Friends Group off to a successful start

It may have been a chilly morning, but plenty of happy people braved the cold winds to join in with a walk around this wonderful site.  A big thank you to everyone that came and for all of your enthusiasm.  I have high hopes that we can establish a group and get the site open on a more regular basis.  On the day I recommended that we start the process by  having a open day once a month to help build capacity.  If we increase our numbers it will be easier for us to establish a group and become constituted.   I know this may sound scary to some, but it is an important step if we want to bid for money that would otherwise be unavailable to the Council.

Ernie had this to say about our next steps;

“A big thank you to everyone that came along on Saturday it was a good turn-out of residents and others taking an interest and also would like to thank Jess for coming on her day off, I hope to have further conversation with Jess concerning proposed workday, tools and access to the site, I would also like to try and get a possible workday on a Saturday in mid-February on to take out some of the encroaching Holm Oak which shading out the native wildflower species and open up some of the woodland to allow light in and use the felled wood for path edging, hand rails and possible dead hedging. If you have any ideas please come forward with your suggestions, also organize and meeting to  set up a committee.

 I am going to the Lewisham Parks Forum which is a group of ‘Friends of’ networking together, It is been held on Monday 1st February Honor Oak Pub, upstairs 7pm, St Germains Road SE23. Anyone who wishes to become a committee member feel free to come along.”

Inaugural Open Day for Friends of Garthorne Road – 23rd January 2016, 10am

Join us on 23rd January 2016
Join us on 23rd January 2016

A message from Ernie!

Hi Members

Thank you for the excellent support and all the members that have joined the group so far. Please spread the word and share this group, has I already mentioned that we had not formed a committee yet, if anyone is Interested in putting their name forward please either by leaving a message or letting me know at the meeting below.

I have organised an on-site meeting for Saturday 23rd January at 10am, with Lewisham Council Jess Kyle (Conservation Officer) to discuss future workdays. Please come along as it is a closed site you will not be able to gain access after 10.05 am.

Garthorne Road Friends Group gains grounds

Guided walk with a local nursery
Guided walk with a local nursery

The wonderful people of SE23 have been very enthusiastic about the creation of a Friends group for this fantastic site.  We have had a great response from local residents who are keen to take part.  We have even found someone who is prepared to lead a guided walk!  We hope that something can be organised for Spring 2016, so keep an eye out for future posts and tweets.

If you are interested please contact me and I will add you to the mailing list.  Don’t worry, you will not be inundated with emails – it is just so that I know to email you when the guided walk is organised and so that you get information on how the Friends Group is progressing.  You can either email me or leave a message on this blog.

A new Friends Group for Garthorne Road

(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Friends Groups

Friends groups are made up of volunteers who wish to have a say in how their local parks and nature reserves are maintained, developed and used.  Some of these groups are constituted and organise entertainment and conservation activities as well as apply for funding to make improvements.  They work in partnership with the local authority and Glendale (Park User Groups).  There are already a number of Friends Groups in Lewisham which help the Council out in a number of ways.

We are also very keen to set up a Friends Group for the site, just like our neighbours on the other side of the tracks at Devonshire Road.  If this is something that you would like to be involved in, please contact Jess Kyle for more information.

Why start a Friends Group 

There are many reasons why people want to start a friends group and not just because they want to improve their local greenspace. There are also many social benefits from forming a community group, for example, the chance to get to know your community and make a positive contribution to your local area, make new friends, get exercise, and the satisfaction that bringing about change can give you. Further benefits could include access to training, skills enhancement and improved employment prospects as well as general improvements to health and well being.

Community involvement in the regeneration of green spaces has been shown to be of key importance and it can help in developing a sense of community ownership. Improving a green space can take a lot of work and commitment and is made easier if there are more of you and it is likely to be a funding requirement that you are part of a group that is representative of your local community.

For more information on how to set up your own group, please see visit this very useful site from Leeds City Council.

Starting Up

Many groups tend to start up with a specific project in mind – for example they may be concerned about the condition of a local area of open space or about litter in an area. The way to start up a new group is to get together with a number of people who share your particular interest or concerns. Some groups may start up with as few as two or three core members and that is fine although most groups will find that they benefit from having more members. The more members your group has the more able the group will be to support members and share out tasks. Often getting things done can require a great deal of enthusiasm and involve a lot of hard work and patience so the more people involved in your group the easier it may be!

Nature Reserve Friends Groups in Lewisham

Burnt Ash Pond

Burnt Ash Pond is perhaps the finest pond in the borough from an ecological viewpoint, supporting a good variety of aquatic plants and animals. It is also aesthetically pleasing, with its fringing trees and colourful iris beds, and is much loved by residents of the surrounding houses in Melrose Close. The site is open on the first Sunday of every month between 11am-12pm.

Dacres Wood

Dacres Wood is a small nature reserve beside the railway line between Forest Hill and Sydenham. Despite its name, a major nature conservation interest on the site lies in its ponds and wetlands, which are relics of the old Croydon Canal. The site is usually locked (apart from the monthly open days) for health and safety reasons but is well used by both schools and conservation volunteers. A field centre, opened in 1993, is available for use by schools and also serves as a base for volunteer workdays. Sessions at the site can be run the Lewisham’s Nature Conservation team.  If you are interested in using the site as part of outdoor learning, please contact them.

The Friends group at this site is one of the newest to be established on Lewisham’s Nature Reserves and they are already very active!

You can join them by filling out their membership form on their blog.

Devonshire Road

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve forms part of the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate railway cutting. This is a site of metropolitan importance for nature conservation as it contains probably the finest suite of railside wildlife habitat in London. It is four kilometres long and over 200 metres wide at its widest points.  You can use the walks leaflet to help guide you around Devonshire Road guided walk.

Grove Park

Grove Park Nature Reserve, situated across the railway from Hither Green Cemetery, contains a good variety of habitats, including the only substantial area of grassland with a calcareous influence in the borough. These habitats support a wide diversity of plants and animals, including a number of locally rare species. The reserve is greatly appreciated by many local people, whether walking their dogs, picking blackberries and plums, or quietly enjoying a peaceful wild space.  Download a illustrated nature reserve guide here:

Grove Park poster

Hither Green Triangle

Building steps
Building steps

The Sidcup and Orpington lines diverge at Hither Green station to make two sides of a triangle, the third side of which is formed by engine sheds and sidings. As all of these are on embankments, the land within the triangle appears from platform five (which provides the best view) as a large hollow. Regular sessions are held here where work includes maintaining the footpaths and building steps. You can read the Management Plan and see more photos at the Lee Manor blog