Wanstead news roundup, 24.11.12; Wanstead’s grip on power, and the future of ironing

• Wanstead’s role in the running of Redbridge Council has increased with the appointment of Wanstead Conservative Councillor Alex Wilson to the Redbridge ‘cabinet’ – the executive part of the council. Now three of the nine councillors on the cabinet are Wanstead Conservatives (Alex Wilson, Thomas Chan and Michelle Dunn) following the resignation of Cllr Sue Nolan, who is admittedly a Snaresbrook councillor. (If you’re expecting Wansteadium to assess whether this shift in the balance of power is going to have big effect on the governance of Redbridge, you must be new here.)

• So it may or may not be good news for residents of Wellington Road who are planning to be out in force at the Area One committee on Monday evening – after they got word that their campaign to stop or slow through-traffic had not succeeded. Motorists coming down Hermon Hill cut down Nelson Road and go on to Wellington Road to avoid the traffic lights at the junction with the High Street. Except on Mondays when the bin lorry completely blocks the road, and said motorists curse, slam into reverse and retrace their tracks. Residents say 60 cars a day speed down the road at up to 70mph.

• Congratulations to Keatings Jewellers on Wanstead High Street which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And congratulations also to nearby Santa Fe which has marked its 20th anniversary.

• And at the other end of the High Street, it’s reported in the Wanstead Guardian that the owner of the buildings which house Snaresbrook Cars and the much loved Ironing Board outside Snaresbrook Station has applied for permission to demolish the buildings and put the business into temporary cabins. More here.

• Meanwhile reviews of the delicacies on offer at BBQ Express, Wanstead’s favourite talking point, after it apparently opened. The tweet and photograph below were posted on Friday night by Uzii Shaban who uses the hashtag #boss. But Uzii seems inadvertently to have posted a picture of a different branch of BBQ Express since as we all know, Wanstead’s sign now has no flames and is not illuminated as in the picture. Maybe the photo of the real thing just didn’t do it justice.

• And finally, the new subscribers keep on coming. At the time of writing there were 352 people who had signed up to receive Wansteadium by e-mail. Each morning, on those days when we have published a new entry, they get a beautiful and fascinating e-mail with which to wow their friends and colleagues. You can join them by signing up here.

‘I’m doing all my Christmas shopping in Wanstead this year…’

On Monday, Wansteadium launched the Wanstead Gift List 2011, an attempt to find – by the end of this week – a top 10 of excellent Christmas gifts available from Wanstead. There’s been no shortage of nominations, which we will be publishing this week. But this report was submitted by a Wansteadium reader who, for obvious reasons (not spoiling suprises) wants to remain anonymous.

“In June, I set myself the challenge of doing all my Christmas shopping in Wanstead this year, mainly to cut down on travel and hassle but also because I realised that what was available locally was as good as anything I could get ‘in town’ and often there were things that were special to the local shops.
So far it is going well and I am determined that I will stick to my intention, especially after telling one of the local traders what I was trying to do and she nearly burst into tears and told me how hard things are for local traders.

“The first step was to tell the family what I was going to do & make sure that they understood that I would not be buying huge presents, but rather thoughtful & useful ones. My daughter says she is particularly looking forward to receiving a gift-wrapped bag of sprouts!

“I buy for my father (90), husband (62), daughters (30 & 34), son-in-law (40), grandson (18 months), granddaughter (5), stepson & stepdaughter (34 & 38), daughter-in-law (33), brother-in-law (54), parents of in-law children & a friend’s birthday on Xmas Eve (74).
So far I have:

