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.
Below is a list of nature reserves and parks that have active ‘Friends Groups’ which you can join. (Or maybe you would like to ‘start your own group‘)
The Friends of Albion Millennium Green is a community group which emerged in 2008 from the spontaneous practical caring for this much loved space by people who lived in the area. In 2010 it was decided to constitute themselves more formally so that funds raised and assets could be identifiably held for the benefit of the Green, so that other organisations would be able to work with them more easily, and so that we could be properly accountable.
The Green is owned by the Albion Millennium Green Trust – registered charity number 1070868. They work happily with this Trust, with which we share similar aims, but enjoy a greater flexibility in what we are able to do.
The Buckthorne Cutting Nature Reserve forms part of a Metropolitan Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, namely the New Cross to Forest Hill Railway Cutting.
The Fourth Reserve Conservation Trust acquired a lease from Network Rail in March 2018 and began work on the Buckthorne Cutting with a handful of volunteers and a lot of determination.
The reserve is located on the Eddystone Road railway bridge SE4 just 2 minutes walk from the Brockley Jack Pub. In just 12 months they have created paths, removed rubbish and bramble, built steps and opened their doors to the public as part of National City Park Week 2018.
In 2019/20 the charity want to raise funds to restore an extensive reed bed at the rear of the site and to make the environment accessible for the purposes of art and education.
If you would like to volunteer, create art for the space, donate material, equipment or funds or wish to visit then please get in touch.
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 ‘Friends of Burnt Ash Pond Nature Reserve’ is a group of local volunteers who are interested in maintaining and improving the Nature Reserve. The objectives of the Friends of Burnt Ash Pond Nature Reserve are:
To promote, maintain and enhance the indigenous wildlife and botanical value of Burnt Ash Pond Nature reserve and its educational use for the public
The group has existed since 2006 and helps with the management of the site. Lewisham Council is responsible for the basic management of the Reserve itself. The activities of the Friends group rely solely on grants and donations.
We would like to extend the membership of the Friends Group in order to ensure full involvement of the community in the Reserve. Therefore if you would like to get involved, please feel free to get in contact.
To get involved please contact Jess Kyle.
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!
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
As well as being open on the last Sunday of every month, they run a number of events throughout the year. Check out their blog for upcoming events. They also run, Muddy Boots, which is a children’s nature group which runs at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve every Monday and Friday 10-11.30.
Muddy Boots Children’s Nature Group on Facebook
Garthorne Nature Reserve
Our newest Friends Group – established in March 2016!
Garthorne Road Nature Reserve is also part of the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate railway cutting. This wide cutting combines three nature reserves (Devonshire Road, Garthorne Road and Brockley Nature Reserve [managed by London Wildlife Trust]), containing woodland, scrub, grassland and reed beds. It 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
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. There is also an audio trail to guide you around the site, details of which can be found here.
To get involved please contact Nick Pond or call 020 8314 2007
Hither Green Triangle
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
Hither Green Embankment
Hither Green Community Association (HGCA) are working to clear the overgrown vegetation and litter from Hither Green Station embankment (along Springbank Road), managing the bio-diversity there and planting bulbs and wild food. They also have a Community Garden by the bus stop in Springbank Road, where they have flowers, plants, benches, and weed and clear the litter. They welcome anyone who is interested in helping them. Check their website for the next Volunteer session or contact. We have written about their great work on the blog before!
River Pool Linear Park
The Parks are managed by Glendale Grounds Management, the London Borough of Lewisham’s Contractors. Together, Lewisham Council and Glendale have established a number of ‘green space’ user or friends groups to actively involve the local community in the daily life of the park or open space. Thanks to the work of these groups a number of parks have been successful in obtaining Green Flag status.
There are parks user groups established for the following parks:
Beckenham Place Park
The park has a variety of habitats for wildlife and plants and is a listed Local Nature Reserve. Woodland, grassland/meadow, River and ponds.
Volunteers fromm the Friends run the visitor centre (located in the Mansion) on Sundays, 1:30-3:30pm.
The Friends of Blythe Hill Fields (FBHF), formally Blythe Hill Fields User Group, exists to represent everyone living around or using Blythe Hill Fields. Our purpose is to achieve sustainable improvements and facilities in this vital resource for the benefit of the whole community. We aim to promote the increased use and enjoyment of this essential open space. To get involved, please contact the Friends of Blythe Hill Fields (photo M.Jenkins)
The scheme to naturalise the Quaggy river channel through Chinbrook Meadows was completed in the summer of 2002. Works included breaking the river out of its concrete corridor and allowing it to flow more naturally through the park, thus reintroducing river bank areas to encourage wildlife. The scheme includes the creation of boardwalks and bridges to enable visitors to interact better with the river.
To get involved, please contact the Friends of Chinbrook Meadows
Downham Woodland Walk
The Woodland Walk is a narrow strip of woodland, most of which is considered to be ancient in origin. It zigzags between the houses of Downham for just over one and a half kilometres. The Green Chain Walk runs along the length of the site, on its way between Beckenham Place Park and Hither Green nature reserve.
