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Set sail and get creative with Ship Ahoy!

Redbridge Museum’s new exhibition opened just last week and the kids already love it!

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When I arrived at the exhibition, a little before opening time at 10am, I wasn’t the first one there. There were already at least ten children standing at the doors, anxiously waiting to be let into the Ship Ahoy! exhibition, ready to explore everything that was to offer. Some of them had already been signed up by parents to the morning activity that day ‘Build a Barge’ – where children could use recycled materials, scissors, tape and colouring pens to create their own boats.

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From the minute you enter the exhibition, it feels like you’ve been transported to a different place and time. Waves of blue colours on the floor reflect the vast seas, and twinkling lights give the impression of night sky, setting the scene for a truly magical experience. Hard to miss is the adult size (or perhaps child size) ship, all-inclusive with a deck, sails, wheel and even a kitchen! Kids were excited to play-act captain and crew as they imagined sailing the wild seas. The exhibition also includes something a little different this summer, sea-related board games positioned throughout the room! The giant Spice Traders board game includes two large wheels to spin carrying the game forward. For our more musically inclined visitors there is a section to sing along to sea shanties and play with instruments.

After half an hour exploring the exhibition we moved across the hall to the Gloucester Room where tables, chairs and supplies were set out for the activity. Led by our museum assistant Aki, the children were given a history of Ilford docks and the river Roding. One of the highlights of the activity was getting to visit the museum on the 2nd floor. The children listened intently as Aki told them about working at the docks and then each child was given a chance to use a magnifying glass to locate the river on the map.

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Returning to the activity room, children were given a chance to plan out their boats before being called up table by table to pick out their supplies. This was where the real fun began! The kids were back and forth, picking out the right bottles, the perfect colours and just the right material to make their perfect ship. The kids were able to get really creative with their ideas, when asked about what they enjoyed most one child said that they “enjoyed putting the strawberries on the boat” while another “enjoyed making the captain.”

The fun was not just limited to the children though! Even the parents were having an amazing time bonding with their children over this great activity. One parent said that “planning the barge with [their] son” was their favourite part!

It was a joy to see the proud and enthusiastic look on each child’s face after they were finished. Aki and our museum volunteer Jemima did a great job leading the workshop and assisting throughout the activity while I spent most of the time photographing the entire process, being a fly on the wall to ensure the children weren’t distracted, however even I was approached by a young boy who asked if I could take a picture of him with his finished boat. That was a request that I was more than happy to fulfil!

Before the session came to an end, some of the children wanted to tell the class a little about their boats. One by one the children talked about why they chose the colours and materials they did, and what they loved most about their boat. They had put so much effort into their creation, and you couldn’t help but feel proud of each of them.  A final group photo was taken before each child left the session, with their creations held tightly in their hands.

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This was just the first of many activities taking place during the exhibition run. There are plenty more to come in the next few weeks including making your own map, designing a flag for your own ship and singing sea songs and rhymes!

For more information on events visit our museum events page.

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Post Author: Nida Hussain



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Creative play with glass

I had been promising myself for ages that I would make time and book myself on a creative workshop at Valentines Mansion, and I am so pleased that I did and to add to the pleasure,  I had talked one of my old school friends into joining me so it gave us time to have a catch up too!

So we spent an enjoyable morning yesterday under the guidance of Amanda Seljubac on her Fused Glass Workshop, me creating my very own glass design on a coaster and my friend Tracey making both a window hanger and a coaster.

The morning started with us all arriving and introducing ourselves, it was a nice small friendly group of 9, all keen to get started. We were given books to look through for inspiration and then shown examples of other people’s work to help us focus on what we wanted to create.  Amanda talked us through the various materials that would be available for us to use and passed them around for us to familiarise ourselves with.

My goodness, that was an eye opener, so many different forms of glass; frits and powders, stringers, confetti, millefiori and glassline pens plus other materials which we could incorporate such as copper, glassline paper and tinned copper wire.

