Sunday Walk – Wanstead Flats, North Circular and Hollow Ponds

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead Flats

The desire was stay local – within the gravitational field of home but still get in a decent walk. My instinct was to head to the far side of Wanstead Flats and take it from there.

The area of Wanstead Flats burnt so badly last summer gives off a glorious smell of resurgent wildflowers.

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The ragwort was alive with caterpillars of the cinnabar moth munching on its leaves, ingesting toxins to make themselves unpalatable to birds. Ragwort and the cinnabar caterpillar appear to have an interesting relationship that makes for a diverting spectacle on a summer stroll.

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I always have to pay homage to the barrage balloon posts and marvel at their continued survival.

Wanstead Park

Wanstead Park

After a stop at Aldersbrook Petrol Station for a Starbucks and Greggs donut – which has become one of my favourite Alan Partridge style treats – I head down Park Road and through Wanstead Park which looked as glorious as ever.

St Mary's Wanstead

The bells of St. Mary’s Wanstead tolled as I stood admiring the Borough of Redbridge’s only Grade 1 listed building. I’ve been told St. Mary’s has an interesting crypt that I’ve yet to visit but the interior of the church is a real gem of the East. The graveyard has burials dating back to the establishment of the original medieval church.

Wanstead War Memorial

Wanstead High Street

There’s clearly a Sunday Scene on Wanstead’s wonderful High Street and I bumped into my eldest son carrying a toy keyboard he’d just bought in a charity shop as he headed to a park bench with his mates. A gentleman approached who watches my YouTube videos to ask if I’d made one on the Wanstead Slip and told me of a relic of Wantead House that now resides in a back garden somewhere along Grove Road. It was great to hear his stories of old Leyton and Stratford.

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Snaresbrook – South Woodford

I decided against heading into the forest at Snaresbrook and carried on along the tree-lined road towards South Woodford stopping to take in the modernist glory of Hermitage Court.

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North Circular – South Woodford

Heading up Grove Hill at South Woodford I came to the Willow Path that crosses the North Circular. This seemed like an ideal location to take a selfie which I posted to Instagram as ‘North Circular Selfie’. I’ve been meaning to make a film of a walk round the North Circular (perhaps over two days rather than one long schlep) for some time but now wonder if documenting the walk with a series of selfies charting my gradual decline as the pollution takes its toll might work better.

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Carnarvon Road, South Woodford

Carnarvon Road, South Woodford has some incredible buildings. Firstly you’re greeted with what appears to be the back of some kind of industrial building – although I couldn’t locate the front. Then across the street is this beautiful modernist block that looks as though it may have an interesting former life.

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Epping Forest

I must have walked past this fine oak tree just off Epping New Road at South Woodford a hundred times without noticing this plaque commemorating the planting of the tree by the Lord Mayor of London in 1932 in celebration of the Jubilee of the opening of the forest.

North Circular

Waterworks Corner

At the Rodney Smith stone I decided to turn for home rather than push on through the forest. This of course brought me to one of my favourite London views, from the bridge back across the North Circular at Waterworks Corner. I took another ‘North Circular Selfie’, naturally.

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Walthamstow to the Whipps Cross Lido

I passed through the narrow strip of the forest that takes you behind the Waterworks and St. Peter’s Church emerging at the very tip of Lea Bridge Road. It’s interesting to note that the gate off Snaresbrook Road is labelled ‘Snaresbrook Lido’ and not ‘Whipps Cross Lido’ or ‘Leytonstone Lido’ as I’ve seen the swimming pool named elsewhere.

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The Hollow Ponds

The Hollow Ponds was the perfect place for the walk to end. I rested under an oak tree and nearly nodded off serenaded by the rustling of leaves in the early afternoon breeze.

 

 

Video Strolls at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema

Video Strolls Leytonstone

Andy Howlett of Video Strolls – photo by Liberty Rowley

On the 3rd July we hosted the fantastic Video Strolls at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema with a programme of artists films related to ‘Quiet Spaces’. Andy Howlett and Liberty Rowley of Video Strolls suggested we start the event with a short wander around some of the quiet spaces of Leytonstone to set the tone.

Leytonstone bus station

‘Time Terminus’ – photo by Liberty Rowley

They were fascinated by the peculiar bus sculpture outside the Tube station (Time Terminus by Lodewyk Pretor), which prompted an interesting discussion about the legacy of the building of the M11 Link Road that was running beneath our feet. Luckily film-maker Ian Bourn was in attendance and was able to recount first-hand stories of the building of the road and the artist community that was destroyed in the process. Apparently the sculpture was made from left over bricks from the construction of the road. Paul Greenleaf was also on hand to add to talk about his beguiling film about the Link Road, I Will Become More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine, that screened on the Leytonstone Arts Trail the following weekend.

Leytonstone Churchyard

Leytonstone churchyard

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We then moved on to St. John’s churchyard where we looked at the Buxton family grave and talked about the ‘flying bombs’ that fell on Leytonstone during World War 2.

Matalan Leytonstone

From the churchyard we explored a different type of ‘quiet space’ in the carpark behind and beneath Matalan – once a rolling skating rink of some renown and a rather grand cinema, the Rink Picture Palace, which opened in 1911 on the same site.

