The Shed, Stave Hill

Stave Hill Ecology Park & Open Garden Squares Weekend

Stave Hill Ecology Park has been developed in the former Surrey Commercial Docks in South London as part of the regeneration of the area by the LDDC. The Shed is the HQ of the Park and an ongoing and never-ending centre for conservation, education, and development. The work done here, by one person with teams of volunteers is truly amazing – you must visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend, when there are special activities, including ecologically appropriate installations by final year students from Camberwell College of Art. 

Russia Docks Woods

The Russia Docks Woodlands

The Russia Docks Woodlands is part of the wonderful Nature Reserve which has been created on the site of the former Surrey Commercial Docks. It is alongside the Stave Hill Ecology Park and together they offer over 40 acres of peace and quiet, teeming with wildlife, across the water from Canary Wharf Business Centre and only 5 miles from Trafalgar Square.

The outline of Russia Docks can still be seen on the ground – the quayside, rails for the cranes, and bollards for tying up the ships.

Russia Docks Woods

The surrounding woods are quiet and peaceful, with easy paths for walking and wandering.

Globe Pond in Russia DocklandsGlobe Pond in Russia Docklands

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Globe Pond in Russia Docklands

Globe Pond in Russia Docklands

Globe Pond in Russia Docklands

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Globe Pond in Russia DocklandsThe Shed Ecology Centre and nearby Lavender Pond are both open during Open Garden Squares Weekend on 17 and 18 June – do visit, and then take the time to wander through these lovely woods, tracing the outline of the docks.

The Shed in the Stave Hill Ecology Park

The Shed in Stave Hill Ecology Park

The Shed is the nerve centre of the Stave Hill Ecology Park – the headquarters of an extremely capable lady who could probably run the country but instead works in the beautiful woodlands and nature reserve which have been developed in the former Surrey Commercial Docks in South East London. The Shed and surrounding Park are just a five-minute walk away from Lavender Pond. I visited The Shed last year and posted full details about how to find it. 

Lavender Pond

The Secret Woodland at Lavender Pond

Behind the reeds in front of the Pumphouse at Lavender Pond is another secret pond and a cool woodland area, and you can visit both on Saturday 17 June 2017 during the Open Garden Squares Weekend. This small nature reserve in the former Surrey Commercial Docks is a haven for wildlife – peaceful and quiet on the edge of the Thames and in sight of the towers of Canary Wharf. The entrance is on Rotherhithe Street, past the ‘works end’ of the site.

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve

I visited Lavender Pond last year and posted on the historical origins of this interesting small nature reserve fashioned out of the remains of part of the Surrey Commercial Docks. The Pond was originally much bigger and used for floating logs to keep them from splitting. ‘In 1928 the entrance to the pond was blocked when the Port of London Authority built the Pumphouse on the site to control the water levels in Surrey Docks. In 1970 the Docks were closed. The area became neglected and the pond was filled in, but in 1981 the pond was re-created as part of a nature reserve.‘ As you can see from the map below the ‘pond’ was an enormous area. Do visit this excellent blog for detailed history of the docks.

Surrey Commercial Docks, 1908 (www.mapco.net)
Surrey Commercial Docks, 1908 (www.mapco.net)

Timber handling in the Surrey Commercial Docks (http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-commercial-dock-company-history-of.html)
Timber handling in the Surrey Commercial Docks (http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-commercial-dock-company-history-of.html)

The Pumphouse stands at the head of the Pond and the remains of the lock gate are still in place, and still functioning. The channel into the Thames is clear and from the mouth, at river, Canary Wharf is just a stone’s throw away. Traffic up and down the river is slightly different  these days and it is startling to realise how quickly the changes have come.

The entrance to Lavender Pond
The entrance to Lavender Pond

The Pumphouse at Lavender Pond
The Pumphouse at Lavender Pond

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The large pond in front of the Pumphouse is enjoyed by the birds, and the local residents throughout the year – you can sit on the benches and enjoy the flowers and wildlife in complete peace and quiet.

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Benches at Lavender Pond

Flowers at Lavender Pond

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And then there is the ‘secret pond’ behind the rushes, with an area of woodland which will develop into a magical place as the years pass.

Lavender Pond

Further information
An interesting paper on the history of the Surrey Commercial Docks
The Docklands History Group
A walk around the Surrey Docks

Stave Hill Ecology Park, Surrey Docklands

Down the road from Lavender Pond another section of the old Surrey Commercial Docks has become woodlands and a nature reserve – the Stave Hill Ecology Park. It is a peaceful, quiet place to walk, or wander and in The Shed, the Visitor Centre, there are ideas galore about conservation, recycling, gardening – do visit!