Charles Ward: Forest Gate designer, printer and politician

Friday, 21 November 2014

Newham Council's archives host a collection of original drawings, samples and commercial artwork of Charles Henry Ward, a local designer, printer - and later politician. They constitute the samples book and folio of a fine Forest Gate art-nouveau craftsman.

Self-portrait cartoon of Ward,
perhaps reflecting how he saw
himself, as a leader/Leo
Some of his splendid work would have added considerable panache to the promotional material of many a local and national business, in an era when all artwork was hand crafted - before computer software made us all instant (and usually poor) designers.

Charles was, additionally, a local politician of some significance, eventually becoming a Freeman of the Borough of West Ham. What follows is a brief account of his work and public service, pieced together from a number of sources.  We would be delighted to hear from any of his descendants, with whom it would be great to share more information about him.

Charles was born in Walworth, South London in 1874, the son of Frederick, a print machine manager, whom he followed into "the print". He was indentured as a compositor's apprentice to T Scott, in South East London in the late 1880s.

By the end of his apprenticeship - the quality of his work was being recognised by the professional press, for its "excellent workmanship".

Attracting favourable attention
from printing trade press, 1890's
Ward later moved to Forest Gate, and by the time of the 1901 census  was living in Thompson Road, West Ham, where he was described as an overseer print compositor.

It would appear that he became a business partner of a Mr Whiteway and they established a printing company at 98 Woodgrange Road, which designed and produced work, of a high standard for local and national businesses and organisations.

Letterhead, of the Ward, Whiteway partnership
 and the local papers  they produced, dated 1890s

Well-designed promotional literature,
when still in partnership with Whiteway

Ward later became the sole proprietor of the company. Those premises are now the Jamia Darussunah mosque(see photographs, below).

Poor reproduction of photo
of Ward's business premises
at 98 Woodgrange Road (undated)

The business premises today
- a local mosque

In addition to the jobbing printing work, as the letterhead indicates, the company produced a couple of local newspapers, the Forest Gate Gazette and West Ham Herald. They also had a branch office at 190 Fleet Street, which presumably was used for copy gathering from agencies.  Unfortunately, the only publicly available copies of these publications is in the National Library of Australia!

What follows is a selection of some of Ward's artwork held in Newham archives - to whom thanks are given for being able to access the material.

Much of it consisted of what would normally be mundane work for a local jobbing printer - business cards and stationery, letterheads, invitation cards, adverts etc for local traders - but incorporated unusually high design standards of design for such a press.

Local advertising literature - better
than a bog standard leaflet! (1)
Local advertising literature - better
than a bog standard leaflet! (2)
 He also did some high quality programme-type work for local entertainment venues, including the Forest Gate School of Music  in Earlham Grove (see here for full details of this innovative organisation).

Forest Gate School of
Music party programme
School of Music social soiree
programme, 1899

Well designed tickets for small local event

Programme, for similar event
One of Ward's less successful designs,
 perhaps.  Suggesting he was promoting
 the activities of a Raper and Lothier!
Ward's reputation and quality of work was such that, although operating a relatively small local printers' business, he was commissioned to produce material for a far wider range of clients, in London and elsewhere in the country - some for high profile and high status organisations, as the following selection indicates:

Reputation and work beyond Forest Gate (1)
Reputation and work beyond Forest Gate (2)

Reputation and work beyond Forest Gate (3)
Reputation and work beyond Forest Gate (4)
The innovative company not only produced materials for others, but was an early developer of greetings cards, which it published under its own imprint.

The medium is the message,
some years before Marshall McLuhan!
Assorted Christmas cards - 6 a penny!
Early producers of greetings cards
And blotting paper!
Possibly the Victorian world's
most stylish jam jar cover labels
The materials, unfortunately, are undated, so it is difficult to track the progress of his artistic development.

By 1911 he had moved, with his family, to 26 Clova Road - one of the more salubrious roads in Forest Gate (see photo of the house, today - below), and the company was  transformed into a limited company, the Woodgrange Press, in 1913.
26 Clova Road, Ward's
house, post 1911

It is unclear when it moved a little further up Woodgrange Road to the rather splendid Art Deco building, next to Wanstead Park station - but presumably in the 1930's. The company continued trading there until 1991, when it was dissolved. The lovely building (see below) was knocked down in 2008 to make way for Raymond Chadburn House, which clumsily attempts to incorporate elements of the former Eagle and Child pub into a block of flats.