Video Strolls Leytonstone

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema

The film programme at Leytonstone Library was very well received and we had a fascinating post-screening discussion with Liberty and Andy prompting some great contributions from the audience on the subject of place based film-making.

Thanks to Video Strolls for ambling to Leytonstone.

 

 

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema is the first Wednesday of the month at Leytonstone Library (except August and January) – sign up to our mailing list for news of future screenings.

Along the Thames Path from Putney to Richmond

Beautiful walk along the Thames Path from Putney to Richmond, taking in Barnes, Mortlake, and Kew, filmed on the 14th May.

 

Here are Turner’s drawings of Syon Park

Zion House, Isleworth 1802-10
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-zion-house-isleworth-d08269

Castle Seen from River, with Punt and Row of Trees in Foreground. ?Zion House, Isleworth
c.1815–17

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-castle-seen-from-river-with-punt-and-row-of-trees-in-foreground-zion-house-d10770

Walking the London Loop – Hayes to Kingston

It was great to be back out on the London Loop – picking up in Hayes on the May Bank Holiday Monday (6th May), where I’d finished back in March on the section that I’d followed down from Uxbridge. The first part of section 10 continues along the canal a short distance, past the rubble of the Nestle factory, as far as the River Crane, which takes on the role as titular spirit of the walk for much of the day. Then we visit the peaceful storied church of St. Dunstan’s where a memorial to the great comedian Tony Hancock is nestled in a corner of the churchyard.

The next part of the walk through Cranford Country Park towards Hatton Cross is characterised by jumbo jets skimming the rooftops as they came in to land at Heathrow. Seeing London’s great terminus sat on what was once a corner of Hounslow Heath (the ‘heath row’) gave me an enormous desire to jump on a plane and head off traveling once more.

London Loop Section 9

Section 9 finds us again following the River Crane down through spindly woodland to Hounslow Heath, full of memories of ending the first walk here for my book, This Other London. I even found the bench on a mound were I sat and ate a snack in the May sunset those seven years ago.

There was more roadwalking ahead, another section of the Crane, and skirting Fulwell Golf Course before reaching Bushey Park just before sunset. The deer roamed and grazed and I meandered to the gate exiting to Hampton Wick as the dark arrived.

The Thames twinkled as I crossed the great stone bridge into Sunday night Kingston, too late to seek out the King Stone which awaits the start of my next venture out onto the London Loop.

 

London Forest Buses Badge

London Forest bus badge

What a majestic object – a London Forest Buses Driver’s/Conductor’s enamel badge.

According to Wikipedia, London Forest was a short-lived subsidary of London buses that operated between 1989 – 1991 when industrial action in response to proposed pay cuts led to the newly awarded private franchise being transfered to a rival bus operator.

The strike was the first by London bus drivers since 1958 and led to the suspension of bus services in North East London for two weeks. The buses operated out of Walthamstow and Leyton bus garages. London Forest had planned to close Leyton garage but in the end it was Walthamstow bus garage that was closed and eventually developed as housing.

Here’s the text of the Early Day Motion moved by Leyton MP Harry Cohen in the House of Commons:

STRIKE AT LONDON FOREST TRAVEL
EDM #1143
Tabled 16 July 1991
1990-91 Session
That this House notes that the current strike by the 1,300 men and women based at Ash Grove, Clapton, Leyton and Walthamstow garages is the first official indefinite strike in London of busmen and women for 33 years; notes that it has been provoked by the management of London Forest Travel who are trying to enforce new contracts, upon threat of redundancy, which would mean 20 per cent. longer working hours plus a 9. 5 per cent. cut in wages; notes that this would make the working week for many of the bus men and women in excess of 50 hours; further notes that this situation has been brought about by an unrealistic tender submission 25 per cent. below present costs, including pay and conditions, but that management are not taking any cut; and calls for this dispute to be swiftly sorted out, without any reduction in the bus men and women’s pay and conditions, so that the buses can run again.

 

A fascinating moment in the history of the area discovered by searching for London badges on ebay.

Waltham Forest Borough of Culture Walks – new dates announced

John Rogers walks Leytonstone

Delighted to announced some new dates for my walks in Waltham Forest Borough of Culture as part of Waltham Forest Tours curated by William Gallinsky. The last batch of tickets sold out in 2 days, thank you so much to everyone who booked, shared the links and expressed an interest.

 

Here are the new dates

The Philley Brook – 23rd June

In collaboration with Ian Bourn talking about the Leytonstone artist community before the building of the M11 Link Road.

Book here

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photo by Marco Visconti

Marshlands – 28th July

We’ll be joined by David Boote of the Leyton and Leytonstone Historical Society who has a wealth of information about the area

Book here

Walthamstow Marshes

Walthamstow Marshes

The Ching – 1st September

Multi-talented violinist and composer Ellie Wilson will be participating in this walk – Ellie is the current Epping Forest artist-in-residence

Book here

Ticket for each walk includes a bespoke map by Russell Frost/ Hooksmith Press

 

Here are some photos from the first Philley Brook walk

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listening to Graeme Miller’s audiowork ‘M11 Linked’ – photo by Marco Visconti

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you can hear the Philley Brook gurgling beneath the street iron

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listening to Graeme Miller’s audiowork ‘M11 Linked’

Philley Brook map

Russell Frost with his map of the Philley Brook