First things first, we had to come up with our design idea, I plumped for a phoenix type bird from one of the books that we had looked at, perhaps a bit ambitious but hey ho, in for a penny, in for a pound! Amanda recommended that I draw around my coaster and then sketch my design freehand into the space which I did.  Then the fun began, I used different coloured glassline pens for the outline of my bird, then frits to infill the body and confetti on the wings with stringers for the tail feathers. I used a very thin paint brush and tweezers to help me, I kept adding more and more to my bird as I strived for the look I wanted. Each tiny piece of glass had to be glued onto the glass and boy was it fiddly! But the experience gripped me with a passion. The final piece to my puzzle was to add some copper wire into the tail feathers as it changes colour during firing, but Amanda told us that it was unpredictable, so I wanted to see what would happen.

My friend Tracey managed to create a lovely glass hanger commemorating the birth of her first granddaughter using tiny copper feet and yellow powders with millefiori flowers either end. But bitten by the bug, she also decided to do an abstract coaster using larger pieces of coloured glass and stringers!

One other lady on the workshop had been to numerous classes before and had made two items, one a beautiful abstract coaster for which she had cut the glass into curves and fitted different colours together. Susan who sat opposite me had made a beautiful Kingfisher on the water’s edge whilst another lady made a window hanging gift for her mother’s 80th birthday.

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All of us are eager to see our final creations which will be ready to collect at the weekend and agreed that we thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and would like to do it again.

Afterwards, we enjoyed the sunshine by having lunch in the grounds of the mansion at the Gardeners Cottage Café, talking about the workshop and catching up on old times. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Amanda is one of the resident artists’ that have a permanent studio on the top floor of the mansion, which, in a past life, had been the servant’s quarters. To find out more about her work visit her website:

Amanda specialises in stained glass, pottery and stone carving. If you fancy taking a peek at her studio or any of the other artists in residence, you can do so on one of the regular Open studio days. For details of the next one or to discover what other events are coming up visit the Valentines Mansion website:

Post Author: Cathy Pace

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Experiencing The Streets

Last Weekend the Streets music festival came to Ilford and graced our highstreet with incredible music and creativity that got the crowds gathering and dancing along to the contagious beats. Throughout the day the weather was perfect, the sun was shining and plenty of people were out and about which helped to create a lively atmosphere. With a range of activities from a singalong in the morning to dances in the evening there was something for every age range and member of the family. It was wonderful seeing everyone get involved.

The Streets 2016 July - Banners

It was incredible to see and experience the range of genres that The Streets had brought to town. The Spare Tyre band had everyone gathering around, interacting, clapping and singing along with their modern take on beats, involving and encouraging crowd participation. It was even better so see everyone with a huge smile on their face as the catchy rhythms filled the air with an upbeat vibe. All of their instruments were made out of recyclable materials, sending a positive message along with each song.

The Streets 2016 July - Spare Tyre 2

Locations around the town became venues for live talent such as The General Havelock Public House which hosted the Spinettes. The vintage trio brought their own take to some classic songs and artists from the Andrews Sisters to the king himself – Elvis Presley. Seeing everyone make their way in and rock out to the harmonies that The Spinettes provided was something purely magical. The comfortable setting made a perfect venue to really sit back and enjoy a classic choice of songs whilst having a cold drink, that was if you weren’t already on your feet swaying away which many people were at the time. By the end of their performance everyone wanted more, which luckily for them, there was – they were performing once more in the Kenneth More Theatre later on that evening so those who missed out on earlier performances would be able to catch them there, or if they enjoyed the first shows they could always swing by.

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The event itself was extremely well organised with everything running to time and a schedule which allowed people to catch performances throughout the day. After one performance finished there was always another lined up straight away, which never led to a dull moment. There were a vast range of performers and each one was fantastic in their own way. We had local talent from the City Gates Choir to the leading beatbox artists in the UK performing for us and it was remarkable to see what we have to offer right on our doorstep.

