Category Archives: Local news

Work to improve stations and tracks on TfL Rail continues

Work to upgrade stations, track, and other parts of the TfL Rail route between Liverpool Street and Shenfield will continue at weekends in the first few months of 2018.

Over a series of ten weekends from late January to March, a number of essential weekend closures will allow improvement work to be carried out in advance of Elizabeth line services commencing later this year. While these are carried out, buses will replace trains along the route.

The Elizabeth line will transform transport in London with quicker, easier and more accessible journeys across the Capital once fully operational in December next year. It will also support thousands of new homes and jobs in London and the South East.

A great deal of work has already taken place and customers going through Manor Park station will have seen the new footbridge and lift structure that has been installed as part of work to make the station accessible for everyone. Work will continue at the station during the weekend closures, including fitting the glazing and cladding to the footbridge and lifts.

Transport for London (TfL) will also continue working on the lifts and footbridges at Seven Kings and on the installation of new lifts at Maryland which are due to come into passenger use later this year. This will bring step-free access to these stations, and all Elizabeth line stations will be step-free, significantly improving the accessibility of the transport network. This complements the Mayor’s plan for 40 per cent of the London Underground network to be step-free by 2022.

During these closures, platform canopies at Chadwell Heath, Goodmayes and Ilford will also be repaired and redecorated, which can only be done at times when trains are not running and overhead power lines are switched off.

Network Rail will also continue with their station improvements, installing structures that carry overhead wires and replacing a further eight kilometres of overhead wiring between Ilford and Manor Park during the weekend closures. They will complete the remodelling of the sidings and the signalling upgrade at Gidea Park as well as completing the link between the Elizabeth line central tunnels and the Great Eastern Main Line to Shenfield.

Howard Smith, Operations Director for TfL Rail, said: “I’d like to thank customers for their patience while TfL and Network Rail continue to prepare for the Elizabeth line opening from December this year. I apologise for the disruption to regular weekend travel, but it’s vital that this work is done to improve the railway and upgrade the stations to make them accessible for all. The Elizabeth line will make life much easier for people along the route and will transform travel across London.”

The introduction of the Elizabeth line is a central part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which seeks to reduce reliance on the car and tackle air pollution by encouraging greater use of public transport.

Weekend closures are as follows:

Sunday 21 January
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Sunday 28 January
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 February
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 February
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

There will also be a reduced service on the line on Saturdays in January between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield.

The Elizabeth line will open from December 2018, operating initially as three separate services:
Paddington to Abbey Wood
Paddington to Heathrow
Liverpool Street to Shenfield

From May 2019, customers from Shenfield will be able to travel directly through central London to the West End and Paddington without needing to change trains.

TfL is undertaking a major programme of investment to improve accessibility at stations across the network. The ability for everyone to travel spontaneously and independently is at the heart of this approach. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy seeks to do more than just improve physical infrastructure but also address overcrowding, safety and affordability. More information is available here:

Hollyoaks actor James Sutton to star in Rope

Casting has been announced for the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich production of Patrick Hamilton’s gripping thriller, Rope.

James Sutton, who is best-known for playing John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks a role he was thrice nominated for a British Soap Award and shortlisted for a National Television Award – and Ryan Lamb in Emmerdale, has been cast as Charles Granillo in this chilling play. He will be joined by Janet Amsden, Cara Chase, Sam Jenkins-Shaw, George Kemp, Fred Lancaster, Nico Pimparé and Phoebe Sparrow. It runs in Hornchurch from 15 February – 3 March.

Based on a 1920’s real-life case, this dark classic was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 and remains to this day one of the most tightly coiled of thrillers. It will be directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul, who directed James Sutton in As You Like It at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to announce that due to phenomenal demand, it is extending its run of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert by a week. This regional professional premiere of this glamorously feel-good musical by Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott will now play at the Queen’s Theatre from 27 April – 26 May. Booking for these additional dates is now on sale.

The Theatre’s spring season also includes the deeply moving and timely modern classic, Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. This heart-warming play is co-produced by the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg in association with Selladoor Productions (the producers of last year’s acclaimed revival of The Crucible). This production marks the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, which saw thousands of Jewish children ferried from Austria and Germany to safety in the UK and 25 years since the play was written. It runs in Hornchurch from 8 – 24 March, at Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg from 27 – 31 March and then tours across the UK to New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Richmond Theatre and Manchester Opera House.

