Woodford in the late 1950s…

Click below to read Doreen Skala’s informative and comprehensive essay:

A London Quaker in Woodford: Silvanus Grove and the Origins of Elmhurst 

A further article by Doreen Skala on Elmhurst (the property) appears in the Spring 2015 newsletter which will be available online in the Autumn..

Woodford Green Post Office, Jonston Road, Woodford Green – posted November 2014

Woodford Green Post Office. The London Borough of Redbridge has received a Planning Application from Mr McDowell, to convert the existing Royal Mail delivery/collection office and two storey extension to accommodate nine dwellings and commercial floor space at ground floor level.


Joe Branson writes …….   “The Pictures…Flicks…Cinema” – added Nov 2014

Waterloo station Victoria Station Roy Rogers


Some events in your life you never forget however young you were at the time…

In 1938/39 I experienced such an event when aged 4/5 and thanks to my mother, was taken to “The Loughton Cinema” a purpose built venue at Loughton in Essex.

The visit was brief but to me “mind blowing” to say the least! We went into the foyer and my mother asked if we could just stand at the back for a few minutes as it was my first visit and the usherette agreed. To me it was like being led into another world the like of which would never be forgotten. The film showing was a black and white “Roy Rogers” accompanied by his amazing horse “Trigger” who seemed to come right at us when he reared up on his hind legs, what excitement. You have to realise that in those days we had never seen “Television” or been to a theatre for the spectacle of a pantomime and in my case my only “big screen” entertainment had been my father’s magic lantern shows. But cinema with its vast screen and crystal clear close ups of the actors and with sound to match was impossible to comprehend, however I left demanding more and I did not have long to wait.

In 1939 as a ” reward” for visiting the dentist I was taken to see my first full film and none other than the wonderful “Wizard of Oz” and in full colour.

Then came the war and for me and most children all visits to “the pictures” were curtailed until safer times, but for the adults and the Forces the cinemas were a godsend to enable you to momentarily escape the worries of the war.

However in 1939 I did actually see Television by courtesy of Bearmans, a department store in Leytonstone East London, that had a Radio Dept. and every afternoon they would show demonstration programmes, via a minute screen, direct from Alexandra Palace. The TVs were for sale at what were then eye watering prices. I was not at all impressed as, compared to my brief cinema visits it was “rubbish”. However one neighbour where we lived at Woodford Green did actually have erected an “H” aerial attached to the chimney stack which was the greatest show of “one upmanship” of the time but short lived as in 1940 TV aerials had to be removed in case they were “illegal radio receivers from the enemy” but all TV

transmissions had ceased anyway.

There was however one other form of cinema that had survived the war and become extremely popular in the 1950’s…. namely the News Cinemas of which there were 20 in central London in 1951 alone and had great appeal to 16 year olds like myself. The most remembered were those at Victoria and Waterloo stations that seemed suspended from the inside girders and rising to the very roof.

Initially and during the war they showed Pathe and Gaumont British newsreels plus the occasional general knowledge film. With no TV these cinema newsreels, although censored, gave us some idea of the war.

I visited both the railway venues as a teenager when in addition to the news they were now showing cartoons which were extremely popular. The performances were on a one hour continuous loop and you could stay as long as you liked but one hour was sufficient. With the increase in TV their days were numbered and they had virtually all gone by the 1960’s or converted to short lived dubious sex cinemas.

I rarely visit the ever popular cinemas of today but will always treasure that first experience of Roy Rogers and “Trigger” as the cartoon said.. “That’s all Folks”

Joe Branson



Woodford Historical Society –

Chairman’s report for the 2015 AGM on 16th March 2015.

Once again, the Society has enjoyed a very full and interesting programme of talks and visits.

We have spoken to local schools and supported their projects, basing talks on the local area and ‘Becoming a History Detective.’

Our ‘new’ website has now been live for over one year and is attracting lots of local and worldwide interest and generating many questions some of which are better directed elsewhere!

As always, we are seeking to find out what you want from your Society. I want to thank you all for your support over the past year. Most meetings attract about100 members but we still want to know what you want. Your suggestions are helping to inform our programme of speakers and visits and our high tech and low tech solutions to try to solve the ‘problems’, which you have identified, seem to be working. Low tech: wave your arms in the air if you cannot hear the speaker. High tech: we have introduced a ‘roving mike’ to improve the ability to hear questions that members ask. We value your interest in improving what is, most surely, the best local history society in this area.

We are faced with the challenge of increasing numbers of members who can no longer manage the journey to meetings (can you offer a lift to someone?).

I would like to thank the Committee and everyone who works so hard to make sure that our you, the members, enjoy our meetings and visits. If I miss anyone, I apologise.

Thanks to Henry Whaymand who organises our front of house; to Dick Walker our audio visual technician; to Vera Richards who prepares and efficiently sorts our newsletters for distribution or mailing; to Mike Ford who continues to keep our finances and membership records in impeccable order; to Janet Lovell who takes our minutes, transcribes items, helps with the organisation of visits and generally tries to keep me in order; to Rowena Rudkin who keeps the attendance register which not only provides an historical record but also meets Health and Safety requirements and, more recently, records the weather on the evenings of our meetings; to Ron Button who manages our projection equipment and arranges our general printing; to Sharon Barnett and her dedicated group of helpers for their work in ensuring that our catering service at meetings maintains the high standards that we would wish; to Jill Hicks and Pat Smith and who help to organise our varied and interesting programme of visits; to Sue Ralph one of our Vice Presidents who continues oversee our collection and provides first aid cover; to John Attew who can be relied upon to help out in any way that is needed; to Georgina Green who is an invaluable fount of information and has her records stored in such a way that she can find items faster than a speeding bullet; to Nigel Pitt who solves insoluble problems and identifies obscure pictures, particularly in relation to shops; to Joe Branson who can be relied upon to date pictures from the vehicles and has a marvellous recall of detail; to Trinity School who allow us to use their premises; to the school’s caretaker who sets out the seats before meetings and willingly offers help; AND to all of those people whom, through my failings, I have forgotten to include. Without these willing volunteers, we could not exist.

“Succession planning.’ We really do need to “refresh” the Committee who have generally served the Society for many years. If you feel that you could help us in the planning and organisation of the Society we would welcome your input. If you do not want to commit yourself now, talk to me or one of the committee and, if you are interested, we can invite to attend a committee meeting and we do have the power to co-opt non-voting members onto the committee.

Last year, at his time, I spoke of two projects which I hoped that we could undertake – one was to produce another book but that has not been possible due to a lack of contributions and, the second, was to photograph the local area – street scenes, open spaces, buildings and events. With your photographs and a description of what they depict, I can collate them and use them for former Woodfordians (both in the UK and overseas) and to lay down the basis of a ‘then and now’ book/exhibition in years to come AND to provide evidence to the Planners in protecting our local heritage (Redbridge has dispensed with its Conservation Officer and its Tree Officers).

We have a summer programme of visits and hope that you enjoy them whilst we continue to put together next year’s programme and to edit the next newsletter – your contributions are essential and currently we have only one piece in our “text and pictures” bank.

John Lovell – Chairman

March 16th 2015