Why Wanstead is wonderful
PUBLISHED: 12:43 10 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:01 10 June 2016
Local business owners, charity workers and residents explain why they love their town
Within close proximity to London, Wanstead is a popular area for families and young professionals alike. The suburban town is part of the London Borough of Redbridge; however Wanstead life is far from the hustle and bustle of the capital. The town has a strong sense of community and many have described it as having a ‘village feel’. There is definitely a proudness that comes with being a part of Wanstead. From business owners to residents, everyone is happy to call the town home and it is easy to see why.
The High Street
Wanstead High Street is home to a selection of independent and diverse shops, cafes, restaurants and salons and in 2015 it was named as being in the top five London High Streets in The Great British High Street national awards – a prestigious honour and one the people of the town are very proud of.
Owner of Zoology and sister salon the Zoology Colour Lab, Mark Mountney said: ‘Wanstead is my home. It’s where I’ve worked and lived my entire life and it has been amazing to see the town grow and change over the years. I love the diversity of the area and think this is what makes Wanstead so fun and interesting.’
The High Street is an integral part of the local community. Brimming with independent retailers, it promotes shopping local and the residents are all too happy to support the native businesses. ‘Some of our customers really show their loyalty to the high street,’ said Karen Levene, co-owner of Coco Ladies wear on the High Street. ‘Recently, the local butchers closed after residing on the High Street for 90 years. There is talk of a well-known butchers taking over, however many locals are very concerned as they do not make a habit of visiting the supermarket for their meat – they had always gone to the butchers,’ she concluded. This highlights the close-knit, village feel and attitude of Wanstead locals. The recent closure of the butchers has left a huge dent in the High Street; however any local business who takes over the address is sure to be welcomed with open arms.
The High Street is a one-stop shopping destination for your everyday needs. You can refresh your ‘do at Zoology hair salon, purchase a piece of art for your home or a gift for a loved one at Images In Frames, update your wardrobe at Coco Ladies wear and have a delicious meal at one of the many independent restaurants. Enjoy all-American dishes at Longhorn, Mediterranean cuisine at OTTO or veer away from the High Street and head to Dama De Elche on Cambridge Park for delightful Tapas.
‘It is really interesting to see Wanstead build a name for itself as a food destination. There are a lot of great restaurants popping up and there is an excited buzz around the famous Ginger Pig opening here soon,’ said Mark Mountney. ‘It’s all really positive changes for Wanstead and it gives the High Street a real purpose for people to come and visit. It can never compete with large shopping centres, such as Westfield Stratford, but this way it can make a name for itself in its own way,’ he added.
Local gallery Images In Frames often host exhibitions, and they are just one of the local businesses who hold events that fill the Wanstead calendar. ‘I love hosting exhibitions in the gallery,’ says director Elton Weale. ‘It is very exciting to receive positive feedback from the locals and other people who have travelled to be here. I am in my element when I see friends and customers interacting with each other, the Artist and my team.
‘Wanstead is a very sought after town and it’s very difficult to buy a property here. Throughout the year there are many brilliant events which help bring the community together such as the Fringe, the exhibitions at the gallery, the Art Trail, festivals in the green and live music events. From my impression the locals love living here and are very pleased to be part of this community,’ he said.
Giving back is a strong theme in Wanstead and charity work is rife. Local businesses often host events to raise money and they are always a huge success.
Karen Levene, co-Owner of Coco Ladies wear hosts an annual champagne afternoon tea to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and The Maria Falco Memorial Trust. The event has been going for nine years and has raised more than £15,000 in total for the two charities.
Zoology is another local business who loves to give back to the loyal community it adores. Charity work is at the salon’s core and they have held a range of events over recent years. ‘At Zoology salon, we are very passionate about supporting charities, the local area and the community. For Cancer Research UK, we have launched many fundraiser nights including ‘Drag Queen Bingo’ and have held in-house campaigns such as fancy dress and Disney days,’ Mark recalled. ‘We also like to give back to the community and have run several client involvement days such as the very popular ‘Client Takeover’ event where our clients ran the salon for a day. ’TLC Tuesday’ was another great scheme where we offered the public the chance to nominate someone they thought deserved a pamper on us,’ Mark explained. However, it is the ‘Care In The Community’ scheme that really shows how much the locals love to support one another. Zoology invited the carers for the local care home into the salon for a day of well-deserved treats as a thank you for all they do for their residents. It is stories and people like Mark and Karen that make Wanstead the amazing place that it is.
Equally, The Wanstead Playground Association is another initiative that highlights the village feel Wanstead locals are keen to promote. ‘Four mums and two local business people set up the Wanstead Playground Association in November 2014 to raise funds to replace the children’s playground equipment,’ explained Sarah Bound, chair of the association. ‘In total, we’ve raised £103,000 through crowd funding events and corporate sponsorship. We’ve run three Sing-a-long Frozen events, a black tie gala dinner and Wanstead Comedy Nights. Several local parents and businesses got involved and ran other events too including a Santa’s Grotto, photo sessions and craft activities,’ she said.
Together, the locals have raised the money needed to replace the playground in Christchurch Green and the association have recently placed an order for the new equipment. The playground should be opened in late May.
So if you haven’t been to Wanstead before, your visit is long overdue. Why wouldn’t you want to visit a town that treats each other as family? The locals’ love for their town is infectious and you’ll soon feel part of the close knit community – you’ll never want to leave!
Events in Wanstead
Pop these dates in your diary – you won’t be disappointed
Flamingo Fairs Spring Fair (Saturday April 16)
A great range of goods for sale from artists and crafters
11am – 4pm, Churchill Room, Wanstead Library, corner of Spratt Hall Road & Woodbine Place, E11 2RQ
Wanstead Comedy Night (Friday April 29)
Enjoy an evening of fun and laughter - a great way to start the Bank Holiday Weekend
020 8989 3938 Wanstead Golf Club, Overton Drive, Wanstead, E11 2LW
Ben Jeffery Exhibition (Saturday April 30)
View some of highly successful Ben Jeffery’s work and have an opportunity to meet the artist
11am – 4pm, Images In Frames, 71 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2AE
Did you know?
Three facts about Wanstead
1. Wanstead was a part of the Municipal Borough of Wanstead and Woodford in Essex until 1965, when Greater London was created
2. According to Zoopla.co.uk, the current average value for a home in Wanstead is £505,582
3. The word Wanstead comes from the Anglo-Saxon words waenn and stede meaning ‘settlement on a small hill’.
Get in touch
125 High Street, Wanstead E11 2RL. 020 8989 1008
Images In Frames
71 High Street, Wanstead E11 2AE. 020 7998 4729
Wanstead Playground Association
145 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL. 020 8530 3005