Theatregoers can enjoy all three of these productions with a money-saving Jump the Q season ticket from £42 (£14 per show). This special offer must end by Saturday 3 March.

For more information about the forthcoming season at the Queen’s Theatre and to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 01708 443333

Did you experience the Kindertransport?

Did you experience the Kindertransport 80 years ago? Was your relative one of the thousands of children rescued through the Kindertransport before the outbreak of World War II? If so, and you’re local to Essex / East London, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch wants to hear from you.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is bringing this rich piece of history to the stage. It is estimated that 10,000 children were evacuated from Europe into the UK through the Kindertransport to escape the threat of World War II. The train came through Harwich to London Liverpool Street with many children being rehomed in Essex.

The theatre is reaching out to people in Essex and East London who experienced the Kindertransport or know of someone who had a connection with the rescue mission to get in touch. They will be able to share stories and memories and have the chance to connect with other individuals who have come forward.

To share your experience with the theatre please call Rachel as soon as possible on 01708 462376 or email and she will be happy to answer any further questions.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is co-producing Diane Samuels’ extraordinary and haunting play, Kindertransport, which she wrote 25 years ago, with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg in association with Selladoor Productions. Kindertransport runs in Hornchurch from 8 – 24 March, plays at Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg from 27 – 31 March and then embarks on a UK tour to the New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Richmond Theatre and Manchester Opera House.

To book tickets for Kindertransport at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch visit or call the Box Office on 01708 443333.

Beauty and the Beast

Panto season is one of the most joyous and magical times of the year and no one should feel excluded from enjoying the wonders of Pantomime.

Following such positive feedback from providing a Relaxed Performance and a Dementia-Friendly performance at last year’s panto Cinderella, the Queen’s Theatre is delighted to be offering these two specially adapted performances again for this year’s festive extravaganza, Beauty and the Beast.

These adapted performances welcomes people of all ages who will benefit from a relaxed, quieter and supportive environment including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, a learning disability or Dementia.

The theatre welcomes those who may usually be prevented from visiting the theatre to attend these tailored performances. Relaxed performances provide a comfortable setting for audience members who might find it difficult to follow the usual conventions of theatre etiquette. By creating an informal environment it will enable patrons to just be themselves without the need for families or carers to worry about the effect it may have on others around them. It is assured that audience noise is permitted throughout the performance and individuals who may feel overwhelmed are free to leave to a ‘chill out’ area in the foyer and return when they feel ready at any point during the show. House lights will be kept on throughout the performances, extremely loud noises and flashing lights will be removed or reduced and additional staff will be on hand to provide extra assistance front of house.

The Relaxed Performance will take place on Tuesday 2 January at 5.30pm and the Dementia-Friendly Performance will take place on Wednesday 3 January at 1.30pm. Tickets for these Relaxed Performances are £12.50. To book tickets please call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or stop by in person to discuss your requirements.

Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Martin Berry, Beauty and the Beast is packed with sparkling sets, colourful costumes, tunes that you all know, lots of laughter and tailored audience participation.

For more information about the production visit

Brentwood Chamber of Commerce announces first Brentwood Business Awards

The Brentwood Chamber of Commerce has formally announced the first Brentwood Business Awards.

2017-12-11 Colin Barber

The Chamber’s Chairman, Colin Barber, spoke to Phoenix FM’s Scott Ross about how businesses can enter themselves or sponsor the categories. You can hear Colin talking here:

The awards are eligible to all businesses within Brentwood borough and businesses don’t need to be a member of the Chamber.

The awards will take place at a black tie event at the Mount Avenue Banqueting Suite in November 2018.

Phoenix FM is the official media partner of the awards and will be updating listeners throughout the year with the latest news from the awards and the Chamber itself.

You can find out more on the official website at

Phoenix FM to host The Big Yellow Quiz

Phoenix FM is proud to be hosting The Big Yellow Quiz at the Brentwood Centre on Friday 23 March 2018.

The Big Yellow Quiz is Brentwood’s biggest quiz night – held in aid of Saint Francis Hospice.

Last year over 650 people took part and we’re hoping for even more this year.

TV’s Barry Simmons and six of his fellow Eggheads have confirmed, along with some celebrity names.

There will be a wide variety of rounds including pot luck, current affairs and general knowledge, plus the fan favourite “mystery round” so there’s definitely a question for everyone.


