Ascension Community Website
  • Garden Cafe - A place to meet and learn
  • learn music, crafts, it & more
  • healthy food, friendly atmosphere
  • you can volunteer too
  • See how you can gain & contribute
   
 

Kitchen is open
8:00am - 3:30pm
Monday to Friday.

Call us on
020 7474 5257

The Garden Community Cafe
7 Cundy Road
Custom House
London E16 3DJ

   
 
 

History of the Garden Community Cafe

We turned the corner to enter the street on which the Garden Café lay. This little shop jumped out from amongst the other dull buildings. It was alive with colour, drawings of rainbows and flowers covered the window. I would never have thought I would have found such a little oasis like this in a parched desert like Newham. I could not help but stare at the sight as I stepped in. Flowers hung from the ceiling and trellises showed off the creeping plants, whereas multi coloured drapes covered the lights to change the colour of the room. There were posters of Jesus, Celtic crosses, guitars, poppies, cheerleaders, robins and peace protest banners covering any wall space. But somehow it seemed like home. This vibrant space had a feeling of peace, safety and tranquillity. Louise met us there and introduced us to Bill, who co ran the Café. He was persuaded to tell us the story of the Café, which we listened to with great anticipation.

It was the year of 1978 and where the Garden Café now stands first opened a greengrocer’s. In the area of Custom House lived mainly white working class people, so for a greengrocer’s this was the ideal location. Bill and Eve ran the shop very successfully. He described queues going out the door and along street. And with this success came money and a lifestyle that matched. But all this time at the church around the corner, Ascension Church, there was a Vicar called Nigel constantly praying for them. Over time Nigel became good friends with Bill and Eve and over time the trade at the greengrocers decreased. This was largely because of the large amount of people migrating to the area, who did not use greengrocers.

Bill and Eve became Christians and with their faith, came a prayer ministry. The greengrocer’s was now used not only for selling vegetables, but also a centre for prayer. Bill and Eve became well known as Christians in the area. One day there was a vision for the café. A vision to stop selling potatoes, but sell God instead. Bill and Eve decided to keep it to themselves for a time, but when they shared it they found that a few others had had the same vision. The only way they thought this could work was through a café.

In 1994 the greengrocers closed and in 1995 the café opened. It seemed like everyone thought they were mad, both their non Christian and Christian friends. The café started its humble beginnings selling tea, coffee and home made brownies. It was furnished with old tables and chairs they had managed to salvage. But someone was on their side, because they had help from many different people. A local named Dennis decided to help them out, by doing woodwork to help furnish the café. He got a lot of stick from people for helping out at a Christian café, but eventually became a Christian himself.

But from then on it was no where near easy. There was no funding for the café and staying open at times seemed impossible, especially when the bailiffs came in. However it always seemed to work out in the end. An anonymous person started paying the rent and Bill would go out in the van and do delivery jobs to get money.

Things started to look up when a new school opened over the road. The teachers of the school would come in for their cigarette breaks and loved the café. Then a new friend came along, Tony, he managed to get funding for the café along with completely new furniture. More and more people got involved in the café and gave their help. Pat got a grant for a refurbishment and in March 2007 the café closed and reopened in September. But not all went to plan and the builders contracted did not do what they should have. A man named Michael took it upon himself to sort this out and up to that date it was still being sorted.

          The café has helped change many peoples lives and been an amazing witness to the area, but one situation in particular stood out. A lady called Annie lived locally. She was very ill and on medication. Annie was persuaded to leave the house, so she used to walk down to the hairdressers, situated next door to the café, and stay there for most of the day. One day they suggested that instead she should go and sit in the café. She agreed and at first she would just sit there, being very quiet. She soon started coming into the café regularly and Bill and Eve would run errands for her. But very gradually she started coming out of her shell. Through her own strength she came off her medication and after a while she was running errands for Bill and Eve. Through their patience and witness the Garden Community Cafe completely changed this ladies life.

 
 
Ascension Community Trust Website
Ascension Community Trust Website