>Leytonstone, home of Ten-Inch Villas is a good place to live. It’s affordable, safe, and twenty minutes from the West End. It ain’t a fashionable area, but having seen our old locale of Brick Lane go from a characterful backwater of Dickensian streets, leather workshops and artists quietly getting on with life, to a urine-soaked party zone for 25-year-olds with legs like Kermit The Frog, we’ll cope with that.
Leytonstone High Road is slowly improving. It’s still pretty dowdy, but up near the Tube Station some new restaurants have opened. There’s a smart florists and a new jewellers shop. The old Woolworth’s has been in use as an arts centre, but is reopening as an Argos. A lot of this inward investment is presumably linked to the £1.5bn mega-mall being built down the hill in neighbouring Stratford. Now, I used to think Stratford was the worst place I’ve ever been – and I’ve been to Lens – but the Westfield development is already making the place look much better. It’s coming from a very low base, mind.
All this hasn’t helped one of the oldest local businesses. Rivett’s opened in 1889, giving it a claim for the UK’s oldest motorcycle dealer. It seems to have sold only clothing, consumables and other bits and bats since the business changed hands in 1999, though a hint of former, oilier, skills can be seen in a surviving Dunlop sign above the door. Unlike Double S Motorcycles over the road, the staff of Rivetts didn’t sneer if you rode up on an Italian Hairdryer to buy two-stroke, so they always got my custom if I needed any spark plugs or a new helmet. Sadly, the shop shut up for good last month, with a jam of punters picking over the remaining stock – bales of XXS Frank Thomas leathers and XXL Caberg Helmets. What will open in Rivett’s stead is anyone’s guess, but I bet it won’t be half as useful.