The area around Wanstead Flats remained pretty rural 'til about 1900. The London suburbs gradually crept further and further east. The area south of Capel Road was built over in the period 1875-1890 but on the north side of the Flats it was after 1905 when the housing development really got going, creating what is now the Aldersbrook estate on what had been historically part of the Flats.

On Aldersbrook Road itself from the 1850s there had been a model farm, keeping grazing animals and growing crops.

Aldersbrook Farm was originally located under what is now the City of London cemetery.

When those fields were bought by the City of London in the 1850s to created the huge cemetery, the farm was relocated a little to the west next to what is now Heatherwood Gardens.

The farm adapted over the years as it became swallowed up by the suburbs. They started selling milk door to door from their dairy in Park Road (now the branch library), and then as the motor car became more popular they started selling petrol, as well as potatoes in what we would today call a farm shop.

Aldersbrook farm after WW2

Though still recognisably a farm, note also the petrol pump on the right of the image selling Esso.

The same site today still sells Esso on Aldersbrook Road and the flats in Heatherwood Gradens were built on part of the site.

There is a more local Forest Gate example of a building selling milk locally adapting over time and moving on to petrol. This photo has recently emerged from a family album. It shows a petrol station somewhere in Forest Gate pre WW2.

Peter Williams was able to work out the location from some clues. And it turns out to be at 10 Capel Road, now the site of modern houses. The green posts in the foreground on the pavement were from the Q8 petrol station forecourt that was on this site until about twenty years ago.

Pre-war petrol station at 10 Capel Road

Peter’s friend and collaborator Mark Gorman was then able to find the advert for the Autodrome at 10 Capel Road in the digitised newspapers via a 6th January 1939 edition of the West Ham and South Essex Mail that clinched the identification.

The modern houses date from about the year 2000 when they replaced a modern petrol station on the site of the 1930s Autodrome.

Peter and Mark are the authors of the 2022 book 'Forest Gate - a short illustrated history' available from Number 8 Emporium. The book contains a few then and now pictures from the area, and lots of fascinating detail on old Forest Gate.