If you are familiar with Sue Godfrey Nature Park (which we manage on behalf of Lewisham Council), then you will have noticed a lot of changes on the site over the past two years. In December 2022, thanks to a bequest from Mike Paice (a local naturalist), we embarked on two major pieces of work on the site. First, new footpaths were laid on the east side of the site from Ferranti Park to the centre of the park and also running across from Berthon Street to Bronze Street. 

As well, two wildlife scrapes were created on the west end side. The nature park opened as Bronze Street Nature Park in 1984 and was capped due to contamination in 2004. When the park was extended to include the former coach park in the early 1990s, which stood on the west end of the site, due to its previous industrial use contamination was found on the nature park. Consequentially, the site was covered with a plastic mesh membrane; on the east end, wasteland material was added, which is free-draining and nutrient-poor, which is great for wasteland flora (wasteland, though a man-made habitat, hosts a diverse range of flowering plants). However, on the site's west end, a 0.5-metre layer of clay loam was put down for reasons lost in the mists of time. Over the years, despite our best efforts of meadow management, course grasses such as Perennial Rye Grass and Cock’s-foot became dominant. Grasses such as these thrive on nutrient-rich substrates such as clay loam and grow vigorously, thereby inhibiting the growth of wildflowers. Wildflower meadows attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies (also providing food plants for the caterpillars) and dragonflies which then entice birds such as Tits, Wren and Robin. The seeds also attract birds, Goldfinch and Linnet.

We then worked with Complete Ecology to create two scrapes, each 10 metre2. The clay loam was banked up on three sides (which provides habitat for invertebrates), and then 6 cubic metres of new substrate was added to each. This was composed of recycled crushed building waste, sand and loam. Chestnut paling was then installed around the scrapes in order that the new substrate was given time to settle, using local wildflower seeds collected by Nick from Creekside, we then seeded the scrapes. Also, translocations of plants such as Wild Teasel and Common Knapweed from Creekside Discovery Centre were added. As the flora develops, the root systems further stabilise the new substrate.  

In 2024, we have just finished a new set of works, funded by a donation from a local resident and as part of our Rewild London project - Deptford Creek SINC Link - supported by the Mayor of London, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust. First, we relaid the footpath from the Deptford Church Street entrance to the centre of the park, joining up with the footpath works completed in 2022; the site is now fully wheelchair accessible.

We have also completed four new wildlife scrapes, two more on the west end of the site and two on the east end, but slightly smaller (approximately 60 m2). The same process was followed as before, digging down to the membrane (approx. 0.4 m.) and putting in new substrate as previously and seeding with local wild seed (including Beaked Hawksbeard, Wild Carrot and Woad).

The new scrapes at the west end were also enclosed with chestnut paling while the substrate stabilised and the seedlings became established. We have now removed the paling from one of the 2022 scrapes and replaced it with a post and rope. This year, on the 2022 scrapes, Woad has done very well; these yellow flowers are now going to seed and will then change to a deep purple Wild Carrot, Poppy, and Viper’s Bugloss are just now coming into flower, amongst many others.

We plan to remove the chestnut paling, replacing it with a post and rope from the second 2022 scrapes in winter 2024/25, thereby making the site feel more open. By the end of 2025, we hope to have removed all the chestnut paling, and a brownfield meadow will have been established for the enjoyment of people and greatly benefit wildlife.

To see these changes in person, hear all about the site from the Creekside team and enjoy a great day out, join us at our Sue Godfrey Nature Park 40th Anniversary Fete on Saturday 1st of June!

< Sue Godfrey Nature Park 40th Anniversary Fete Creekside Chronicles: Nick, Conservationist & The Whole Wild World >

Tagged under: General