Nutter Lane, A Brief History

Nutter Lane is the oldest of the nine roads within the boundaries covered by the Counties Residents' Association (CRA) and is in fact one of the oldest roads in Wanstead. The previous name for the road was George Lane, in reference to the George Public House (a.k.a. George Inn, George and Dragon Inn and George Hotel) located at the end of Wanstead High Street. The change from George Lane to Nutter Lane occurred in 1934 as a result of the construction of the Eastern Avenue and more recently the top half of the old George Lane has been renamed Kingfisher Avenue as a result of the A12 link road construction at the end of the 20th century. The pedestrian bridge at the end of Nutter Lane which crosses the Eastern Avenue was installed as part of the link road construction and replaced the first bridge installed towards the end of the 1960s. Just prior to the first bridge being installed Nutter Lane was accessible by car from the Eastern Avenue and shortly before that the junction also allowed exit onto the Eastern Avenue.

In addition to previously having been known as George Lane, the same road has been referred to as George Street and Wanstead Lane. However, the former of these aliases may simply have been a typographic error due to the lack of formal road name signs at the time and the latter is as yet unsupported by any primary historical evidence. The name Nutter Lane was awarded in honour of a local family of benefactors called "Nutter" who donated Nutter Field in 1921 to the people of Wanstead for their recreation and leisure. In the extracts from two maps below you can clearly see the two former names of Nutter Lane.

  Map No.4: London Geographers Map ~1901-1933
Map No.6 Extract from the Survey of Essex
by John Chapman and Peter Andre
published 1st October 1777
  Map No.4: London Geographers Map ~1901-1933

Misc No.1: Letter from council to change name of road.

Misc No.1: A letter from the council advising of the change of road name.


Misc No.2: A gas meter reading card from just prior to the road name change


Nutter Lane contains and contained numerous buildings of historic and architectural significance:-

Applegarth
Constructed around 1730, the former home of the Nutter Sisters, daughters of a wealthy wholesale cheese merchant in the city and the only listed building (Grade 2) within the boundaries of the CRA. The sisters, Mary, Gertrude and Jessie are all buried within St. Mary's Churchyard and it was in memory of Jessie who died in 1925 that Mary and Gertrude donated the east window at Christ Church off Wanstead High Street. Other prominent donations weres a fifteen inch Alms dish in 1899 in memory of Richard W Nutter churchwarden of Christchurch from 1853 to 1861 and in 1892 an eight inch cup with seven and a half in paten.

In the following picture you can see Applegarth in the background on the left hand side with its chained posts just visible. Unusually the pathway outside Applegarth is not part of the public highway, although it is generally only on Christmas Day that the chains prevent the use of the path by the public. One of the curb stones beneath the chains is larger and higher than the rest, this was to assist with the mounting and dismounting of horses when they were the primary means of transport at the time. To this date there is a small semi-circular patch of ground opposite the entrance to Applegarth (not now part of its grounds) which was necessary, due to the narrowness of the lane, to provide a sufficient "turning circle" for the carriages. It is possible, although purely speculative, that the name Applegarth is in reference to Thomas APPLEGERTH a 15th century Rector of Wanstead. The brick wall on the foreground on the left hand side formed part of the grounds of Applegarth until the construction of Nos.17-21 Nutter Lane in 1967.
 

Picture No.3: Fir Tree Cottage (RHS) and Applegarth (LHS) 1928

Picture No.3: Fir Tree Cottage (RHS) and Applegarth (LHS) 1928


Fir Tree Cottage
In the foreground and on the right hand side of the above picture Fir Tree Cottage can been seen, its name taken from the fir tree that is clearly visible just to the left of centre in the background. Fir Tree cottage was located on the land now occupied by No.s 12-18 Nutter Lane and was demolished during the early 1930s. A more recent picture of the area shows the modern buildings with the somewhat sorry looking fir tree still in place. The fir tree is located within the carriage "turning circle" mentioned above under Applegarth.
 