For those reading and feeling left out of the festivities we have The Streets coming back in November so keep your eyes peeled for more information and a list of performers to look forward to! Keep up-to-date by visiting the website:

Priya Devandran


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Let’s take it to ‘The Streets’

One of the best things about London is how much is going on around every corner, and in each and every community. Festivals like The Streets are doing excellent work to highlight some of the capital’s local gems.”  Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London)

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House Gospel Choir

After its successful launch last year, The Streets returns this summer with weekends packed with performances, workshops, parades and pop-up events. This year features an ambitious programme showcasing the local streetscapes of outer London, engaging and surprising residents with unexpected performances aiming to revitalise the high street for local communities and businesses. On Saturday 16Sunday 17 July, the event reaches Ilford where a diverse and exciting range of events and artists singing from a variety of genres will take to the streets. The event will showcase a stunning selection of featured and local artists who will perform in a Choir Clock – a performance on the hour every hour.

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Fullwood Primary Choir

Local artists include the City Gates Choir, who are based in City Gates Church in Ilford, and have been in existence for over 20 years. They are a diverse group of people of all ages and carry a unique sound of passionate and colourful harmonies! Glade Community Singers are an adult community choir established in April 2013, and are an enthusiastic group who perform regularly at local events. Their varied and eclectic repertoire includes gospel, multi-cultural, contemporary, jazz and folk. Inspiring and animated, the Spare Tyre Band will get your toes tapping to their driving rhythms and impulsive beats. This inclusive band, featuring performers with learning disabilities, create their own instruments made from recycled materials. The Fullwood Primary Choir are our youngest performers at the event. The ever-growing group of spirited and enthusiastic 8 – 11 year olds love a challenge and tackle all songs thrown at them with an impressive tenacity. The Streets will provide them the opportunity to showcase highlights from their performance of the musical ‘Oliver!Dhruv Ensembles, Shadja & Panchama, have been present since 2004, and have nearly offered 120 concerts to date. Shadja, the tonal note in Indian classical, comprises of children featuring Indian classical music choir singing of young children. Panchama is the 5th natural note in Indian music and features young people playing the violin. Both Shadja & Panchama help build team spirit and other soft skills alongside the main theme, Indian classical music. Equal emphasis is laid on classical Carnatic and contemporary genres.It is both an audio and visual delight to see the children on stage with some of the orchestra members are as young as 6 years old!

Our featured artists include The Spinettes, a glamorous, vintage inspired trio formed of London West End and International performers. These beautiful starlets are sure to have those toes tapping, hips swinging and voices singing, with hits from the 40s, 50s, 60s and more. Travel back in time and experience these timeless classics. The House Gospel Choir are famous for delivering a live show that’s epic in every sense of the word. Performing house hits in true gospel choir style, the choir bring together outstanding voices and musicians and take them to a place where spirituality and euphoria meet. The Beatbox Collective is formed of the leading beatbox artists in the UK. Each credited for their respective styles and statuses, they have merged to form incredibly high impact and energetic shows, ranging from live music production of all genres, physical theatrics and crowd participation. The London Gay Men’s Chorus has over 200 members, and is the largest gay choir in Europe. The Chorus entertains, inspires and educates through song – performing a diverse range of music to the highest technical standard and regularly playing to sell-out crowds. If you want song delivered with unfettered enthusiasm, alongside vibrant and original arrangements, then LGMC are not to be missed!

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The Beatbox Collective

Along with a host of amazing live performances, The Streets is a chance for families to get involved and brush up their singing skills in our very special Disney workshops! Fun for the whole family, you will have a chance to learn and perform songs from Disney’s Frozen and The Jungle Book. The workshops will be run by Katy Seath, an experienced choir leader and singer, working with both children and adults for over 10 years. Everyone can enjoy singing songs they know and also have fun with things they don’t – all connecting them to the wonderful worlds from each story. Rhythm, movement and voices will bring the whole group together in perfect harmony!

