diamond geezer

 Sunday, March 04, 2018

Random Station: WOOD STREET
London Borough of Waltham Forest
Overground, zone 4
Hinterland: 3.5kmĀ²

As generic station names go, Wood Street's nigh perfect - it could be anywhere. In fact it's one stop after Walthamstow Central on the way to Chingford, and one of only four London stations to straddle the Greenwich Meridian. Its catchment area covers much of east-side Walthamstow, from Whipps Cross up to the North Circular, with the aforementioned 'Wood Street' at its heart.

Wood Street
Wood Street's about three-quarters of a mile long, and has been here since the seventh century, although obviously you couldn't buy kebabs or get your nails polished back then. The oldest surviving building is a single storey 18th century weatherboarded butchers shop, heroically out of place amid an urban high street, and ironically now trading as an organic wholefoods emporium. Elsewhere the shops are a notch above generic chain fare, with the highlight very much the Wood Street Indoor Market, a quirky enclave of teensy tiny boutiquettes.

To enter from the main street, look out for two salmon-pink-painted buildings, each the portal to a narrow alley lined with mini-businesses, and linking up with each other round the back. The first shop inside is Martin's Toys and Memorabilia, a haven for 007 collectibles and boxed Corgis, while up the rear are racks of vinyl records, vintage Mod-style clothing and a football programme bazaar. Non-blokey options include handicrafts and handbaggery, salons and shutter shops, with none of the posh vibe you'd get if this were W11 instead of E17. It won my vote.

Closer to the station a modern attempt to create a new piazza, which might once have looked engaging on a planner's drawing boardhas unleashed an unyieldingly bleak space. Things might pick up now the new Co-Op's (just) opened, but that's only so they can knock the old one down, as well as the majority of the housing beyond. What's rising in its place is a generic estate of 400+ bricky flats, the usual mix of full-price and barely affordable, under the twee title Feature 17. The name is a nod to the presence of several silent movie studios which sprang up on Wood Street between 1914 and 1932, once a hub for the biggest stars of the day, now marked by a single blue plaque from the marketing budget.

A brighter aspect to Wood Street is the plethora of murals adorning its walls, slapped up by a community art project intent on raising the area's visual profile. Expect to see more of this kind of thing now Waltham Forest has filled the Mayor's inaugural slot as London Borough of Culture. The better art is to the north of the station, especially up near "Woo Street Library" (as an unfortunate dropped letter has it), but this useful map reveals plenty elsewhere. Oh, and look out for the Greenwich Meridian marker embedded in the pavement outside the deserted lockup opposite Wood Street Tabernacle, a welcome postwar leftover.

God's Own Junkyard
It can't be up here, I thought. A drab-looking industrial estate off Shernhall Street, not quite close enough to Walthamstow Village, with signs reading Private Property, MOT Testing Servicing & Repairs and Orange Badge Holders Will Be Clamped. But other signs thankfully hinted otherwise, so I ventured through the gates into a short cul-de-sac of warehouses. One was indeed a garage, but then came a microbrewery, and then the Mother's Ruin Gin Palace, or so the exterior claimed. These were shut, but right down the end were a painted Madonna, a cow wearing a green knitted scarf, and a rope to hold back crowds who thankfully hadn't yet arrived. This must be the place.

God's Own Junkyard is an Aladdin's Cave of works by neon artist Chris Bracey, with every surface covered by glowing tubes. Entering is like stepping into several Fifties diners simultaneously. Icons glow in pink, red and blue, words and phrases gleam at jaunty angles, and offbeat ephemera litters what's left of the floor. It's a dazzling combination. Chris had been making this stuff for over 30 years, but it's social media which has made his bolthole a must-visit, as Instagrammers flood in to see what the buzz is all about. Even on a Friday morning I found impeccably dressed Pacific Rim visitors lining up their smartphones for a golden shot. On a weekend afternoon it must be much harder to share without including a sea of bobbing heads.

There is of course a cafe attached, punningly named The Rolling Scones, who'll do you a slice of cake or a cream tea to make your trek out here more worthwhile. You don't get quite such a good view from in there, and if it's busy you'll never get a seat, but it could offer valuable downtime for selecting that perfectly-cropped profile-boosting image. Check before visiting in case the unit's closed for a private event, like a hen do or a Vogue cover shoot, and don't waste your time between Monday and Thursday, because neon heaven takes most of the week off. But God's Own Junkyard is as unique as all the media bluster suggests, so get here early, and #like #love #fave.

Walthamstow Town Hall
One flank of this magnificent 1930s behemoth is closer to Walthamstow Central, but everything from the central fountain eastwards is closer to Wood Street. I've been inside the main building before, courtesy of Open House, but had never taken time to admire the Assembly Hall to one side.

It's quite a sight, a lofty pillared Art Deco box with golden-framed windows rising all the way up. Across the top is written the inspirational phrase "Fellowship Is Life...", followed by the rather less upbeat "...And The Lack Of Fellowship Is Death." Only the first three words are in use as the Assembly Hall's motto, as part of a rebrand which will see the events venue become WAH17, because someone evidently thought that was better. Don't expect to get inside without a wedding, or a Malawi Arts Festival, to go to.

Whipps Cross
At the southern end of Wood Street, at the forest edge, Whipps Cross is dominated by a giant roundabout so should perhaps be called Whipp Round. There again, major works are currently underway to remove the circulation, and the end result by the middle of next year will be more like Whipped Tee. I ventured briefly onto the adjacent Leyton Flats, stepping carefully through the mud towards the central pond, and disturbed several giant rats from the undergrowth along the way. Winter is not these former gravel pits' finest season.

Meanwhile hidden across the road is Whipps Cross Hospital, an NHS bulwark that's really showing its age. Built up over the years from an Edwardian infirmary, the site is a sprawling cluster of outbuildings, clinics and no-expense-wasted architecture. Walking around the exterior is awkward as the pavements keep giving out, and a couple of wings are fenced off awaiting unscheduled demolition. 15 years ago Whipps Cross was on the list for a futuristic PFI overhaul, but budgetary deficits meant the cash for redevelopment was never forthcoming, so staff continue to work miracles in distinctly unshiny surroundings.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards