Monday, September 24, 2012

Creekside Discovery Centre Celebrates 10 Years

Next Saturday, our local environmental education centre celebrates its tenth birthday. In their search for old photos to help commemorate the occasion, the guys at the centre turned up this photo taken in 1996 before the Creekside Education Centre was built (but whilst it was being conceived). It's the disappeared graffiti from which this blog takes its name. The wall had to go to make way for the wonderful new gates to the centre (designed by local artist Heather Burrell).

The centre grew out of regeneration funding that came about in the 1990s when the Docklands Light Railway extension was agreed to be implemented. A Creekside Strategy was drawn up in 1993 by Lewisham and Greenwich Councils to identify key objectives to regenerate the area. Out of this came the Creek Environment Project in which some specific aims were proposed that enabled Deptford Creek to survive the regeneration process and help prevent over–development.

Crosswhatfields found this photo of the site as it was sometime in the 1990s 
(or before the new Ha'Penny Hatch footbridge was built in 2002).

These included the protection and enhancement of the Creek environment, improving public access and understanding, removing rubbish, plus identifying and repairing or renewing flood defences and river walls. From 1996, surveys were commissioned on wildlife habitats, flora and fauna, flood defences, water quality, land use and access, and partnerships were established with local experts, neighbours,  government and other agencies. The Creekside Education Trust was founded in 1999 'to work with the local community to sustain the regeneration of Deptford Creek through education, conservation and the forging of partnerships'. The original idea of having a Floating Education Centre eventually resulted in the development of the disused brownfield site owned by British Gas where there was access to the Creek, and the green roof (or "rubble roof") building which opened in 2003.

In the intervening years, the Trust has struggled to survive, and funding for running costs has been difficult to secure, but many of the original objectives have been achieved, such as repairing the river walls, cleaning the river, monitoring the plant and wildlife, and running a schools education programme. Unfortunately they still have to charge the public for their low-tide walks, so many locals have yet to acquaint themselves with the wild river Ravensbourne that is only metres from their doorstep, bu they also run a Volunteer programme – find out more on Saturday.

The centre also hopes to launch a new and improved website this weekend.

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