of growth for the year ahead. The Bull Pub already has an incredible team in place and prides itself as a real community, local pub which strongly aligns with our own values and expectations of what a stand-out pub should be.

The Bull, a beautiful building and former bank, has a rich history and has been a huge part of the local community since its inception as a pub ten year ago. A pub full of character, it boasts a first floor private room alongside an epic garden. It has been at the centre of many events, celebrations and Summer parties over the years. This Summer will be no different with the Euros just about to launch and the British Summer Time arriving (everything crossed!).”

The building was formerly the headquarters of the Wanstead and Woodford Conservative Association when Winston Churchill was the local MP, hence the bust of the former prime minister at the front of the building.

For some years it was a branch of the Allied Irish Bank, but was converted into the Manor House by local entrepreneur Mark Foster almost exactly 10 years ago.

* Meanwhile a petition to attempt to persuade Wetherspoons not to go ahead with selling the lease for the George has been signed by 2,700 people. It calls on Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin and freehold owner Lord Sugar to retain the pub as it currently is, saying it would become more expensive if converted – one of the possibilities according to a popular rumour – into a gastropub with many of the current clientele no longer being able to afford to go there. “It has great character and staff and true East End atmosphere,” the petition organisers say.

Music festival returns to St Mary’s

Tickets are now on sale for the second St Mary’s Music Festival after last year’s debut. Three concerts are taking place on the next bank holiday weekend, 25-27th May, at the magnificent church on Overton Drive.

The festival features local saxophonist Melanie Henry with the Opus Sax quartet and an afternoon celebrating the church organ, which is now 101 years old. It concludes with All Rest, a new immersive operatic work written by local composer Simone Spagnolo which will be performed as the audience walks around the churchyard.

Full details are below, and tickets are available here on Wansteadium.

Festival organiser Alison Wells writes:

“Last year’s inaugural St Mary’s Music Festival was a great success and a lot of fun!  The emphasis this year is still on local talent – performers, and composers.  Watch out for the organ day, Sunday 26th, this year featuring a talk on organists of Wanstead Parish Past and present.  And the itinerant site-specific All Rest by local composer Simone Spagnolo, who will be known to many of you. That’s on Bank Holiday Monday 27th.

We pray for good weather as the audience will be promenading around the churchyard, meeting some interesting characters from the past. And it all kicks off on Saturday 25th with a fantastic evening of Saxophone quintets and quartets, curated and presented by Wanstead’s own Melanie Henry with students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire.  Really looking forward to seeing lots of you at our beautiful church over the weekend.”

Blue badge scammers have form

Earlier this week Redbridge warned about people scamming money from holders of blue badge disabled parking permits, hanging around in council car parks and getting money from them.

Wansteadium reader Andy writes that the Grove Park car park is indeed one of their targets.

My parents-in-law were scammed in Grove Park last year – guy hanging around in the rain offered to “help” them with the ticket machine, palmed their card and withdrew £500 from high street ATM. Clearly a well-rehearsed little routine. Be extra vigilant and offer to help get friends/relatives setup on the app (assuming they’re able to use it!).