Art deco print works on Woodgrange
Road, into which Ward and Co moved,
probably in 1930s. Demolished in 2002.
Thanks to Carol Price, for the photo.

We do not know what kind of World War 1 Charles Ward had, but he turned to local politics at the onset of peace and was elected, briefly, as a West Ham Councillor in 1919.  He was re-elected in 1925, for at least a further 20 years.

Charles Ward, 1926
He was a member of the Municipal Alliance, the name under which Conservatives stood in local elections in West Ham, at the time - perhaps not surprising for a small businessman seeking election to an overwhelmingly Labour local authority in East London.

One of the issues that seriously divided the Labour Party and Municipal Alliance on the local council was their attitude to poor relief (over which local authorities had a large say).

The early 1920s saw a great deal of local distress and unemployment in East London, which councils were charged with addressing. This put huge pressure on their budgets, because the rates' yield was low and the demand for poor relief high.

There was a requirement on councils, from the central government, to 'balance the books' a near -impossible task, without punishing the poor, by reducing council staff wages and cutting the dole to local unemployed people.

Some councils, most notably Poplar, under George Lansbury, fiercely resisted these demands, and were indeed jailed for their civil disobedience in doing so.

There were pressures to resist in a similar fashion in adjacent West Ham.

In 1921, for example, the Minister of Health, Sir William Joynson-Hicks said, while struggling with the Poplar Council rebellion that:  "Poplarism is an infectious disease. The infection is already obvious in London Unions, such as Bermondsey and West Ham".

The Municipal Alliance, representing the interest of business ratepayers and the more prosperous of West Ham was fiercely opposed to the kind of civil disobedience being undertaken by Poplar Council, and by implication and spread of it to West Ham.

Charles Ward was very explicit in this opposition, when in an election meeting in 1922 he said "The Municipal Alliance does not believe in doles, and if the candidates were returned, they would do their best to stop this out-going of public funds".
Reactionary attitudes like this almost sounded the death knoll for the Alliance in West Ham, and Labour almost obliterated it at the election (Labour 18 seats, Municipal Alliance 6). Ward, however, survived, representing the Forest Gate ward, the most prosperous in borough, for many years.

In 1925 West Ham councillors and Poor Law Guardians were summoned to the Ministry of Health, to account for the £1.8m deficit they had run up on the borough's poor relief account. Ward was a member of the delegation that met the then Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain.

Ward, second right, at the delegation
to the Ministry of Health, 1925
An Evening News cartoon,
lampooning the Municipal Alliance
attitude to relieving poverty in West Ham
It is unclear what his role, or contribution at the meeting, was as he was opposed to the existence of the deficit - as shown in the quote from his 1922 speech, above.

One consequence of the meeting was, however, that the Board of Guardians was removed from office by Chamberlain, the following year, for having defied his edict to move towards the elimination of the deficit. We will return to this affair in a later post.

No money for poverty relief,
but some for a silver spade
presented to Ward in 1931,
when flood relief work started
on the River Lea
Charles Ward, despite his contrary opinion, remained on the Council at least until 1945, when he was granted Freedom of the Borough, "in recognition of his distinguished local public service". We have almost no further details of Ward and his work, unfortunately.

Certificate commemorating
Charles Ward's Freedom
of the borough of West Ham, 1945
We do know, however, that he published a book on West Ham around the year 1923, of which we have been unable to obtain a copy from any library, or on-line source. According to an oral history interview, long-time Newham councillor Arthur Edwards gave to Eastside Community Heritage a decade or so ago, this book was regarded for many a year as the definitive book on the area, being "historically and socially accurate".

And finally .. probably Charles Ward's longest lasting tribute to the area he did business in and represented on West Ham Council:

We would love to hear from anyone who may have access to Ward's book or any more details of the life of the fascinating local character and gifted graphic artist.

