Later this month is the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. The bust outside Manor House marks the buildingâ€™s past as the location of the Conservative Club. But beyond that, many Wanstead residents will not know much about his association with Wanstead. So in one of our occasional bursts of public service, Wansteadium is proudly reading Churchill: The member for Woodford, written by David A Thomas in 1994, and over the next few days will be sharing choice snippets.
Episode One. The book starts with Churchill having been a Liberal MP for more than 20 years, having had five Cabinet posts, but now without a seat. He had lost Dundee in 1922 (even though he addressed 4,000 voters soon after having appendicitis and had to be â€˜propped up, half-lying on a sort of sedan chairâ€™). He then lost West Leicester in 1923. He lost again in January 1924. There were a lot of general elections then. He began to look for a safe London Tory seat – and was encouraged to eye up Epping. Women werenâ€™t allowed to vote then. Also the constituencies were enormous. Epping started at Aldersbrook and stretched beyond Harlow. He knew Aldersbrook because his nurse – â€˜that dear and excellent woman Mrs Everestâ€™ – was buried in the City of London cemetery and he mourned there as a boy. He got selected as the candidate for Epping, though some in the local party had reservations. Him having been a Liberal for 20 years, that kind of thing. For Churchill, one of the attractions was that the new constituency was close to home. Thomas writes: â€œChurchill added contentedly that he made the journey from Woodford to Chartwell via the Blackwall Tunnel in only one hour and 20 minutes.â€ Beats driving to Dundee. After being selected as candidate, he went for a drink at the
Manor House Conservative Club on Wanstead High Street. â€œWhat a fine club,â€ he wrote. He worked hard on giving speeches around the constituency and meeting thousands of voters (all men, naturally), and in 1924, aged 49, became MP for Epping. Which included Wanstead.
In tomorrowâ€™s exciting installment, the new prime minister asks Winston if he will go to the Treasury. He nearly swears at him. But he does it and is faced with the National Strike, when he turns newspaperman. He does, however, have to visit a dingy room in Wanstead…