This is the perfect evening for all Essex quiz lovers, whether you are pub quiz regulars or enjoy a bit of Trivial Pursuit over Christmas. Put your knowledge to the test and help raise funds for end of life care services for people within your community who desperately need it.

For more information or to book a place, you can go to and sign up, email or call them on 01708 771427.

Hospice choir Stands Together for Christmas No.1!

Members of Saint Francis Hospice’s choir are hoping their latest exciting project will propel them to No.1 in the charts this Christmas.

Members of Saint Francis Hospice Choir involved in Choir for Purposes project: Front L-R Roy Janes, Rita Gersh and Fran Rose (second row) Lyn Fasulo and Tracy Parkin and Paul Gersh and (back) Jane Keane, Barbara Dennis and Kathy Baldwin

They teamed up with over 45 hospices across the UK this year to form the UK Hospice Choir and record a remake of Celine Dion’s power ballad My Heart Will Go On, which will feature on the album Stand Together by Choirs with Purpose.

Choirs with Purpose is made up of 12 choirs across the country including Parrs Wood High School Harmony Group, Britain’s Got Talent 2017 finalists the Missing Persons Choir, and Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Choir – all of whom have produced a track on the album.

And excitement is mounting as the first single – the choir’s version of the former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney’s classic We All Stand Together – was released on Friday, November 24th.

It features the voices of the 1,400 talented singers involved and is led by 2003 Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus.

“We were delighted to have been given the opportunity to be part of this year’s exciting and incredibly worthwhile project,” said Rita Gersh, founder of the Saint Francis Hospice Choir.

“It has been wonderful to collaborate with all the choirs involved and to be able to once again raise awareness of the invaluable work that hospices do in the community.”

Saint Francis Hospice’s choir was among 16 London hospice choirs, together with Paul Carrack, which stormed the charts in December last year with their stunning version of the Mike and the Mechanics poignant song The Living Years.

It spent three weeks at number 1 in the physical sales at Christmas but more importantly, it raised awareness of hospice care of their valuable services.

All profits made from the album will be shared equally by all the charities involved.

The album will be released on December 15th. Please pre-order your CD or download today by visiting Amazon or

If you can’t buy the album, please buy the single which costs only £0.99 by clicking on the link

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Twas the Night Before Christmas - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch & Rainham Hall National Trust

Parents wanting to make the festive season even more magical for their little ones this year will not want to miss ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from 6 – 23 December. Created by Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Rainham Hall National Trust, this fully immersive show sees families enter the bedroom of a Christmas mad seven-year-old. Youngsters will help him finish decorating his room, turning it into the cosiest, Christmassy bedroom in the world! Join in the countdown to Christmas and discover which toy he finds in his patchwork quilt advent calendar, and don’t forget to listen out for the elf bells! It is performed at Rainham Hall’s charming, historic hayloft and is suitable for accompanied 3 – 7 year olds.

Based on the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore, local actor Samuel Ward-Smith will perform the story about a child’s encounter with Santa Claus and his desperation to see him again. Samuel Ward-Smith is a recent graduate from Mountview Academy and has a strong association with the Queen’s Theatre. He was a member of its youth theatre, QYouth for 8 years (2005 – 2013) and completed an apprenticeship with the theatre before going to drama school.

Twas the Night Before Christmas takes inspiration from festive celebrations during the 1940s to coincide with Rainham Hall’s Remembering the Day Nursery exhibition. It celebrates the time when the Hall operated as a state-run wartime nursery for local children between 1943 and 1954.

Written and directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul, this unique experience will get everyone, young and old, peering a little further into the sky this Christmas Eve.

Twas the Night Before Christmas will be performed at Rainham Hall’s historic hayloft from 6 – 23 December. Tickets are £7.50 for all weekday performances and £10 at weekends. Performances are at 11.30am and 1.30pm with an additional 3.30pm performance at weekends. To book, call the Queen’s Theatre’s Box Office on 01708 443333 or go online at

Beauty and the Beast – panto fun at the Queen’s

Christmas is coming (oh yes it is!) which can only mean one thing, it’s panto time! This year’s festive treat at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Beauty and the Beast is the fastest-selling pantomime in the theatre’s history. With a phenomenal 24,291 tickets already sold, audiences should book now to avoid disappointment! It runs from 30 November – 7 January.

Beauty and the Beast - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch - Photo credit Mark Sepple

In the beautiful romantic city of Paris, Prince Friedrich is turned into a hideous Beast by a wicked witch. Can Cupid work his magic and find a great Beauty for him to fall in love with to break the terrible curse? Come along on this magical adventure to see if love really can conquer all.