Updates to previous blogs

Friday, 14 November 2014

From time to time we come across images or additional material that adds significantly to earlier posts.  This article is a collection of some of those items.
We have added the relevant sections as postscripts to the original article, for ease of access for future visitors, and added, at the end of each section, the hyperlink to the location of the original article, with its post script.

We know that this site can only be a first draft of bigger stories for each of the short articles we produce, and are always keen to hear of more information about the subjects covered.  Please feel free to add memories to the comments section of any blog, or send in details of further information, that we will be happy to acknowledge and display, in future update round-ups.

Forest Gate Industrial School fire, 1890

Illustrated London News 11 Jan 1890,
Industrial school fire, dormitory
where children suffocated (1)

We have recently come across a copy of the Illustrated London News of 11 January 1890.  This included sketches of the fire at the Forest Gate Industrial School, on the previous New Year's Eve.

We reproduce these, below, which should be viewed in conjunction with our article on the fire, in May of this year.

Illustrated London News 11 Jan 1890,
Industrial school fire, general view of building
 The original story, with the sketches added as postscripts, can be accessed here.
Illustrated London News 11 Jan 1890,
Industrial school fire, dormitory
where children suffocated (2)

Forest Gate cinemas

A Cinema Miscellany no 24 (2003) by Brian Hornsey has provided valuable additional local material about a few of the local cinemas covered in our history of them in our Every Picturehouse tells a story feature, of July 2013. We thank him for his painstaking research.

The Imperial Palace (also known as the Regal and Rio) was for a while, around the outbreak of World War 1 known as the Forest Gate Electrical Theatre ( shortened to The Electric).

The Forest Gate Public Hall etc. In its early days had 1,000 seats, but following refurbishment around the outbreak of World War 1 they were reduced to 750 - suggesting that the earlier seating was on benches, replaced by single seats after the refit.  Prices for show around the start of World war were from 5d to 1/3d (depending on sitting within the cinema).

The Queen's.  Millionaire A E Abrahams had had such success with his Manor Park Coronation Cinema (built, nor surprisingly in 1902) that he built this - a sister cinema to it, near his Forest Gate home. Following its 1928 refit it became one of the first cinemas in the area to show talkies (introduced that year) and full length feature films.

Queen's Cinema
Poor reproduction of photograph
 of interior of Queen's Cinema
Another poor reproduction photo
 of Queen's Cinema exterior

The Odeon. It was opened on 1 March 1937 with "Thank Evans", when prices ranged from 6d to 1/-, with continuous showings from 12.30pm, daily. After the emergence of Odeon the two main cinemas in Forest Gate were it and the Queen's - operated by two of the country's major cinema chains. From this time, these two cinemas tended to show the major recent releases and the other local cinemas were left showing re-runs and 'B' movie feature films.

World War 11 and local cinemas. All places of entertainment - in Forest Gate, and nationwide - were closed on 3 September and all but essential staff were laid off (without compensation). When it became clear that the threatened invasion was not about to happen, cinemas reopened gradually, after about two weeks. There were four local cinemas operating by October 1939: The Odeon (1,800 seats), The Queen's (1,700 seats), The King's (600 seats) and the Splendid (550 seats). The Kings closed first, in 1940 (the circumstances are not clear). The Splendid, dropped its curtain for the final time, around then.  The Queen's was badly bombed on 21 April 1941, and its near neighbour the Odeon less severely hit.  The Odeon was repaired, but the Queen's was now gone for good.

So, by the end of the war the Odeon was the sole surviving local cinema, brining to an end a frantic half century of openings, closures, name changes and mergers locally.  The Odeon was fully restored and operating at its peak level by 1950. It was fitted with a Cinemascope screen in 1954.

Original article, with these notes and photos added as a post script, can be accessed here.

Wag Bennett and Arnie Schwarzenegger's gym

One of the most viewed articles on this site was the first (it's been all downhill since!), on the fire at Wag Bennett's gym, on Romford Road in April 2013.

Wag's house and gym (1), November 2014
The post has been viewed by a large number of both body builders and Arnie fans, as far as we have been aware. Not all of them will pass the sorry state that is the building, eighteen months after the fire.

The building has been squatted and vandalised, but has more recently been boarded up and secured.  Quite how effective this will prove to be, without a roof (!), remains to be seen.

Wag's house and gym (2), November 2014
So we are producing a two photos taken a couple of days ago, primarily for the benefit of blog visitors from beyond our local boundaries.

The original article, with these photos as a postscript i can be accessed here.

The Upper Cut Club

As visitors to this site may feel, we have an almost unhealthy obsession with this club, which ran for a single year in 1966/7 on Woodgrange Road.

We have recently come across a couple of gems that can be added to our regular coverage. Paul Osborn, who has an interest in the former pirate radio stations, of the 1960's, contacted us with a fascinating MP3 recording, attached, below.

The Club used to host regular sessions of the Giggle, Goggle, Guggle Club - essentially a disco held on Sunday afternoons, hosted by DJs from the pirate radio stations. Tony Blackburn and Ed Stewart, among others appeared.

The You Tube clip, below, is from an advert broadcast on Radio London ("Big L") on 12 August 1967. It was promoting an appearance at the Upper Cut Club, by DJ Mike Quinn, who could be seen for "Half a crown"!

Pete Drummond on Radio London reading
an advert during the morning show for the
Giggle, Goggle Guggle Show, at the
Upper Cut Club, on Saturday 12 August 1967.
Click link:  to hear. Thanks to Paul Osborn for the link

We have placed this as a postscript to the article on The Summer of Love, we published in August this year. It can be viewed here.

Prominent Rock music journalist, Peter Guralnick produced a book, published by Penguin, Sweet Soul Music in 1986. It includes photos of both Sam and Dave and Otis Redding, appearing at the Upper Cut on 18 March 1967. Close inspection of the photos shows posters on the wall of the club, adverting the event.

Sam and Dave at the Upper Cut
 Club, 18 March 1967

 Guralnick credits Fred Lewis for the use of these photos.  We have been unable to track Mr Lewis down, but would like to thank him, for our ability to use them. Any other, similar photos, would be very gratefully received! We have placed these photos on our article on the Stax Tour, of April this year, which can be accessed here.
Otis Redding performing at the
Upper Cut Club, 18 March 1967


7 Es of E7

Sunday, 19 October 2014

As Forest Gate continues to interest the property supplements of national and regional papers, it seems appropriate to offer an eclectic glance of what E7 has to offer, through 7 Es.


Forest Gate's transformation, from a predominantly rural settlement to a London suburb, in the middle of the nineteenth century, was driven by the accommodation needs  of the rapidly expanding metropolis' population,  and the coming of the railways, which offered ease of access to workplaces for the new aspiring middle class residents.

Forest Gate station (c 1890) - engine
for economic growth then and now
Now, after almost half a century of decline and stagnation in the area, the same forces are at work today, and account for the current boom-town nature of the area. People priced out of once affordable areas like Islington and Hackney now look to cheaper housing within our community - with the added bonus of fast speed transportation, in the shape of Crossrail, to come, within four years.

These economic drivers have been responded to socially and commercially; and it is perhaps no co-incidence that the hub of this renaissance lies within the market place area facing the railway station.

So, a bit of not-for-profit enterprise by a small number of local women three or four years ago founded a local branch of the Women's Institute, which in turn kick-started the weekly Woodgrange Market.

Weekly Woodgrange market - one of the
early shoots of recent Forest Gate growth

This has become the centre of local community activity, and within a short time, CoffeE7 and the Emporium - a pot pouri of crafts, and vintage goods - popped up, to re-enforce the initiative. Artistic, music and food tasting events have followed, in due course, at frequent intervals on the site.

By co-incidence, Forest Gate's best - by a long way - estate agent  just so happened to be located in a nearby shop.  Wilkinson Estates is local, supportive of community  initiatives and has a feel for the area. Unsurprisingly then, they top local sales figures and get very good customer feedback.  They add to the mutual re-enforcement of the market place as the engine of social development within Forest Gate.

The Forest Gate Tavern and other local eateries, featured below, add to this customised appeal for local people, and are clustered around the same dynamic social hub.  All of which will benefit further, and dramatically when Crossrail visits the train station.


