LOCKED in a cabinet in Redbridge Town Hall there sits a mace which once occupied pride of place in the old Town Hall in South Woodford as the symbol of the municipal borough of Wanstead & Woodford.

The mace was presented to the council by none other than Sir Winston Churchill, who was himself the MP for the old Woodford parliamentary constituency.

The municipal borough of Wanstead & Woodford was scrapped in 1965, joining with Ilford to create the new borough of Redbridge.

Maureen Hoskins, now 75, is one of the last surviving councillors from the municipal borough council.

She recalled: “I was the youngest councillor, and when the proposals to change were mooted there was a very heated debate.

“A lot of people did their shopping in Walthamstow and it seemed like a more sensible choice to me to join with them rather than Ilford, but it wasn’t to be.”

Mrs Hoskins, who is married to Church End councillor Richard Hoskins, says life on the old council was very different.

She explained: “There weren’t many women on the council back then, and at 24, I was the youngest by 10 or 20 years.

“All the ladies wore hats to council meetings. It was expected in the same way that men were expected to wear suits.”

The current Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Chris Cummins, grew up in Snaresbrook and remembers when the old municipal council was scrapped.

He said: “My father was not very keen on the idea of Wanstead & Woodford joining with anyone else.

“He wanted things to remain as they were. I suppose a few of the older generation at the time were apprehensive.”

As Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Cummins is obviously very committed to his borough, but he does admit recent proposals to bring back the old parliamentary constituency of Wanstead & Woodford hold an appeal.

He said: “It would make a more natural constituency than Wanstead & Leyton I think.

“That’s a particularly prevalent opinion among the older generation in the area.

“I think Redbridge Council have done their part in helping maintain that sense of community identification with the various conservation areas.”

Cllr Cummins thinks the memory of Winston Churchill helps create a strong pull among the older generation who hanker after the return of a Wanstead & Woodford parliamentary constituency.

“I have vivid memories of seeing Churchill and Viscount Montgomery travelling through the streets of Snaresbrook after the unveiling of the Churchill statue in Woodford Green,” he said. “As each new generation comes along the memory starts to dim slightly, but it’s still there and one of the reasons why Wanstead & Woodford has such a strong community identity.”