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Wild Card is one of a number of microbreweries operating in the borough, as reported in the last issue of Invest Waltham Forest. Such was the success of its first bar in Walthamstow, the business grew to a point of operating at full capacity and sought to expand its production and bar facilities to meet demand. The brewery launched a crowdfunding campaign, with great success, going beyond the £250,000 target within a week, and a second production site was opened on Lockwood Way in Blackhorse Road. The Ravenswood site will be refurbished and used to launch Wild Card’s barrel-aged beer programme. Sitting in the shadow of the nine-feet tall steel vats in which Wild Card’s ale is brewed, William Harris, one of its directors, explains that his business has always depended on local interest in good beer and a strong community.

Clockwise: Wild Card brewery, Sodo Pizza, CentrE17 theatre and the Red Lion pub.

The boom in late-night trade doesn’t just mean pubs and clubs, either. Peter Hawking-Sach, an expert on night-time economies, is currently completing his PhD at University College London, and explains that Waltham Forest “is dedicated to creating an evening and night-time strategy, so that they are not just looking at late-night entertainment but how to bridge the gap between people finishing work and the revellers who stay out late at night.” This has allowed venues such as CentrE17, a theatre next to Walthamstow Central, to establish itself as part of the borough’s cultural and economic life. “We are often the first stop in the evening out,” says Max Peters, who runs CentrE17.

Night-time economy

“Considering the amount of people and the size of the high street and the general economic activity in the borough, there was a very small nightlife scene when we opened [in 2012],” adds Harris. “But there is no doubt that this is getting stronger and better all the time.”

And the opportunities offered by the night tube? “We are already on it,” he explains, highlighting a ‘Victoria line party’ which took place in October 2017, bringing together the borough’s artists with their counterparts at the other end of the tube line in Brixton.

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Local backing has been crucial, explains Harris: “We wouldn’t have achieved anything without local people supporting us. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened. They have driven the business forward.

“We get beer tourists,” Harries smiles, recounting his customer base – “people from other countries coming to see what the beer is like.”

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Invest Waltham Forest 4  

This fourth edition of Invest Waltham Forest looks at how the borough is prioritising culture-led regeneration and good quality design.

Invest Waltham Forest 4  

This fourth edition of Invest Waltham Forest looks at how the borough is prioritising culture-led regeneration and good quality design.