Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What is Walthamstow Like?

A diverse, leafy wonderland at the end of the Victoria line, welcome to Walthamstow. Whether you're looking for an alternative day out in a London or you're new to the area, we help point you in the right direction.

From the spectacular award winning William Morris Gallery to the eclectic neon nirvana that is God's Own Junkyard, Walthamstow has a huge arts influence. It is also home to London's largest network of Little Free Libraries, the Stow Festival, an international film festival and some of London's most picturesque green spaces. Come check it all out!

In a series of articles we ask, and do our best to answer, what is Walthamstow like?

What's New?

Its a dilemma. You and the other half want to go out, maybe see a live band, have a drink or two, maybe even a club, but wait, you have to find and arrange a babysitter for the kids. What a hassle... except, no you don't! Welcome to BeBop Baby, Walthamstow's newest music venue for the whole family.

The opening line of BeBop Baby's website says it all really: "A daytime bebop dance party for the whole family... great music, cocktails, dancing, what's not to love?" I can't think of anything.

If you have kids and you don't think that means its time to hang up your dancing shoes, this is definitely for you. Regular events take place at Walthamstow Trades Hall, an old working mens' club located at 17 Hoe Street. For details of their next event check out their website.

People power helps bring Yum Yum Thai restaurant to Walthamstow

After huge support from the Walthamstow community, Stoke Newington's and one of London's best Thai restaurants is set to open their second restaurant in Walthamstow. The third restaurant to be selected by Waltham Forest council will open along side the new Empire cinema at The Scene at Cleveland Place.

Empire cinemas have said that their new cinema complex in Walthamstow will be opening in Autumn 2014. As well as Yum Yum Thai two other restaurants have also be selected by the council, Turtle Bay and Nandos will also open in the Stow before the end of the year. There are still two restaurant operators yet to be named. Watch this space.

Artist's impression above shows what The Scene will look like when completed this Autumn. The project is expected to encourage further regeneration of Walthamstow's town centre.

FarmDrop launches the UK's first ever click and collect farmers market and its coming to Walthamstow

FarmDrop has launched the first ever online shopping platform that allows people to establish their own click and collect local fresh food market, allowing Walthamstow residents to order their weekly fresh produce straight from their local farmers.

Walthamstow now has over 100 members and the first 'drop' will take place on 26 May and is hosted by the Chequers Pub. For further details email Sian at or drop her a tweet @FarmDropE17. You can also visit the main website at

Wild Card Brewery

Its simple, you like great beer and want somewhere new to go in Walthamstow for your liquid libation. They brew their own signature beers onsite and the brewery bar offers you an alternative atmosphere to the local pub. Find them at Unit 7, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Walthamstow. Oh yeah, they're across the way from Gods Own Junkyard. There aren't usually many good reasons to visit an industrial estate, well here's two great ones!

E17 Art Trail 2014

Artists from around the way and from around the world will converge upon Walthamstow for 16 days from 31 May to 15 June 2014. This is a great opportunity for aspiring artists to showcase their work and an extremely pleasant way to get to know the Walhamstow community for visitors and those new to the area.

From traditional art exhibits to film, poetry, photography and performance art, this annual festival of art literally has something for and/or by everyone. For more details check out their website at

For an alternative area guide to Walthamstow, check out the Evening Standard's Homes and Property area guide.

A complete area guide to Walthamstow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Art is everywhere in E17

With such an immense and diverse selection of art and artists contributing to the creative canvas that is Walthamstow, its not easy to know where to begin. Welcome to Walthamstow, where art is everywhere.

Approaching it's 10th year, you can't talk about art in Walthamstow without mentioning the stellar work of the E17 Art Trail. Founded in 2004 the Trail is an independent artist led project that has provided a platform for literally thousands of artists to showcase their talents and connected thousands of people throughout the community with examples of just about every type of art. From exhibitions and workshops to performance art, comedy and film, Walthamstow opens it's collective doors to the world for 16 days each year and invites you in.

Their Summer Show has just come to a close, but there's lots more to come in 2014 when the Trail takes off on another magical mystery tour of E17 from 30 May - 15 June. For a flavour of the Art Trail format check out last year's extensive listings.

