Cycle-In Cinema at Pimp Hall Park, Chingford

Cycle-In Cinema

Marcus from Stow Film Lounge, producers of this wonderful event, commented that the hills of Chingford glittered like medieval villages in Tuscany. And there was magic, as well as mosquitos, at work in Pimp Hall Park on Sunday evening. It was the final night of Stow Film Lounge’s run of Cycle-In Cinema screenings at Pimp Hall, and they were screening the film they’d commissioned me to make about the park.

Cycle-In Cinema

There were a smattering of familiar faces amongst the socially distanced audience allocated a marked area on the grass. Plenty of people had indeed Cycled-In to the open air cinema. The Friends of Pimp Hall Park and Nature Reserve served popcorn in paper cones. There was delicious food from the Urban Turban. It was a truly wonderful evening.

Cycle-In Cinema

My son and I grabbed some samosas and onion bajis as the main attraction, The Personal History of David Copperfield, came onto the screen. Pole Hill loomed in the distance, looking on approvingly.

Through Epping Forest from Leytonstone to Chingford

A walk from the Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone through Epping Forest to Mansfield Park in Chingford passing through Walthamstow Forest, Highams Park, Pimp Hall Park & Nature Reserve and Ridgeway Park.

This video partly followed the path of my last walk before the lockdown as far as Highams Park Lake. On that day in March I turned up the hill to the ridge of land dividing the Lea and Roding Valleys at Woodford. Then I descended into the Roding Valley and walked back to Leytonstone along the River Roding. For this walk I wanted to head in the opposite direction from Highams Park- towards the River Lea.

Heading up Friday Hill it’s impossible not to recall the wonderful story of a monarch (take your pick between Charles II, Henry VIII or James I) who while out hunting in Epping Forest decided to take dinner at the Hall at Friday Hill, Chingford. Asking for the finest cut of beef to be brought to his table he was so impressed that he decided to knight the loin of beef, taking out his sword and declaring “Arise Sir Loin”. And that apparently is how Sirloin steak got its name. The Dovecote pub on Friday Hill used to be called The Sirloin.

I wanted to then connect a chain of open spaces that annoint the high ground at Chingford. First Pimp Hall Park, which takes its name from the old manor house. In the nearby nature reserve you can still see the 17th Century dovecote which provided the farm with a fresh supply of pigeons for their pies.

Ridgeway Park Chingford

Ridgeway Park Railway

Then I walked on through the fine streets of Chingford, passing the Old Town Hall, to Ridgeway Park with its brilliant model railway. Somebody commented on the video that there’s a local story that Walt Disney visited the model railway in Ridgeway and was so taken with it that he was inspired to build his amusement parks. I sincerely hope that’s true.

The walk ends across the road in Mansfield Park. The park occupies land that used to be common grazing land and a hay meadow – and apparently this gave us the name from Anglo-Saxon ‘Man’s Field’. The views from here across the reservoirs are some of the best in the Lea Valley and I rested a while to drink them in.

EMD Cinema Walthamstow

Hoe Street Walthamstow

Although the video ends here in Mansfield Park I still had to walk back to Leytonstone through a smattering of rain. I passed Chingford Old Church and the famous Chingford Mount Cemetery, Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium and George Monoux College. It was the longest walk I’d done in months and by the time I reached Hoe Street, Walthamstow I was really starting to feel it in my legs and lower back. Luckily I had my walking pole with me to help me along, like a weary forest pilgrim passing through Bakers Arms to pick up a couple of bottles of Sierra Nevada from the corner shop to sup in the garden at home.

Video filmed on 4th June 2020

Walk to Chingford

Lying on my back in the garden in the shade of the Sumac tree I kept seeing a view in my head. It wasn’t of Tuscan hills or the Chilterns but the view from the end of The Drive in Walthamstow that looks down along the Lea Valley. So at 7.30pm I set off.

I might not have made it as far as Chingford Road if I’d had the £20 in my pocket to take a boat out on the Hollow Ponds, full of families splashing about.

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The original George Monoux School dates from 1527. I bought a pamphlet about it in the Vestry House a while back but haven’t read it yet so that’s all the info I can pass on for now.

 

Immense views stretch out from the footbridge over the North Circular near the Crooked Billet Roundabout. The Holiday Inn Express in a weed-strewn lay-by had the forlorn look of a mid-west motel on the Lost Highway.

Where will they film the obligatory scene at the greyhound stadium that every mockney Gangster movie is required to have once they’ve converted ‘the Stow’ to housing? Lucky Blur stuck it on their Parklife album cover.

There’s a battle raging over the future of the track. ‘Save our Stow’ claim it as ‘the most historical greyhound track in the world’. I passed Catford Dogs on one of my walks for This Other London – also awaiting the same fate. London just has 3 of its original 33 dog tracks left.

I landed up at Chingford Mount as the sun was taking a dip in the Banbury Reservoir and jumped a 158 back to Leyton.


– the map above moves around if you click on the ‘play’ icon

Winter walk through Epping Forest

‘The spirit of devotion for the woods, which breathes through the simple expression of the poet, is akin to “that hereditary spell of forests,” which Robert Louis Stevenson describes as acting ” on the mind of man who still remembers and salutes the ancient refuge of his race.” Such a refuge once was London. Indeed she makes her first claim on history as a mere stockade in the woods — the Llyndin of the ancient Britons. Her wood and fen and heath, with the sweet country which once surrounded her, have disappeared, while a part only of the Essex Forest remains to recall the once great forest of the East Saxon Kingdom, which had Lundentune for its port and ecclesiastical centre. The forest, however, has maintained its connection with the metropolis; it is essentially London’s forest to-day, and will ever be an integral part of her future, holding as it does a unique place among the forests of England and of the Empire.’

Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Chingford

So opens, London’s Forest by Percival J.S. Perceval published in 1909. I read this page sat on a log somewhere between Bury Wood and Woodman’s Glade. It was a freezing cold day back at the beginning of December. Puddles were frozen solid. Ice clung to leaves and bracken. As I moved away from Chingford Plain deeper into the woods through Round Thicket to Hill Wood there were no people around. I’d entertained fanciful notions of walking through the forest to the Christmas market at Epping but that idea faded after reading the passages from Perceval. Maybe I’d dwelt too long in the Radical Landscapes exhibition at the Visitor Centre at Chingford beguiled by tales of Black Mutton pasties.

Brook in Epping Forest

Then I became seduced by this nameless brook that babbled down from Hill Wood and seems to flow into Connaught Water, raising the question of whether this is the true source of the River Ching.

There seemed a certain inevitability in this forest stroll ending in the dark, as so many of my Epping Forest walks have done during the winter months in the past. And in truth I love navigating those final miles in the pitch black.

Creator of the London Overground Mosaics – Maud Milton

Back in May 2021 I visited artist Maud Milton at her studio in Trinity Buoy Wharf at Leamouth East London where she creates the beautiful mosaic roundels that you can see at railway stations around London. Maud was working on a new roundel for Selhurst Station during the interview.
Among the roundels Maud has created are: Gospel Oak, South Tottenham, Thornton Heath, Walthamstow Central, Leyton Midland Road, Leytonstone High Road, St James Street, Chingford, and Highams Park.

“They’ve got modern twist to them and they they act like signage, but they’re an artwork and they’re made by hundreds of people in the community … when you go close up and you start reading the words and you know some of the words, will make you laugh. Some of the things that they say are really poignant, especially at the moment.”

Maud milton

Shot at Trinity Buoy Wharf, 2021

You can find out more about Maud on her website https://artyface.co.uk/wp/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maudmilton/

Additional roundel images and footage in this video courtesy of Maud Milton