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 who was killed in a road accident, in recognition of the huge effort she had devoted to the park and the vital role she took 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…’.
This little Nature Reserve is opposite St Paul’s Church in Deptford. The spire of the Church is visible, just, from the Reserve which lies between blocks of flats in Bronze Street and Berthon Street and adjacent to the Laban Centre on Creekside. The Reserve is easily accessed from all four sides. (I visited on various occasions and you may notice the difference in the photographs.)
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.
There are lots of trees – 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. This is all that remains above ground of the pottery works which had eventually been acquired by the Gibbs and Canning Pottery Works and which were finally demolished in 1967. There had been a pottery on this site since 1682.
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. It is a pity, though, 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, quiet and calm, and used by local people – 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 were walking through the Reserve, rather than along the pavements, perhaps on their way to the nearby trainline, the historic London to Greenwich line.
The Nature Reserve is managed by Lewisham Council and there is detailed information on the website, but you need to visit, and linger, to appreciate this peaceful little Reserve.