Village People: Linda Green

Linda Green might struggle to call herself an artist, but she certainly is one. Her work is currently hanging in the three-woman show “Explorations” (along with Saskia Huning and Ali Reader) in the Walthamstow Village Window Gallery on Orford Road. A resident of the Village, Linda has lived in Walthamstow for so long she says she sometimes feels like a walking history book.

“I first came to Walthamstow on the 20th January 1947. I was born in Thorpe Coombe on Forest Road, grew up in Higham’s Park and have lived in the Village since 1982. At one time I felt it wasn’t very adventurous having lived here all my life, but actually at this stage, it feels great to have that continuity.

Home life in the ’50s was very cosy and safe. My dad had been away for five years in the army and I think when he came back – his war experiences weren’t spoken about – there was a desire to make a very safe home. There was a feeling of anxiety about the world outside.

When I passed the 11-plus and came to Walthamstow High School, some of the girls I met came from quite different backgrounds. At the time I was shy, so often felt like I was on the edge of things. A lot of the girls had older sisters and were more worldly wise. I have this memory of being about 13 years old, sitting outside school and these girls were talking about French letters. I thought they were talking about pen friends. I had no idea!

I did an A level in art but, back then, there was no encouragement to apply to art school unless you were really talented. Anyway, I don’t think my parents would have allowed me to go. Besides which, I had always wanted to be a teacher. So after working at the BBC Radio Hulton Picture Library in Marylebone, and then as an unqualified teacher for a term, I left home and went to a ‘college of education’. There I ended up doing print-making as my main area of study and suddenly found an avenue for my creativity.

Over the years I have attended pottery, life drawing and painting classes, and eventually an art foundation course. However, not having a degree in fine art has left me feeling somewhat an imposter, a bit of a fraud! I have exhibited my work during the E17 Art Trail since 2008, and it’s has given me the confidence to develop and show my work in other settings. It was in some way instrumental in my becoming a ‘ceramic artist in residence’ at Waltham Forest College from 2013 to 2016, and since 2014 I’ve been working in a shared studio in Lloyd Park. Still, I have to make a conscious decision to call myself an artist. I had to fill in a form recently and hesitated between putting ‘retired’ or ‘artist’. After a moment of uncertainty, I wrote artist…”


This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Battle of the Buses

Voices raised as cuts made to W12 service

Despite protests from thousands of service users, the Council and local MPs, Tfl is sticking to its decision to have cut the W12 service by a third. Although, after a recent meeting, it seems to have budged ever so slightly on what might happen in the future.

Since announcing at the end of 2017 that the W12, which serves the Village, would be cut from three times an hour to just two, there’s been a steady stream of protest from all corners of the community. The Walthamstow Village Residents’Association (publishers of this magazine) wrote to Tfl in December to object to the changes. The correspondence said: “Walthamstow Village and its surrounds have much sheltered and local authority housing and four almshouse sites, making  this service an important one for the most vulnerable of our residents, providing a vital link to both Whipps Cross Hospital and Walthamstow market, as well as one of the few Post Offices offering pension services left in the borough.”

It also echoed sentiments of many other objectors by highlighting that Tfl had made the decision with little notice and without consulting the affected communities.

Tfl has said the changes were made “following a review and to better match demand”. It’s known that because of a fall in passenger numbers across the tube, Tf l’s revenues have seen a steep drop, prompting a review of all its bus routes across London. The lack of consultation seems to contradict earlier statements made by Tfl. When contacted about rumoured changes to the W12 service a couple of years ago, the organisation responded, saying: “If any changes to this route were to be made, we would consult with the public about this.”

“When I heard about it, I was deeply disappointed. I use the service to visit my mum in hospital”

Among the many voices raised against the cuts was Hoe Street Ward Councillor Saima Mahmud. “When I heard about it, I was deeply disappointed. I use the service to visit my mum in hospital and when I’m on the bus I look around and I can seethat the vast majority of those on the  bus are older residents and disabled people. I started conversations about this on Facebook because I absolutely believe that  this service is a crucial lifeline for so many local residents. The residents who responded also said the same.”

Councillors from other wards served by the W12 have added their voices to the campaign, as has MP Stella Creasy. More recently, the Deputy Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clyde Loakes, and Cllr Alistair Strathern met with Claire Mann, the Director of Bus Operations at Tfl. They argued that, as few bus routes access Whipps Cross Hospital, a greater emphasis should have been placed on its wider community value – rather than just traditional performance markers – when making the decision to reduce the service.

According to Cllr Loakes, Mann informed him that, after cutting back the service to twice an hour, reliability on the route jumped by close to 30% and passenger numbers, which Tfl said were falling, had stabilised. Cllrs Loakes and Strathern asked for further details on these figures and are still awaiting that information.

The meeting did produce a small shift on the part of Tf l. Mann said her team would continue to keep the W12 route under review and consider if route enhancements could be made to improve access to the hospital once works at Whipps Cross roundabout are done. It looks like the battle of the buses is not over quite yet.


This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Fifteen Years of Walthamstow Village in Bloom

The Bloom team is celebrating a milestone.

By Helen Lerner

The original Village Scrubbers back in 2003

Happy 15th birthday to us!

Back in 2003, Teresa Deacon and I arranged a spring clean in response to residents’ complaints at a WVRA open meeting. The Village was so grimy then – litter everywhere, fly-tipping, burnt-out cars, graffiti and every flowerbed and planter overgrown and full of rubbish. That first clean-up attracted 30 residents and we filled the Village Square with rubbish, including rusty motorbikes, carpet, tyres, shopping trollies and yes, the perennial dirty mattresses. Next came a graffiti removal day, with paint, cleaning products and lots of elbow grease – no council help with jet washers back then – it was no wonder that we gained the nickname of The Village Scrubbers…

Starting from scratch – the desolate Village Square before the Bloom team worked its magic

Next we organised some bulb planting and pruning – and that’s how the Gardening Club was born. Gradually we adopted more areas, gaining invaluable support from the council and our councillors, and making use of grants and help from our generous sponsors, including projects such as our BEE17 community beekeeping project, the Village veg allotment and the Chalmers House orchard. Our efforts continue to inspire others to improve their neighbourhoods, both locally and further afield.

We joined the London in Bloom family in 2008 and have won many Gold and Best London Village awards. In 2017  we achieved a coveted Gold medal in RHS Britain in Bloom and the Waltham Forest Community Hub’s Pride of the Village 2018.

London in Bloom 2018

We have entered the regional competition in the Small London Village category. Our judging day will be in the first week of July, with the date still to be confirmed. We are delighted that Cherry Close on Eden Road, led by the inspirational Gerry Clegg, will be entering the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ category.

WVRA Gardening Club

Come and join the Gardening Club and help keep the Village beautiful throughout the year! We meet on the first Saturday of each month at 10.30am, usually at the Village Square, and then go on to tend the flowerbeds, tidy up, plant, prune and weed. Just turn up and get stuck in – we have lots of laughs, it’s good, healthy fun and you don’t need any special gardening skills. Plus you get to meet your lovely neighbours.

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Food for Thought

Local’s blog is a literary feast

Photographs by Brian Ziegler

Eric and Daniella in action

Have you ever been reading a book and the author’s description of a dish or a memorable dinner has got your mouth watering and left you thinking, ‘Oh I fancy a bit of that!” If that’s you, then Village resident Daniella Rossi’s blog, Parbake and Prose ( is a must. Created by Daniella, who moved to the Village a year ago, and her brother Eric, who is a chef in New York City, the blog is a fascinating mixture of literature and cookery, w here Daniella studies novels for significant culinary moments and then gives the references to her brother, who creates remarkable recipes for you to try. There is everything from soul cakes taken from Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall to the Dr Seuss-inspired Green Eggs and Ham Amuse Bouche. There are even a couple of recipes for gruel.


The siblings started the blog in January 2017 but its origins date from seven years ago when Italian/ American Daniella had finished her PhD in medieval and modern literature and art history at Cambridge. While there, she started reading for pleasure as well as honing her skills in the kitchen. That’s when the idea burst into life.

“I realised there was a really interesting intersection between literature and food where recipes could be created,” says Daniella. I took the idea to my brother and he loved it. For about seven years it was just something we did for fun. We were living in different countries and it was a nice way to keep close. Eventually we started talking about whether or not it could be a cookbook and finally decided to turn it into a blog.” Then came the task of turning years of notes and scribbles into a compelling project.

In January 2017 they did their first postings and turned to American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis’s infamous satire on the excesses of the ’80s. The result is an examination of the book’s notoriety and a recipe for red snapper pizza, mentioned in a scene where the characters have a meal ata trendy Manhattan restaurant. “The novel is a really rando m source,” says Daniella, “but it’s a great inspiration. He’s mocking ’80s New York City, including the restaurant culture, and in the book there’s this huge competition about who can get the best reservations at the hottest restaurants. He’s really descriptive about what food they eat.”

Next came Pride and Prejudice and white soup, Dracula and chicken paprika stew, followed by dozens of meditations on an eclectic selection of literary greats from Emma to The Divine Comedy. And, of course, the accompanying recipes; a list that includes starters, mains, desserts and cocktails. Eric, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, spends a great deal of time developing the recipes and often tests them out at ‘family meals’ – the dinner kitchen staff have before starting service at the restaurants where he works.

“We have quite strict rules when it comes to what we feature,” says Daniella. The food can’t be mentioned casually, it has to have meaning in the book, whether it’s central to character development or the plot or it’s an historic dish. And for Eric it needs to be an interesting recipe that he can play around with to create his own interpretation.”

The pair hope to turn the blog into a cookbook, although the realities of cookbook publishing make that a tough task, with publishers often expecting a large social media following before even considering turning a blog into a book.

An unexpectedly decadent gruel

Daniella’s favourite recipe so far is the one Eric conjured up for the gruel in Oliver Twist. “It is absolutely amazing. It only has four ingredients – onions, water, bread and seasoning and is like an Italian bread soup. I know gruel shouldn’t be delicious but this one is,” she says.

If you’d like to help Daniella and Eric realise their dream of a cookbook, get online and follow the blog. And try Oliver’s gruel. Daniella’s right – it is, bizarrely, very tasty.