A few fabulous examples from the Trail

Top, Tomcat Feelings ©Hassan Vawda; Bottom right, an assortment of more than 100 artworks on display at Penny Fielding Gallery and Interiors as part of the Art Trail Summer Show, photo ©Julie Caves, whose work is included in the display (top left); and bottom left, Helen Maurer’s Light Shadow Glass work at Blackhorse Lane Studios from the 2012 Art Trail. Photo ©Alex Bell Photography.

The idea behind Mural on the Marsh was simple. Take 12 local and nationally renowned artists and ask them to perform an artistic magic trick: Transform a tired, graffiti strewn underpass on the Walthamstow Marshes into a beautiful, one of a kind, masterpiece. Ok, that's not so simple, but wow did they pull it off!

Urban Fox  ©Hannah Adamaszek. Hannah's work can also be seen on display from 5 - 21 September at the Curious Duke Gallery, Whitecross St. London EC1Y 8QP. Banner and first four photos ©Fabsternation. 

The project was the brainchild of local photographer Fabien Ho (aka Fabsternation), who has been pulling together the artists and working with Lee Valley, to secure permission to carry out this fabulous outdoor installation, since January. For more incredible images of the Mural on the Marsh visit their facebook page and #MuralOnTheMarsh on twitter.

David 'Gnasher' Nash created two stunning Cormorants. For more examples of his work see
The official launch event for Mural on the Marsh was Saturday 7 Sept 2013.

From Coppermill Lane car park follow the footpath past the giant tables
and chairs towards Lea Bridge Road

Mural on the Marsh's Fabien Ho has been a photographer in Walthamstow for 13 years. As part of an E17 Art Trail project entitled, 'WOOF', he produced a series of almost 100 portraits of Walthamstow dog owners with their canine companions. For more on Fabien and his work check out

One of the most recent reasons to celebrate art in E17 came as a surprise to some when the William Morris Gallery (WMG) won the 2013 Art Fund Prize for Museum of the year. Having recently undergone a huge refurbishment the Gallery near Walthamstow's Lloyd Park is a stunning celebration of many forms of Art, including of course the works of it's namesake William Morris. 

Until 22 September see Emma Barnard's exhibit exploring 'Person as Patient', examining the process of depersonalisation in medicine by the use of biomedical artifacts such as doctors' notes, scans and surgeons' theatre drawings.

Grayson Perry's Walthamstow Tapestry. Photo ©Oliver Dixon/Imagewise
A recent display at the gallery, Grayson Perry's, Walthamstow Tapestry, which chronicles the journey from birth to death via consumerism. Perry, whose studio is in Walthamstow, won the Turner Prize in 2003.

We took a virtual wander down Wood Street in our recent article covering all that is kitsch and cool on this rejuvenated stretch of high street. What we didn't cover in detail was the hugely influential impact that art has had and continues to have on Wood Street. Over the past couple of years, and ongoing, Wood Street has been host to a series of art interventions under the collective name, Wood Street Inside Out. These have included the Shopportunity Scheme which paired artists and makers with local shops and traders to improve the look and feel of shop frontages, as well as several other collaborative ventures.

Many of the shops and market traders on Wood Street have an artistic nuance, including The Old Artistry, who specialise in antiques, vintage retro installations and custom art and Art Natur-El, who offer a beautiful range of botanical artworks. There are many more besides. Consider that there are over 50 stalls at the indoor market alone.

Vic Lee's mural installation next to Wood Street library. Part of Wood Street Inside Out.

What impact has Art had in E17

So, what impact has this amazing art had on Walthamstow? I spoke with Penny Fielding, who has been running her shop and gallery in Walthamstow Village for many years. "Walthamstow has given the Arts community a community...the whole area is burgeoning" said Fielding. Fabien Ho also explained how art had helped form an identity for Walthamstow which previously remained beneath the surface, " minds have become drawn to the area and helped drive growth culturally and economically."

