treehousenursery

Cambridge Park Methodist Church
The news that the owners of the Treehouse Nursery in Woodbine Place have acquired the former Methodist Church building on Cambridge Park (above) is likely to be welcomed by many in Wanstead (though some may feel there are enough nurseries already).

Treehouse After School Club, Grove Hall, Grosvenor RoadPaul Samouelle paid a reported £900,000 for the building, and now plans to convert the inside into another nursery with a capacity of 120 children. He estimates that this will allow him to employ a further 30 people, and comes on top of those working at Woodbine Place and a breakfast/after school club in Grove Hall, Grosvenor Road. He is believed to have a sizeable waiting list of children.

Treehouse Nursery, Woodbine PlaceAs well as meaning he and his wife Maria could become one of the biggest employers in Wanstead, it means they now own three historic buildings – their Woodbine Place HQ (right) is in the former Wanstead Technical School, built in 1912.

As Wansteadium reported two years ago, the renovations at Grove Hall, formerly the hall of the United Reformed Church, were sympathetically carried out. The proceeds of the sale allowed the church to carry out significant repairs on its roof.

Cambridge Park Methodist Church closed in 2010 after nearly 130 years; the congregation joined with the Methodist Church on Hermon Hill. It is believed that an alternative scheme for the redevelopment of the site would have involved demolition and construction of a mosque. As our photographs taken just after the church’s final service show, there is a fair amount of work needing to be done.

Interior of Cambridge Park Methodist Church, taken April 2010

Interior of Cambridge Park Methodist Church, taken April 2010

So school’s back this week, and for some Wanstead children it will mean going – perhaps for the first time – to the Grove Hall on Grosvenor Road on a regular basis.

The former United Reformed Church hall has been thoroughly renovated by its new owners, Paul Samouelle and Maria Sanchez, who run the Treehouse Nursery on Woodbine Place. The hall will be used for their growing breakfast and after-school clubs.

It’s been a careful renovation, with many original features, such as wood panelling, preserved. The sprung hall floor has been stripped to reveal a beautifully light hue which seems to enhance the decidedly non-conformist style of windows. The entire inside of the hall has been replastered and redecorated, meaning one of Wanstead’s few large spaces lives on. Backrooms have had more substantial treatment to make a number of modern areas, including a small courtyard which had become completely overgrown. Toilets and kitchen areas feel like they could be in a new build.

It must have been a painful decision for congregation members to sell the hall – something they did to fund repairs to the church building itself. They were given their first opportunity to view the work this weekend; if any had feared that a new owner might not respect the building, they will be relieved by what they saw.