Aldersbrook, Redbridge

A well-preserved Edwardian estate surrounded by open land on the south side of Wanstead

Hidden LondonL Aldersbrook houses: The original porches are intact on some of these properties, which are especially well preserved

Aldersbrook’s name dates from the 16th century and refers to alders growing beside a tributary of the River Roding. This place was earlier called Nakedhall – an allusion to the exposed position of the manor.

The dynasty that owned Wanstead House steadily acquired and altered the farmland of Aldersbrook from 1786 onwards, knocking down its manor house, selling land to the Corporation of London for use as a cemetery and auctioning building plots from 1899. The plots’ condi­tions of sale included clauses stipu­lating that the properties be relat­ively expensive, especially on the edges of the estate where the £500 detached houses had views over Wanstead Park and Flats. These sold to profes­sional persons, while the £300 semis and terraces on the main streets went to lower middle class occupiers, usually renting rather than buying.

More than a thousand homes were built by 1910 and the variety of developers, combined with the rapidly changing archi­tec­tural fashions of the time, resulted in a miscellany of styles.

Junior and infants’ schools were built in 1908 and 1911, and they have since merged to form Aldersbrook primary school.

St Gabriel’s church was completed in 1914 with financial assistance from the Misses Nutter, who also helped fund the construction of Holy Trinity church in South Woodford. The architect was Charles Spooner.

Some houses that were bombed in the Second World War were after­wards rebuilt almost indis­tin­guishably from their prede­cessors.

In the 1960s council housing replaced the children’s home and isolation hospital that had stood on Aldersbrook’s western and eastern sides, respect­ively. On the south side of Aldersbrook Road, Heatherwood Close juts into Wanstead Flats where Aldersbrook Farm used to stand.

Redbridge council belatedly desig­nated Aldersbrook a conser­vation area in 2002.

Postal districts: E12 and E11
Further reading: Kathryn Morrison and Ann Robey, One Hundred Years of Suburbia: The Aldersbrook Estate in Wanstead 1899-1999, Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in England, 1999