  • A ‘Tin For Bits That Don’t Go Anywhere’ for daughter’s partner (but there are lots of other ones such as a man’s tin for electrical bits) – from several shops, but I got mine from Nicole’s;
  • Several gift boxes from Heart Foundation & Olive  Orange Tree to put in some keepsakes/heirlooms for my daughters from my grandmother (eg hand-embroidered, hand -laced handkerchief; tray cloths & tablecloths with drawn thread work etc) and tissue paper from the Art Shop;
  • Fashion scarf & earrings (both new) from Heart Foundation;
  • Mini suitcase to put dolls clothes in that I’ve knitted (for granddaughter – already had the left over wool and patterns) – from Nicole’s;
  • A Cath Kidston button box from Orange Tree for daughter to which I’ve added some heritage buttons from my own button box & a hot water bottle with knitted cover, also from Orange Tree;
  • Assorted goodies to eat to be shared around from the various food shops – including assorted bottled beers, a honey comb, relish & pickle, biscuits & a ginger beer kit, as well as chocolate and toffee treats from Thornton’s at the Art Shop;
  • From Oxfam – new, or good as new, book on breadmaking for son-in-law to which I will add a basket of organic ingredients bought locally (including the basket) & an unused book of restaurants round London with recipes for their signature dishes – again to which I will add a basket of ingredients – for stepson;
  • From Barnado’s – 4 good quality children’s books for grandchildren;
  • From Boots, Wanstead Pharmacy & Olive Tree, assorted bits to put in wash bag for granddaughter for when she goes to stay with grandparents;
  • A photo frame for my friend’s birthday (she has a new grandchild) from the Art Shop and some fancy hand cream from Wanstead Pharmacy;
  • A ‘Picasso clock’ from Images in Frames for stepson & daughter-in-law;
  • From the Olive Tree again, 2 mis-matched china cups & saucers for daughter & partner as they are putting together shabby chic tea set in assorted blue-based patterns. They come as candles but the china is sound.
  • From the Art Shop, assorted traditional toys, games etc such as jumping beans, old maid, jacks, train whistles etc etc for stocking fillers – yes the adults still have Xmas stockings to which everyone adds small gifts under £1.

I have yet to buy:

  • an amber necklace from Keating’s for step-daughter;
  • a snuggly blanket/rug & cushion from the Orange Tree for daughter;
  • a food mixer from the electric shop (this is a joint Xmas & birthday present for one daughter);
  • a pair of candlesticks for daughter-in-law from Images in Frames;
  • a shirt each for son-in-law & brother-in-law;
  • flowers for in-law parents from Lillie’s
  • flower vase for daughter-in-law from Blush Temples
  • the turkey, ham, sausage etc (on order from the butcher) & all fruit & veg from the greengrocer (our pudding & cake have already been made from ingredients bought in Londis or the Co-operative)
  • my husband’s present – HELP – so I will be reading suggestions from others with great interest.

Further suggestions can be made on Wednesday by emailing wansteadium@gmail.com. A full list of nominations will be published on Thursday, and the Top 10  (as judged by an impartial cabal of discerning well-wishers) will be published on Friday, just in time to go shopping at the weekend.

Wanstead’s Co-op snobbery

A delicious slice of Wanstead history is revealed in the Leyton-based site Across the Divide: Wanstead folk in the 60s didn’t want to be seen in a Co-op.

Margaret Wilks, writing about shops on Leytonstone High Road, said:

“Bearmans used to have a fantastic Father Christmas. But you had to be middle class to shop in there. They had a lovely tea place downstairs with all the cake stands, and they brought out your tray with your little cups and saucers. The co-op took it over in the late 60’s. It was kept quiet for six months, my mother in law worked there. They kept it quiet because they had so many account holders there, as soon as that came out everybody cancelled. People from Wanstead and Woodford did not deal with the Co-op! It was called Pioneer, for a short while, so that it didn’t sound like Co-op. It closed within six months. People just didn’t go in there.”

Ironic now that any lingering snob value would, out of Wanstead’s two supermarkets, work in the Co-op’s favour. (Well-spotted, Grouchotendency)

Wanstead shops update: New image

A regular update on what’s going on on Wanstead High Street:
• Welcome to the new picture framing shop on Wanstead High Street, Images in Frames, which is a branch of a framers on Wood Street in Walthamstow. Customers of that shop report excellent service including advice from the staff and reasonable pricing, which has to be good news.

