Sutcliffe Park in Kidbrooke is a Green Flag public park but also a Local Nature Reserve.
Background of the park
The site was originally known as Harrow Meadow. It was marshy ground and the River Quaggy meandered here. In 1873 Harrow Cottages stood roughly where Eltham Road and Kidbrooke Park Road meet at the traffic lights today. By 1898 the cottages had gone, replaced by housing.
In the 1930s the Woolwich Borough Council was building housing in the area, adjacent to the Progress Estate. They set aside 35 acres for a park which was landscaped as playing fields, making this essentially a recreation ground. The river was culverted underground. The park opened in 1937 and was named after J Sutcliffe, a former engineer in RBG. The athletics track was added in 1954.
The Quaggy in Sutcliffe Park
The Quaggy and the Ravensbourne rivers have a history of flooding. Traditionally rivers were culverted to get the water out of area as quickly as possible. But by the 1990s it was felt the flow of the water should instead be slowed down. The Quaggy Waterways Action Group (QWAG) was instrumental in changing thinking and its work can also been seen in Chinbrook Meadows.
The Environment Agency radically re-landscaped Sutcliffe Park in 2003. The central area was lowered to create a flood plain and the river was returned to its meandering course through the meadow. Now it is one of the most spectacular wetland sites in Greater London and received the Living Wetlands Award in 2007.
It is rich in wildlife and the lake and smaller ponds provide a home for a variety of birds, animals and plants. Dragonflies, damselflies, herons, little egrets, kingfishers and reed warblers have all been sighted, and the annual ‘swanwatch’ attracts much attention every yeard.
The central wetland area of the park was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2006.
Views in the Park
Management of grass in the park
The grass in the park is cut and managed according to a plan.
Exercising in Sutcliffe Park
The athletics track, home to the famous Cambridge Harriers Athletics Club, was built in the 1950s. It has recently been refurbished and is now one of the best tracks in south London. More information about the Sutcliffe Park athletics track is available on the Better website.
The perimeter path is 0.9 miles (2,000 steps) and there is also outdoor gym gear.
Sutcliffe Park in Kidbrooke is now one of the Green Flag Parks in the Borough of Greenwich and absolutely beautiful!
 Living Wetlands Award, 2007: https://qwag.org.uk/walking-in-a-wetland-wonderland-1st-february-2007/
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