Woodford underground station is on the Central Line and sits on the destination northwards from Stratford to Epping. But it’s also the end of the line for the Fairlop Loop that runs from Stratford via Newbury Park and terminates here – and thus my visit today. A wintry cold day with bright clear skies to start with that ended, somewhat surprisingly with a sudden and unexpected snowfall in the early evening.
The area immediately surrounding the station to the north is known as Woodford Green and serves a residential community of largely early 20th century property mix of large detached and semi-detached houses. Growth through the suburbanisation of London has seen the ingress of multi-occupancy social housing nevertheless the area immediately around the station, which dissects the town, is clean, tidy and well cared for. Shops to the west of the station having a more traditional ‘village’ feel and those to the east of the station are of a multicultural mix suggesting they serve a diverse community.
For more information on the general area called ‘Woodford’, follow the link.
Nothing out of the ordinary about the station, which has a potted history in becoming established as part of the commuter route to Epping and onwards to Ongar since its origins in the late 19th Century when the line was first built. The expansion of London during the two wars helped cement its place as a fashionable location, and in becoming the terminal destination for the loop.
I speak with Chris, the station supervisor, to try and determine the origins of the two tone green colour scheme on the station as I had a notion it originated from the earlier years. He had no knowledge of its origins, and neither can I find anything online other than the scheme reflect the ‘lner/br(e) (1940s-1960s) colours’.
We chatted about the introduction of the night service on Friday and Saturday nights, a service that runs every 20 mins, and with some heartfelt reminiscing Chris commented on how reveller’s behaviours have changed. No longer do they need to dash to catch the last train, and end up as very drunk passengers, as they can now pace themselves and return home more gracefully. He also explained the station starts operating services from 5.00 am with services running in all three directions as trains would have been held overnight in the large sidings adjacent to the station as Epping (the other end of the line) doesn’t have the capacity to store trains overnight.
Heading away from the station, I explore The Broadway; a small shopping parade full of independent shops (with only one obvious exception). And these shops are what gives this area it’s character. I stop to admire the somewhat jaded facade of the solicitors CCH & Co and as I turn around to head up the street I see I’m being looked at quizzically by someone from inside a Turkish Barbers.
I go in and introduce myself to Sevkan and Ego, the two barbers who are working there. I explain my purpose and ask to take their pictures and of the shop. They readily agree, and after finishing with a customer, they preen themselves for the photo-shoot. Both gentlemen took the session in good humour especially after telling them I wouldn’t charge them for the pictures. My only ask is that they share my blog details through a bundle of business cards I left with them. They tell me they’ve only been open a few months and the shop was previously a bakery.
Now I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between an English and a Turkish barber, and now I know. The extras on offer include a wet shave, a hot towel, ear flaming and a head massage although I believe these are now becoming more fashionable in the trendier gentlemen’s grooming parlours. Should you be in the neighbourhood, then pop into The Kingsman and tell them how you heard about them… 🙂
Across the road is a delightful Deli & Grocery recently opened by Jan, in what was once the Post Office (which has now moved across the road). I’m surprised and delighted by the welcome I get after tentatively asking to take some photos explaining my mission and how I’m drawn in by the interior displays and general ‘look and feel’.
It’s lunchtime and customers are enjoying their Monmouth coffee as they perch at the front of shop bar looking onto The Broadway, and customers eagerly buy their healthier lunches too. So I was doubly surprised with the time Jan spent with me sharing his passion for the food he sells recounting their origins and individual, and some personal, stories of how the food is created by craftsmen and artisans. For example the olive growers of Puglia (Italy) who use traditional methods to grind their olives with herbs instead of infusing them to create flavoured olive oils; or how Becky Griffiths picks her Sloe berries from around Essex to create her award winning Mother’s Ruin gin. I could easily stay listening to Jan for a very long time as he has a story for every product on display, so that will be a treat on a return visit.
I hope I didn’t outstay my welcome, and on reviewing my day’s photo shoot I realise over half the pictures I’ve taken are of the Deli, so as a thank you to Jan and his team, I’ve created a special YouTube video of those pictures as I feel I can’t quite do justice by the few pictures I can post here. Have a look here: YouTube – The Broadway Deli & Grocery
Snakes Lane East
Heading through the station underpass to the east side of Woodford, there’s a different feel as the array of health & beauty shops, supermarkets and restaurants reflects a very multicultural mix; there’s evidence of economic hardship too as seen through the high proportion of closed and derelict shops.
I have to admit I’m always impressed with the way some supermarkets show off their produce, and the Food Park is no exception with their fruit and veg carefully selected and placed providing a splendid technicolour display.
Further down the road I wander around Saint Barnabas Parish Church a couple of times hoping to find an open door to peek inside, but it was not to be, and as the afternoon is drawing to a close, I decide to head south to South Woodford.
Following St Barnabas Road all the way, I pass row upon row of typical London mid-1930’s houses. Nothing exciting to report until I reach the North Circular Road. I was hoping I’d be able to walk over a bridge as I had a few ideas on photos to try out, but at this juncture it’s another underpass.
Coming out the other side, the sky looks ominous and, as it turns out, the clouds are a precursor to an unexpected snow storm. Thankfully I make my way undercover before getting wet.
This one fits the bill for several reasons:
- It’s a reminder of the time spent at the Deli & Grocery
- Although the picture is ‘busy’, everything is framed and each window has its own story – if you zoom in on each pane, you can decide for yourself
- The brief inclusion of the letter box acts as a reminder this was once the post office
- There is an interesting juxtaposition with Sainsbury’s reflection providing a contrast between independent and chain retailer – I know which I prefer
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