Inside and outside the WMG. Photos ©Oliver Dixon/Imagewise.
Walthamstow has been a sleeping giant in years past, with so much potential brimming just beneath the surface. Art appears to have contributed to the process of drawing out this potential. There are some concerns that gentrification and regeneration, whilst bringing big improvements, comes at the cost of higher house prices and rents, as the area is beautified the demand from Londoners to live here increases, possibly leading to some artists leaving for affordability reasons. This is always a concern. It happened to an extent in Stoke Newington, Dalston, Hoxton and most of Hackney and many years earlier in the likes of Notting Hill and Islington. The hope is that Walthamstow can keep its awesome arts community and see a steady and sustained growth to preserve a happy balance in this burgeoning borough.

It must added at this point that there really is so much happening within the arts community here in E17 that it can't be reflected in one article. From Artillery, Blackhorse Lane Studios and The Mill on Coppermill Lane to the Vestry House Museum and Apex Arts there's a plethora of arts influence in #awesomestow. So, whether you live in E17 and didn't know the extent of the greatness on your doorstep, or if you're thinking of moving to Walthamstow, remember that Art is everywhere in E17, so come and check it all out!

A complete Walthamstow area guide.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wood Street

We asked a few recent visitors to Wood Street what they thought of the place. Here's what they had to say:

"I love the community spirit, eclectic mix of vintage clothes and vinyl, new creative start-up businesses and the local characters."..."Relaxed atmosphere, interesting wares to scour, easy chat with stallholders."..."Wood Street Market is bloody marvelous. Can't beleive I've only just discovered it!"..."Not enough characters [on twitter] to describe all the characters in Wood Street."

Wood Street is well and truly chock full of charm and character. It's so retro in parts that you feel like you've stepped back in time. There must be few community high streets in London with such an eclectic and diverse mix of businesses. In a world of homogeneous corporate high streets filled with the same familiar brands, Wood Street is completely refreshing and utterly cool.

Many of the businesses on Wood Street also form part of the high street's rich history. From Colvins to The Brothers Fish Bar, its rare and astonishing just how long some of the shops and businesses have been serving this local community. At 55 Wood Street you'll find the Pie and Mash Shop that has been cooking up traditional East End pie and mash for over three decades.

Serving up traditional pie and mash for nearly 40 years
This is not your generic frozen and re-heated chain style establishment, all pies are made fresh on site each day. This place isn't retro, its original, the kind of place people try to model their modern retro themed eateries upon. The business has recently been put up for sale. So, if you're looking to invest in a fantastic up and coming community, this would be a sound bet.

Possibly one of the coolest places you'll ever enter anywhere ever! Especially if you love neon. If you're not sure if you're a neon fan or not, check it out anyway. The artist and owner behind God's Own Junkyard (GOJY) is Chris Bracey, who has been operating just off Wood Street for 37 years. Chris has a cult like following both here and abroad with buyers as far flung as Los Angeles. Chris has new and used neon signs, old movie props and circus lighting as part of his luminous labyrinth.

GOJY recently featured in an episode of the BBC cult show Luther, as did the new Wood Street Plaza. The only thing cooler than Luther being filmed on your street would be if they made a new season of The Wire and filmed it here. NOTE: SInce the time of writing GOJY have moved to a new location in Walthamstow. Click here for details.

49 years on Wood Street and counting. Pass the salt and vinegar...
Next year will make it half a century since this traditional chippy opened it's doors for the first time. When the mood strikes nothing can beat a hot paper envelope crammed full of fabulous fish and chips. Great friendly service and goes without saying that the quality of the food is outstanding. You don't hang around for 50 years if you're not doing something very right. Mon - Sat, 12 - 9 pm.

Open 10am - 5.30pm Tues - Sat
11am - 4pm on Sunday
Walthamstow's other market is steeped in history. From 1912 to 1955 part of the indoor market building was originally home to the Crown Cinema and was run by the Penny Picture Theatre Company. Market traders and shop owners have been touting their varied wares from the indoor market for over 30 years, but with a helping hand from Boris in 2011, courtesy of the Mayor's Outer London Fund, the market has gone from strength to strength attracting even more treasure traders to this unique menagerie.
So, what's there? An eclectic mix of everything! From vintage vinyl to football memorabilia. Bespoke cupcakes to retro fashion. Plus, an art gallery, hand crafted jewelry, prints, posters and paintings of every variety, toys, photography, upholstery, handmade soaps, fruit liqueurs and even a gourmet pop up coffee shop.