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The Joys of Commuting!

One of the Wragg stagecoaches, drawn by Thomas Moxon

A history of Walthamstow’s transport into the city. By Teresa Deacon

One of the many reasons people choose to live in Walthamstow is the relatively easy commute into central London by public transport. The Victoria line opened in 1968 and currently has a journey time of just 20 minutes to Oxford Circus. Hoe Street station (now Walthamstow Central) opened in 1872 and now offers an 18-minute commute to Liverpool Street via the overground train. In the 18th century, if you had business in the city, the only way to get there – if you could afford it – was by horse-drawn stage coach. In 1759, Francis Wragg Senior was the first of four generations of his family to run a stage coach service from the Nag’s Head public house on Orford Road to and from the city, with seven return journeys each day, taking roughly an hour in each direction. The family firm existed for 111 years up until 1870 when the arrival of the railways put them out of business.

When Wragg opened for business, the Nag’s Head was located on the opposite side of the road from the current site, on the corner of Orford Road and Church End (where the wildflower meadow now grows, the buildings there having been demolished in 1959. Allegedly, Tudor bricks were found in the basement).

How the Old Coach House looks today

In 1857, the third Francis Wragg rebuilt and relocated the Nag’s Head to where it currently stands, together with the adjacent coach house, which has since been converted into housing. By then, there were up to nine runs a day into London, with five return journeys on Sundays. We can only imagine how poor the pot-holed road surfaces were at that time, coupled with a lack of suspension on the coaches, and although the dangers of highway robbers were mostly over by the 19th century, the largely unlit roads must have felt threatening. The main highways were toll and turnpike roads, which helped pay for their upkeep. Flooding and crossing the River Lea were a problem and were avoided initially by going via Stratford and along Mile End Road towards the Green Dragon Inn at Bishopsgate. In 1821, a new toll road and bridge were built on the Lea Bridge Road, which improved services across the marshes.

The Nag’s Head on Orford Road in 1893

By 1836, six people could sit inside a coach, with nine people on top, exposed to all weathers – a travelling rug was essential! Seats had to be booked in advance and no pick-ups were allowed en route. Coaches also stopped at the Chequers pub on the High Street, which was then called Marsh Street.

Commuting was not for the average worker but for the wealthy merchants and middle- and upper-class gentry, of which there were plenty in Walthamstow in the 19th century. In 1815, the average fare was about 3d per mile – beyond the pocket of most. The cost of running the stage coaches was quite high, with new coaches costing £100, horses £20 each (usually four for each coach) and feed at 15 shillings (75p) per week, per horse. The overworked horses were only expected to last up to four years so had to be replaced frequently.

Images with permission of Vestry House Museum

By 1870, steam railways were taking over from horsedrawn transport and Wragg could no longer compete with the faster journey times and relatively comfortable commute. He continued to offer a regular stage coach service to and from L ea Bridge Road station and hired out horse-drawn ‘chaises’ and ‘f lys’ for private use. Francis Wragg the younger retired in 1880 to Fairmount on Church Hill, a handsome, detached Victorian villastill standing today. The Wrap family graves can be found in St Mary’s Churchyard. So, when we’re cursing delays on the Victoria line, spare a thought for those ‘privileged’ commuters with their freezing legs and no takeaway coffee!

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Cider House Rules

Distribution duo open tap room on Ravenswood Estate

Claire (left) and Alice are leading a cider revolution

Alice Churchward and Claire Isherwood are on a mission to convert all those people who associate cider with swigging out of a plastic bottle as a teen and getting so drunk that one swears it off for life.

The duo, who are partners in business and in life, are behind The Real Al Company (Al is short for Alice), a cider distribution company and soon-to-be tap room on the Ravenswood Estate. After moving into the ever-gentrifying corner of the Village back in August, the pair are putting the finishing touches to their premises and will open their bar for business on the Easter long weekend. But it’s been a long and, at times, frustrating journey to get here.

Alice started the business back in 2012 after leaving behind her job at a sports marketing agency. Looking for a new start, her businessman dad suggested she try and sell beer from the Shropshire brewery where he holds an interest, into London pubs. Alice liked the sound of working for herself as a distributor and took up the challenge. Only it was a bit too challenging. In fact, nigh impossible.

“It was really, really competitive. There were a lot of guys selling beers out there and it was quite fierce,” Alice says. But after a few months she noticed something interesting; while the pubs said they didn’t need another beer, many were asking if she did cider. Alice had stumbled upon the proverbial gap in the market. And while not a big cider drinker herself, she does hail from Herefordshire and was aware that her home county is home to some of the country’s best cider producers.

“I diversified into small batch, quality cider and perry, and it took off instantly,” she says. Alice hasn’t looked back since. Several years, and thousands of hours later, she had a firm and lucrative foothold in London.

Claire, who has a background in design and visual merchandising, having worked for everyone from Burberry to Topman, officially joined the business in September. Surely a huge decision deciding to be in partnership personally and in business? “It kind of was and wasn’t,” says Claire. “I was quietly working a bit in the background, giving advice, so when it came to the point of doing it officially, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. And it works well because we are two separate sides of the business – Alice is sales and distribution and I am the creative, marketing and events side. There’s a really clear divide.”

While the women are very excited about finally getting the tap room open, the distribution side of things makes up the majority of their business, at around 70%. They exclusively represent about 35 producers in total and sell more than 100 individual products in everything from ‘bag in box’ to kegs, bottles and cans. Their emphasis is on quality products made in small amounts, looking to emulate the boutique brewery craze that has taken off in the last decade. And now that they have good connections across London, they have returned to the concept of selling beer, distributing mostly for small London breweries.

The tap room will be open from Good Friday and then every Friday from the morning, when they plan to sell Perky Blenders coffee and Today Bread pastries, until midnight, then Saturday, noon to midnight and Sundays, noon to 8pm. It’s the final piece in the plan for total world domination through cider.

“We want people to appreciate and respect cider in the same way they do with beer these days. And the tap room can kind of be a crusade for that,” says Alice.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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End of an Era

The owners of La Ruga and the East London Sausage Company are moving on 

It’s all change in Orford Road as two of the street’s long-standing businesses are up for sale.

La Ruga owner Debbie Gibson is looking to sell her restaurant as a  going concern, while Mick Norkett of the East London Sausage Company is scaling back the retail side of his operation to just the one shop he already has in Waltham Abbey, while continuing his wholesale business. Debbie, who owns the leases on both premises, was approached by Mick a few months ago with his decision, and that got her thinking about her own future. “It’s been 12 months that I’ve been thinking about it,” says Debbie, “and it’s better for me to sell the two together. When my three kids were younger it was
somehow easier. Now one is about to begin high school, another is starting GCSEs and they’re all needing me to be the taxi driver. It’s become more
of a juggle.”

Debbie (seated) and the La Ruga team

Debbie has owned La Ruga for 12 years but her history with it goes back much further. Her first job was as a kitchen porter back in the late ’90s when it was owned and run by Peter Georgiou with his partner Nicki Bassil as chef. Debbie and her then-husband became great friends with the owners and when they decided to sell, her husband bought the place. But just a few months later the couple split, and Debbie was left to decide what to do with the place.

“I didn’t have to keep the restaurant but I decided I wasn’t going to lose the investment and there were also people who were depending on it for their jobs. It saved me in a way because the kids and I were extremely busy and we had to get on with things. So I just had to learn as I went. I was really lucky with the staff because they taught me a lot. I’m quite proud of the fact that we’ve managed to make a pretty successful go of it.”

Debbie is still pondering what comes next and hasn’t ruled out returning to her native Australia. “As much as it’s scary finishing this chapter, I’ll find a new adventure and me and the kids will find our feet, wherever that is.”

Mick’s ‘steaking’ out a new future

For Mick, who has been in butchery for almost 50 years, the decision to wind down the Village part of his business is all about making more time for life away from work. “When I first came here the idea was to just open the shop three days a week but the customers just kept coming,” says Mick, who is looking forward to having his first Sunday off in more than 20 years. “I’m working long days, seven days a week, and it’s time to take it a bit easier now. Plus, my knees need replacing this year!”

Mick left school at 14 and joined City Meats working in their slaughterhouse. After working for a small chain of butcher’s in East London, he eventually got his own shop and has spent the past three decades building up a successful operation that also includes an Italian import business he runs alongside the retail and wholesale concerns. And, of course, there’s his sausages. “About 20 years ago I decided to go into sausages because the meat trade was going down the pan because of the supermarkets. So I thought I’d do something nobody else was doing.” Now he sells them to top West End restaurants, pubs and delis. All that is going to continue – along with a few days a week at his Waltham Abbey shop – so it’s not quite retirement. But there should be more time to finish doing up the house he’s bought in Woodford and being able to enjoy a night out at the weekend, without having to worry about getting up at 5am to open up!

Besides aiming to sell La Ruga as a going concern, Debbie would like to find another butcher to take on Mick’s premises. Until then, it’s business as usual for both of them. Catch them while you can.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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A Dead Good Idea

Adopt-a-grave scheme to help spruce up St Mary’s churchyard

With its dozens of mature trees, vast areas of grass, shrubs and flowering plants, the churchyards of St Mary’s Church constitute the biggest greenspace in the Village at almost four acres. And, as a consequence, the biggest gardening headache in the Village. The size of the area and the attendant work required to keep it in shape means that over the years things have got a bit overgrown, with nettles, brambles and weeds leading the way.

So when he took over gardening duties Tim Hewitt started thinking about how he could get some help with his mammoth task. “When I took it on, I told Vanessa (Vanessa Conant, St Mary’s vicar) that it’s going to take several years to get it to how I’d like it,” says Tim, “and I’ve been working on it with a colleague for about a year now and we realised
at the rate we were going, we were not making the progress we wanted.”

Tim is a gardener by trade and he knew that, even with his skills and the help of an assistant, the two and a half hours a week that each of them do was only going to put a small dent in the overgrowth. After considering – and then rejecting – cows, sheep and goats on grounds of practicality and health and safety, he came up with the idea of getting the human community involved: an adopt-agrave concept with an accompanying Burials in Bloom competition.

