There are many things Walthamstow is famous for, such as its market, reputed to be the longest in Europe, the listed eel, pie and mash shop L Manze, unchanged since 1929, and 900 years of history concentrated in a few quaint streets tucked away to the east of the bustling centre. But more recently, it has become known for a controversial “Mini Holland” cycling programme.
Locals have clashed over the scheme, which encourages people to take to two wheels and is designed to improve the area for pedestrians and cyclists alike.
Those against the scheme say the road closures will affect access to premises and be the death of Walthamstow Village, the ancient heart of the town, which is the site of a 12th-century church, 400-year-old almshouses and roads of highly desirable terrace houses.
However, matters concluded last week as a High Court judge ruled “there is no merit whatsoever” in the criticisms.
Despite the row, Walthamstow has many things going for it, not least the William Morris Gallery in Forest Road. The revolutionary 19th-century designer, craftsman, activist and novelist lived in this fine Georgian house with his widowed mother and eight brothers and sisters. The gallery reopened after a major facelift three years ago and is now a major cultural centre.
Other notable landmarks include 10 reservoirs to the west of the town centre, which are to be transformed into a new wetland centre, with a former engine house converted into a visitor and education centre, and a viewing tower constructed in the Coppermill building. A new wetland-to-wetland route is planned to run from the Walthamstow reservoirs to the East and West reservoirs in Stoke Newington.
Walthamstow’s history has been shaped by many remarkable people. They include the wealthy 16th-century merchant George Monoux, who was a major benefactor in building almshouses and a school in the Village.
The school survives today as the Sir George Monoux College, a large sixth form in Chingford Road. The other notable figure is TC T Warner, known as Courtenay, who developed large swathes of Walthamstow from the end of the 19th century into the Thirties. Warner houses are distinguished by the quality of their detailing with gable ends, slate roofs and recessed porches, and are often identified by the letter “W” somewhere on the exterior.
They can be found between Pretoria Avenue and Edward Road, in Leucha Road both to the west of High Street and next to Lloyd Park off Forest Road.
What there is to buy in Walthamstow
Walthamstow has mainly Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses. After the Second World War, during which the town was badly bombed, many social housing estates were built.
The most popular area is Walthamstow Village, where the most expensive home now for sale is a five-bedroom double-fronted Victorian house in Erskine Road at £950,000.
The area around Lloyd Park is becoming increasingly popular. There is a restored four-bedroom Victorian terrace in Jewel Road near the park for £850,000.
However, it is still possible to find a three-bedroom Victorian terrace house in one of the less-popular areas of Walthamstow for about £400,000. One such property is in Fulbourne Road. Situated between Forest Road and the North Circular, it is for sale for £425,000.
Many of the terrace houses were built in the 1880s by the once-powerful Warner family. Now they are mostly flats, each with its own section of garden and a front door facing the street. These vary in price from £275,000 for a one-bedroom flat — with one on sale in Markhouse Road for £279,000 — to £400,000 for a two-bedroom flat in Brettenham Road.
Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Central are on the Victoria line, with fast trains to Oxford Circus. Wood Street, Walthamstow Central and St James Street are on the Overground. Trains to Liverpool Street take 17 minutes from Walthamstow Central.
Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Queen’s Road are also on the Overground, with trains to Gospel Oak and Barking. All stations are in Zone 3 — an annual travelcard to Zone 1 is £1,508 — except for Wood Street, in Zone 4, with the travelcard priced at £1,844.
The area attracts: young professionals and young families are selling flats in Hackney or Stoke Newington to buy something larger in Walthamstow.
What there is to rent in Walthamstow
Walthamstow has plenty of rental homes, from single rooms in shared houses, to one-bedroom flats for about £1,000 a month, and four-bedroom houses for sharers or families for up to about £3,000 a month. Landlords receive a rental yield of between four and five per cent and, according to property website Rightmove, there has been a 10 per cent increase in rents over the past year.
Postcode: E17 is the Walthamstow postcode. On its southern border, it strays into E10, the Leyton postcode, while on the northern edge, the Chingford postcode E4 takes over.
