Welcome to Walthamstow Village
- Credit: Archant
Orford Road in Walthamstow Village is full of great thriving independent businesses and cultural life waiting to be discovered; West Essex Life catches up with some of them
Walthamstow Village could be described as the next biggest hotspot to be discovered on your West Essex doorstep. And for the unfortunate amongst us, who have not yet been enchanted by this hidden gem, perhaps it is time you venture out to this charismatic area this month.
The beautiful village in Orford Road boasts a variety of rich history, having been first established around St. Mary’s Church in the 12th century. And despite it being a small rural village up until the middle of the 1900s, Walthamstow Village has witnessed some significant and positive changes in recent years.
Whilst maintaining its ancestral charm and picturesque backwater, containing many relics from its historic past, the ‘Village’ has still managed to develop a quaint and charismatic high street, boasting a wide range of independent shops and businesses that cater to all needs.
Sam Davies, owner of the Village Bakery, has been in the village herself for more than ten years and has observed massive transformations. She says: ‘Things have started to change a lot around here over the last four to five years; it has become really trendy. When I first established my bakery shop in the village, none of these vibrant businesses were here. So much has changed, but it is all for the better.’
The Village Bakery produces scrumptious homemade goods including freshly made bread, sandwiches, cakes and delicious smoothies, and most importantly, it is evident that the bakery is very much a big part of the community. Sam continues: ‘It is such a lovely small area and everyone knows each other well. It is like a mini-Holland village where you really have everything you could possibly need.’ The community ambience is infectious in this historic patch, which reflects especially well on the residents, local businesses and visitors too.
Another thriving business to witness the transformation is Village Kitchen, a restaurant dishing out uncomplicated European dishes in a beautiful and relaxed setting.
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Owner and passionate chef Spiros Ragavelas has spent the past 20 years perfecting his art in the kitchen and has seen people’s choice in food change over that period.
‘It has revolutionized massively - when I first came to Walthamstow, they didn’t know what a cappuccino was! It has slowly transformed over the years and peoples taste for food has totally changed. It has enabled me to bring in innovative dishes, which have proven to be very popular. People are really keen to try different types of foods here now, which is fantastic and it shows they have a great pallet.’
The restaurant is also known for its mouth-watering roasts and exceptional breakfasts, and takes pride in everything it serves. ‘I love what I do and I am proud of my restaurant, from creating each dish from scratch to teaching the chefs in the kitchen. They have all started from the pots and worked their way up. I personally source my own ingredients, ensuring customers enjoy the best produce on the market. It is an added bonus that I have lovely local clientele who are so friendly; it is so easy to have a relationship with the customers and chat to them. It is a friendship as well as a business.’
Hanna Maayuf, manager at Village Kitchen, couldn’t agree more with the opinion that the Village has a fantastic vibe and locals are very lucky to have this environment and accessibility on their doorstep. She explains: ‘There is so much to do around here, especially at the weekend, it is suited to everyone. When people think of Walthamstow they always think of the market town and the market is not what it used to be. It is liked someone has picked the village up and planted it in Walthamstow.’
She adds:‘It is a hidden gem, and when it gets found out, it gets found out - there is no rush and there are enough people who know about the village. It is all about independence down here and we all look out for each other, which is vital. Everyone gets on and despite having some healthy competition between us, we also enjoy dining at each others eateries.’
The Village is regularly described as one big family who all look out for each other and their businesses to create a healthy environment for all. With such a broad range of shops across the strip, why would you need to go anywhere else to buy your everyday necessities and goods?
Debbie Bliss Home was launched in 2014 by Debbie Bliss MBE to explore her love of design, with knitting-inspired products designed and made in England. Living local to the village for many years, the perfect opportunity eventually arose for Debbie to expand into ‘bricks and mortar’ in Walthamstow Village with her daughter Nell and friend Lottie Carter to showcase the best in design the world has to offer. From fragrances by Compagnie de Provence to collectible stationery by Midori and washable paper storage bags from Uashmama, Debbie and her girls have a wonderful range to get stuck into.
Debbie explains that the area has the best of both worlds being near the country and the city and she encourages everyone to come and visit during the summer months, when everyone is sitting outside enjoying life. ‘It has such a lovely atmosphere around here and everyone is genuinely relaxed. My daughter and I know a lot of people around here, as we are always the ones in the pubs and restaurants you can never get rid off!
‘Everyone was so supportive when we opened our shop up’ adds Debbie. ‘The shop just fitted in perfectly with everyone else around us. There is such a great loyal local community spirit that gives us the confidence we need. This is really what you expect from a village - it is friendly and has all the best things about a village. For people in London, there is nowhere like this for them so this is a great place for them to experience.’
The Village is a stones throw away from Walthamstow Rail and Bus Stations, or a short drive off the North Circular. So why not plan a trip?