“It’s something that anyone can get involved with, whether they attend services at St Mary’s or not. Maybe they just walk by the churchyard every day or enjoy it as a place where they can find some peace and space,” he says. The idea also goes with Reverend Conant’s quest to make the church more community facing by reaching out to one and all. “People can come from all kinds of angles,” says Tim. “They could be keen gardeners,    interested in local or military history, have kids and want to get them involved in some outdoor activities or,” he jokingly adds, “maybe they just want to get away from everyone in the house and have some time to themselves!”

The concept involves having people adopt individual plots, and there are lots to choose from. There are about 1,250 monuments in the churchyard, the oldest of which dates from 1710, and many need sprucing up. Whether that’s by cutting back the grass, removing invasive ivy, or giving it a really good weeding. Basically tackling the churchyard one grave and a few feet at a time.

After launching the initiative, Tim found that some of the congregation at St Mary’s had already taken a lead. “One woman from the church had already taken on a WWII serviceman’s headstone and grave in the churchyard just off Vinegar Alley. And it really shows – it stands out in a mass of brambles and grass. It’s that kind of attitude I want to tap into.”

Tim can answer your questions and help you choose a plot that’s just right for you. To garden, that is… In addition, there is a Burial in Bloom competition, with a prize for the most well-tended plot.

If you want to join the scheme, you can send a text or email about the neglected grave in the main churchyard you want to adopt to Tim at timhewittgardener@gmail. com. Or simply phone him for more information about the project on 07879 402285.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Jassie Mo didn’t go (far)…

Exclusive! If you remember Penny Fielding’s Beautiful Interiors shop at 34 Orford Road (now part of the Orford Saloon tapas bar and deli), you will surely remember Penny’s equally beautiful resident shop cat, Jassie Mo (aka J-Mo or Mish).

By Teresa Deacon

Jassie Mo, a long-haired Persian tortie, could be found in any number of places in the shop – curled up on one of the vintage chairs for sale, draped across the tissue paper on the counter (for maximum attention), happily snoozing in a sunny window display or sitting out on the pavement, watching the newly arriving Village hipsters. Occasionally she could be seen dining just up the road, complete with her own Eat 17 saucer.

She became something of a local celebrity with children and adults alike, who would come in to see the laid-back, gentle Jassie Mo with the permanently cross face. She even got a mention in Time Out magazine. Sales were boosted no end!

Sadly, Penny shut up shop in July 2014 and decided to move away from the area, but couldn’t take Jassie Mo. Happily, this Jassie fan was able to offer her a new home in the Village, where she is enjoying her retirement at the grand age of 17 with a staff of two seeing to her every need.

Now just plain Jassie, and a little hard of hearing, she may have lost some of her celebrity status but life out of the spotlight doesn’t seem to worry her too much. She loves basking in the sun in the garden and still favours sleeping on a chair or on a table top as she did in Penny’s shop, no doubt dreaming of her glamorous, glory days in her Orford Road institution.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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FAQs – surviving life in a Conservation Area

The Village is fortunate to have two Conservation Areas within its boundaries. But living in a Conservation Area not only comes with great delights, but often a great many questions as well. In this 2-part series we look at everything from extensions to windows.

By Catherine Larmouth, WVRA planning sub-commitee

To help with those head-scratching queries, we’ve compiled a list of some FAQs and answers to help guide you through the ins and outs of living in an area where normal rules don’t always apply. This is just guidance, so do remember that you should always check with the council before undertaking any work.

What are conservation areas?

  • Conservation areas are sections of land that have been designated as being of special architectural or historic interest.
  • Conservation-area designation is a means of recognising the importance of the quality of the area as a whole, as well as protecting individual buildings and trees that are considered to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area.
  • Conservation areas are not designated to stop future development, but to ensure that new buildings fit in with the existing special character of the area.

How do I find out if my property is in one of the conservation areas?

You can check the Waltham Forest website to see if you are in a conservation area using the link:  You can also download leaflets about the areas from the website. There are 14 conservation areas in the borough of Waltham Forest, and two of these relate to Walthamstow Village: Walthamstow Village Conservation Area and Orford Road Conservation Area (see maps below).

What are Article 4 directions?

  • Article 4 directions have been applied to most conservation areas to retain high- quality architectural features, and make sure any changes are considerate of their surroundings.
  • These directions restrict permitted development rights within a specified street or area.
  • They only apply to houses used as a single dwelling house, because commercial properties and flats don’t have permitted development rights.

If you are in doubt whether planning permission is required, please contact Waltham Forest Council before making any alterations to your property.

Can I put an extension on my property or add a conservatory?


You will need to apply for full planning permission to add an extension or conservatory to your flat. If your flat is part of a listed building, you will also need to apply for listed building consent.


In areas covered by an Article 4 Direction there are no permitted development rights, and in conservation areas permitted development rights are limited.

  • No permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey
  • Maximum height of a single storey rear extension is 4m
  • Single storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m if an attached house, or by 4m if a detached house
  • No more than half the area of land around the ‘original house’ (as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948) can be covered by additions or other buildings
  • Side extensions are not permitted•Verandas, balconies or raised platforms are not permitted
  • Materials have to be similar in appearance to the existing house•No cladding of the exterior is permitted
  • If your house is a listed building, you will need to apply for listed building consent to add a conservatory or extension

The temporary change to the rules meaning that householders can build larger single storey rear extensions under permitted development until 30th May 2019 (up to 6m for attached and 8m for detached), subject to receiving prior approval, does NOT apply in conservation areas.

Can I change windows or doors?

What is considered a replacement or replica and what is considered a repair in relation to windows? Can I change the sash windows for identical ones without applying for any permission?


You will need to apply for full planning permission for changes to a window or door if:

  • It will be installed where there was not one before
  • It will be made of a different material to the existing one (for instance, replacing a timber window with a uPVC one)
  • It will be of a different size to the existing one
  • It will differ in appearance to the existing one (for instance, replacing a sash window with a casement window or altering the glazing bar pattern)

If the flat is part of a listed building you will also need to apply for listed building consent to alter, install or replace any windows or doors.


You will need to apply for householder planning permission for changes to a window or door if:

  • It will be made of a different material to the existing (for instance, replacing a timber window with a uPVC window)
  • Your house is covered by an Article 4 Direction and you want to install or replace windows/doors on the front of your house or side if visible from the street
  • A new window will be located on the upper floor of the side of your house (including the roof slope) and would be clear-glazed and openable (unless the opening part of the window is more than 1.7m above the floor of the room in which it is installed).

Replacing timber windows with uPVC windows is not normally considered acceptable in conservation areas.

If your house is a listed building you will also need to apply for listed building consent to alter, install or replace any windows or doors.

Can I replace my single glazing with double glazing?

Flats and houses

If there is no change in material, colour, size and design and your flat is not a listed building or covered by an Article 4 Direction, planning permission would not be required to replace single glazed windows with double glazing. The same applies to houses.

Do always check with the council before starting any works.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Just what we need when the days are closing in and the mercury is dropping: a warm golden glow for the Village from the recent award ceremonies for London in Bloom
and Britain in Bloom.

Thanks to the long-standing and indefatigable leadership of Helen Lerner, the Village hit new heights both here on the ground and in the eyes of the RHS judges.

And if you want to help create the glory as well as bask in it, you can always get involved in the monthly gardening group. Details of that and of all the prizes are below …

Walthamstow Village in Bloom – The results in full

By Helen Lerner

Have you heard? After 15 years of Village gardening, blood, sweat and tears we’ve finally won that elusive national Gold Medal!

At a very exciting awards ceremony in Lllandudno, the Walthamstow Village in
Bloom team – Jakob Hartmann, Teresa Deacon, Caroline Barton, John Chambers and myself (Helen Lerner) represented the London region in the Urban Community category, where we were awarded our first Gold Medal.

But that’s not all; we also scooped the RHS Britain in Bloom Growing Communities Award to recognise our community’s team-work to transform the area. And for the cherry on the cake, I was very was honoured to receive an RHS Community Champion of the Year award.

National judges Darren Share and Geraldine King said on the judging sheet: ‘Walthamstow Village certainly puts the “community” into community gardening. The effort put in by all was impressive. Well done to everyone involved and we look forward to see your future successes. A very well-deserved Gold.’

Local Front Garden & Beautiful Premises Challenge Winners

We held our local awards ceremony at the WVRA AGM on 6 November where all our 2017 awards were on show and, after the formal business, Helen and Teresa presented Certificates of Participation and London in Bloom Certificates of Excellence to the challenge entrants present.

Challenge Winners

  • Best Community Garden – Gerard Clegg and the Cherry Close residents
  • Best Front Garden – Dickon J C Bowling, East Avenue
  • Best Containers – Georgina Abbott, Beulah Road
  • Best Hanging Baskets – Benjamin Hills, Beulah Road
  • Best Balcony – Felicity Sykes, Alander Mews
  • Best Tended Tree-Pit – Mick, The East London Sausage Company £100
  • Most Improved Front Garden – Jane Radford of Beulah Road

Certificates were also presented as a token of thanks to members of the team of Weekly Waterers who care for the Village Veg Plots. Congratulations and well done to all Challenge entrants and very many thanks to our Gardening Group, especially Jakob Hartmann, and all our volunteers who work so hard to get and keep the Village looking good. And also thanks to our hardworking and community-minded residents, schools, organisations and businesses, and to everyone who attended clean-ups, social and fund-raising events and generously supported and sponsored our entry.

And if you want to help maintain those gold standards…

WVRA Gardening Club

Please do come and join us on the first Saturday of every month at the Village Square at 10.30am for a couple of hours. We have a year-round programme of digging, pruning, planting and weeding, and you can bring your own tools or use ours. It’s good, healthy fun for all ages and gardening abilities, with the bonus of getting to meet lovely people and make the area look fantastic.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Win funding for the 2018 Walthamstow Village Festival

The Walthamstow Village Festival 2018 has been kindly nominated for funding by Almus Wealth.

However for the application to be successful it needs your vote, which will take just 1 minute of your time.

