East London Food & Culture

Take The High Road: an awesome 26-minute film about Leytonstone

Local filmmakers Marcus Shepherd and Stow Film Lounge have produced an enlightening look at the heart of E11

As we say in this week’s Six Things feature, 2020’s Leytonstone Loves Film is in full swing, with a lively programme of socially distanced ‘watch’ parties, film-making workshops and more, all in conjunction with the Barbican, no less.

Our top tip is half-hour flick Take The High Road, in which local filmmakers Marcus Shepherd and Stow Film Lounge celebrate 2,000 years of the Leytonstone High Road with an original work as informative as it is captivating.

Presented as something like a cinematic road trip through Leytonstone, past and present, it profiles a lively bunch of folk and businesses, including: Cliff from Cliff’s Shoe Repairs, who remembers singsongs down the boozer; John from Shelia’s Florist, who memorably advises us that the flowers that smell strongest die soonest (sigh!); Osiris, from Soul Food Farmacy, Gary from Jerk and Juice, Costakis from Mario’s Gent’s Hairdressing Salon, and Peter from the extremely longstanding Noted Eel & Pie House, in whose kitchen you can witness writhing still-live eels in metal drawers.

There’s also an inspired section narrated – ahem – by one Alfred Hitchcock, who illuminates us on the many cinemas that once filled the High Road, including the Palace Electric, The Rialto, The Rex, The State, The Gaiety (46 Church Lane) and The Academy. Imagine, Leytonstoners, if there was that much choice now.


And you can learn everything from what a costermonger is – clue: fruit and veg – to why the motorways ruined everything; and from why the Eel & Pie House will always keep their 1961 ovens to how you’ll “always recognise someone from Leytonstone”.

Watch the (very polished) first cut now:

And enjoy the journey: we can’t wait for the final edit.

The final cut is premiered at the Nexus Centre, off Snowberry Close (near Crownfield Road/ Cann Hall Road) as part of Leytonstone Loves Film’s Moving Pictures, Friday 2nd October, 7pm – more info here. And don’t forget to watch the excellent 26-minute first cut right here, above. Follow @stowfilmlounge for more. 

Please support us if you can

If you’ve enjoyed reading this – or perhaps are featured above – then we need your help. Until recently Leytonstoner was funded by the free monthly print editions of our sister titles Gasholder and Kentishtowner, which have sadly closed due to advertising revenues in freefall. This means both Leytonstoner and our small independent network of online-only titles is under serious threat. Every contribution is invaluable in helping the costs of running the website and the time invested in the research and writing of the articles published. Support Leytonstoner here for less than the price of a coffee and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment