Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Wanstead is the last of the 10 stations on the Central Line loop and the 18th I have visited so far on the Central Line.

It has taken me weeks to visit all the stations on the loop and write about them. If I had walked from station to station it would have taken me about 2 hours but I wouldn't have found much of interest to show you. Wanstead is another station designed by Charles Holden. The individual letters on the tiling and the ceramic roundels in the tiles are typical of his designs. 

The platforms are below ground so a more familiar looking exit from the Underground. I think this is the first station I have visited so far  that has escalators.

Holden wanted to have an illuminated glass tower at this station but post WW2 shortages meant that, as with Redbridge, it ended up as a smaller brick tower. The station is at a very busy junction of Wanstead High Street and the A12. I was expecting a very built up area but first impression on leaving the station is one of space as The Green is just opposite with its Victorian Fountain.

In the early Victorian era this was a rural village but once the railway arrived in 1857 the population began to increase.
This drinking fountain was erected in 1897 to commemorate the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign. The fountain has been moved on a number of occasions as the road has been widened.

This is the George Hotel rebuilt in 1904 to replace the George and Dragon Inn. There has been a coaching inn recorded on this spot since 1752. It is now part of the Weatherspoon chain of pubs and stands directly opposite the station.

In the early to mid Victorian times the High Street was the site of a number of large houses owned by wealthy merchants. Only the Manor House, which is now a restaurant, still looks as it did then.

The present High Street has a number of independent shops, cafes and restaurants and not so many charity shops which is perhaps a good indicator of the wealth of the community. It also has a village feel to  it probably because there is a large green on one side of the street which leads you to the  War memorial

Just off the High Street overlooking the green is Wanstead library. I don't know when it was built but it looks quite modern. Inside it is filled with light from  the long narrow windows that reach from the floor to the ceiling.

This is Christ Church designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1860. The designer's name was familiar and when I read a little more about him I discovered that his grandson was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who designed Battersea Power station, Liverpool Cathedral and the iconic red telephone box. This Gothic styled church looks very grand surrounded by the Green.

It was now lunch time so I stopped at this unusual cafe which is a bungalow with a marquee attached and enjoyed a bit of a fry up!

After lunch I walked South of the station towards Wanstead Park

Church of St Mary the Virgin, There has been a church on this site for over a thousand years. The present one, designed by Thomas Hardwick was consecrated on 24th June 1790.
During the 1830s guards were employed to keep watch for body snatchers. Medical schools were only allowed to dissect the bodies of executed criminals so bodies were in short supply. As a consequence hospitals and medical schools would pay large amounts of money for corpses hence the need to guard against grave robbers. In this churchyard there is supposed to be a stone shelter that was used by the guards but I didn't find it.

At the junctiom of Overton Drive and Blake Hall Road are two stone pillars that marked the entrance to the drive of Wanstead House. At the top of them you can still see the monogram of their builder Sir Richard Child.

Wanstead Park was originally the site of a medieval manor house and then a Tudor mansion. Then in 1715 Sir Richard Child demolished the house and replaced it with a Palladian style mansion. After years of neglect Wanstead House was demolished in the 1820s. A large part of the land surrounding the house was bought by the Corporation of London and dedicated to the public whilst the rest was made into a golf course or sold for development.

There are a number of ornamental lakes in the park and on the edge of one is the remains of a grotto

Built in 1761 the grotto had a small inlet behind and was later used as a boat house. There was a fire in 1884, two years after it had been opened to the public when it was almost totally destroyed. In its prime it had 'a domed roof encrusted with pebbles, shells, crystals and glass'

This is the only part of Wanstead House that still remains. Known as the Temple it was a place for resting and taking refreshments whilst enjoying the splendour of the gardens.

Leaving the beautiful Wanstead Park I walked through the surburban streets back to the station. Outside one house was this Little Free Library with a notice saying Take a book, Return a book, Donate a book.
What an attractively painted box in which  the books are displayed


  1. It looks like a very nice place to live. Frankly though, I don't like the station exterior or the library. I wonder if Holden ever did get to design a station using glass and it was built.

  2. Wanstead, another name I remember from my childhood. It looks a nice place with the greens and parks. I agree with Andrew the station is ugly. The first church is beautiful.

  3. It is very interesting, but where are all the people? It seems odd that there were not lots of people on the escalator or in the pictures. Maybe you were early. :-)

  4. Very interesting little area, the library looks typical of the late 1950/60's being rather drab looking like many from that time. I love those free library's that are springing up. Hope there are more

  5. Looks like you had a lovely visit to that stop. I've seen those Free Libraries here too - usually geared to children.

  6. I don't actually think Holden's idea of a glass tower would have improved the design much. It seems just plain ugly. Oh, well, the hotel makes up for that! And I am imagining the grotto in its day with the pebbles, shells, and glass embedded in its roof.

  7. Another fascinating stop - there's so much history in your area.

  8. Looks really more like a village, amazing that it is still part of London. I heard about body snatchers for the first time in Edinburgh !

  9. I can't tell you how very glad I am that you did not merely walk from one to the next. I absolutely love what you do here .. The history and the uniqueness of each stop has been a joy to read about.

  10. The body snatchers bit is something I've recently read as I make my reading way through Dickens ... I always accept his books as gospel truth anyway, so here I am proven correct!

  11. Your train voyages take you to the most interesting towns! I like the old grotto--amazing it has lasted so long! I also like Little Free Libraries. There is one in my neighborhood and I enjoy browsing what is available.

  12. I loved your new tour, I like the hotel! You take some great photos!


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