The days of relying on phone boxes is long gone, but they remain as loved architectural landmarks. The one outside Wanstead Tube has, however, become a pitiful site.

Neglect and – now – vandalism has completely ruined the box. Its door is now missing, and who knows if anyone cares enough to repair it. The contrast with the post box next to it could not be starker.

There’s some encouraging news from the Music School Wanstead, a High Street-based operation which has been teaching piano, guitar and a range of other instruments to Wanstead children for years.

The school, based above Boots, was hit by Covid getting in the way of face-to-face teaching for months, but it is now starting a series of classes for very young children to teach them the basis of music.

The sessions will use the Kodály method, a Hungarian teaching method which uses a child’s voice and hands as their primary instruments and which is recognised internationally as a way to introduce music to young children.

The sessions will run on Saturday mornings in Christ Church Hall – term starts on 7 November – and there are more details on the Music School’s site where places can also be booked.

Last week we wrote, while launching the all-new Wanstead Bookshop, that we didn’t think Wanstead had had its own bookshop before.

We were of course wrong. Lots of people who read Wansteadium have lived here for a very long time and know exactly what’s what. What’s slightly more embarrassing is that we actually had included a picture of one of these bookshops on a story we ran in 2016. It was called Vanes Library and was next to where Belgique is now.

Vane’s Library in Cambridge Park in January 1959

The photo was sent to us by reader Sharon, who told us at the time that her husband’s grandad owned the building and ran the shop – though she does say he ran it “as a stationery shop”.

Regular correspondent Kerry Renshaw wrote: “Vane’s was a stationer’s and bookshop, though in a small way. I remember ordering Biggles books for my birthday there in the 1950s.”

Gwen Marsh added: “Vane’s used to sell books, stationery and all sorts of wonderments and I used to spend a lot of time in there as a child happily. I remember both Vanes and Stockdales next door, that was luggage store if I remember correctly.”

We’ve also heard reports that there was a second bookshop on the High Street. We’re checking that – any further reports are welcome.

Meanwhile the new Wanstead Bookshop has had a pretty good first week, thanks for asking. There’s obviously plenty of interest and goodwill for Wanstead to have its own bookshop (once again). If you would like to sign up to stay in touch with the bookshop, send your details here.


    You will receive a sign-up confirmation from Wanstead Bookshop.

    And meanwhile these are some of the new books on offer this weekend.

    La Bakerie, formerly Nice Croissant, has emerged like a phoenix from its lockdown, during which time it has been completely refurbished.

    And it is looking smaaaarrrt – quite the transformation. Congratulations to Fabien, Franck, Nasreen and Sabrina on a great job.

    A huge amount of water has fallen in the past few days, leading to the River Roding being higher than it has been for a long time.

    But anyone travelling down Hermon Hill or Wellesley Road would have been faced with quite severe flooding during the storms – in spite of the very spot where the flooding happened having been dug up about 10 times over the past couple of years.

    The story of this blighted junction continues…

    Reader Michelle Rawlings intriguingly adds:

    I have been living in Wanstead for 45 yrs … but never seen it so bad than for the past 10 yrs . I am concerned that one of the underground water streams  usually flowing down the first part of Wellington Road  had to deroute itself due to construction/extensions and tanking cellars ..nothing to do with drains etc ..  this is purely a logical & historical witness observation .

    A week of events in Wanstead focusing on well-being starts on Monday – part of an ongoing movement to help people’s resilience during coronavirus.

    The week includes events targeting physical and mental health and is taking place both online and offline.

    Elsa Arnold, one of the organisers and someone who, for a young person, has a long history of helping the Wanstead community, said: “Wellness week in Wanstead this year has been launched to coincide with World Mental Health day on the 9th October.

    “The aim of the week is to promote an overall awareness of our health and well-being and highlight the importance of taking time out to care for ourselves, particularly in the current climate. The week will also aim to open up relevant conversations and support charities doing vital work in these areas.”

    The events are free but are ticketed – you can get tickets from Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/wellnessweektickets.