Dedicated to Helping


PCSO Anis Mahar is the new Dedicated Ward Officer for South Woodford. With almost two decades of experience, he is keen to engage with the wider community to solve local problems

I have served as a PCSO for 18 years, having been appointed by the Met in 2004. I am now a Dedicated Ward Officer for South Woodford.

I started up my job with the antisocial behaviour team in Newham, and when Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNT) were formed, I was one of the first SNT PCSOs, posted to Green Street West ward for two years. Safer schools teams were then formed across London to tackle youth-related issues, and I was part of Newham’s team between 2008 and 2015. As a Safer Schools PCSO, my role was to give lessons and inform pupils on topics such as bullying, gangs, knife crime, extremism and sexual offences. I would also patrol outside schools and provide a presence within the school premises to be visible should any concerns or issues arise. It allowed the children to talk to me in a trustworthy and approachable manner.

An opportunity arose in the Newham Youth Engagement Team as a volunteer police cadet (VPC) PCSO, which I took. The goal and ethos of the team was to run junior and senior sessions at different primary and secondary schools to divert vulnerable young people away from the streets to stop them being victims or perpetrators of crime.

I ran the Met Police Junior Citizen scheme twice a year, advising young children how to stay safe on the streets after school hours, and in case of an emergency, what preventive steps could be taken to thwart any untoward incidents (by shouting for help and running away from dangerous situations to the safest places to seek police help).

I was nominated, along with my team, for the Commissioner’s Excellence Award 2020 in recognition of my service to youth engagement and the VPC scheme.

I am currently based at Barkingside Police Station as part of the South Woodford SNT, which is led by Inspector Noori and Sergeant Atif Shaikh. As a Dedicated Ward Officer, I am here to provide quality, community-oriented service to businesses, faith venues and residents. I am working towards solving ward priority crimes by engaging with local councillors, faith leaders, ward panel members and community leaders, utilising all the tools available from one of the best police services in the world.

There is a policing necessity to identify vulnerable areas for women’s safety across Redbridge, and South Woodford SNT is committed to tackling these forms of crime in a timely and robust manner.

If you are the victim of any crime, please contact the police. Do not suffer in silence. We are here to help you. In case of emergency, always dial 999. If it is not an emergency, call 101 or get in touch with us by email.

To contact the South Woodford SNT, email sntji-south-woodford@met.police.uk


Signs of the times


Following recent changes from Her Majesty’s Land Registry, Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee looks forward to a new era of  electronic signatures in the conveyancing world

Your signature on a document as proof of your binding commitment has been with us for centuries. Sign a piece of paper and you are demonstrating to the world that you will be bound by the document you sign because that is your act or deed which commits you to a legal obligation.

There is in the main, however, nothing wrong with a verbal contract. Once two people orally agree to do something, it can, in many circumstances, be legally binding upon each of them, such as: “I agree to buy your car for £10,000,” says the buyer, and the seller replies: “I accept.”

A contract then comes into being, following which either the seller or the buyer can be sued if one of the parties fails to perform their obligations. It starts getting complicated when the buyer says: “I am interested in buying your car,” and the seller interprets those words as an offer which, in his mind, he has accepted. Verbal contracts can therefore become complicated because of a lack of certainty. Buying or selling a house or flat is legally simpler because for the contract to be enforceable it must be in writing, containing all the terms upon which the parties agree, and signed by each of the parties, or by an attorney on their behalf or (if so authorised) by their solicitor.

As we all know, the world has changed since the World Wide Web came into being, courtesy of Tim Berners-Lee in 1991. Some 30 years later, people who are selling or buying property in this country may simply say to their conveyancer: “Email me the contract and I will print it, sign it and email it back to you.” Does that work as a legal concept? I’m afraid not unless the correct procedure is followed.

What your conveyancer has always asked for is the original contract to be signed (normally referred to as a wet signature) and then returned to their office. Why? Because the law and procedures say so. However, at long last, help is at hand because the Land Registry – which governs the registration of sales and purchases of property – has recently published guidance on the acceptance of electronic signatures.

