Man-made Features

Buildings, Constructions, Stones and Signs, Foundations.

This section contains some features of Wanstead Flats that may not be so obvious to the casual visitor, or may have been overlooked or disregarded by those more familiar.


1. Cattle Pound. This wooden-fenced enclosure was situated between the east wall of Heatherwood Close and the Playing Field Buildings by Aldersbrook Road. A notice informed that "Entry to this enclosure is strictly forbidden....£200 Maximum Fine" By 2005 the enclosure had been removed. (photos)

1b. Cattle Signs. These roadsigns are not in the Forest, but are on adjacent roads in various locations. An example in Forest Drive, Manor Park was finally removed on 16 February, 2007. (photo)

2. Drinking Fountain - Wanstead Flats. This is near the junction of Capel Road and Woodford Road, Forest Gate. The fountain is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Fry, 1809-96. Joseph Fry was a Quaker and philanthropist, the son of Elizabeth Fry the famous prison reformer. He was the Chairman of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, and the inscription reads: JOSEPH FRY / BORN SEPT 20 1809 / DIED DEC 25 1896. It is of polished granite or marble, approximately 300cm high x 110cm at widest point, the bowl. There is no water supply and the taps and chained bowls for provision of water are missing. (photo)

3. Ceramic Drains - Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats. Still just visible in 2002 were pieces of the drain pipe that was installed a year or two after Alexandra Lake was created early in the 20th century, to take surface water from Aldersbrook Road into the lake. One is located opposite the shops and part of it is now buried within the root system of a London plane tree. Presumably the drain and the tree were planted about the same time and the girth of the tree has now encompassed the drain. The other is more intact, and is closer to the car parking area at the NW corner of the lake. (photos)

4. Overflow Drains - Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats. Two cement-faced structures in the NE corner of the lake are to prevent the lake from reaching such a height as to overflow onto Aldersbrook Road. (photo)

5. P.O.W. Goalposts - Wanstead Flats. The last of the wooden uprights of goalposts, erected it is said by prisoners of war interred on Wanstead Flats, was still present until about 1998. No sign is now visible. They were west of Centre Road, about half way along the length of the Flats here. (photo)

6. Foundations of Buildings - Wanstead Flats.

(a) The foundations of two buildings can be found in the trees comprising Long Wood. They are thought to have been Nissen Huts, about 50 metres apart, and the eastern one is said to have housed telephone equipment and operators. (photos)

(b) A public toilet was situated north of Alexandra Lake just in the wood and almost opposite Wanstead Park Avenue. No outward sign remains, though a bramble patch lies in the approximate location.

(c) Another public toilet was located at the junction of Dames Road and Blake Hall Road. This was built as an underground structure, above which was a tree covered mound surrounded by railings. The mound is still a prominent feature and it is possible that much of the structure is still present below ground.

7. Tree Groups - Wanstead Flats. Apart from groups of trees planted for aesthetic reasons in various locations on the Flats, three may be of particular interest:

(a) Tree Circle. Near Angel Pond, Capel Road. This marks the position of a bandstand, surrounded by railings, erected at the turn of the 19/20th centuries by the Corporation of West Ham and demolished in 1957. (photo)

(b) Tree Circle. On Manor Park Flats 150 metres from the end of Capel Road. These, together with a metal fence, surrounded an underground Local Government Command Centre (London Borough of Newham). The fence has been removed, the above-ground entrance dismantled and the below-ground structure presumably has been filled in. (photo) A bandstand is also known to have been present in this vicinity.

(c) 1953 Plantation. A rectangle of tree known as the 1953 Plantation, planted to commemorate the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. (photo) (See also no.8 below.)

8. Commemorative Plaque. This plaque is mounted on a low concrete plinth on the east edge of a rectangle of tree known as the 1953 Plantation. Though damaged by fire, it is still visible amongst brambles. The attached sign reads: THESE TREES COMMEMORATE THE CORONATION OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 1953. FUND RAISED BY LOCAL SUBSCRIPTION (photo)

9. Metal Posts. Four metal posts situated 100 metres or so SW of the 1953 Plantation. They are probably tensioning posts for a wire fence which surrounded a rectangular area used for parachute-jump training purposes, certainly into the 1950s. It has been suggested that they may have been used to tether the barrage ballons which were used on the Flats during the war, but it is unlikely that they would have been substantial enough for that task. (photo)

10. Bus Shelter - Opposite St Gabriel's Church, Aldersbrook Road. This simple but attractive bus shelter stood on the edge of the Flats opposite Park Road for many years, but was removed in 2004. It was brick built, with a wooden roof, and seating was provided facing the road for bus passengers and - divided by a central wall - facing the Flats. Although the road-side seating was reasonable, that facing the Flats tended to be mis-used - sometimes slept in overnight or used for dubious purposes. For a number of years the structure had suffered damage by local youths in the form of graffiti and even burning of the seats and roof. This probably had considerable influence on the decision to remove it, although the area had also been proposed as the site of a children's playground. Whatever the reason, an attractive and unusual structure has now gone. (photo)