Please register on the Aviva Community Fund Website via the link below to get 10 votes which you can allocate for the 2018 Walthamstow Village Festival.

The festival organisers would be really grateful if you could share this with all your contacts via social media & email and help us to get as many votes as possible. Every vote counts!

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Village People: Becky Griffiths

Becky has been foraging fruit and making liqueurs for almost as long as she’s been on earth. Her Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace has helped turn the Ravenswood Industrial Estate from Village backwater into Village hotspot, while her award winning sloe and damson gins can now be found in cocktails and cupboards across the country. And inbetween she managed to become par t of the country’s social and political history…

“My family lived in the middle of nowhere, first in Wales and then in Ireland and eventually the Lake District. I’ve got two brothers and one sister, and living that isolated we roamed around. We would just disappear for the day and turn up four or five hours later. We’d have little adventures; foraging, lighting bonfires, just doing our own thing. Then you reach your teens and you’re desperate to be someplace interesting. It’s ‘Oh this is so boring!’ I thought London was a great paradise and was desperate to get to the city.

“But when I was 17, I got involved in the local CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). I went with a group of women from the Kendal peace group to attend a big demonstration at the Greenham Common Peace Camp (set up by women protesting the government’s decision to allow the RAF base to house nuclear cruise missiles). I loved it and decided I wanted to stay. I suppose I was drawn to it because I was seeing women taking action and this whole other society that I found very fascinating. Plus I was politically convinced by it as well. I went home and told my mum what I wanted to do and she was a bit nervous but said: ‘Okay, but you have to tell your headmaster.’ It was a big thing because I was leaving school, so it was in the local TV and newspapers.

“I moved to Greenham Common in December 1982 and that New Year’s Eve about 40 women broke into the base and took over the missile silos. There’s a very famous picture of them dancing on top of the silos. And one of those women is me!

“It was totally liberating as a 17-year-old not to be at school every day, being part of an attempt to create a new type of society. Though we didn’t stop the nuclear missiles coming, we raised awareness massively. It was headline news all the time and got the country discussing the whole issue of nuclear weapons and disarmament.

“At the same time I was dealing with my sexuality – am I gay? What the hell’s going on?! But luckily I was in a place where a good percentage of people were gay. It wasn’t a big deal and there was a huge positive identity around being gay. I think it was a gift that it happened in that environment.

“I lived at Greenham Common for around four years, and when I left I joined the big squatting scene that existed in south London at the time, living in squats in Vauxhall and Stockwell for several years. Eventually when I was
25 I started training as a social worker, and followed that career for about 20 years.

“And then I started Mother’s Ruin. Just a small change of direction. But surprisingly transferable skills!

“I’ve always made damson and sloe gin at home, which I learned from my mum. Then I worked part time doing social work and producing my liqueurs part time. When I got the premises on the Ravenswood Estate I thought I need to throw myself at this or it’s going to be a disaster juggling the two things. Slowly it’s worked, and the retail and wholesale business has steadily grown. In fact, I’ve just had my biggest order yet – Booths, a small chain of stores with 28 shops around Manchester, bought 500 bottles – it was my first proper pallet sized order”

For information on Becky’s products and opening hours of her Gin Palace, visit

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Let’s get ready to Jumble!

By Village Jumble Champion Carol ‘Molly’ Moloney

Village Jumble Trail stall






On a very sunny Sunday afternoon in June, residents of Walthamstow Village cleared out their lofts and cupboards, set up stalls in their front gardens and offered up unwanted treasures and lovingly created handmade crafts to the community at large. From Howard Road to Grove Road, and Shernhall Street to Folkestone Road, this year’s Village Jumble Trail saw more than 70 neighbours transform gardens, garages, shop fronts, pavements and even the village square, into a frenzy of jumbling activity.

Now in its third year, The Village Jumble Trail turns our beautiful streets into a hub of neighbourly activity. Artists, plant growers, cake makers, face painters, knitters, honey makers and carpenters were out attracting hundreds of treasure hunters. Founder Martina Randles said: “It was a huge success, bringing together a vibrant collection of people of all ages and backgrounds who had great fun while supporting sustainability.”

The whole event is coordinated by the Jumble Trail Champion (that was me this year!) who plots the route, advertises the event and invites jumblers to place their stalls on the on-line interactive map. It then allows treasure seekers to follow the colour-coded trail and wander from stall to stall, haggling and having fun.

Jumblers jumbling

Standing in Orford Road with the cafés and pubs bursting at the seams, watching hundreds of people meandering through  the Jumble Trail is a sight to behold. It’s great to see the kids getting involved, too, by making cakes, lemonade and getting their faces painted. Martina said: “Everyone really enjoyed coming together to celebrate community spirit and connect with each other, armed with an assortment of goodies to buy, sell and swap. Waltham Forest continues to be one of the leading areas for successful Jumble Trails, thanks to the support of its people.”

The first Jumble Trail was in Clapton in August 2013, set up by Martina herself with a 100 stalls, which now attracts 750 stalls and 7,000 visitors. So, the standard has been well and truly raised for next year’s E17 Village Jumble Trial.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Curtain-up! New community theatre space for Walthamstow

CentrE17 founder Max Peters in the new theatre space during renovations

The leader of a local theatre group frustrated with finding suitable places to rehearse and perform has taken matters into his own hands and opened CentrE17, a community theatre and performance space in Church Hill.

The man behind the plan, Max Peters, has been organising community theatre productions ever since moving to Waltham Forest a few years ago. So far they have put on successful productions of Oliver! and Little Shop of Horrors by drawing on the enthusiasm and talent of local people. “No one is turned away from taking part in the productions, no matter what their ability,” says Max. “It’s been a wonderful experience. We always knew that Waltham Forest had a wealth of really inventive and passionate performers, but didn’t realise there were not a huge amount of spaces to realise the potential.”

This lack of venues led Max to making a list and eventually drawing up a plan to establishing a dedicated theatre/ performance space that, while community
focused, could also run commercial productions to help fund itself. Between Max’s day job as project manager for online advertising projects and his experience running community theatre, he was the ideal person to do it.
Having a plan is one thing but, as Max knew, getting it up and running was a whole different ball game. Fortunately, Max bumped into someone from Waltham Forest Council at an event last year and asked them to take a look at his plan. One thing led to another and soon the council was contacting Max to say it had a space that was currently empty. It was trying to find the right tenant for it and perhaps Max and his plan was the right fit.

That was over a year ago and, after the council did essential maintenance, Max and his numerous volunteers got stuck in and put the finishing touches to the Ross Wyld Hall on Church Hill (near the junction with Hoe Street) to get it fit for purpose. “We are being charged a peppercorn rent and have been given a short-term lease for 18 months,” says Max. “The idea being that we use the space to not just put on our own community theatre productions but also rent it out for cabaret evenings, theatre performances, dance groups, cinema nights – a whole range of activities that will help us fund the running of the space.”

CentrE17 is now open and already has a diverse programme of performances, events and workshops, providing that much-needed community space for local groups to use for rehearsing. The Stow Film Lounge is also doing some screenings at the centre.

You can find a full schedule of events on the CentrE17 website:, and contact details if your group is interested in hiring the space.


This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Village in Bloom

By Helen Lerner

Wild Meadow, Orford Road

All in all, it’s been quite a year, but we think the Village is looking better than ever. A good thing really as in July and August we had both the regional and national Royal Horticultural Society judges visiting. In London we are a finalist in the London Village category, while nationally we are representing the capital in the Urban Community group.

The judges play their cards close to their chests and give very little away during their tour so it’s hard to tell how we did. What we do know is that everyone who has been involved throughout the year should be very proud of their efforts – many thanks to our Gardening Club, including those who have adopted planters, the Village Veg organisers and their team of weekly waterers, the Vestry House Museum Gardeners, Gerry Clegg and the Cherry Close Gardeners and all the volunteers who work so hard to keep the Village looking good.

And let’s not forget our schools, organisations, businesses, Hoe Street Councillors, Waltham Forest Council and Paul Tickner, and everyone who attended clean-ups, social and fund-raising events.

Cosmos blooming in Orford Road

The London in Bloom awards are in late September, while in October the Britain in Bloom awards in Llandudno will reveal the national winners. We are crossing all appendages in our quest for Gold. Once we get the news we’ll announce the results on our Twitter and Facebook feeds (@e17inbloom), and after that on the Walthamstow Village Residents’ Association website.

Whatever the outcome, we’ll have a Blooming big celebration at the WVRA AGM on Monday 6th November at 8pm at the Waltham Forest Community Hub when we announce the winners of our local Front Garden and Beautiful Premises Challenges and hand over the £100 prize for the Most Improved Front Garden.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.


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Pumping new life into the Village‘s heart

How a lottery grant for St Mary’s is about more than bricks and mortar

St Mary’s commands your attention. Sitting atop the Village, surrounded by its leafy graveyard, it is impossible not to admire it even though you might not have ever attended a service there or been inside for an event. And that’s something that the Reverend Vanessa Conant and her husband Cameron want to change.

“Historically, churches have been places for gathering people – not just people who consider themselves Christians, but everyone,” says Vanessa. “And in the past couple of hundred years it’s become more like a private-interest club and so what we would like to say is: ‘This church belongs to you, the community, and you are welcome. There is something here for you whether that’s worship, art, music or just a place where you can be peaceful’.”

Vanessa and Cameron are very much on the same page when it comes to their vision for St Mary’s. And it’s not just a vision about making it a more inclusive centre of the community; it’s also about securing its future for generations to come. This vision has been given a boost recently when St Mary’s was awarded £1.67m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) after applying for a grant a second time.

“The HLF said it could see a real development between the two applications, particularly in terms of the partnerships and local support. It could see there was a hunger for this kind of project and the church had really begun to build local links and connections, which gave it the confidence we could deliver,” says Vanessa.

As the application was in the London pool, it faced serious competition, and rumour has it even beat out one of city’s big museums. In other words, no mean feat. Now the task is to implement the plans: fixing the fabric of the building, which is in desperate need of repair (including a new roof ), a new entrance to the church in a cloister-like extension and programming activities that will broaden the diversity of people using the church.