Many Forest Gate dwellers have traditionally hit hand-wringing angst as their children approach secondary school age.  A rapid departure from the district, in search of better schools, has traditionally been  a route chosen by many families.
Quite how well founded the reasoning behind this flight was in the past is difficult to know, but Ofsted now, does provide some guidance to how good local schools are, today. Every family will make their own choices and have their own criteria, of course, but the local educational "offer", does seem to have improved considerably, over the last 30 or so years.

This site offered a run-down of the Ofsted and other inspection ratings for all local schools last year (primary schools here, secondary schools here).
A quick, up-to-date, summary of the position, with regard to Forest Gate local authority schools, according to their latest Ofsted rating (here, for full details) is:


Earlham: Good
Elmhurst: Outstanding

Elmhurst Primary -
outstanding local school

Godwin Junior: Good
Odessa: Requires improvement
St Antony's: Good
St James: Good
Sandringham: Good
Shaftesbury: Requires improvement
William Davies: Good
Woodgrange Infants: Good


Forest Gate: Requires improvement
St Angela's: Outstanding
St Bonaventures: Outstanding
Stratford: Good

St Bon's - one of Forest Gate's two
"Outstanding" Catholic secondary schools


West Ham FC currently sits just outside Forest Gate, to the south, and next year will be moving just to the west of it, as the club relocates to the Olympic stadium - thanks, in part, to a generous hand-out from we local taxpayers, via Newham Council.

But Forest Gate is, itself , home to a fine, energetic, football heritage - in both the north and south of the district.

Wanstead Flats plays host to many football teams each weekend (many of whom could improve their contribution to the local environment/ecology - see next E, by taking their rubbish and water bottles away with them at the end of their matches).

Football has been popular on the Flats for at least a century, and many dozens of teams have taken advantage of this fine open space.  But none has been quite as significant as Senrab, a club whose various teams use the space as their home ground. As we pointed out, last August, that team has been the nursery for at least 18 future international footballers,  including 10 with almost 450 English caps between them (see here for details).

John Terry, former player and
financial benefactor of Senrab FC
The opposite, southern, end of Forest Gate is home to Clapton FC, at the Old Spotted Dog ground. This is a club with a fine history, stretching back 140 years (see here).
It has seen some large crowds and famous victories, over the years and for a while was the home club of Walter Tull - the first Afro-Caribbean  player to play in English football's top division, and the first person of that heritage to  receive a commission in the British infantry - during World War 1 (see here, for details).

The club has spent many years in football's doldrums, but has undergone a remarkable upsurge in energy and activity over the last two or three.

Performances and results have improved on the pitch and attendances are up - thanks largely to the emergence of the club's Ultra's.  This is football fanaticism rarely seen in the lower leagues.

The fans, complete with banners and pyros (flares etc), provide a fanatical support for the club, commented, enviously upon, by other non-league clubs, in their own division - and further afield. You can follow some of them on Twitter via @ClaptonUltras, @LewListz and @andylangais53, @Real_Clapton
The Ultras support goers beyond the terraces, however. 

There are some strong social messages coming from these supporters.  They are avowedly anti-racist - which is shown at its strongest - and appreciated most - when playing against local teams with players of Romanian and Bengali heritage.

Walter Tull, former Clapton FC
player, and notable Black Briton
Their social activism and energy goes beyond the terraces, however - often taking on board what many would consider to be responsibilities of Newham Council.  They have done a splendid job in clearing up much of the fly-tipping around Forest Gate's historic, and sadly boarded up, Old Spotted Dog pub, and they have been active and vocal supporters of the Focus E15 mums, in their sit-ins, to get decent accommodation, following council inactivity.

Despite this energy, and improved results and performances on the pitch, Clapton FC has a sorrier tale to tell.  There is a breakdown of communications between many of those closest to the football at the club and those who control the ground - the two sides eye each other with suspicion and distrust.

This tension, compounded by tight financial times for both Clapton FC and Senrab highlight one of the great longer term shames of British football - the almost complete disregard of football at its grass roots, by national authorities who are awash with untold billions in TV revenues and plutocrats' investments.
Energy at grass roots - cynical disregard at the top.

Newham Council's financial support of the Premier league team and apparent neglect of the minnows, unfortunately, does nothing to address this imbalance.


Another south/north  issue.

