Woe betide anyone who needs to make a phone call while out in Wanstead and doesn’t have a mobile with them. The absolute state of the phone box – which has actually deteriorated since these photos were taken – is a disgrace. The phone itself is useless, the cubicle is a health hazard, and the noble idea of providing public access phones seems to have lost its point.

This is a nice bit of unsung social action… Wanstead estate agent Dabora Conway is marking three years since it started supporting The Hygiene Bank, an organisation which helps women and families who suffer from domestic abuse by providing basic items such as toothpaste and deodorant.

The High Street office collects new, unused, in-date personal care and household cleaning essentials including deodorant, shower gel, shampoo/conditioner, sanitary pads and tampons,  face wash and wipes, disposable razors and shaving foam, nappies, soap, toothpaste/toothbrushes, body and face lotions, make-up, beauty gifts and toilet roll.

A Hygiene Bank co-ordinator said: “Women and families in our community are suffering horrendous domestic abuse.

“The ways in which this abuse is inflicted is often via withholding household funds to buy basic items such as toothpaste and deodorant so the women feel too ashamed to go out in public and therefore stay in the house where they can be controlled.

“Complete denial of access to sanitary items is another obvious and degrading way to exercise ultimate control over a woman’s (& daughter’s) freedom on a regular basis. 

“These women and their children seek support and advice at a local refuge but they are often not in a position to escape their abusers.

“Also, hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming products most of us take for granted. The reality of low income is that it restricts people’s options, leaving them caught between being able to heat their homes, pay the rent, eat or be clean.”

Donations have unfortunately dropped off during the pandemic – so anyone who is moved to help is invited to drop in suitable items to the Dabora Conway office on the High Street.

Further information can be found at thehygienebank.com

Modesty forbids us from going on too much about this, but it’s only fair to note another baby step in the early life of Wanstead Bookshop, a new venture which in its first few months has already supplied hundreds of books to Wanstead readers.

The new development is a pop-up bookshelf, housed hospitably by the High Street’s newest café, City Place Coffee. The bulk of Wanstead Bookshop’s sales are online at wansteadbookshop.com (it’s a website which offers personal service – radical, huh? – and same day despatch of books). But having a physical presence on the High Street offers a glimpse of a different dimension. The economics of bookshops are pretty unfavourable, Wansteadium can exclusively reveal, and will continue to be so while people still buy from well-known online retailers whose name begins with A and contains a Z.

But the new bookshelf has been warmly welcomed by customers and has been something of a hit.

We can also happily announe that the new novel from Wanstead’s favourite actress, Jackie Clune, is available at the bookshelf, as well as online.

And we can also tempt readers that as part of its contribution to this year’s Wanstead Fringe (assuming Covid doesn’t derail things again) Wanstead Bookshop will be hosting a series of events with writers who include Hannah Armstrong, the author of the much anticipated history of Wanstead House.

Cycle hangars – on-street lockable bike racks which can be rented – have arrived in Wanstead. One has been installed this week in Halstead Road, near to the Duke pub.

The hangars are a common sight in other boroughs and are especially useful in streets where houses do not have side access, allowing cyclists to store their bikes securely. Slots are rented from a private operator, Cyclehoop, and cost £72 per year.

Cyclehoops says that councils pay for the installation of the hangars and decide on location. Some also offer subsidies to reduce the rental figure, though Redbridge does not appear to be doing this. It’s not yet known if more hangars are to come to Wanstead.

Image: Google Streetview

Another serious road crash at the crossroads between Hermon Hill and Wanstead High Street on Saturday morning has caused more worry for residents.

They have launched a petition calling on Redbridge council to introduce some traffic calming measures, fearing that an accident in which someone dies is only a matter of time.

Synagogue crash last September

A number of incidents in the past year have included a serious crash in September 2020 in which a car ended up in the front garden of the Sukkat Shalom synagogue (left).

This weekend’s incident involved the air ambulance and fears of serious injury.

Resident Lloyd Simpson told Wansteadium: “Given how many residents and users of the nurseries and care homes located here use this road it is sadly only a matter of time.

“We live in constant fear due to excessive and consistent speeding and cars mounting the pavements to park. The mums and dads I speak to on the road are beside themselves with worry. Many have lost loved pets but I fear the council will only do something when someone is mowed down.”

The petition is available here.

We love new things, and despite all the naysaying, we’re rather keen on the Wanstead Parklet (aka the Wanstead Village Hub), now in full service outside the Co-op.

Along with the new flower baskets adorning the railings at the side of the road outside the Corner House, it all feels fresh and summery. Other views may be available.

We have three observations about the experience of sitting in the parklet enjoying a cup of coffee – one good, one bad, and one kind of neutral.

  1. One is that this innovation could increase the number of casual encounters between acquaintances, and that’s a great thing.
  2. Second is that you are, as you sit, unfortunately very close to the traffic – something which doesn’t apply to the corresponding parklet in South Woodford, as that part of George Lane is not a main thoroughfare.
  3. Third is that to fulfil its promise, this is going to have to be kept clean. No one wants to sit at a manky table with other people’s detritus. Feels like we might be heading for an illustration of the tragedy of the commons.