The new entrance would be a single-storey extension into the car park and include a reception area, offices, lavatories and an industrial kitchen that would allow catering for events. Full plans still need to be completed and approved by Heritage England, the Diocese and Waltham Forest Council – but initial architectural drawings have been done by Matthew Lloyd, the firm the church intends to use for the project.

The award-winning pratice was chosen, says Cameron, because of its long history of successful and sympathetic work on historic churches and buildings such as the Royal Society of the Arts.

Vanessa says the extension would make the church more accessible in several ways. First, by having offices in the church rather than across the graveyard in the Welcome Centre, it could be open more frequently as people would actually be based in the building. And a broader range of events could be held in the church as the industrial kitchen would allow catering to be done on-site.

Inside the church, the proposed works also include plans that Vanessa and Cameron recognise could raise some eyebrows: removing the pews and replacing them with chairs.  “Beautiful, light, stackable chairs,” Cameron says. The idea being that this would allow the space to be used in many more ways and also do away with a persistent problem, says Vanessa: “With the pews, the sight lines are so limited. I am very aware that, whether for worship or a community event, there are a lot of people who can’t see anything. And if you come in a wheelchair you have to sit in the middle of an aisle. There’s something excluding about the pews.”

In terms of those people who might not want to see the character of the building changed, Cameron points out that, unlike the centuries old building, the pews are less than a hundred years old and would not have been there when the church was first built. “I also think not having them will accentuate the architecture of the building, especially if we can re-light the pillars. I think people will be surprised at how beautiful the space is if it is pared back.”

St Mary’s churchyard

The next 12 months will be spent getting full architectural drawings, surveys, consultations and planning permissions for the work. Then the actual building works can start. And the vision doesn’t stop there. Separate to the HLF project there are plans – that have been in the works for some time now – to turn the Welcome Centre into affordable housing with space for a children’s nursery. This project is also dependent on approval from the various bodies and finding a suitable development partner as the church can’t take on a capital project of that size on its own.

“We definitely don’t feel that it’s a money-making scheme but as a way of making sure the church has a sustainable future. And to ensure the future of the building itself. It’s historically interesting and locally listed but it hasn’t had a lot of investment for a number of years. We need to find ways of preserving it and making it do more for the community,” says Vanessa.

Both Vanessa and Cameron are very passionate about the ideas, and see them as a way for the church to be part of an ever-changing society.

“We have a possibility of not only dealing with our buildings that need work but serving our community. And we have a responsibility to do that,” says Vanessa. “I would like to have people walk past the church and feel fond of it, not just sentimental; that it’s made a connection with your life and your soul, whether that’s nourishing you spiritually or culturally. That it’s a place for everyone.”

Amen to that.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.


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The Village Fest is the best

It was all there, and more. Sunshine, music drifting down Orford Road, the smell of street food in the air, a nice cold drink in hand and spontaneous dad dancing in the street. In a nutshell, this year’s Village Festival, brought to you by the Waltham Forest Community Hub and its army of volunteers, was the perfect way to mark the end of summer.

The Village Festival was revived three years ago by the Hub and, after a pause
last year, it was back and better than ever. A straw poll of those attending revealed an overwhelming majority loved the atmosphere, the community spirit, range of stalls and, of course, the live music.

In fact, the music stage in Orford Road summed up how it really was a festival with something for everyone; from the harmonious and enthusiastic sounds of the Natural Voices choir to the punk rock stylings of Chaos UK.

Festival organisers decided to concentrate the event in Orford Road (not extend it as in the past into Vestry Road), and with the music stage at the heart of the event in front of the Community Hub, the new layout helped create a vibrant mood with the crowds concentrated into a smaller, more intimate space. This year also saw a record number of local businesses stepping up to provide sponsorship, something organisers had been working on to help fund the event and make it a truly community day.

“It was a very special day,” said Edna Kim of Petals in Bloom, one of first sponsors to sign up this year. “It was a really fantastic way to raise the profile of the Village. There were lots of new faces and many of them didn’t know how much is happening here in our neighbourhood. Now they do!”

“I thought it was absolutely great,” said Mark Newby of Froth & Rind, another of the sponsors. “There seemed to be a lot more people than previous years. The weather helped and it was really well organised. It was great fun to be right in the middle of it. The bar has been set high for next year,” he added.

Festival organiser Monwara Ali said, “The festival was such a success due to so many hard-working individuals pulling together and working tirelessly to prove what is possible if the community unites through a common cause. It motivated us to live up to the expectations of all those who had put their trust in us.”

Monwara added, “Not only did The Walthamstow Toy Library plan and manage the Children’s Area, but 19 local businesses were sponsors and I think this showed their belief that the Hub could deliver a family-friendly community event that has a positive ripple effect on the entire neighbourhood.”

It’s estimated that over 2,000 people attended and Monwara hopes that the festival can return. “There is so much support locally for the festival to take place next year, not only as a great community event but as a marketing tool for the many businesses, artists and local groups.”

The final decision on whether the Hub puts on the festival again in 2018 now rests with the organisation’s Board of Trustees.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

The Waltham Forest Community Hub may be in a position to support future Walthamstow Village Festivals, so is keen to hear your feedback about the day and what improvements could be made.
Please complete their survey here:


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The Mall Development Plans

We are aware that some residents have a strong opposition to the new plans for the Mall in Walthamstow Town Centre.

If you do have strong views then we advise you to join the existing campaign run by David Gardiner. He has gathered some useful documents to guide you if you want to actively object. He has

You may also be interested to know that AE17, a group of Walthamstow architects, have lodged a formal objecti0n to the plans:


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Village People

Edna Kim

Edna Kim is not afraid of taking on a challenge. As a youngster in the Philippines she was determined to go to university, despite the fact it wasn’t the traditional path for young girls. In her twenties she left the bosom of her tight-knit family in Manila and moved to London, working for several years at an international satellite communications company.
Then around a decade ago, she gave up her high-flying career to open the florist – Petals in
Bloom – in Orford Road.

“In my previous life you would not have recognised me. I was in my high heels and make-up, nails done, power suit. Those were the days when you had to compete with men, and my job was as a commercial and development manager for Inmarsat (one of the pioneers of mobile satellite communications). My job was to find partners for the company, selling airtime, meeting with government ministers to get them to change policy and have us as the service provider.”

“I was head hunted in the Philippines to join the company in London. My dad was against it but I told him I was old enough to go. When I asked what I needed to bring for the interview, someone told me to bring a brolly. When I arrived it was snowing, and all I had was the brolly, so a friend of my sister’s kitted me out with some warm boots!”

“It was a very demanding job; I was travelling everywhere. I always had two suitcases packed ready to go – one for a hot climate one for cold – sometimes I would arrive home and would have to turn around and go out again. Eventually I was being asked to join other companies but the work was stressful – whenever I see the building I worked in
my acid starts coming up! I decided I needed to get out. I took two years off and did things on my artistic side; painting and jewellery. That was when my next plan was formulated in my mind – to open a florist. I got my business plan, I took courses and even went to the flower shop in Wood Street and told them, ‘I want to work here for a while even if you don’t pay me much. I just to want to learn’.”

“I was walking down Orford Road on my way to church when I saw a shop being done up and I asked if it was being let. There were not many shops in the road but I was encouraged by Penny Fielding (who then ran her own shop in the street) who said I should be here. I opened on Mother’s Day. I can’t forget that day; it was a great day. It even made it on to the TV in the Philippines. But after that I almost shut the shop. The first year was really bad – there would be whole weeks without a sale. The Village was different then – there weren’t as many shops, so not as many people came. The old owner of Mondragone was really, really nice. He was the one in the dark days who would console me and
say, ‘Even I have down times. Persevere.’ I am so thankful to him. Now it’s much different. I have very loyal customers. I can’t fault the loyalty of people.”

“I’ve always been interested in flowers and I like creating things. It’s something that makes you happy. I don’t have a favourite flower – I love them all. They’re my babies!”

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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The outsider who got in

Leading British fashion designer moves into Ravenswood Industrial Estate

Over a decade ago, Simeon Farrar dragged suitcases full of clothes he had designed to London Fashion Week (LFW). As a painter who had studied fine art, Simeon admits he, “knew nothing about fashion; actually less than nothing”. But having started to use clothing as a canvas, and on the advice of a friend, he applied and gained entry to the capital’s biggest and most prestigious fashion event.

For someone who knew so little about fashion – he taught himself to sew – and the business of fashion, Simeon’s not done too badly. His clothes now sell in boutiques and department stores around the world, he shows four collections a year in Paris – two men’s and two women’s – and has launched a diffusion line called Blackscore that specialises in graphic T-shirts and sweatshirts. Oh, and he’s just moved into the neighbourhood, relocating his studio to the Ravenswood Industrial Estate making it even more fashionable than previously thought possible. “My first collection was cutting up old things and making dresses from them,” says Simeon. “I used old band tour T-shirts, cutting them in half, putting them with another T-shirt. I would sew on all these different objects I’d found – words, colours and patterns – and build up the layers. I really liked collage in painting so I used the same aesthetic in creating the fashion. I made this weird cobbledtogether collection of clothes that I could never reproduce.” But when the buyers at LFW saw his work, the orders started piling in; everyone from Japanese boutiques to the trendsetting NYC department store Barneys. “But the problem was they were one-offs,” says Simeon, “and they ordered it in all different sizes and colours so I had to go and just make it.”

After this baptism by fashion, Simeon didn’t even have an order book and had to quickly employ people to help him make the clothes. He soldiered on, got the hang of the business side of things and has never looked back. Twelve years later he’s an international success, but some things remain the same. Everything is still handprinted by him and his team in their studio, with the most of the clothes in his fashion line (Simeon Farrar) made by a small factory in north London. “I like to keep it close,” says Simeon. “Our units are small and, even though it’s more expensive to have it done here, it’s good to support small factories in the UK. It didn’t sit right with me having things made overseas with all the
shipping involved.”

Simeon has managed to strike a very delicate balance that works well for him – very much part of the fashion world, with his clothes featuring in Vogue and select stores, but also remaining an outsider. “I got totally accepted by the fashion world, and it was great. I think because I was a newcomer and got in through the side entrance they were really welcoming to me. But I’ve always stayed on the fringes of it. I’m not really the kind of person who plays the scene. I kind of do my own thing and fit in where I fit in.”

