From Edwardian cinema to Trading Places: E11’s friendliest estate agents

The fascinating story of Independent Buildings, now home to Leytonstone's most knowledgeable duo

A husband and wife team, Trading Places’ Gary and Jennifer Butler have been selling and letting properties in the Leytonstone area for over twenty years.

“There are not many agents that can claim such grass-roots links with the local area,” says Jennifer. “I was born in Whipp’s Cross, and both Gary and I grew up here, eventually renting and then buying our first home in Leytonstone. We have a lifetime of knowledge and experience, and are able to combine our passion for property with our deep affection for the neighbourhood.”

And their office’s enviable position, on the corner of the landmark Independent Buildings opposite the tube station, is suitably enough teeming with history. Originally a Victorian post office, in 1913 it was converted to the Gaiety cinema, which opened with 400 seats, a theatrical stage and lively schedule of variety acts.

Gaiety Cinema
Gaiety Cinema, where Trading Places now stands. Photo: Cinema Treasures

When it closed in 1928, the cinema was demolished, and in 1934 replaced with a deco building that housed the local independent newspaper. “It’s great to think people were first coming here to watch movies,” says Jennifer. “And then later generations were hard at work on covering what was going on in the area.”


It’s been Trading Places HQ since the late nineties, and this year the pair have just spruced up their offices post-lockdown. “During the height of the pandemic, we gave ourselves and our fantastic team a morale boost with a new look to reflect the wonderful and vibrant local community we love so much. Now we all come to work with smiles that are bigger than ever, which then spreads happiness to everyone we help with their move.”

Trading Places
Gary and Jennifer have 50 years’ experience between them. Photo: TP

For the uninitiated – and to remind us locals – Leytonstone has properties for almost every taste, from Edwardian and Victorian properties to charming cottages, snug terraced houses and smart, modern flats.

“Post-pandemic, more people than ever before are beginning to see the benefits of moving to E11 and E10,” she says, “something that we have always been aware of, and it gives us great pleasure to share our knowledge and find them a home. Leafy suburbs have experienced a surge of interest as people have had an opportunity to rethink their working lives. A short commute with a healthy 10-minute walk or cycle to the tube is seen as far more attractive if you can come home to a larger living area with outside space surrounded by areas of natural beauty.”

What do Jennifer and Gary enjoy most? “Epping Forest is on our doorstep and we often take advantage of Hollow Ponds and Wanstead Park, with a bite to eat at the new Rear Window restaurant at the Hitchcock. Gary and I are very much a part of the Leytonstone’s vibrant community life, and attend many of the annual events such as the Arts Trail and Leytonstone Festival.”

Trading Places
Chic: the office has been spruced up for post-pandemic. Photo: TP

And they especially adore the area’s thriving independent shops and new bars and restaurants. “They’re popping up all the time in the most interesting places,” she says, “like Filly Brook in the old scouts hut or the new vegan curry house on the high street, SpiceBox. We have grown along with the area and know the best places to eat, drink, shop, learn, exercise and relax, because once our working day is done, we don’t head home to another community. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

How has this difficult year been for Trading Places? “2021 has been busy, and despite the stamp duty reductions coming to end, demand for property is still strong,” she says. “We’re already gearing up for 2022 so if you’re thinking about moving next year, please get in touch and find out how we can help; after all, every move requires forward planning, so why not start now?”

And finally, as for that eye-catching clock at the top of the building? “It hasn’t worked for many years,” she says, “but we plan on putting that right next year, as a community-focused project.”

You can’t say fairer than that.

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Need to sell your property, buy somewhere new or get the best advice on rentals? Speak to Jennifer or Gary on 020 8558 1147 at Trading Places, 46 Church Lane, Leytonstone, London E11 1HE, head to their website for more info.

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