Beulah Road, Eden Road, East Avenue and Wingfield Road in Walthamstow Village conservation area, and nearby roads in the Rectory Manor estate such as Rectory Road, Howard Road and Falmer Road, where the houses are larger. The most popular road for Warner flats is Winns Terrace, which overlooks Lloyd Park. For those who need easy access to Hackney via Lea Bridge Road, Harris Street, Hibbert Road and Wetherden Street are popular.
Up and coming
Jackson says that the Clementina estate in nearby Leyton will benefit from the reopening of Lea Bridge station in spring next year, with trains to Stratford and Tottenham Hale. The roads off Clementina Road have Warner-style purpose-built flats. This year, flats in Kettlebaston Road have sold for between £240,000 and £300,000.
Linus Jackson, of estate agents Estates 17, says there has been a large influx of buyers over the past three years and, so far, there is every sign that they are staying. “New independent businesses continue to open, making Walthamstow an exciting place to live,” he adds.
The local council has plans to build 2,500 new homes in the Blackhorse Lane area between now and 2026. One of the first developments is in Billet Road. Here, developer Centra Living is building £90 million Banbury Park (banburypark.co.uk), a development of 351 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom flats and houses for private sale and shared ownership. Prices range from £350,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £694,995 for a four-bedroom townhouse.
In the face of much opposition, housing association L&Q is building 294 new homes on the former — and much-loved — Walthamstow greyhound stadium in Chingford Road. The Art Deco façade of the former stadium, including the iconic neon sign, is being retained.
Council: Waltham Forest is Labour controlled and Band D council tax for this year is £1,447.21.
Photographs by Daniel Lynch
Leisure and the arts
The William Morris Gallery in Forest Road offers a permanent collection celebrating the life of William Morris and holds regular exhibitions. Currently, Bob and Roberta Smith — a pseudonym of leading British contemporary artist Patrick Brill — has a show called Art is Your Human Right, and there is an exhibition of Frank Brangwyn’s First World War posters.
Vestry House Museum is housed in a former workhouse in the Village. It specialises in local history and displays the famous Bremer car, which dates from 1892 and is one of the first British-built petrol-driven cars.
For film fans, Empire is a new multiplex cinema in The Scene development in the centre of Walthamstow. Local campaigners have fought for years to save another cinema, the EMD/Granada in Hoe Street. The cinema features interiors by famous theatrical designer Theodore Komisarjevsky.
Last year the cinema, which closed in 2003, was sold to pub company Antic, which has still not revealed its plans for the building, although campaigners are working to get it reopened as a multi-purpose arts venue with a cinema in the main auditorium.
Ye Olde Rose & Crown in Hoe Street has a theatre upstairs.
Walthamshow does have a thriving creative community, as shown by annual event the E17 Art Trail, when artists open their homes or studios.
This year it took place between May 30 and June 14. With the choice of 157 venues this year, the event goes from strength to strength.
There are two council-owned swimming pools — Waltham Forest Pool and Track in Chingford Road and Leyton Leisure Centre, which has a water flume and aqua play area in High Road Leyton.
The Community Pool runs swimming sessions in Waltham Forest College pool in Forest Road.
Shops and restaurants
Walthamstow Market is open daily except Sundays and Mondays, along more than half a mile of the High Street. Every Sunday a farmers’ market is held in Town Square and outside The Mall shopping centre.
The Mall has branches of Asda, Bhs Boots, Dorothy Perkins, New Look, River Island and Waterstones. There is another Sunday farmers’ market in the grounds of Henry Maynard Primary School in Walthamstow Village.
Chain restaurants PizzaExpress, Nando’s, Turtle Bay and Grillstock Smokehouse have opened at The Scene, a lively new town centre residential and entertainment development.
There are plenty of local options for a light bite and a coffee, too. In Orford Road, Walthamstow Village, there is the Deli Café, while Le Délice — which also runs a café in Lloyd Park — can be found in Hoe Street, along with vegetarian and vegan Hornbeam Café.
The best restaurant is Eat17 in Orford Road, which also runs the Spar convenience store next door, where you can buy the eatery’s famous Bacon Jam.
Also in the village, locals book Sunday lunch at Queen’s Arms, while there is a new chef at The Nags Head. Lot 107 is a café in Wood Street, which is close to Wood Street Market, a rabbit warren of small shops.