• The newly refurbished Bar Room Bar – green now rather than grey – has successfully changed its appearance. The regular Wanstead Comedy Club returns there next week (details here).
• Great efforts from Oxfam shop on pumpkins.
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Wansteadium readers who are either shopkeepers or customers are welcome to submit titbits for this Wanstead Shopping update. Send items to wansteadium@gmail.com

What’s to become of Andrew’s Builder’s Merchants?

No-one seems to know what is to happen to the former Andrew’s Builders Merchants on Woodbine Place.

Renovations are clearly taking place at the boxy little shop, which closed last year after many decades’ service to the people of Wanstead (tap washers and fairy lights, mostly).

Double glazing has been installed, and electrical work has been taking place. But it is the removal of the ultra-distinctive black and white painted wooden sign, a familiar and charming sight for years, which is for many people a real sadness.

Some Wansteadium readers have even suggested launching an online petition to ensure the sign is saved for posterity. One, Dan,  said: “The landmark signage has been removed and it is sad to think that this has been allowed to happen. The high street has suffered badly in recent years and this is another blow to its preservation.”

It is clear, though, that far from being a redundant shell, for the right business this could be just the right opportunity, with high visibility, and lots of people nearby. For Wanstead too it could be a wonderful addition to the ecosystem of the high street. And yet mystery surrounds the plans – a spokesman for Redbridge Council told Wansteadium that it had not been notified of any work at the building.

Even the mighty Wanstead Society has drawn a blank. It has been drawing up suggested plans to tidy up the land at the front, where the pavement is extremely narrow – especially for families dodging buses while walking to the Treehouse Nursery or the library. They are hoping that the accountants THP and the children’s shop Bambini will help in working out exactly who owns which bit of land, and then apply to the council for some maintenance work to take place. But attempts even to find out who is the current owner of the building itself have so far proved unsuccessful.

Anyone with knowledge of plans is invited to contact wansteadium@gmail.com. Discretion assured.



Turkish delight? Reviews welcome

Wansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange writes:

It’s great for someone like to have a new restaurant in town. So I’m delighted the new Zaki Turkish restaurant has opened at the former Russell’s on Wanstead High Street. Naturally, being a busy woman with a well-planned social life, I can’t and indeed won’t go to a new restaurant at short notice. The menu, produced below in hi-resolution (if you click it), gives an indication of what’s on offer, but I should be grateful of any initial reports from my fellow Wanstead diners. If you have been please add your reviews through the comments form.



When Mr Orange was a child, an aunt would visit from New York bringing all sorts of American delicacies… Kool-Aid, Pez sweets, Fluff. This last product was, disturbingly, pots of actual marshmallow to spread on sandwiches, mostly with peanut butter in a concoction termed a fluffernutter. It’s frankly shocking he turned out so well adjusted and handsome. The treats weren’t all gross, though. Innocently enough, those he most favoured were sesame seed breadsticks.


Nowadays of course nothing is unobtainable – you can even buy Fluff if you look hard enough – but the whole sesame breadstick joy returned to my beloved when visiting the Italian market on Wanstead High Street on Saturday. For him a pretty authentic recreation of childhood joys.

Breadsticks (rather than neat marshmallow) are a way of life for the Orange children. So no surprise that they more interested in mini croissants – chocolate and lemon – which were just some of the treats on offer (pictured). They were remarkable little things: the pastry was extremely crunchy but the filling moist and oozing out. Biting into one made me feel like I’d bitten the head off a giant delicious cicada.

The Market is there again on Sunday and if you’re about is worth a visit. Dolcelatte, fresh Parmesan and other cheeses, pesto and olives. All that was lacking was a serving of the most delicious soup I’ve ever tasted – ribollita, bought once from a deli in Lucca. Anyone with recipes (or even better, a sample) would be a friend forever.


PS. Wise words from new pal of Wansteadium, @oliviaads

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