Picture No.4: A modern view of Nutter Lane c2000

Picture No.4: A modern view of Nutter Lane c2000


Grove Cottage
Grove Cottage was a two-storey timber framed house with a weatherboarded facade and tiled roof, constructed in the the early 17th century and stood on the corner of Nutter Lane and Leicester Road, although at the time of construction Leicester Road had no name and was little more than a bridal path through the grounds of Wanstead Grove House. Grove Cottage at its time of demolition in 1957 was the oldest building in Wanstead and the current bungalows occupying it's site were constructed by the owners of Chepstow on Leicester Road. One of the final inhabitants of Grove Cottage was Mr. G. Booth, the Mayor of Wanstead and Woodford from 1945 to 1946. The picture and sketch below show Grove Cottage with Leicester Road off to the right and Nutter Lane heading towards the Eastern Avenue to the left. Interestingly both the picture and sketch show what looks like identical chains and posts to those outside Applegarth (see above). The photograph (c1928) also clearly shows a gas street lantern which was still in operation until the late 1960s.
 

Sketch No.4 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century. Picture No.2 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century.
Sketch No.4 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century Cottage. Picture No.2 - Grove Cottage, Early 17th Century Cottage (1928).

 

Chepstow Cottages
These four buildings (No.57-63 odd), generally referred to as the Chepstow Cottages but predating Chepstow itself by well over 50 years, are the the only four buildings within the boundaries of the CRA to have obtained a Local Listing Status by the London Borough of Redbridge. These cottages were constructed in 1892, are also referred to occasionally as Roding Cottages and replaced two thatched cottages, the thatching thought to have been unique with Wanstead at the time.

 

Squires Cottages
A row of seven workmans cottages used to stand opposite the Chepstow Cottages on the land now occupied by the bowls and football/cricket club buildings. The name "Squires" is in reference to the builder of the cottages and not the social status of the occupants. They are described as being diminutive one-up/one-down buildings with tiled roofs and were eventually demolished during the early 20th century.

Sketch No.5, Squires Cottages

Russell Builders
Mr. Russell, head of a building company of the same name, constructed and lived in No.15 Nutter Lane from approximately 1930. The material used for the construction of this house were thought to be "left overs!" from the construction by Mr. Russell of Thorpe Combe Maternity Hospital in Walthamstow. Russell Builders were also responsible for the temporary relocation of the fountain on The Green to facilitate the progress of military convoys along the A12 during World War II.

 

Roding Farm
George Lane eventually ran into the approach to a farm that now forms Buttercup Field and the allotments behind Preston Drive and extended down to the River Roding (hence the name). It however has previously been referred to as Knights Farm (this is supported by the Census data) and Swan's Farm in reference to its owner, although as yet no primary historical evidence has been found..

 

Nutter Field
Nutter Field is currently used by the Wanstead Bowls Club, the Wanstead Cricket and Football Club and the Drummond Lawn Tennis Club (almost certainly named after Rev Morton Drummond, Rector 1879-1888). Social and sporting activities have been undertaken on this land since its donation to Wanstead by the Nutter Sisters (see Applegarth above) as can be seen on this extract from a pamphlet from 1939 titled "Wanstead Parish Diary, Blotter and Year Book" published by St. Mary's and Christchurch.

Misc No.3, St. Mary's and Christchurch Pamphlet 1939.


Newspaper Articles
Due to the unusual name, there have been several newspaper articles over the years about the road. the Local Guardian featured a small article regarding a bemused radio presenter not believing such a road existed, and the Telegraph featured an article about unusual road names in general and gave Nutter Lane a mention.

The CRA would like to acknowledge the following parties/sources:-

Malcolm Dowers Author of this page
John Spong, Source material.
Winifred Easement, Wanstead Through the Ages
J E Tuffs, The Story of Wanstead and Woodford

CRA Ref history00002, All rights reserved, E&OE.