All parties signing a deed for a property transfer must be represented by a conveyancer and all must agree to the use of such an electronic procedure. The parties must still have their signatures witnessed, and once each conveyancer is in receipt of the transfer deed, the transaction is then completed and transmitted to the Land Registry electronically. This will involve a conveyancer acquiring a software package which will meet the Land Registry’s specific requirements. After hundreds of years of ‘wet’ signatures, we are now entering a new era.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000


History comes home

Woodford---Monkhams-workers-(C)-Redbridge-Heritage-CentreBuilding workers on the Monkhams Estate in 1918. © Redbridge Heritage Centre

Redbridge Museum will open a new permanent exhibition later this year exploring 200,000 years of local history. In the third of a series of articles, Museum Officer Nishat Alam looks at some of the items on show

One notable transformation visitors will see when Redbridge Museum reopens later this year will be in the section we call ‘From Village to Suburb’. This part of the museum looks at the period between the end of the 19th century and the 1930s, when the borough saw a rapid growth in population. The new displays will showcase more objects from our collection, exploring the changes that took place as Woodford became a suburb.

The railway came to Woodford in the mid-19th century, with stations at Woodford and George Lane (later South Woodford) opening in 1856. This was a key catalyst for the transformation of the area over the next 80 years. With a direct link into the city, professionals working in London began to move into places like Woodford and surrounding areas that offered the peace and fresh air of the countryside, with the possibility of a quick and convenient commute to work.

Following the creation of the Woodford Urban District Council in 1894, local services improved with the building of new roads, sewage pipes and electric street lights. Churches and hospitals were also established to serve the growing community, as well as schools such as Woodford County High School for Girls, which opened in 1919.

By the 1930s, 1,600 houses a year were being built on the former farmland of Woodford. It was during this period between the two World Wars that Woodford experienced rapid growth, bringing welcome change to the village. Many people were attracted to the new semi-detached houses built in Woodford in the 1930s, which were fitted with gas, electricity and the latest household appliances. Construction also began on new Underground stations, although these did not open until after the Second World War.

Much like today, the people of Woodford enjoyed a buzzing community life. There was plenty to do, like shopping on George Lane or watching movies at the cinema on the High Road, which first opened as the Majestic in 1934. From very early on, many people joined clubs for sports and hobbies, including Woodford Cricket Club and the Woodford Photographic Society, both founded in 1893.

In 1934, Woodford merged with Wanstead to form a new urban district, which became a municipal borough three years later. By the end of the 1930s, Woodford had transformed into a fashionable suburb while retaining its quiet village feel – a lasting quirk that continues to attract new residents today.

The new displays at Redbridge Museum will feature a variety of objects and photos from our collection to illustrate how Woodford transformed from village into suburb.

Redbridge Museum is located on Clements Road, Ilford. Visit swvg.co.uk/rm
To complete a survey on what else should go on display, visit swvg.co.uk/rms


DD’s 54th Woodford Diary

swvgsains5june2290widecmyk400-copy©Evelyn Rowland

Some South Woodford scribbles from DD, our resident diarist, commentator and observer of all things local

I haven’t often eaten slow-cooked ox-cheek. With or without charred sprouting broccoli, garlic mash and feta mousse. It was the main course at a dinner I attended in London recently. Very tender and tasty. Just falling off the bone.

I haven’t often listened to music performed on the Chernihivka bandura, a niche musical instrument steeped in the history and heritage of eastern Europe. It featured in the programme given by the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral Choir at St Mary’s Church in May in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal for Ukraine. A distinctive, evocative sound.

Two rather unusual diary entries, I think you will agree. But mostly, life is more predictable. More relaxingly everyday. Even, you might say, run-of-the-mill?