Boys and girls of all ages can boo the wicked witch Spite, giggle at the hilarious travelling sweet seller Dame Betty Bonbon and join in Charlie Cupid’s silly matchmaking games. Beauty and the Beast has it all – gorgeous sets, colourful costumes, silly slapstick, lots of laughter and most importantly plenty of audience participation.

This festive extravaganza is bursting with some of the best chart-toppers and dancefloor anthems over the decades! These include Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepson), Shut Up And Dance With Me (Walk The Moon), Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper), Bat Out Of Hell (Meatloaf), Here I Go Again (Whitesnake) and many more.

The cast includes Oliver Beamish, William Brand, Molly-Grace Cutler, James Lawrence, Oliver Lynes, Sarah Mahoney, Holly Mallett, Daniella Piper and Al Twist. They will be supported by a talented Young Company, a cast of 30 local schoolchildren.

Created by the same team of last year’s smash-hit spectacular Cinderella – it is written by Andrew Pollard, directed by Martin Berry, with set and costume design by Keith Orton, lighting by Prema Mehta and sound by James Cook.

Beauty and the Beast will be performed at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 30 November – 7 January. Tickets are £12.50 £29, with discounts for groups and under 26s. To book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333, visit the theatre in person, or go online at

Black and White Ball raises £20,000

The first Black and White Ball, organised by Shenfield retailer Liquorice, has raised an estimated £20,000 for local charity Saint Francis Hospice.

Held at Orsett Hall on Friday, the event was attended by over 200 people and featured live music from 10cc’s Mick Wilson and local singer Jordan Marsh.

The final amount raised will be confirmed soon.

Photos from the event:

All smiles

Anne and Daughter

Anne Brown in full flow

Anthony Joshua

Are you bidding Sir

Beautiful Jewel

Brassed off

Celebrating the last match at Upton Park

Charlotte Willis, Mayor Linda Huggett and GoldenTicket Winner

DJ Andy Furneaux

Four Lovely Ladies


Golden Raffle Winner announced

Happy with their silhouettes

Heads and Tails last 5

Heads and Tails Last two

Heads and Tails Round 1

Heads and Tails winner

Imogen Heap keeps Russ quiet

Imogen Heap reads out details of her donated Lot

It is with you sir

Jordan Marsh

Light and Sound men

Mick Wilson First Song

Mick Wilson Warmed Up

Mike with The Italian Job

Mr Baseman

Mr Donovan

Raffle prize winner happy

Russ Williams at the mic

Saxaphone Man

Saxophonist Sideways Glance

Second raffle prize winner

Silhouette man - finished article

Sold to the man with the...

Tabe 5 10 seated

Table 1 All guests

Table 2 - 8 Guests

Table 2 - 3 guests (2)

Table 2 - 3 Guests (3)

Table 3 - 4 guests blue dress

Table 3 - 6 guests

Table 3 - All 10 guests

Table 4 - 2

Table 4 - 10 guests

Table 4 - The girls

Table 4 -1

Table 5 - 10 guests

Table 5 couple

Table 5

Table 6 - 7 guests -

Table 6 from a different angle

Table 7 first couple

Table 7 from a different angle

Table 7 from one angle

Table 7 Second couple

Table 7 Third couple

Table 7

Table 8 from a different angle

Table 8 from one angle

Table 9 - 6 guests

Table 9 (2)

Table 9

Table 10 - 10 guests

Table 11

Table 12 - 12 guests

Table 13 group of 8

Table 13

Table 14 - Happy 6 guests

Table 14 Couple 1

Table 14 Couple 2

Table 14 Couple 3 View 2

Table 15 First view

Table 15 opposite view

Table 16 - 11 people

Table 17 - 10 guests

Table 18 - 8 guests

Table 19 Third

Table 19 First

Table 19 Second

Table 19 Three happy guests

Table 20 - 7 happy guests

Table 21 - 10 guests

Table 21 different view

Table 22 -

Table 22 Nine guests

Table 23 - 4 guests

Table Plan

The Band

The Drummer

The Eyes Have it

The Finished Article

The Lady Mayor of Redbridge

The Successful bidder

Third raffle prize winner

Thumbs Up from The Winner

Trio from the band

Vodka Slide Charlotte

Vodka Slide first man getting ready to go

Vodka Slide first man

Vodka Slide