A Brief Visual Tour Around Bits Of Leytonstone (That Don't Exist Any More)

Just a touch over twenty years ago, I lived in the London suburb of Leytonstone. Just a touch over two days ago, I took a long walk around many of my regular haunts to see what’s changed.
At the time, being a teenager, I attended school in Leytonstone. Or schools, at least technically speaking. Not that I was expelled from any of them; they just had this habit of closing. The first location I ended up with was Lakehouse school, which was at the time being subsumed into the larger Tom Hood School.

Lakehouse school was named for this lake. Odd trivia fact: I’ve walked over this lake while frozen (the lake, not me) several times. Don’t think I’ll be doing so today.

The walking on thin ice I do recall. I don’t recall quite this many swans. I suppose that’s quite a good sign, ecologically speaking.

Just to make things tougher for a 13 year old Australian kid in a tough London suburb, the science/home economics block was four blocks from the main school. My first exposure to this was naturally enough in the middle of a freezing London winter, when I was told I’d have to walk there after one lesson for the next one. The science block has long since been knocked down, replaced with these houses, but the little generating block/phone exchange/brick building at the side there? That’s original. Not that I know what it does, but I know that it was there then, and it’s still there now.

Likewise, Lakehouse school is long since gone — I have a dim memory it might have been gone even when I was still living in the UK. The houses in the distance of this shot are all that’s left. Of note, I’ve not taken direct photos of other people’s houses, because, well, they’re other people’s houses. This is my wander down memory lane, not my wander into invading their privacy (where practicable).
Astonishingly, what is still there twenty years later is the school fence.
I ran into that fence one day playing soccer. It was solid then, so I’m not entirely shocked that it’s remained standing now.
From Lakehouse, I moved in fourth form to Tom Hood School proper, which meant going from a large building with far too few kids (basically just third form, teachers and the worst school food I’ve EVER eaten) to one that was often overflowing with kids.
That right there is the main playground leading towards the music (downstairs) and drama (upstairs) block. I possess the musical ability of a dead ferret, but I used to be quite the keen young actor back in the day.
That’s the main building. As memory serves, the library was on the top floor. As memory also serves, I was frequently the only one in there. At all. Yep, I was a bookish geek from a young age. Also of note, the flat roof was technically also a “playground”, although I only recall a single instance of being told we could play up there… possibly when they were re-surfacing the main playground or something similar. I think I took one look, considered the plunge and said “no thanks” and went back to the library.
If that’s all there was to Tom Hood School I’d be quite happy. But frankly, those pictures are a little bit of a lie, as is Tom Hood School. It’s not Tom Hood School for a start. It’s now Buxton School. It’s also, at least to my view laid out a bit too much like a prison.
Those gates are massive. And they’re oppressive. Yes, we had fences when I was there — but not things that were easily three times the height of the average child!
That little pink room is, I recall, where I sat my French GCSE spoken exams. Behind it was the old gymnasium. All obscured by the annoying cage, of course.
I guess I’ll go hungry.
The food at Tom Hood wasn’t great, but it was a solid step up from the stuff served at Lakehouse. Never have I eaten so poorly (or, all too often, refused to eat at all).
From there I took a more general walk around the rest of Leytonstone, first to the street where I used to live. Very, very little has changed here.

Again, I’m not going to publish a photo of the exact house, because it’s somebody else’s exact house now.
But many an afternoon I’d walk down this way home, and it would look exactly like this. Some things, it seems, don’t change as much.
A walk further away brings me to the first house in Leytonstone I lived in (albeit briefly) in Ashville Road. Again, I’ve taken an entirely private photo for my own memory banks of the exact house, but I’m not showing it here.
Leytonstone, for those who are curious, has a few famous folk amongst its number. No, I’m not counting myself amongst them, but Jonathan Ross was born here, as was (according to the fountain of reliability that is Wikipedia) David Beckham. Its most famous son remains Alfred Hitchcock, however, and these days there are murals all over the place celebrating the fact.

Odd fact: The face recognition feature of the camera I was using recognised Alfred there as a face. He wasn’t smiling enough for it to automatically take the shot, though.
It’s not all doom, gloom and faded memories, though; from there my walk concluded by wandering through a very pleasant street fair, filled with plenty of locals, lots of food and no cars whatsoever. A rather nice idea that I don’t recall at all from my own Leytonstone years.

5 thoughts on “A Brief Visual Tour Around Bits Of Leytonstone (That Don't Exist Any More)”

  1. Wot, no ghosts of Macbeth?
    I liked your shot of the school fence.
    Overall, was this rather large dose of nostalgia agreeable/useful/food for reflection/saddening or none of the above?

  2. Young Angus
    I’m older than you by several aeons – I did the nostalgia thingy back to Newcastle in 2006 and compared to the north-east you had it easy. This is still quite a posh suburb compared to holes in t’road in t’Newcastle where 15 of us…

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