My sister came to visit. We went for a walk in Knighton Woods. Too early for the grand display of rhododendrons in full flamboyant flower. But the midday sunshine filtering through the rapidly greening trees provided the ideal setting for catching up on each other’s news. A family with young children was relaxing by the lake, engaged in the well-established ritual of watching the ducks and drakes and especially the little troupe of ducklings. Perhaps daring to share the crumbs left over from their sandwiches. A sort of toddler ‘rite of passage’.

We are still getting our papers delivered. This was something of a necessity during the tight lockdown days. Now, it’s a little mini-luxury that we’ve got used to. Down at Webb’s, they are sorting out our orders well before most of us are out of our beds. Very occasionally, if one paper has failed to be delivered to the shop, they’ll graciously substitute another one. Then Nico dons his motorbike helmet and is on his way to bring us up to date with the world before breakfast. I try to remember to unlock the porch door before seven on Saturdays when the combined weight and thickness of our reads makes his task of getting them through the (respectfully large) letter box very challenging. Better for him just to drop them on the mat!

I nipped out to post a letter yesterday. A matter of a few yards. It took me half an hour: I met Cliff, walking his daughter’s dog. “I’m going to bore everyone rigid for years to come,” he announced. “I can’t stop talking about it!” I knew at once what ‘it’ must be. I think I got in first with my congratulations, even before he drew breath to continue. “We have our first grandchild.” An everyday event really. But not for him and his wife. Not for any of us. A new person had arrived. A life-changing event for the family. He shared the picture of the eight-week-old miracle. We gazed with shameless, glorious, grandparental barmyness.

We’ve been to Peebles in the spectacular Scottish Borders. A week beside the fast-flowing River Tweed. The municipal flower beds planted and tended by the ‘Bonnie Peebles’ group. The fish and chips to die for at Jim and Jack’s in Northgate. We had supper at The Crown: David opted for Balmoral Chicken (chicken breast stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon and roasted). A royal dish. He tried it out when we got home. Very successfully. Of course, the first thing you need after a 400-mile drive is a cup of tea. My milk was in the freezer. No problem. A short walk around the corner to Gillian’s with small milk jug in hand and the problem was solved.

I met a man from St Petersburg at the Sainsbury’s self-checkout. Well, not exactly ‘met’. The staff helper was busy further down the line. But I was able to guide him over the sequence of hurdles that lay ahead: how many bags, if any, had he used? What method of payment would he select? Would he require a receipt? He was effusive in his thanks. I said, “I’d love to visit St Petersburg.” (But inwardly, I thought: “Probably not yet!”)

If I had to choose my favourite bit of household kit, I think I would plump for the rotary dryer. If I were trying to sound eco and green, I would probably say it was to do with the satisfaction of harnessing wind and sun power. But no, it’s not that. There it stands, conveniently, right outside my kitchen window, on the patio, compact, wrapped in its sturdy protective sleeve. (Beware of leaving the sleeve off in October when the spiders flock in and have an exquisite and intricately engineered web fest amongst the circling lines.) If you wish, you can hang up an entire load of items without moving an inch. I have my nice peg bag, home-designed and made some years ago when I was having a creative DIY phase. I select the spot where I will avoid being blinded by the sun. I recall perhaps the long washing line from the French windows to the cherry tree at the end of the garden in our childhood days, with the forked prop holding it up in the middle. I get pegging. Everything nice and neat and well spaced out, pants and bras discreetly hidden on the inner rungs. On really windy days, “Good drying days!” as our mother would say with a hint of glee, it does what it says on the label: it rotates, whirls round, even. And some of the smaller items (are ‘proper’ hankies seeing a revival?) will be ready for collection almost as soon as you’ve emptied your morning cup of coffee.

So, there you have it: a proper sort of diary. Snapshots of our suburban life; comfortably mundane; somehow or other well organised and cohesive; rubbish and recycling on Tuesdays; garden refuse collection on Wednesdays; familiar, secure, neighbourly; absolutely nothing to hit the headlines. But thousands of desperate souls are risking their lives in small rubber boats or in shambolic queues in Calais in the hope of sharing it with us.


