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Building history

The-Shrubbery-1940-bombingBombing of The Shrubbery in Grosvenor Road in September 1940

In the second of two articles, Dr Colin Runeckles continues the discussion of his findings following research into a Wanstead and Woodford Borough Council building survey carried out in 1949

Understandably, much post-war building activity was focused on rebuilding and making good housing that had been damaged by enemy action, but there was some new construction going on too. Of the eight houses that were destroyed in Blake Hall Crescent, the surveyor noted that workmen were “clearing the site in readiness for rebuilding”.

House building in Deynecourt Gardens had begun in 1939 and more than 50 new houses were built to complete the road. A few new houses were built around Broadwalk and Hermitage Walk, but the majority of new units of accommodation were provided by council building. Seven buildings named Oakhall Court, comprising 42 flats, were built on vacant land along the Eastern Avenue. The large house known as The Hermitage on Snaresbrook Road was severely damaged by a bomb in October 1940. The survey records that 78 two-room, 192 three-room and 70 four-room flats had been built in 1949 on what it called the Hermitage Estate. Proper road names had presumably not yet been decided.

Wanstead Station was built in 1946, replacing the temporary structure that can be seen on pre-war maps, and ready for opening the following year. The two Plessey’s canteens were converted into government offices as Ministry of Labour and National Service recruiting centres, although the building in The George car park had been extended.

The British Restaurant in the High Street was now a Ministry of National Insurance, and 38 Cambridge Park (opposite Highstone Avenue) had been taken over as an Area Office for the National Assistance Board. The survey also reveals several shops in the High Street had been bricked up because they were vacant. Built around 1938–1939 in front of the old Stone Hall and Mall houses, they were the last of the single-storey shops to be built in that section of the High Street between the wars. Had they been vacant since they were built? Possibly – they are not listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory.

Another mystery building shown on the post-war OS maps to the east of Clavering Road, near Wanstead Park, was a mortuary built in 1944 after the Isolation Hospital in that area was bombed. On a lighter note, the survey lists 2 Seagry Road as having a stable at the rear, and notes that it is “in use (1 horse)”! The survey also records the name and type of business for commercial buildings. Although some familiar names remain from the pre-war period, new businesses are also apparent.

Once the entries for Woodford have been entered, the completed database will become a welcome addition to the Heritage Centre’s resources for those researching the history of their house or of the local area.

For more information on the Redbridge Museum and Heritage Centre, visit wnstd.com/rmhc
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