Simeon already feels right at home in the Ravenswood Industrial Estate; in fact it’s the type of place that he’s been searching for. Having spent the last 10 or so years in Shoreditch, it was time to leave the high rents and creeping corporatisation behind. “All the others places we rented were in office blocks, and the printing we do leaves a real mess behind. Plus, we were never really around our own people – lots of suits. Here, it was great to move into a unit that was rough and ready – where there was already paint on the floor, we could move everything around, push the doors back and be open to the outside world.”

The space works so well that, for the first time, Simeon now has a permanent store front to the world and will be opening the doors to his studio on Friday evenings and Saturday/Sunday during the day to sell direct to the public. The move has even inspired Simeon to start painting on canvas again after a hiatus of 12 years.

“I’ve felt very creative and really in the zone, and there’s something about this space – and I don’t want to get all trippy – but I am feeding off something. There’s an excitement. The estate has this real element of potential. That feeling that I can do anything I want.”

See Simeon’s fashion line at, and his T-shirt and sweatshirts at

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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We came, we curried, we conquered

Annual WVRA Curry Supper Quiz

With the arrival of summer, March and the WVRA’s annual Curry Supper Quiz feels like another country, very far away. But it would be remiss not to thank everyone who made the event such a success; Shameem Mir who once again produced a veritable buffet fit for a king/queen/prince/princess, Neil Underwood, the inimitable quizmaster who tested everyone’s brains and retention of extraneous knowledge to just this side of breaking point and all the committee members and volunteers who ensured the food made it on to everyone’s plates, sold raffle tickets and received dish-pan hands at the end of the night for all the hard work. And a big nod to the local businesses who contributed the best selection of raffle prizes this side of the National Lottery: Orford Saloon, La Ruga, In Vino Veritas, Queen’s Arms, The Deli, Village Bakery, Froth & Rind, East London Sausage Co, The Village pub, E17 Village Market, Petals

The victors quietly celebrate

in Bloom, Here on Earth, Sean Pines Photography, Debbie Bliss, Blomst, Daryl and Jess Ablecroft and Nisa Local. Thank you!

Of course, congratulations to the winning team – Mini Hollandaise – who celebrated with just the right amount of gloating.

The event raised over £1,200 for the WVRA and the event will take place again in March 2018, when all the losers will get a chance for sweet revenge.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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The Village Festival is back

Event to return in September

Like a friend who suddenly makes an appearance just when you need them, the Village Festival is back on the calendar for 2017.

The event, organised by the Waltham Forest Community Hub, is being billed as ‘a day of community celebration’ and will run from noon to 6pm on Saturday 2nd of September. The festivities will take over Orford Road from the junction with East Avenue all the way around to The Nag’s Head, and it will feature street food, two music stages, arts
and crafts and a special children’s area – with an obligatory bouncy castle. Organisers are expecting there to be upwards of 50 stalls lining the street on the day, with another 20 or so setting up inside the Hub for an indoor market.

Hub manager and festival organiser Monwara Ali says the support from local businesses has been better than ever. So far, Petals in Bloom,The Nag’s Head, Eat17, Estates 17, The Village pub, The Castle, Pillars Brewery, In Vino Veritas, Orford Saloon, Gods Own Junkyard, the Village Market and Sean Pines Photography have all put their money where their mouth is with financial support. “And we certainly would not say no if anyone else
wants to contribute!” says Monwara.

The festival is also involved in the Tesco Bags for Help Scheme. Residents can help the organisers receive up to £4,000 of funding by voting for the Village Festival at Tesco Express stores in Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone, Chingford and Highams Park until 30th June.

And if you don’t just want to attend, eat, drink and be merry, the festival is also looking for volunteers to help on the day. If that turns your crank, contact the organisers at or by calling 020 8223 0707.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Walthamstow Village in Bloom

By Helen Lerner

  Walthamstow Village is representing London as a finalist in the prestigious Britain in Bloom national competition and things are really hotting up to get the Village looking stunning. We are joining 78 other Britain in Bloom finalists and are going allout to be crowned the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful Urban Community in the UK.

This year we will be up against Aldridge, Walsall (Heart of England), Clifton, Bristol (South West), Didsbury, Manchester (North West), Littleover, Derby (East Midlands), Starbeck, Harrogate (Yorkshire), and Uddingston, Glasgow (Scotland).

It’s our very last chance until 2022 to show the UK what makes us so special and to be awarded the UK’s best Urban Community with a Gold, so let’s really make it count!

There will be two judging days: the regional London in Bloom judges, Peter Holman and Lee Johnson, will visit for three hours on Friday 14 July from 10.45, and the national Britain in Bloom judges, Geraldine King and Darren Share, will visit for three hours on Tuesday 8 August from 9.30 am.

We will find out how we’ve done on 27 October at the national awards in Llandudno.

How you can help:

  • On judging days, by serving refreshments and/or lunch, taking photos or litter-picking ahead of the judging tour. Please let us know if you can help.
  • On judging days, please ensure that your garden, pots, baskets and window boxes are looking their best, that boundaries, walls and hedges are tidy and that bins are neatly placed or tucked away. It’s not too late, if you haven’t already, to get planting and potting, and to put up your hanging baskets. Please encourage your neighbours to join in, too, so we can make our area look fantastic.

WVRA Gardening Club – every Saturday in June and July and every Wednesday
evening until 2 August

Lots of help is needed to weed, plant and tidy in the run-up to judging, so we will be gardening every Saturday from 10.30am, and every Wednesday evening from 7pm. We meet at the Village Square; tools are provided or you can bring your own. No experience is necessary and all ages and abilities can join in. It’s good exercise, lots of fun and an ideal way to meet like-minded neighbours.

Saturday 1 July – Big Village Clean Up, from 10.30am

We are seeking volunteers to tidy, garden, paint and spruce up the Village. Please meet at the Village Square with gloves and sturdy shoes, and do wear old clothes if you want to paint!

Primp my Village

We’ll also be putting finishing touches to the gardening on the evenings before judging, on Thursday 13 July and Monday 7 August. Please meet at the Village Square at 7 pm. On the mornings of judging, please join us and Waltham Forest operatives from 6.30am for an early morning clear-up along the judging route. We will work till around 9am, removing stray weeds and litter, and sweeping any dirty nooks and crannies until we have to get clean and smart, ready for the judges’ arrival. You can, of course, come and go at any time.

Village Veg Plot Community Allotment

Our community allotment outside the Lifeline Project at 1 Beulah Road, sponsored by Fullers Builders and BEE17, goes from strength-to-strength, with vegetables and herbs being planted and harvested throughout the year. It is led by Darryl Abelscroft, with invaluable assistance from original organiser Caroline Barton and their team of ‘Weekly Waterers’. They have a Facebook page with information and photos (Walthamstow Village Veg Plot). Please contact for more information.


This year you can enter the Challenges or nominate gardens and displays of your neighbours.

This year we have added a new category with a cash prize of £100 for MOST IMPROVED FRONT GARDEN/FORECOURT, with £50 for second prize. This will be awarded to the resident, be it of a house or flat, who we think has done the most to beautify their front area.

This year, the national RHS theme is Greening the Grey for Wildlife, so we’ve a new category for frontages that are doing just that. Whatever the size of your space, there’s a range of things you can do to boost biodiversity.

There are the usual categories for front gardens, balconies, window boxes and containers. Your entry or nomination must be able to be seen from the street or be open to the public. Every entry will be awarded a Certificate of Participation that will be presented at the WVRA AGM in October.

Your Bloom team thoroughly enjoys looking at the gardens and displays of all entrants and showing them to the judges. The “best” garden and premises will be put forward into the London in Bloom 50 Favourite Front Gardens competition. All entries to be submitted, please, online at beautiful-premises by Friday 23 June.

Thank you!

We sincerely thank all our lovely volunteers – too many too mention – without whom none of this would be possible, and to everyone who has generously sponsored new plants, and those who are watering and caring for them. Waltham Forest’s Paul Tickner and his teams, including Community Payback, have been marvellous this year and provided invaluable assistance with the new meadow, supplying hanging baskets in Orford Road, painting railings and weed clearance. We especially thank Fullers Builders, Estates 17, The East London Sausage Company and BEE17 for ongoing sponsorship and support.

Join us! Support us! Let’s make Walthamstow Village even greater and even greener! Let’s make the most of our front gardens, forecourts and windowsills, improve the street scene and show your support for Walthamstow Village in Bloom by entering yourself or a neighbour in our 2017 Gardening Challenges:

Best wishes, good luck and many thanks from your Bloom team: Helen Lerner, Jakob Hartmann, Caroline Barton, Nick Springett, Darryl Abelscroft, John Chambers and Teresa Deacon.

For more info, search for the Facebook page “Walthamstow Village in Bloom”, email or call 07814 042499.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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A sting in the tale

How BEE17 and an EpiPen help bring honey to the masses

Imagine a red-hot sewing needle slowly pushed into your flesh.  And staying there. That’s the sensation when you get a bee sting on the nose. This is not exaggeration. It is factual reporting. Which is how I got the sting in the first place; while doing this story on BEE17, the Village’s local beekeepers and honey sellers. But more on that pain later.
BEE17 came about four years ago when local Richard Smith met local Helen Lerner while doing community gardening. Both, it turned out, had an interest in bees, and before you could say buzz, they had bought their first colony and set up a hive in Helen’s back garden.
That one colony has multiplied and the pair are now responsible for several hives, hundreds of thousands of bees and the attendant honey that’s produced. Not only do they bring joy to people’s toast, porridge and glazed carrots, but profit from the enterprise also buys pollen and nectar-friendly plants that end up populating the Village.

Since buying those first colonies – which on average contain 60,000 to 70,000 bees – Richard and Helen have raised their own colonies, which includes raising queens. “You want the queen to be hard-working, and a prolific layer, and you also want the colony to be easy to manage and not too aggressive,” says Richard. “They’re not pussycats – at the end of the day they are going to protect their home and queen, but compared to the ones we had at the start, which were quite mardy, they are a lot better now.”