Gods Own Junkyard is a leading neon sign workshop on Ravenswood Industrial Estate. It was founded by Chris Bracey who created The Mall shopping centre’s Awesome Stow neon sign. He died last year aged 59, but his sons are continuing the business.
WHAT THE LOCALS RECOMMEND ON TWITTER
@cookingthebooks Yildirim Bakery, St James Street for gözleme, Fresh Nan Bakery in High Street, Priya Maamala’s in Hoe Street for dosai. Pre-gentrification gems.
@sophienbee The Chequers, Eat17, Bonners fish & chips in Northcote Rd. Café in Gods Own Junkyard.
@iamclacky The whole place is buzzing — @E17ArtHouse @56stjames Wood Street indoor market @WildCardBrewery & @BlackhorseWS
@chris_allen15 Check out some of @woodstreetwalls great street art — brightening up the blank walls of many a Walthamstow business.
@FlyByDi Wild Card Brewery for craft ale, Forest Wines — best independent vino — & Gods Own Junkyard for iconic neon.
@E17Designers Cafe L'Hirondelle, @Bell_E17 & Peppes Pizza for dinner, @E17ArtHouse & E17Designers pop up in @MallWalthamstow for shopping!
@amybmollett It's got to be @ByggaBo for delicious treats and gifts, and the @WMGallery and beautiful Lloyd Park
@cwiss Great coffee & breakfast, lunch @woodstcoffee in @BlackhorseWS - fab monthly market too. Fantastic wine and beers @forestwines
Open space: Lloyd Park was restored in 2012 with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. The park has a café, natural play area, outdoor gym, tennis courts and a bowling green.
Three things about Walthamstow
What do Jermain Jackman, winner of BBC’s The Voice last year, TV presenter June Sarpong, choreographer Matthew Bourne and composer Michael Nyman have in common?
They all attended what is now Sir George Monoux College, a sixth form college in Chingford Road. Since it was founded in 1527, it has had various incarnations. Between 1659 and 1968, it was a boys’ grammar school. It then became a comprehensive school, and in 1986 it was transformed into a co-educational sixth form college.
Who stipulated: “There must be blood, much more blood...”?
Publisher Edward Lloyd (1815 to 1890) is reputed to have issued this instruction to one of his illustrators. He lived in the fine Georgian house in Forest Road that is now the William Morris Gallery. He moved in after the Morris family moved out in 1856. Lloyd was the publisher of penny dreadfuls, plagiarisms of Dickens’ novels and cheap melodramas. Well before Bram Stoker published Dracula, Lloyd published Varney the Vampire (The Feast of Blood), the first vampire story to be published in England.
How did a railway arch in Walthamstow make aviation history?
In 1909, the famous early aviator, Alliott Verdon Roe, built a triplane in a railway arch under the Great Eastern Railway in Walthamstow. He became the first British pilot to take to the air in an all-British-built aircraft when the plane took off from Walthamstow Marshes. He was evicted soon after and went on to found Avro Manchester. Avro went on to manufacture the iconic Lancaster bomber and the Vulcan jet.
The majority of families in Walthamstow rely on local state schools, most of which are rated “good” by Ofsted.
The following primary schools are judged “outstanding” — Greenleaf in Greenleaf Road and Hillyfield in Higham Hill Road and Aveling Park Road. Henry Maynard in Addison Road is a sought-after school in Walthamstow Village.
There are two recently opened Free primary schools — Emmanuel in The Drive is a Christian primary school that opened in September 2012, while Walthamstow Academy in Billet Road opened in September.
The best-performing state comprehensive schools are Walthamstow School for Girls (ages 11 to 16) in Church Hill and Holy Family RC (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Shernhall Street.
Many Walthamstow children go on to sixth form college. Sir George Monoux in Chingford Road and Leyton Sixth Form College in Essex Road are both judged “good”.
Walthamstow families also have the option of getting their children to sit the 11-plus for entry into one of Redbridge council’s two grammar schools — Woodford County High for Girls (ages 11 to 18) and Ilford County High for Boys (ages 11 to 18), but entry to both is highly competitive.
The Forest School (co-ed, ages four to 18, but with single sex education between the ages of 11 to 16) in College Place is a popular choice for parents seeking a local private school. Alpha Preparatory (co-ed, ages four to 11) in Vallentin Road is a private primary school.