A corner of Redbridge that will forever be East Ham

I set out bound for Ilford, following Thomas Burke’s dictum that “to go to Ilford is a fool’s act”, but in fact ended up trapped in a curious geographical anachronism. I’ve been fascinated by Aldersbrook ever since moving to Leytonstone – it’s like that beautifully mysterious world behind the garden shed when you’re a kid – a place of dreams but with an uncanny tinge. I dedicated a few pages to it in This Other London when I conned my kids into walking to the far side of Ilford by telling them I was taking them to South Park (which is a beautiful park between Ilford and Loxford as well as a brilliant animated TV show).

aldersbrook map
Somehow I had always managed to bypass Brading Crescent and would have done so again if I hadn’t needed some provisions for the push East and noticed the sign for a ‘Convenient’ Store. Must be good to have so confidently deviated from the standard ‘Convenience’ Store.

East Ham Borough
Straight away you are faced with the fine block of flats that at the time I wasn’t sure if they were 80’s mock baronial or part of the original Edwardian Aldersbrook development. It was in fact built as the Aldersbrook Children’s Home in 1910 by West Ham Board of Guardians as (with each block named after local notables – Lister, Fry, Morris, Hood, and Buxton). It was transferred to East Ham County Borough in 1929 and in the mid-1950’s converted into flats.

The handsome brick community hall in the grounds bears an inscription recording its opening by County Borough of East Ham in 1931 and today it is still confusingly owned by Newham Council despite sitting inside the London Borough of Redbridge.

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Sources:

The Outer Circle – Rambles in Remote London by Thomas Burke (1921)

100 Years of Suburbia by Kathryn Morrison and Ann Robey (1999)

 

Midsummer in Epping Forest

Walks sometimes lead themselves. I left home around 4.30pm on Saturday with no destination in mind. Stopping to grab a Percy Ingle pasty I felt drawn along Kirkdale Road then pushed past Tesco and beneath the Green Man Roundabout.

Leyton Stone

There are roads that seem to contain a mystery even though you know where they lead. They speak of other times and places and suck hard on your imagination. Hollybush Hill from the Leyton Stone has that quality for me so I followed its lead to South Woodford (passing Hermitage Court which will have its own blog post).

I nearly got sidetracked into a musical performance celebrating Magna Carta at the Church near the cinema at South Woodford but decided to stay true to the walk still not sure where to go. Then the forest called me – and that is where the video above begins.

“No recession of the imagination” – March Against Austerity

The atmosphere at March Against Austerity was positive and enthusiastic – laughing into the gaping jaws of Tory Austerity. I went along with Bob and Roberta Smith with his brilliant ‘Art For All’ painted placard. We soon wound through the crowds assembled outside the Bank of England to find the Arts Emergency bloc where comedian Josie Long supported one end of a banner. Actor Samuel West came over to say a few words, and Green Party Councillor and potential Mayoral candidate Caroline Russell gave a great interview, declaring that “Austerity is economically illiterate’.

 

Medieval Leytonstone – Langthorne Park and Hospital

It wasn’t till I entered Langthorne Park just off Leytonstone High Road that I realised I’d only ever been here once – and that was in my early Leytonstone years. The park occupies part of the site of the old Langthorne Hospital which started life as the West Ham Union Workhouse before becoming a geriatric hospital.

The land was originally owned by Langthorne Abbey in Stratford, established in the 12th Century by Cistercian monks. The name Langthorne apparently derives from the hedges of ‘long thorns’ that were grown around the abbey.

 

Remember Chelsea Manning – legal appeal latest news

I was invited to a lunchtime talk given by Nancy Hollander, lawyer for Chelsea Manning and Mohamedou Ould Slahi, in conversation with human-rights Lawyer Jennifer Robinson. Given that the best way I know how to lend my support to causes I sympathise with is by using my camera I took it along just in case it came in handy. At the end of the talk, which included some discussion of Seymour Hersh’s recently published article in the London Review of Books about the true story behind the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I managed to grab a quick interview with Nancy about the Chelsea Manning case.

 

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