To the south of Forest Gate sits West Ham Park: 77 delightful acres of open space, managed by the City of London since 1874. It had previously been owned by the Gurney family and prior to that John Fothergill, about both of whom, much more in future blogs.

The park features a botanical garden and an array of sporting pitches.  It is also home to one of the largest horticultural nurseries in the UK, producing over 200,000 spring and summer bedding plants each year, for the parks, gardens and churchyards managed by the City Corporation. Plants from the nursery are also used to grace state occasions and large events hosted by the City government.

The City Corporation is building on the work of John Fothergill (1712 - 1780), who developed an extensive botanical garden there - where he grew rare plants obtained from various parts of the world - at the end of the eighteenth century.

One of Fothergill's protégé's, John Lettsom, was so impressed with the glasshouses and botanical collection gathered at the site, that he said  "the sphere seemed transposed, as the Arctic Circle joined with the equator."  Lettsom published a catalogue of the plants of Fothergill's garden "Hortus Uptonensis, or a catalogue of the plants of Dr Fothergill's garden at Upton, at the time of his decease anno 1780".

West Ham Park - a botanical delight
for almost two and a half centuries
West Ham Park managers continue to honour the tradition and example set by Fothergill, though in very different circumstances today. They keenly protect the habitat of local wildlife, and to this end operate two wild life gardens and conduct annual monitoring surveys of the activities of birds, spiders, bats and bees within the park.

To the north of Forest Gate, of course, sits Wanstead Flats.  Like it's southern ecological haven, West Ham Park, it is also managed by the Corporation of London. We've dealt on this site before with a little of the history of the Flats (see here for a general history and here for details of life on the Flats during World War 11).

Wanstead Flats is a real lung for north-east London and host to a wide array of birdlife.  We hope to cover this in a latter post, but in the meantime there are some very good local twitching tweeters, often with accompanying websites who are well worth a follow.  Among them are: @WansteadBirder (, @TheCowboyBirder (, @WFNaturePost and @JubileePond.

Wanstead Flats - a lung for
a congested East London
Local residents and the local Woodcraft Group (@newhamwoodcraftfolk, are active in Flats' conservation and in running regular clean ups, in collaboration with the City of London - often disposing of mess left behind by some of the football teams playing there (see above).

A little to the south of the Flats, almost at the corner of Woodgrange Road and Earlham Grove, is the site of what, hopefully, will become a community garden.

A local support group has worked with the council and is about to get a medium term lease for the site. The group has an impressive website: and a Twitter feed: @FGCommGarden. 

So, follow their progress - and watch that space!


Forest Gate has hosted a range of very special entertainment offers in its century and a half of existence, as this site has dwelled upon, on a number of occasions.

At the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries the district was home to six cinemas, for a history of them, and their eventual fates, as locations, see here.
One of those cinema buildings had a host of functions and different names, over its years of existence: as a public hall, night club and roller rink, in addition to its flicks-house existence.

We will return to its role as a premier roller rink in a future blog, but the building is perhaps most famously known - and celebrated - for hosting Billy Walker's Upper Cut Club (see here
). Just opposite the building was the far longer established and thriving Lotus club, run by Forest Gate impresario, Kenny Johnson (see here, for details).

Public hall, cinema, roller rink, night club,
and so much more - before becoming a
railway ventilation shaft!
Forest Gate has hosted its fair share of Cinema greats, including Bryan Forbes, who was born here (see here) and Anna Neagle (see here).

More recent Hollywood hits have come from Chiwetel Ejiofor (Twelve Years a Slave) and Idris Elba (Mandela, and The Wire), both of whom have firm Forest Gate roots.

Hampton Road Boy, Ben Drew, aka Plan B, has also had considerable cinematic success with Ill Manors (set in Forest Gate), to accompany his music success, with the top selling Defamation of Strickland Banks album and its hit single Stay Too Long (see here for details of Forest Gate as the new Hollywood for

Ben Drew, aka Plan B, part of the modern
 entertainment output of Forest Gate
One, international, non-local entertainment star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, owes much of his early muscleman and Mr Universe success to his stay with Wag Bennett on Romford Road in the mid 1960's - see here for details of
his time locally, working out in Forest Gate.

