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