The Lewisham Council website tells us that ‘…The park was originally named Bronze Street Nature Park. It was renamed [Sue Godfrey Nature Reserve] in 1994 in memory of Sue Godfrey…’, a local resident and environmental campaigner. She was instrumental in rescuing the park and played a vital role in life on the adjacent Crossfield Estate.
‘…Two years later, the ashes of Roy Ramsey, another environmental campaigner, were gently interred here. Both were much loved and it is to be hoped that, by keeping their memory alive, the nature park’s survival for future generations of wildlife and people will be ensured…’.
Access to the Nature Reserve
The Sue Godfrey Nature Reserve is opposite St Paul’s Church in Deptford whose spire is visible, just, from the Reserve. Blocks of flats in Bronze Street and Berthon Street bound the Reserve and the Laban Centre on Creekside is close by. The Reserve is easily accessed from all four sides. (I visited on various occasions and you may notice the difference in the photographs.)
Planting in the Nature Reserve
The Sue Godfrey Nature Reserve is filled with rough grasslands and indigenous plants – apparently more than 200 species have been recorded. It is indeed quite rough and it is curious, and quite interesting, to find such a ‘natural’ space in a crowded city residential area. I found a number of flowering plants and thought grasses were particularly pretty on the occasion of my first visit.
Lots of trees are planted in the Reserve – I recognised Sycamore, Lime, London Plane, Ash, Hazel, Beech trees, Cherry tree, and even an old apple tree. No doubt there are others but this is the shameful limit of my knowledge.
There were originally three large potteries and lime kilns in this area. This site describes the potteries: ‘…The Upper on Church Street and Copperas Lane (later called Bronze Street). Established about 1701 by the Parry family it finally closed in 1961 having been sold on more than once; the Lower on Copperas Lane by Deptford Creek. This functioned between c1730 and c1860.; and Church Street Pottery. This functioned between c1730 and 1887…’.
In the middle of the site are some walls made of pottery fragments and mortar and covered in ivy. These are the only remains above ground of the pottery works which had eventually been acquired by the Gibbs and Canning Pottery Works. The buildings were finally demolished in 1967.
The Ferranti Park
The Ferranti Park, on the edge of the Reserve, is named after Sebastian Ferranti, who planned the design and build of the London Electric Supply Corporation’s power station in Deptford. It was the world’s first large-scale electricity operation. The park is a pleasant open area, with a covered stand, children’s play area, and lawn, but is a pity that the planted raised beds are neglected. Here is another instance when local people, who enjoy this amenity, could help to improve their surroundings with some voluntary gardening.
The Park and the Sue Godfrey Nature Reserve are unexpected green spaces in this part of London. Local people enjoy the quiet and calm here – someone was lying on the grass in the sun and a mother and her child were playing in the children’s play area when I visited the first time. On a second occasion schoolchildren were sitting under the canopy. People walk through the Reserve, rather than along the pavements. Perhaps they are on their way to the nearby trainline, the historic London to Greenwich line.
Lewisham Council manages the Nature Reserve and there is detailed information on their website, but you need to visit, and linger, to appreciate this peaceful little Reserve.