The fine tradition of top class, innovative entertainment continues today, in the shape of Swing Patrol, mentioned in last week's blog. Since that recent posting, we learn that they have added to their achievements, with Scottie Cupit becoming a dancing coach to Judy Murray, for the current Strictly Come Dancing TV series.

Epicurean delights

Recent postings on this site (here and here) suggest that Forest Gate hosts some pretty grim food shops and restaurants.
One advantage of the food shops, locally, however, is that given the incredible cosmopolitan nature of the local community, it is possible to buy food from almost every culinary tradition in those shops,  and so be able to experiment with delightful and tasty menus at home.

By a quirk of the way in which food hygiene assessors work, they have omitted - for the time being at least - some of the more recent and interesting eateries in the Forest Gate area.

An early addition to the emerging Cafe culture
We featured them in our recent 24-hour Forest Gate Gourmet train here.
The last couple of years have seen a number of greatly improved dining options for local people. The earliest newcomer on the block, that set the trail running was the small Kaffeine coffee shop, facing the railway station, facing the clock.
Although it doesn't attract the attention of near-neighbour CoffeE7, its coffee and cakes, in particular, are a delight.

Coffee7  is a popular, vegetarian cafe, specialising in very good breakfasts and cakes.  It also hosts a range of social events (games nights, book readings) and proving to be a real community hub and meeting point for locals. You can catch up with them, on-line here (, @CoffeeFG).
The Artemis coffee stall, in the rotunda outside the railway station, is the third recently opened coffee retailer in the area. A fresh £1.70 coffee on your way into the station is good value. The stall doesn't have the same social media presence of its bigger rival, but provides a very good service to thirsty commuters.

Forest Tavern, good food and drink under
 one roof; pretty much a first in the area!
Then there is the Forest Tavern (, @ForestTavern). It has just celebrated its first birthday and offers a good selection of interesting food, on its daily and bar menus. Having overcome a wobble in the food offer a few months ago, it is now providing an interesting offer, and is clearly popular with local diners. 

Next door is the recently opened Aromas Tandoori, North Indian Restaurant (@aromasfoods and A fine local Indian sit-in and takeaway restaurant that has certainly added significantly to the local eat out choice.

The area's most unlikely food delight, however, is found under a railway arch, at 352 Winchelsea Road: TheWansteadTap (, @TheWansteadtap). Although specialising in a wide range of craft beers and ciders, it offers a regular supper club, when local Masterchef semi-finalist Michael Saunders @invitetosupper ( serves up a delightful menu for about 30 diners, for the bargain price of £30.

Michael also supplies some delightful sounding pies for a Friday pm feast at the Tap, offers to cook for your dinner guests in your own home and hints that he will soon be offering his own restaurant, soon.

The Tap, itself,  also hosts a range of other social activities - book launches, poetry readings, jazz evenings and film shows, to name but a few.


At the very time Forest Gate was developing into a built-up area in the mid nineteenth century, public health legislation demanded the construction of burial grounds, away from crowded London city areas.  This, plus the abundant availability of cheap land in this area, meant that Forest Gate had it all as a location for cemetery development!

West Ham Jewish cemetery - now closed,
but reminiscent of an era when Forest Gate
hosted a large Jewish population
There can be few urban areas, as small as Forest Gate, in the world, with such a concentration of nineteenth century cemeteries that survive until today.

In addition to the small graveyard plots around churches, such as Emmanuel's on Romford Road, Forest Gate hosts a local authority cemetery: West Ham, a Jewish cemetery; the once thriving, but now rather down-at-heel Woodgrange Park cemetery - now, overwhelmingly Moslem; and a smart private cemetery: Manor Park Cemetery. Adjacent to the district is the City of London Cemetery, - London's second largest.

City of London cemetery, last resting
place for many a famous East Ender
These cemeteries, between them, have a host of interesting occupants.  For details of many, see here and here . (see here and here, for fuller details).

So, once again Forest Gate offers plenty of choice - for your final resting place!


Postings on this blog will take a short break; but we'll be back by the middle of November.  Hope to see you then! If you miss us, in the meantime, have a look at some of our previous posts, hyperlinked above, or anticipated some of our promised goodies for the future!