When people talk about Walthamstow, Wood Street isn’t the first place that comes to mind. They’re more likely to talk about the beautiful Georgian building that houses the William Morris Gallery, the quaint lanes of Walthamstow Village or the old dog-racing stadium that’s now a huge housing development. But less than a mile east from the top end of the Victoria line, Wood Street has its own proud history.
This three-quarter-mile stretch of road – which mostly dates from the nineteenth century – was home to a successful silent film studio, part of the area’s rich cinema heritage. While the movies have moved on, Wood Street remains a vibrant place, mixing Waltham Forest’s strong local spirit with an influx of young creatives moving to these more affordable fringes to take advantage of the Overground line that goes straight to Liverpool Street. Which means you get enterprising independent businesses popping up in traditional settings, such as the shops in the Georgian Village market.
Team that with an active arts community (responsible for the street murals adorning walls, pubs and shops) and you get a place that feels as colourful and energetic as anywhere in London. As a standout piece of graffiti by London artist Ronzo (on the side of a key-cutting shop) puts it: ‘All good in the Wood.’
A Berry Bourbon or The Old Cuban cocktail at The Duke. You can also choose from a dozen burgers and get silly in the photobooth at 2am
at the area’s hippest watering hole.
A pint down The Flower Pot, a proper, traditional boozer. Order Caribbean food and join in the weekly quiz too.
Lamb sarma beyti or imam bayildi (stuffed aubergine) at Teras. You’ll be sitting next to locals at this family-run Turkish barbecue spot.
A fry-up at The Old Station Yard Café, a railway caff with a stylish interior. No city prices here: tea’s less than a quid.
One of the hot mezes at Mini Hiba, the first takeaway outlet from the hip Lebanese and Palestinian micro chain.
Made-to-order tacos – the ideal lunchtime bite – at Homies on Donkeys, a Mexican joint in the Indoor Market.
Nip down Barrett Road for a gawp at neon paradise God’s Own Junkyard: always worth a visit if you’re in E17.
Have a nose around Second Nature, a Grade II-listed former butcher’s dating back to 1750 that’s now a health food shop.
Wander through the Indoor Market and Georgian Village for traders selling everything from old records to cacti, retro toys to wedding dresses.
That giant pagan drinking horn you’ve been after from The Viking Store, which has all your medieval-raider-costume needs covered.
An old programme from your first game at Nobby Lawton’s Olde Footy Shop, bursting with collectibles and memorabilia.
Plants, pots and household knick-knacks at local stalwart Lancasters Home & Garden.
A rhubarb-and-custard ‘mega-lolly’ at classic confectionery emporium Sweet Lovin: Walthamstow’s own sugar heaven.
And if you only do one thing…
Stroll past (and take loads of pictures of) the stunning free art that covers public spaces all down the street. There’s a handy map on the Wood Street Walls website.
By Greg Cochrane, who definitely Wood.