Photography competition to mark wildlife group’s golden jubilee

Four-spotted-Chaser-2Four-spotted chaser dragonfly. ©Tim Harris

The Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group is holding a photography competition to mark its 50th anniversary.

“The theme is broad and simple: nature and wildlife of our local area. It could be of a fox, a bird, an insect, a misty morning, or of people enjoying the outdoors. All entries need to be taken this year and must be local, primarily Wanstead Flats, Wanstead Park, Leyton Flats, Gilbert’s Slade or the surrounding areas,” said a spokesperson for the group, which was founded in October 1972.

Visit swvg.co.uk/wrenphoto


My garden story


Fiona Grant reflects on how she became involved with the National Garden Scheme and what first inspired her to open her South Woodford garden to the public in aid of charity

I moved into my house on Cowslip Road over 40 years ago, and initially, the back garden was just my kids’ playground. Then, later on, it became my sanctuary; in the garden, I could be calm, creative and nurturing. The beds started to fill up with a hotchpotch of plants; I’ve always liked watching how plants evolve, self-seed and jostle beside one another. There’s always so much to learn.

The garden now contains a large number of plants, including foxgloves, salvias, hollyhocks and verbascum for height, and geums, erigeron, candytuft and heucheras for the front of the border, plus numerous pots on the patio. Last year, my husband built a raised container bed for the front garden and we’ve recently been enjoying spinach, rocket and lettuce from it. I’m trying a hanging basket with tumbling tomatoes for the first time this year, too.

I started to feed the lawn and use our own compost, which has definitely made a difference. The pond is now filled with frogs and goldfish; the dragonflies like flitting over it, too. This spring, we have tried ‘No Mow May’ to encourage wild flowers to grow, thus attracting more insects. I love the lush grass, daisies and buttercups, as do the bees and butterflies. There are also bird feeders, a ‘bug hotel’ and nesting boxes. It’s so important to encourage dwindling wildlife.

What originally motivated me to open the garden for charity dates back to when, tragically, my youngest brother died from cancer in 2015 and our baby grandson in 2020; all money raised by the National Garden Scheme (NGS) goes to various nursing charities and opening my garden seems the ideal way to say thank you.

For many years, I’ve enjoyed visiting some wonderful NGS gardens in London. (I shall never forget waiting nervously for the NGS representative to come to initially assess my garden and wondering if she might scoff at my delusions of grandeur.) However, she was eager to promote suburban gardens and encouraged me to open mine a few summers ago. Most garden owners in the area do not have vast acres and it’s a myth that the NGS is only interested in those types of gardens.

It’s undeniably hard work preparing for an open day, but seeing total strangers, neighbours and friends coming down the alley and enjoying a cup of tea and slice of home-baked cake makes it all worthwhile.

If you are considering opening your own garden, I would recommend visiting as many NGS gardens as you can, chatting to owners for inspiration, then contacting the local NGS rep. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience – and an extremely worthy charity.

Fiona’s garden at 83 Cowslip Road will be open on 17 July from 2pm to 6pm (entry: £5). For more information and a list of local gardens taking part, visit swvg.co.uk/ngs


Art group seeks inspiration for more local exhibition venues


Woodford Arts Group is seeking inspiration for local venues which could be used as exhibition spaces.

“Since the demise of Packfords Hotel, who gave us great support, we have found ourselves searching for suitable venues. So this is an appeal to anybody who thinks they might be able to help us. Stow Brothers on George Lane have been a great help, and at the moment, we have a small exhibition of our work on show in their office,” said Julia Brett, who founded the group in 2018.

Email juliabrett@me.com


Greening South Woodford update: plant donations welcome

Screenshot 2022-06-29 at 10.29.37

An update on the Greening South Woodford project:

“We’ve been busy planting rosemary and lavender in Bell Green and have pruned and tidied up Eastwood Green, ready for the addition of more plants and some benches. The orchard fruit trees have been popular with the bugs, but we hope they will recover soon! We will be holding a gardening day over the summer, so please let us know if you can help. We would also welcome any plant donations,” said a South Woodford Society spokesperson.