Below is an overview of just some of the amazing traders that make this market "bloody marvelous" as one recent visitor described it. Thanks Scarlet West. I think you're right! For a complete overview of each and every shop and stall please visit the market's website.

Aura Rosa Bespoke Cakes

Run by creative cake-makers Jason and Gio, who is a qualified pastry chef no less. From perfectly packaged cupcakes for any occasion to bespoke cakes for any special occasion, Aura Rosa is your one stop shop for sweet treats. 

Its tiring perusing all the wonderful wares of the market, so have a cake stop and refuel here. You'll be glad you did!

Vintage vinyl heaven. Plus collectible band posters and other music paraphernalia. Run by Guido, originally from Italy, he moved to London in the 90's in search of more music variety. Perfect for record collectors and music lovers alike. As well as Hypstz there's also Ash at A7 - records, comics and graphic novels; Mike's Record Shop; Tony Tunes - home to London's largest collection of 78s, plus collectibles a plenty; and Senza Record Shop. However, with such an eclectic array of vendors you can also expect to find vinyl hiding in other places too and that's part of the experience. For example...

Nobby Lawton's Olde Footy Shop

Musician, artist, collector - Jeff has been collecting football and music memorabilia for over 20 years. More than a specialist soccer shop, so even if you're not a footy fanatic check this one out.

Forsaken Dreams

Vintage and retro rummage fest. From clothing and furniture to antiques, collectibles and crafts. As well as their shop here at the market you will also see them popping up at vintage fairs and exhibitions. On September 15th they'll be at the Amy Winehouse Exhibition Vintage Fair at London's Jewish Museum and this bank holiday Monday check them out at Pop Up Vintage at Old Spitalfields Market.

Keep up to date @Forsakenvintage
It would be very easy to list every shop and stall, but that would spoil the surprise. Just go down and check it all out today, right now please. Its an absolutely amazing market that definitely helps put the awesomestow into Walthamstow. If you stop by on a Sunday (11am - 4pm) you'll also get to enjoy the best pop up coffee shop in London, Wood St Coffee. After your visit post your comments/pics online @Lon_Trends. We'd love to know what you thought and what you bought.

With coffee shops in mind, there are plenty to take in on Wood Street. There's Cafe Bonito - go try their Spanish hot chocolate, bueno! Lot 107 - lovely outside seating and lots of organic fare. Enjoy a coffee or a beer. Nice! The Old Station Yard Cafe - opposite Wood Street Station behind the garden centre. Top full English brekky. No need to pick one, try a different one each time you visit.

We're going to be doing a separate article in a couple of weeks on Walthamstow's best pubs and drinking holes, but suffice to say that if you're in need of a libation, Wood Street has got you covered. Drop into the Duke's Head or the Flower Pot and wet your whistle.

There's so much to investigate on this truly unique High Street in Walthamstow. With around 150 shops and businesses to explore you'll need to pick up a rail timetable at Wood Street Station to schedule in your many visits. The community spirit is a pleasure to experience. Whether you're dropping in to post a letter at the Post Office or enjoying a pint at one of the pubs, exploring the market or chilling out with a coffee, Wood Street's friendly folk ensure that you will certainly leave happy.

And there's more! From top left: Second Nature - organic and whole foods; organic ales at Second Nature; new and reconditioned bikes at Station Cycles - one of the biggest selections in London; Colvins - ironmonger, wood cutting, paint mixing and DIY specialist for over 65 years; The Viking Store - medieval, Celtic and Saxon military wares, Live Art Role Play and costuming. For more details on everything Wood Street check out the amazing

Thanks to Katherine Green for many of the amazing images used in this article.

A complete Walthamstow area guide.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Walthamstow Village

Just 17 minutes to the City by train and 21 minutes to the West End on the Victoria line, Walthamstow is the latest in a long line of London suburbs to experience the “Up and Coming” effect.

Walthamstow is located in zone 3 in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Its prime location and excellent transport links have recently spurred an influx of folks from all over North and East London in search of more affordable London living. So, what is Walthamstow like and why are so many people choosing to make it their home?

In short its a pretty fantastic little town. However, many of Walthamstow's greatest assets have been one of London’s best kept secrets for years. This has kept property prices comparatively low and rents affordable. However, the secret is now out!

