Farewell to Ash and Paula

(Pic: Geoff Wilkinson)

The end of an era at Nightingale Green as Ash and Paula from Anne’s Newsagents end their 27-year run of 12-hour days, seven days a week. The shop was a lifeline for many, especially during lockdowns. It will now be refurbished and reopened by a new owner. But to Ash and Paula, thank you for your service.

(Google Streetview)

Wanstead’s coffee experiment ramps up

The unofficial experiment being conducted in Wanstead over the past few years – to see just how many coffee shops one High Street can sustain – is gearing up.

The long-observed Wagon Wanstead cafe, which has been standing idle for more than a year, has now opened. Inside looks very smart, with Perky Blenders coffee being served and some attractive-looking pastries on offer. Opening next door to the well-established and much-loved Bare Brew is a brave move.

But an even bigger venture is being prepared for the former Sumo Fresh site, which rumour had it was going to become a curry restaurant.

Joice Cafe already has branches in Stoke Newington, Balham and Mill Hill, and from looking at the menus on offer in those places, this is going to be more than a coffee shop with a range of breakfasts, brunches, and wines/spirits. They even offer Dirty Chai Lattes, whatever they may be.

The newcomers will take, at our count, the coffee shop/cafe tally to 15, in addition to pubs and restaurants. Just how elastic is the demand for coffee? If they bring more people into Wanstead and increase its vitality and vibrancy then few will complain.

It’s long been Wansteadium’s tradition to wish new traders good luck in their ventures, and we do so now too. But we also wish good luck to the establishments who have been toiling away for years.

Phew. The vitality and viability of Wanstead is saved

Oh thank you, Mr Government Planning Inspector, for ensuring Wanstead High Street can have electronic adverts scrolling all day every day, pushing out new streams of commercial messages.

Thank you too for overruling our own elected authorities who thought our conservation area didn’t need them. But you accepted the arguments of the advertisers, who said that they would support the “vitality and viability” of Wanstead.

Thank you for your years of training and expertise in enabling you to make such sagacious judgements. We will rejoice in our vitality.

  • Wansteadium asked Redbridge Council for its opinion on being overruled, and whether this board represented the thin end of a wedge. A spokesman said:

The Council is disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate overruled the council’s decision and allowed these advertising panels on the High Street within the Conservation Area. The appeal decision is a material consideration regarding any future application for these types of adverts. We will closely scrutinise future applications to ensure we do not have an unsightly proliferation of such advertising panels on our High Streets.

New cafe, but not here

A minor diversion from Wanstead, to Greenwich. One of the undisputed stars of last year’s Wanstead Fringe, Paterson Joseph, has celebrated the opening of a cafe there honouring Ignatius Sancho.

Sancho was the subject of Paterson’s talk and impromptu channelling which he staged at the Fringe (and which few who saw it will forget). Sancho was the son of slaves, an orphan who rose to the heights of 1700s English society and became the first black person to vote in a British election. It was some tale and we’re delighted that Paterson’s efforts to have Sancho recognised have borne fruit.