“In the middle of a neighbourhood there is no point in having aggressive bees that are going to sting people willy nilly,” adds Helen who needs to be particularly careful after going into anaphylactic shock after being stung. She now always has an EpiPen (an injector that gives a shock of adrenaline) at the ready when doing any bee duty.

Besides Richard, the entire operation is really run by women, or rather the female bees. The males are only there for mating or hanging around the hive begging for food. It’s the females that do all the work. “When they ‘get their end away’,” explains Richard, “it pulls their willy off and they die. At the end of the summer if they haven’t served their purpose, the women kick them out. Once the food supply is drying up, and they are useless mouths to feed, they force them out of the colony and the guard bees won’t let them back in.”

BEE17 now has one of the biggest assets a beekeeper can have; the frames – that sit inside the hives – with the empty comb still intact. “With new frames the bees have to construct the wax comb, so 25% of your yield goes into wax production. If you have old ones, all that energy goes into processing the nectar so you get more honey,” says Richard.

The whole operation is incredibly labour intensive. All the hives need to be checked on a weekly basis; to make sure the queen is laying eggs, that the bees are not swarming (when the queen leaves with a large number of worker bees to set up a new colony elsewhere) and determine if the queens are producing female offspring not drones (those males who are simply work-shy, hungry reproductive machines). Then there’s the collection of the honey.

“The supers (the boxes containing the frames of comb containing the honey) need to be taken out – there are 10 in each hive – and the comb needs to be uncapped of wax using a heat gun,” explains Helen. “Then it needs to go into the extractor, which acts like a centrifuge and then drained through a double sieve into buckets to settle.

“Then all the scum comes to the top. This is primarily foam – oxygen really – and needs to be taken off before the honey is put into sterilised jars,” says Richard.
This year the weather has been mostly cooperative, so the pair are looking at real quality honey. Spring honey is more light and floral while the summer’s is dark and treacly because of the nectar collected from chestnut blossoms, blackberries and hebes.

After learning all of this fascinating information, I wanted to get a closer look and take some photos, so Richard and Helen got me all kitted up; the full suit with fine netting around the face so you can see what you’re doing. Only my doing included holding the camera so close to my eye that the netting was pressed against my face, giving one of the dozens of bees covering the netting the perfect opportunity to sting my nose, a considerably sized target. Despite the pain and tears, I will still be buying the pesky beggars’ delicious honey…

Next honey sale: 18 June, 12 – 4pm, 6 Beulah Rd

This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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A visit to Walthamstow Wetlands

By David Baker

On Sunday, 27 November, a small but hardy group of individuals led by the Residents’ Association, went on a guided tour of the Walthamstow Wetlands, just off Forest Rd, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn.

The project is to turn the Walthamstow reservoirs into a vast urban wetland nature reserve and centre for learning. It is due to open in September 2017 and will give visitors access to a wonderful natural area right on our doorstep.

The reservoirs that make up the 211-hectare site are internationally recognised as being important for over-wintering wildfowl and is the largest fishery in London as well as providing water supply for Thames Water.  The project is being led by LB Waltham Forest, along with the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Greater London Authority and the Heritage Lottery Fund as partners.

We had the opportunity of walking around the site, seeing the progress of the project during the construction phase. The plan is to turn the existing Victorian
Engine House into a refurbished Visitor Centre with cafe, viewing platform and education space for the project. New cycle routes and footpaths are being added, and habitats are being enhanced by the addition of new reed beds and waterside planting.

The walk around was guided by ‘Wetlands Steve’ Ayers, who pointed out the developments underway and the varied wild life we were observing. The highlight of the tour for me was the sighting of two Peregrine falcons that were high above us, sheltering in the pylons in front of the entrance! It was extremely cold, with the wind blowing across the site but despite the weather, it was great to see this wonderful wildlife project and to see what a great resource we will have on our doorstep when complete later this year. Watch out for when it will be opened to the public, it will be an opportunity not to be missed.

Many thanks to Vally Gesthuysen for organising this event and for Wetlands Steve for making a damp and cold day so interesting and entertaining!

This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Walthamstow Village in Bloom

By Helen Lerner

We need your support in 2017!

Photograph by Caroline Barton

We are thrilled and proud to announce that in 2017, Walthamstow Village has again been invited to represent the London region in the prestigious RHS Britain in Bloom UK-wide competition. We are joining 78 other finalists competing to be crowned the cleanest, greenest and most beautiful Urban Community in the UK.

London in Bloom has a rule that we can only enter the nationals twice in five years, so this is our very last chance until 2022 at the earliest to show what makes the Village so special and to be awarded the UK’s best Urban Community with a Gold. So let’s really make it count! There will again be two judging days; London in Bloom in July and Britain in Bloom in August.

Waltham Forest, and especially Paul Tickner, are fully supporting us this year, and we’re getting lots of help from the Community Payback teams. Over the coming weeks you should notice real improvements happening in the street-scene, including the planting of new trees.

In 2017, the national RHS theme is Greening the Grey for Wildlife. This year, the areas we are targeting are:

The meadow

The meadow by the Ancient House was prepared and re-sown with a mix of annual and
perennial wildflower and grass seeds thanks to a generous donation by the Walthamstow Village Residents’ Association (WVRA). It should look fantastic, flowering from July to September, and will attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinating insects. Please respect the new meadow by kindly not allowing dogs on it – the nitrogen in dog pee increases the soil fertility and allows courser grasses and weeds to choke out the flowers.

The Village Square

We have devised a new planting scheme for the flowerbed against the wall to complement the two other beds. Biodiversity is at the top of our agenda and the local honey beepopulation will love all the new pollen and nectar rich flowers.

Orford Road tree pits & lamposts

Waltham Forest will soon be installing double flower-baskets on all the new lampposts and we are securing donations from businesses to plant up the tree-pits with colourful flowers.

Chalmers House Orchard Project (CHOP)

The fruit trees along the Orford Road railings (opposite Orford House) have been full of blossom and we hope you enjoyed the carpet of 5,000 Purple Polio crocuses we planted.

Holmcroft House, Orford Road

After receiving permission from the WF Head of Housing Management, we started work on the front garden behind the new railings, improving the soil and adding new plants.

Village Veg Plots

Planting Day, Saturday 6 May, 2-4 pm
Our fantastic community Village Veg Plots outside the Lifeline Project at One Beulah Road, kindly sponsored by Fullers Builders, and run by Darryl Abelscroft and Caroline Barton, aided by Vally Gesthuysen, are designed to demonstrate how to grow veg, fruit and herbs on a small site and to look good in the street-scene. Residents and passers-by
can help themselves when the produce is ready.

We are holding a Veggie Planting Day on Saturday 6 May from 2 to 4pm. Hands big and small are needed to help!

Also needed are volunteers to join the Weekly Watering Team to water the veg plots one day a week with the on-site hose. Please contact for more information.


Our community beekeeping project, run by Richard Smith and Helen Lerner, has donated another £800, this time towards the replanting of the long flowerbed in the Village Square. To follow news of our two hives, see the BEE17 Facebook page or go to We urge you to choose seeds and plants with bees and beneficial insects in mind. For a list of bee-friendly plants, please go to and search ‘Perfect for Pollinators’.

Monthly Gardening Club

Come and join the Gardening Club on the first Saturday of each month at 10.30am in the Village Square and tend the flowerbeds in the area, tidy up, plant, prune and weed. We have lots of laughs and you don’t need any special gardening skills (but you may gain some!), plus you get to meet your neighbours. And a big thank you to lovely Holmcroft
House resident Marion Cooper who is always
bringing refreshments to sustain us!

Compost in Summit Road

We wanted to apologise for upsetting some Summit Road residents when the compost donated by North London Waste Authority was delivered in February. We hope the fantastic display of daffodils and the heady scent of hyacinths made up for the annoyance.

Front Garden & Beautiful Premises Challenge 2017 – Big Prizes!

We have decided this year that not only can you enter the Challenges yourself, but you can nominate the gardens and displays of your neighbours.

There are many unloved front gardens, so this year we are adding a new category to our Gardening Challenges with a cash prize of £100 for Most Improved Front Garden/Forecourt, with £50 for second prize. This will be awarded to the resident who we think has done the most to beautify their front area – it may be with plants, baskets, containers and/or window boxes – the choice is yours. Please contact us for advice and
suggestions if you need them.

There’s also a new category for frontages that are Greening the Grey for Wildlife. There’s a range of things you can do to boost biodiversity:

  • Add pollinator-friendly flowers to a lawn
  • Plant a small tree or hedge: they can support hundreds of species of insect
  • Put up bird boxes or feeders
  • Pull up a paver or add containers and sow seeds to create a pollinator-friendly mini garden
  • Add climbing plants to cover a wall

There are the usual categories for front gardens, balconies, window boxes and containers. Your entry must be able to be seen from the street or be open to the public. Every entry will be awarded a Certificate of Participation, presented at the WVRA AGM in October.

Your Bloom team thoroughly enjoys looking at the gardens and displays of all entrants and showing them to the judges. The ‘best’ garden and premises will be put forward into the London in Bloom 50 Favourite Front Gardens competition. All entries to be submitted using the form in our magazine, or online here by Friday 23 June. Let’s all make the most of our front gardens, forecourts and windowsills and show your support for Walthamstow Village in Bloom by entering yourself or a neighbour in our 2017 Gardening Challenges.

Follow us on Facebook (on our Walthamstow Village in Bloom page) and, if you would like to find out more, you can sponsor or help with any of the above, or would like to join the Bloom committee, please contact or call 07814 042499.

Best wishes, many thanks and good luck from your Bloom team: Helen Lerner, Jakob Hartmann, Caroline Barton, Nick Springett, John Chambers, Teresa Deacon, Darryl Abelscroft and Vally Gesthuysen.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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Ancient ruins uncovered in Village

First substantial Roman find in Walthamstow

It turns out the Village has been up and coming for longer than was previously thought after archeologists uncovered prehistoric and Roman remains in the grounds of a local school. The discovery – a first of its kind in the area – revealed the remains of a substantial Roman building or buildings that were probably part of a wealthy Roman farmstead.