Frendsbury Gardens is a community garden and park nestled between Frendsbury Road, Pincott Place, Billingsford Close, Hainford Close and Coston Walk in Brockley, within the borough of Lewisham in south-east London.
Frendsbury used to be a wasteland stuffed with fly-tipped rubbish. Local residents, fed up with the situation, got together and came up with a plan for a community garden. With support from Lewisham Council, lottery funding and other support a beautiful oasis of nature was created.
In 2013 Frendsbury Gardens was awarded a Green Flag.
Today Frendsbury Gardens is used by hundreds of local people as a space to be, a place to learn and play or even just as a shortcut on a journey. Frendsbury Gardens is ours to share.
The summit of Hilly Fields stands 175 feet above sea level and commands excellent views over Lewisham and the City. To get involved please contact the Friends of Hilly Fields
Ladywell Fields form a valuable green corridor running adjacent to Lewisham High Street. A public foot and cycle path, with street lighting, runs the length of the park and forms an integral section of the Waterlink Way, which starts at Deptford Creek and runs south to the coast at Eastbourne. You can read about the planned improvements for the park here. You can get involved in the group via the Ladywell Village Improvement Group
For information on the QUERCUS project
Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries
The FOBLC is a voluntary group dedicating to helping protect and improve these beautiful and historic cemeteries. In 2016 a local butterfly expert, Phil Laurie carried out a number of butterfly transects in the Cemeteries and the results are very interesting, with almost 20 different species spotted.
A successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Board has enabled the restoration of the gardens and its built facilities. Works included the re-establishment of the original vistas from the Manor House, the introduction of a walled flower garden, the restoration of the lake and installation of a fountain. This is a park with a walled flower garden, lake, fountain, ice-house, cafeteria, multi-sports ball court and tennis courts, as well as a children’s playground.
To find out how you can help please contact Glendale Grounds Management 020 8318 3986
Find the Friends of Manor House Gardens on Facebook
Small park set in a residential area lying along Manor Park street close to Hither Green Rail station. Entance from Manor Park street. The is now a new entrance on Longhurst Road – which incorporates a footbridge over the River Quaggy – has created a new entry-point for walkers, cyclists and commuters, which it is hoped will lead to an increase in the number of park users.
Mayow Park, originally named Sydenham Recreation Ground, is the borough’s oldest municipal park. The park is home to the Mayow Park Bowls Club, has two tennis courts and a refurbished children’s playground. The central field is an ideal venue for recreation and public events.
The Grow Mayow Community Garden project is a food growing and plant production site in Mayow Park, Sydenham and was created by regenerating a derelict park keeper’s depot. They work with our local community to promote health, wellbeing, intercultural awareness, environmental sustainability and permaculture.
The core area of the park was originally part of Mountsfield, a substantial house and grounds, built in 1845 for the noted entomologist Henry Tibbats Stainton by his father as a wedding gift. Over time, the park was substantially enlarged, with land bought from the School Board for London. A bombed row of houses in George Lane was added after World War II and a further tranche of land formerly used as playing fields by Catford Boys School in Brownhill Road was added in 1994.
The house itself, which stood in the north-east corner of the park, was demolished in 1905, but stables and outbuildings were retained and used as park keepers’ buildings until a fire destroyed them in 1969. A former museum for Stainton’s entomology collections was a tearoom until its demolition in 1981.
Mountsfield Park has a wide range of recreational pursuits including basketball, football and tennis. There is also a children’s playground for the younger visitor. For those who enjoy more leisurely pursuits the park has ornamental gardens and a bandstand. With its central location the park is often used for large events. The Council holds its annual People’s Day event here each July, which attracts crowds of over 30,000.
Although lower than Hilly Fields the park affords excellent views west over Catford to Crystal Palace in the distance.
The site of Northbrook Park was a field known as the Ten-Acre Field, although in fact it was nearer nine acres. The field formed part of the Baring estates in Lee, and in 1898 Lord Northbrook offered to present it for public use, in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. A sundial marks Lord Northbrook’s gift. To get involved please contact the Northbrook Park Community Group
This park is considered to be one of the most attractive parks in the borough with its fine water features, formal gardens and fine array of mature trees and shrubs. The large children’s play area boasts a newly-installed waterplay feature in which to cool down, during the long, hot days of summer!
Sydenham Wells Park takes its name from the medicinal springs, which were discovered in Sydenham in the mid-seventeenth century, and for a time made the village popular as a spa resort. Several of the 12 former wells lie within the grounds of the park, and the springs are still active today. The park was officially opened to the public in 1901.
To find out how you can help please contact Glendale Grounds Management 020 8318 3986
Telegraph Hill Park
The park is in two sections, with the upper park offering magnificent views over London. It takes its name from the semaphore telegraph, which was placed on the summit, some 160 feet above sea level, by the Admiralty Board. The news of the victory of the Battle of Waterloo was passed to London via this station. The park is a ‘key’ park patrolled by on-site park keepers. The lower park is designated a dog free park and is locked at night, however the upper park is open 24 hours a day to allow access for dog owners.
Starting your own group
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 Leicester City Council.
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!