The mystery of Wanstead’s ‘Dark Alley’

Woodbine Place, as seen in Kerry Renshaw’s 1963 picture (Read original article.)

Thanks to Terence Manning for coming through with the listing of shops in Woodbine Place in 1963, taken from Kelly’s Directory from the time.

It gives us some more information about the shops and offices in Kerry Renshaw’s photograph, and includes the intriguing fact that the alley between Wanstead High Street and Woodbine Place is actually called Dark Alley. Who knew? Does anyone still use this name? (The name is confirmed by this Redbridge document, where its alternative name “Footpath 122” is also used.)

Kelly’s Directory listing of Woodbine Place for 1963
Google Streetview

Dark Alley isn’t perhaps the most enchanting name, being something more likely to be heard in a police report. But it’s worth remembering that all of Wanstead used to be referred to as Sleepy Hollow (according to Winifred Eastment’s Wanstead Through The Ages).

There is another minor mystery about the alley – there is a wooden sign saying “Communicator” screwed to the wall. What’s that about?

5 Comments on "The mystery of Wanstead’s ‘Dark Alley’"


  1. It was still called Dark Alley in the late 1980s and 1990s. There used to be a splendid second-hand furniture/junk shop about halfway between the High Street and Woodbine Place, the other half of whose premises was occupied by our lovely garden centre, now crushed beneath the ugly new flats. With the late eighteenth-centre shops (‘Truffles’ and ‘Myshella’) this was a charming little corner of Old Wanstead, now completed erased by ‘development’.


    1. Yes it was a lovely garden centre was there when I came here in 1997 owned by Ted Smith who lived on Addison Road. The chocolate shop Truffles only went recently but the other shop was his step daughter’s a jewellery and small gifts shop.


  2. I well remember the Terminus travel agency throughout the 1960s . My mother used to book all our travel through them. It was a friendly business, run by a married couple if I remember rightly.


  3. The 2nd Hand Antique Shop was run by one of the Andrews Brothers of Andrews Builders Merchants. Opposite the High Street Bus Stop was a Wet Fish Shop (one of 2 in the High Street) in the 1960’s which used to be a Fish n Chip shop on a Friday


  4. Me and my kids call it the ‘Secret Passageway’..! But now I know it’s got a real name, that’s what we shall call it!

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