“No prehistoric or Roman remains of any substance had previously been found in Walthamstow and so to get such a substantial building was very surprising,” according to archeologist and project manager, Helen Hawkins, who has been leading the excavation. Hawkins says the discovery was also unexpected as the site is not near any known Roman roads, the closest being at Leyton.

The possibility that the grounds of the Holy Family Catholic School – which abuts Vinegar Alley – might contain ancient secrets came to light in 2009 when a planning application for new buildings was submitted. Because the site was within an archeological priority area, trial trenching was carried out, which exposed tantalising clues.

“The trenching uncovered ditches and pits dating to prehistoric times, early Roman and late Roman periods, as well as a piece of Purbeck marble and some flue tiles, which suggested that a high status Roman building with underfloor heating was located on or near the site,” says Hawkins. But when the building project was cancelled, further investigations were put on hold. It wasn’t until last year when the school revived the building project that a ground penetrating radar survey was carried
out, which identified extensive remains on the site. That’s when the company Hawkins works for was brought in to continue the search. They didn’t have to dig very deep before making their startling find. “The remains were located about 30 to 40 centimetres below the ground,” says Hawkins, “so they have only survived because nothing was previously constructed on the site.”

The oldest remains were a prehistoric ring ditch, which Hawkins says was probably a defensive ditch and bank constructed around small roundhouse dwellings. But those remains were only the start.

“After the ring ditch went out of use,” says Hawkins, “a very large Roman building or group of buildings was then constructed on the site. The buildings, which would have had good views of the surrounding valleys, were made of timber, wattle and daub and probably comprised a large wealthy farmstead. We have found evidence of flue tiles, which may suggest that a bath house formed part of the complex, although we haven’t found any evidence for the bath house itself as yet.” And
while comparable isolated Roman farmsteads have been located at Leyton and Wanstead, this is a first for Walthamstow.

But Hawkins and her team have not just found the remains of buildings; the investigation has also yielded Roman and prehistoric pottery and so far, one Roman coin. And there could be more to come as the excavations are scheduled to continue on the site until later this spring.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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History matters – A life swapped for a pearl button …

… and a Darwinian connection in Walthamstow Village.

By Teresa Deacon







This bizarre and tragic story took place in the Village in the early 19th century, when Walthamstow was a rural parish in Essex. To put it in context, at this point in history slavery was still common around the world, the British were extending the Empire as never before and here in the Village, what’s now the local museum was a workhouse.

In 1829, Captain Robert Fitzroy, a scientist and officer in the Royal Navy, was on an exploration voyage on the HMS Beagle, navigating Tierra del Fuego, the southern-most tip of South America. A small whaling boat being used to survey narrow waters was allegedly stolen by locals. In retaliation, Fitzroy ordered several indigenous people to be taken hostage. Most managed to escape but four young Fuegians remained on board the Beagle.

Fitzroy decided to take the four Fuegians back to Britain as a social experiment to ‘teach them in the ways of Christianity and gentility’ and to return them back to their homeland so that they might ‘civilise’ their fellow natives.

They were renamed Fuegia Basket, a girl of 9, Jemmy Button, a boy of 14 (so-called as he had been ‘exchanged’ for a pearl button), Boat Memory, a male of 20, and York Minster, a male aged 26.

Boat Memory sadly died of smallpox on reaching Plymouth. Fitzroy paid for the remaining three to be driven by stage coach to Walthamstow, where he had a connection with the vicar of Walthamstow, the Reverend William Wilson. The three youngsters were apparently enthralled with the horses and carriages that took them on their journey and more so with the stone lion that once stood atop Northumberland House in central London, which they thought to be alive.

Rev. William Wilson had set up St. Mary’s Infant School in 1824 (pictured opposite – now the Welcome Community Centre at the back of the Squire’s almshouses), which is where they were educated. Rev Wilson lived in Grove House, a long-since demolished grand house on Grove Road, with grounds stretching back to Maynard Road. The young Fuegians may have lodged with him there and/or at The Chestnuts in Bishop’s Close, built in the early 19th century, which still stands today.

As well as learning about Christianity, the young Fuegians were taught English and practical skills, such as gardening, husbandry and carpentry. Fuegia Basket and Jemmy Button fitted into the community well and became very popular with the locals. Jemmy loved his western clothes, always wore gloves and became a bit of a ‘dandy’, never missing an opportunity to admire himself in any reflection. York Minster, the eldest of the group, didn’t fare so well as he had a very large physique and was unhappy being put in with infants.

Such was their celebrity that they were presented to the new King William IV and wife Queen Adelaide, who gave Fuegia Basket a bonnet
and other gifts.

A little more than a year after they’d arrived, it was discovered that the much older York Minster had become sexually interested in the much younger Fuegia Basket, who was still a child. In order to avoid a scandal and personal humiliation, Fitzroy decided to return them home. The locals had taken the three into their hearts and sent them off with a stash of gifts – including wine glasses, tea trays, butter dishes – all of which were unsuitable items for their home environment.

In December 1831, they returned home on the HMS Beagle, this time accompanied by the young Charles Darwin, an acquaintance of Captain Fitzroy, who was brought on board as a trainee pastor and naturalist. As it turned out, the research Darwin accumulated on this 5-year journey led to him writing Evolution of Species and later The Descent of Man.

In his account of The Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin remarks that ‘Jemmy was a “universal favourite” who comforted him when he was seasick’. He also writes that ‘Jemmy’s hair was neatly cut and he became distressed if his well-polished shoes were dirtied’.

Also on board was a trainee missionary who was to marry Fuegia Basket and York Minster as soon as they reached home. The repatriation didn’t go as Fitrzroy had planned. There was much looting of the Walthamstow gifts and the three soon reverted to their traditional way of life.

Reports filtered back over the years as to what had become of the trio. Jemmy married and had a son who made a trip to England in 1866. Reports also alleged Jemmy led a massacre of missionaries in 1859. York Minster was killed in a dispute, and his wife Fuegia died aged 44. Jemmy’s connection to Walthamstow has been recognised through a recent residential development in E17, which has been named ‘Button Lodge’ after him.

Sources: Walthamstow Past, David Mander, The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin, Local Studies Library, Vestry House, LBWF. St. Mary’s School image used with permission from Vestry House Museum, LBWF.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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A local market for local people

The traders who saved the day.

By Shameem Mir

trader1It’s there every Saturday, come rain or shine, at the Waltham Forest Community Hub, so most of you will be familiar with the E17 Village Market. But what you might not know is that it was saved from closure by a group of local traders who aim to turn it into a worker’s co-operative where a share of the takings will go to keeping it up and running.

The market had its beginnings in the grounds of Henry Maynard Primary School last year. Back then it was led by an entrepreneur from Hackney as a commercial enterprise, with most of the traders coming from outside of Walthamstow. It then moved to the Community Hub but things took an abrupt turn in early September when the market was suddenly disbanded by the original founder due to ‘a lack of footfall’. It stopped operating for a few weeks while a group of traders put their heads together to think of a way forward. This culminated in them taking over the market, getting it up and running again with the intention to make it more community focused with almost all local E17 businesses.

It’s clear that they make their products with flair and a great passion. Nick Lazarides from Cyprus Kitchen left his full- time job in the media to follow his dream of serving up fresh and authentic Cypriot food. “I wasn’t getting the interaction with people in my day job,” says Nick, “and I love face-to-face contact and chatting to my customers. Plus, I wanted to bring something new to the food scene.”

trader-2When talking to the traders you get the sense that they all have this deep passion driving them to make, bake and cook the absolute best to sell to our community. “I wanted to bring beautiful and natural patisserie to all families in Walthamstow,’ says Henrietta Inman, the pastry chef and author of Clean Cakes who is one of the traders at the market each week. “Mums are always coming back to buy cakes for their children, which is great as I love getting feedback. Being a trader is also a great way of promoting my cookery classes, which I hope to do more of in the New Year.”

Another heartfelt baker is Céline Lecoeur of Elderflower Cakes, who says, “I have always loved baking and always wanted to have my own business. Being a local trader is such a good start. The market has allowed me to test my product on the general public. What I also love is the sense of community between traders; we are like one big family that supports and encourages each other – the atmosphere is so lovely.”

For Alys Wood-Bibby from Blomst Flowers it’s been a great way of immersing herself into Village life. “As a newcomer to Walthamstow, both as a resident and trader, there was an overwhelming sense of community in terms of support and encouragement,” says Alys. “I believe the market is a great way to give back to the community as well as supporting new businesses which, like us, want to take the gamble and follow their hearts.”

trader-3Many of the traders have full-time jobs but cannot resist devoting their free time to sharing their love for what they produce. Kostas Anagnostou from the Greek Café works as a full-time chef in a local college and says, “My love of cooking came from watching my grandma in the kitchen back in our village in northern Greece and I am using those hand-me-down recipes today. All my cakes and pastries are made from scratch and what makes them stand out is my attention to detail.” And besides the savoury filo pies, Kosta has also introduced salads to his repertoire.

While many of the traders are just starting and juggling other commitments, others are more established. Take Perky Blenders, which recently won a much-coveted Time Out Love London Award.

“It was an astounding achievement for us and a real heartfelt thank you from our growing community of coffee lovers,” says Blender’s Tom Cozens. “People enjoy the fact we roast Perky Blenders beans fresh for the market.” Tom also points out that they offer free drinks with every order of fresh roasted coffee beans at trader-4the Village Market. And for those serious addicts, they even deliver free in E17.

Besides feeding and watering the local populace, the market wants to encourage growth within E17 microbusinesses and create a community among traders, as well as residents.
They especially want to reach out to other local traders and encourage new small operations. So to help build confidence, the group has introduced an ‘incubator scheme’ for local start-ups, offering a 4-week initial period and a reduced pitch fee. If this is just the opportunity you’ve been looking for, you can contact the group directly, at

The group sees an opportunity to make the market bigger and better so that Orford Road becomes a go-to destination, attracting visitors both locally and further afield, and increasing footfall even further so that all businesses can benefit, much like Broadway Market and Columbia Road.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of “The Village” magazine.


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