For those of you less familiar with this leafy enclave of NE London we take a look at the top 10 reasons why Walthamstow has become the latest cool hood to hang your hat. Number  one - Walthamstow Village.

Walthamstow Village

Located on and around Orford Road, Walthamstow Village has been steadily rising in the cool stakes for several years. 15 years ago it was little more than an estate agent invention designed to add a few grand to the conservation area's house prices. Today the Village is bursting at the seams with kitsch cafes, award winning contemporary restaurants, traditional pubs, an independent pop up cinema and not to mention the UK's best convenience store (no really, the Village Stores won first place at the 2012 Convenience Retail Awards).  But, its not just what's there, as much as the overall look and feel of the area, with a 15th Century 'Ancient House', the imposing Church and Cemetery of St Mary's, the Grade II listed Vestry House Museum and more tree lined streets filled with elegant Victorian terraced houses than you can shake a stick at, the Village really feels like an actual rural Village. Plus, at as much as 30% cheaper to rent or buy than say, Stoke Newington, its not hard to see why Walthamstow Village is such an attractive proposition.

Ancient House on the corner of Orford Rd and Church Lane
How to get there?

Turn right out of Walthamstow tube station, cross Hoe Street and take St Mary Road, turn right on East Avenue until you reach Orford Road and you’re there!

Google map of Walthamstow Village.

More on what’s there. Just some of the highlights!

Stylish, contemporary dining with an adjoining bar. Tremendous food and friendly atmosphere. Whether you want to relax in the bar, pop in for a light lunch or enjoy a relaxing dinner date in the restaurant, Eat 17 helps put the awesome in awesomestow. Don't visit the Village without stopping by. If you're thinking of dropping in for dinner, reservations are recommended.

The team behind Eat 17 also attained recent national press for their Bacon Jam innovation. Now available at a Waitrose near you. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Also awesome!

Fantastic little Tapas bar with an excellent selection of Spanish wines and beers to boot. Intimate bar area incorporated for those that just want a glass of something and a conservatory at the rear. Stylish interior and fantastic friendly service.

Smashing selection of fine ales with plenty of outside seating at the front and rear of the pub. Often serving up live Jazz on a Sunday afternoon. Great place to start or end your evening. Check out their website for the latest events.

Relaxing environment and mouth watering menu. The Village Kitchen doesn’t really fit a particular genre of cuisine and the menu changes with the seasons, which keeps things fresh and interesting. Daily specials and the Sunday roast is definitely worth booking ahead for.

Trattoria La Ruga 

Menu changes daily with a wonderful variety to suit all tastes. Recent menu items have included 'chargrilled whole seabream', 'ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce' and 'joint of lamb braised in onion and red wine'. So good!

It should be enough just to say that this local shop won UK convenience store of the year, but the only way to know why is to go check it out. Order a pizza while you're shopping and pick it up when you leave...nice. Operated by the folks at Eat 17 Bar and Restaurant. You may pop in for milk and bread, but we guarantee you'll come out with a whole lot more.

Walthamstow’s independent pop up cinema is based here in the Village, but puts on events all over Waltham Forest. SFL hosts a range of cinematic events for all ages, often including food and drink along with the movies. Check out their website for all the latest details.

What else?

The Queens Head - traditional pub, live music most weekends

The Village - hearty pub menu, pleasant beer garden.

East London Sausage Company - famous for their East London sausages plus free range meats of all varieties.

The Village Bakery - fresh baked breads, sandwiches, sweet treats and coffee.

Walthamstow Osteopathy and Health Centre - self described we think.

Petals in Bloom - the Village florist.

Penny Fielding Gallery and Interiors - a central part of the E17 Art Trail, with a lovely gallery and shop full of art, crafts and vintage wares. See Art is everywhere in E17 for more!

The village vibe that this part of Walthamstow has created is just one of the many reasons why the Stow is up and coming. To be honest, Walthamstow Village doesn't really have any further to come up to. If you're thinking about checking out Walthamstow, don't miss the Village. 

Well, that's number one taken care of. Next week we turn to number two in the top 10 list of reasons why Walthamstow is awesomestow when we take a walk down Wood Street.

A complete Walthamstow area guide.