We’re entering a world of controversy here. What category do I enter South Woodford in? Is it Essex? London North? London East? It’s difficult to know the correct protocol here – my usual tactic of insisting on Essex to the chagrin of Woodforders falls down in the almost incontrovertible evidence of Wikipedia. For that reason, it’s going in East: my mental map dictates that anything right of the River Lea is East, and so East it is.
Now that’s cleared up, down to business. For a small shopping zone centred around George Lane, South Woodford punches above its weight in terms of charity shops. The tube station that carves through that street rends the CBD in two, and where once a level crossing joined them, now a subway or flyover leaves not much worth visiting on the Eastern side, and a small but cosy high street affair on the West. It’s George Lane West that is the centre of the bargain shopping district here, with a good five charity shops piling up on top of each other to get a look in.
Starting at the station, firstly is a rather odd Barnardos. It houses the occasional item of bric-a-brac, but predominantly it’s factory seconds, or donated warehouse stock. As such, it’s priced well above the odds for a charity shop, with the pay off that the clothes are brand new. Not really for me.
Also on George Lane we find a Haven House hospice shop with a fairly standard selection; a pretty decent book selection in the Childrens’ Society; a well-stocked Cancer Research (natch) and the rambling splendour (although not much to buy this time); HEAL – it doesn’t quite make up for the missing one in Epping, but it’s a start.
On this trip I found… well, not much really. The biggest resentment was seeing a lady at the laden bookshelves of Haven House holding a Roland Barthes book- Mythologies - that I would certainly have snapped up. I came away instead with Falling Down, much to the approval of the lady volunteers. South Woodford is great for bargains on the right day; this just wasn’t really it.
Find: Charity Shop Tourism @ Google Maps
Transport: South Woodford station on the Central Line
Consume with: not out of personal recommendation, but I can’t fault the naming principle behind The Oven D’Or.
Visit: Honestly, there’s not a lot of reason other than bargain-hunting to come here. You’d be best combining it with a trip out East, or up to the Forest.
Overall rating: Three Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required