Email e18society@gmail.com


South Woodford Society lobbying for new Post Office and post box

DSCF3490The George Lane Post Office closed last year. ©Geoff Wilkinson

The South Woodford Society is working closely with local councillors to lobby for the return of a Post Office to a suitable site on George Lane and for the installation of a post box nearby.

“Sadly, the arrangement of the temporary Post Office in The Galleria didn’t work out well, and once again, we are devoid of vital services. To see the familiar bright-red icon of the postal service on George Lane and the permanent return of our Post Office will draw people to South Woodford and boost business for our shops,” said a spokesperson.


Paint the town pink: join the Haven House Sparkle Walk this September


Haven House Children’s Hospice is inviting residents to sign up for this year’s Sparkle Walk.

“Grab a team of friends and family and help us paint the town pink with a 10km walk through Wanstead, South Woodford and some parts of Epping Forest,” said a spokesperson for the Woodford Green charity. The event – which starts and finishes in Wanstead – will take place on the evening of 2 September. “Every participant will receive a T-shirt and a glass of fizz at the finish line!”

Visit swvg.co.uk/sparkle22


Step into Summer


Streets Apart – run by the charity Living Streets – arranges weekly walks for the over-65s. Here, project coordinator Tracey Chitnis explains why she is keen to see the initiative continue to grow over the summer

Streets Apart is a programme aiming to build confidence and enthusiasm for walking in your local neighbourhood, focused on the over-65s living in Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham who may have seen their lives restricted most by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite a strong start in 2019, successive lockdowns prevented our project from really flourishing, and although a handful of groups bonded early on and remained through the past two years, it is only now we really get the chance to reach out to the community and welcome them back to group walking. And a recent upsurge in participants tells us summer 2022 is the time to take part!

The health benefits of walking on a regular basis are outstanding: strengthening muscles, getting fresh air into the lungs and warming all the body’s organs. It’s easy and free, it adds interest to our daily chores and it fosters talking and socialising while raising awareness of the environment and neighbourhood. What’s not to like? Walking is perfectly suited to over-65s who wish to remain active and independent as the effects of age can limit other kinds of intensive exercise.

“I feel better, and it was nice to have someone to talk to. I enjoyed both the walk and walk leader, who has given me new information about where I live,” said one participant.

Our groups are small and local; with a maximum of eight walkers, everyone can get to know each other and can help decide the pace and distance. Our groups help rebuild social links, walking weekly in beautiful parks with space for calm and mental well-being. Each walk ends at a café to allow members to relax and talk further.

Many of our participants become walk leaders and maintain the groups as volunteers, allowing us to develop even more groups and reach more people. In the past two months, three new groups have sprung up and our existing groups are now filling up.

All our leaders are police-checked, trained and risk assess the routes. We support our volunteer leaders with training, regular catch-ups and travel expenses.

So, now the summer is here, the masks can come off and we can be together again, why not come along for a taster walk?

In Redbridge, groups are currently meeting in Fairlop Waters Country Park, Clayhall Park and Valentines Park, with one due to start soon in Wanstead. We also have a group that meets in Parsloes Park in Dagenham and one in St Chad’s Park in Chadwell Heath. We are interested in establishing a group in the Woodford area as well, so do get in touch if this is something you would like to be part of.

For more information about the Streets Apart groups, call 0756 678 9456 or email tracey.chitnis@livingstreets.org.uk


South Woodford Gardeners welcome volunteers and plant donations

IMG_0633George Lane flower beds

An update from the South Woodford Gardeners:

“We have adopted 13 of the railing planters that the council can no longer maintain, seven on the High Road and six outside the Railway Bell and station. We have also been working on the flower beds outside Regency Court (we’re grateful we can get water from there), and we’re happy the council has increased the frequency of grass cutting on George Lane. We always need more volunteers and love receiving plant donations.”

Email southwoodfordgardeners@gmail.com