If you would like to find out more about the event and locations, please visit The Streets website.


Workshops at Redbridge Central Library

For more on The Streets, including the schedule of performances visit our website.

Visit The Streets website for more on the event.

Posted by Nida Hussain

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Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016

On Thursday 7 July 2016, over 230 enthusiastic readers, budding writers along with their school librarians and teachers celebrated this year’s Redbridge Children’s Book Awards in a buzzing, exciting ceremony at Redbridge Town Hall.

Students from seventeen secondary schools and eight primary schools across Redbridge, Havering and Newham voted for their favourite children’s and teenage book published in 2015.

With such a vast and amazing selection of books voted upon, the final winners were announced. Car-jacked by Ali Sparkes, won the Children’s category and One by Sarah Crossan won the Teenage Category.

Ali Sparkes

We were delighted to have three of the shortlisted authors present at the awards ceremony – Ali Sparkes, Holly Bourne and Teri Terry.  Unfortunately Sarah Crossan, winner of the teenage award, was unable to attend but sent a lovely message.

I’m so delighted to have won The Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2016. Regional awards are so important in inspiring young people to try new books, and I’m just so sad I can’t be there to celebrate the shortlisted titles. I really hope you’ve all enjoyed reading the books and I do hope to meet some of you soon for book chats. Lots of love, Sarah.

The event was also an opportunity for the winners of the writing and poetry competitions that took place across the schools to be presented with their prizes. The poetry competition was judged by David Fulton, lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University and the short story competition was judged by author and Head of Bancrofts Prep School, Joe Layburn.


It was a tough decision for the judges, as there were so many great entries to choose from! Mia Thomas from Fairlop Primary won the junior poetry competition with her poem, 5 SensesAyesha Ahmed from Woodford County High School won the teenage category with the poem Am I Invisible. Suamaya Zanab from Wanstead High School won the junior short story competition with her story, ChangeAnnie Walker from Wanstead High School won the teenage category with her story, The Miserable Life of Ernie Thomas.  Winners were presented with a book token, a fiction book and a copy of this year’s anthology of all shortlisted poems and stories.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the event, especially the authors who gave up their time to be present, students and teachers who participated so enthusiastically and a very special thank you to my team in the Redbridge Schools’ Library Service who worked very hard behind the scenes to ensure the afternoon was such a success.


The book award is organised by Redbridge Schools’ Library Service and sponsored by MLS (Micro Librarian Systems).

Nina Simon, Redbridge Schools’ Library Service

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Fairlop Fair Flypast

This past weekend, on 2-3 July we had a fantastic time at the Fairlop Fair! There was lots to do for all the family including children’s rides, a selection of fantastic stalls and some great competitions. The greatest highlight of the event was the unique opportunity to witness the Hurricane flypast that took place on Saturday afternoon!

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Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Fairlop Heritage Group was fortunate in being granted flypast by an RAF Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at Coningsby Lincolnshire. The Pilot on this occasion was Lt. Andy Preece, flying overhead to commemorate a number of historical Fairlop events.

These include; the Centenary of the Royal Navy Air Station and Royal Flying Corps at Fairlop in 1916, 75 years since RAF Station Fairlop was operational, to celebrate the 90th birthday of our member Max Bean (formerly a rear gunner in a Lancaster Bomber, who served with 115 Squadron, Bomber Command), and finally, to remember the death of a Constable George Hall at Fairlop Fair on 5 July 1846. He was age 20 and had been married for four months.

The weather was most kind and the thousands who attended, were treated to a magnificent display, which took place at precisely 3pm.

Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Credit: Fairlop Heritage Group

Afterwards, The Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, his Consort Sunita Bhamra, Wes Streeting MP as Patron of Fairlop Heritage Group, Sergeant Matthew Fox Metropolitan Police and Mike Gapes MP, took part in an informal ceremony at the Fairlop Memorial to lay floral tributes in the memory of Constable George Hall.

David Martin, Fairlop Heritage Group