Why you should visit Highams Park this year
PUBLISHED: 13:11 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:11 31 January 2017
West Essex has its fair share of vibrant, smart, and friendly areas but dip your toe just over the border into London and you’ll find Highams Park, you’ll discover more than you expected!
Its railway station is the centre around which a buzzing community has grown. But the original wooden station – built in 1873 - was originally called Hale End despite being almost a mile away from its namesake hamlet. It was renamed in 1894 in an attempt to encourage day trippers to Highams Park and the Epping Forest area.
The rail route into Liverpool Street was little used (except by a local dairyman to transport churns of milk!) until the surrounding land was purchased by City gentry to build large houses with wonderful forest views. There were very few smaller houses as cheap ‘workmen’s’ tickets were not available from the station.
It was only when the British Xylonite Company brought its workforce from Homerton to its new plastics factory (in 1897), that the town as we kind of know it grew to include homes, shops and schools for the workers. And of course other City folk followed suit with the allure of an easy commute.
So what of Highams Park today? Well we may have replaced the milk churns with laptops but it’s undoubtedly still a quick and convenient commuter route. Added to this the local businesses are putting their all into building a community spirit to rival the best in the area.
Scattered throughout the smart station approaches of The Avenue, Winchester Road and Hale End Road, you’ll find everything from architects and financial advisers through to hair and beauty salons and homeware specialists. Grace & Albert Cookshop is one such homeware place that is not to be missed if you’re channelling your inner Nigella, and even if you’re not the brilliant pop-up restaurant at the back is worth a visit.
Speaking of food, who could resist the romantic notion of La Boite, an authentic Bretagne style creperie that has recently opened in the historic signal box at Highams Park Station? What better way to end the working day than stopping off for a well-earned glass of wine or their famous French ‘Cidre’ and some delicious crepes? And the best thing about the cafes in general is that they are all truly independent and care about your custom, consequently the service is spot-on.
The home front
When it comes to comes to community spirit Highams Park has is in droves. Last year saw hundreds of pretty pom-poms hung from the trees by local residents to celebrate the Highams Park festival. And if you had the pleasure of visiting last month you’ll know that Christmas is a really big thing, but there is more to come this year with the Scrabble event ( February 11) which will celebrate the world champion who hails from Highams Park!
Added to this is the regular famers market plus further festivals and events throughout the year which are known to be very memorable. In particular last year’s spring festival saw the park raided by Ulflag Vikings, not a scene you’ll encounter every day.
So it’s easy to see why it’s a popular place to live and there are many local businesses that can help to make your house the perfect home. Take Maggie Tanner Architects for example, as a Highams Park resident she is very familiar with the local architecture and is therefore the go-to person when planning extensions and other home improvements, she is renowned for making the most of the space you have available.
There is no need to travel far to kit out your home either as there are specialists in upholstery, bathrooms, and fireplaces to name a few and all within walking distance of one another. Once that it is all taken care of it’s always a joy to concentrate on those finishing touches and there is nothing like the scent of fresh flowers to lift the mood.
The Village Florist just in front of the station is run by a wonderful West End florist who took over the shop 13 years ago and has been supplying top quality flowers, plants, and arrangements ever since, all of which are very creative and beautifully designed. There’s nothing like high-end quality without the central London price tag!
Pamper at the Park
If it’s you rather than your home that needs a bit of a lift you’ll find there is no shortage of hair and beauty salons that can cater to your every whim. After the party season it’s easy to get lazy but bury those January blues and treat yourself; the boys can put themselves in the capable hands of Crown Barbers, and for the girls Oasis Hair and Flicks Hair and Beauty are all ready to get you back on your feet and raring to go.
Flicks certainly know their clientele very well having resided in Walthamstow for 21 years and in Highams Park for six years. They pride themselves on being a friendly and welcoming salon with very high standards and have fallen in love with the area, so much so all of the staff now lives there.
So whether you’re after bicycles, bathrooms, books or beauty….coffee, cakes, cookware or curtains, or you just fancy a stroll somewhere with lots to browse at, the tranquillity of a park, and a very warm welcome, you’d be hard pushed to find anywhere better than Highams Park.
GET IN TOUCH
La Boite Creperie
The Station Signal Box
Highams Park Station
020 8531 5995
408 Hale End Road, E4 9PB
Flicks Hair & Beauty
3A The Broadway, E4 7LQ
020 8531 8886
Grace & Albert Cookshop
406 Hale End Road, E4
020 8523 4447
Maggie Tanner Architects
41 Abbotts Crescent, E4 9SA
07948 393 566
29 Winchester Road, E4 9LH
020 8527 1414
20 The Avenue, E4 9LD
0333 456 0468
The Village Florist
2 Station Approach, E4 9LA
020 8531 8324