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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoë Colbeck

Friday 8 February 2013

A BREEAM 'Excellent' and our last blog post

So the Heart of the Park Project and its blog are finally coming to an end….my contract was due to end soon so I’m starting a new job at Merton Chamber of Commerce managing their Greening Business Programme – encouraging companies in 6 London boroughs to be greener. 

A fitting conclusion to the project is that the stable yard's just received an 'Excellent' rating from BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental rating system. This is a big achievement as only the top 10% of new non-domestic buildings get an 'Excellent' so it's very rare for a refurbished or historic building to score so highly. Going through a BREEAM assessment is a big job - it uses a huge range of measures, including aspects related to energy and water use, health and well-being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes. So we're all very pleased!

The Morden Hall Park stableyard (Louis Sinclair)
Activities related to the stableyard and turbine will continue, of course, but they’ll just be part of normal Morden Hall Park life. Here are a few new developments or things coming up:

  • We’ll be putting in video cameras in the fish and eel passes next to the turbine. This will let us monitor how many and what types of fish/eels are using the passes. The cameras are being funded by Thames Water.
The Archimedes Screw turbine with its eel and fish passes (Caroline Pankhurst)

  • We’re fixing an evening for some free training/information by Parity Projects, experts on energy-saving retrofits, including information on the new Green Deal. This is being funded by Merton Priory Homes.
  • We’re also arranging a separate training session on renewable energy by Carshalton College on Saturday 16 Feb. This costs £5 and can be booked now by emailing
  • We’ve been shortlisted in 3 categories for the Sustain Magazine Awards – we'll know if we've won in early March. We’re also featured in their latest magazine.
  • We should have a long academic article published in the Journal of Architectural Conservation in the near future.
  • The Livinggreen Project’s final conference (with our European partners) takes place in Delft on 18-19 April and is free to all. The project’s final publications should be available soon afterwards – a book for homeowners and online guidelines for organisations wanting to set up similar Livinggreen Centres. See to keep up with the latest info.
If you're going to miss the project blog, remember that you can keep up-to-date with all of Morden Hall Park's events and activities by going to our page on the National Trust website: or following our Facebook page:

And on the subject of websites, if you know any small/medium businesses who might want 12 hours of free advice on how to be greener, please put them in touch with me in my new role here:

Finally, big thanks to all of our blog followers and others who've taken such an interest in the project - we had 10,794 hits on the blog in 2012! And I'd also like to thank everyone who's been involved in the project - NT staff, volunteers, community partners, funders, visitors etc! I've met some great people here and look forward to coming back and seeing what’s new – as I hope you will too.
The Livinggreen Exhibition in the stableyard (Louis Sinclair)
Caroline Pankhurst
Project Coordinator

Friday 25 January 2013

Green Galapagos

Hello and happy new year to you all!

A few of my blog followers have asked to see pictures of my recent holiday to Colombia and the Galapagos, so I thought I'd put them on here and bring a little sunshine to this cold weather.

I won't bore you with cocktails on the beach, just some vaguely green things....

Firstly, I continue my fascination with recycling bins, and how much better other countries are. Here's a lovely giant plastic bottle in Colombia and a standard 3-set in the Galapagos:

Recycling bin, Cartagena (Caroline Pankhurst)

Recycling bins, Galapagos Baltra airport (Caroline Pankhurst)

When I got back to Heathrow's new Terminal 5, I was greeted by one bin for all rubbish, and someone looking round hopefully before putting a plastic bag full of plastic bottles in it. (No photo, sorry, clearly my blog wasn't on my mind after a 24 hour journey).

In the Galapagos they're building a new airport, which they claim will be the first ecological airport in the world. Its construction is designed to minimize the impact on the terrain and ecosystem. The project will feature wind and solar power, a desalinisation plant and ocean breezes to reduce the use of air conditioning. It reminded me of our project here!

 The new Galapagos Baltra airport under construction (Caroline Pankhurst)

The Galapagos as a whole is one of the greatest examples of conservation in the world. Visitor numbers are limited, and though I was surprised at how one of the islands has loads of shops, hotels etc, most islands are still uninhabited. Walking around you see hundreds of iguanas, birds etc and they just don't run or fly away, they're not afraid. These are the pictures people were no doubt wanting to see:

Us and a giant tortoise (Caroline Pankhurst)

 A nice crab (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Fluffy baby birds (Caroline Pankhurst)

Red-chested frigate (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Blue-footed boobies (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Turtles (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Smiley iguana (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Amazing coloured scenery (Caroline Pankhurst)

 Baby sea lion (Caroline Pankhurst)

Back in Quito, I was back on my cycling and recycling hobbies - with a new Boris Bike scheme and a lovely butterfly made from old beer cans: 
Bike hire in Quito, Ecuador (Caroline Pankhurst)

Butterfly from cans (Caroline Pankhurst)

Back to reality now. This will be one of my last blogs as the project's almost finished and I'll be moving on - but more on that next time....

Thursday 20 December 2012

Happy Christmas from the Heart of the Park

So another year comes to an end and it doesn't seem like 5 minutes since we were putting Christmas pictures on here last year! A lot's happened since then, including starting and finishing the installation of a turbine.

Things have been busy here in the last month with Father Christmas calling in a few times, Christmas markets, animals from Deen City Farm, a temporary exhibition of Christmas trees from our local community groups and of course the 12 splendid trees in the stable yard.

Community Christmas trees (NTPL/Lisa Green)

Twelve Christmas trees in the stable yard (NTPL/Lisa Green)

So we'd just like to wish all of our readers and visitors a very happy festive season and a very green and peaceful 2013. We hope to see you in the new year.

Monday 19 November 2012

FREE one-to-one eco renovation advice sessions!

Are you keen to get solar panels but don't know what kind is right for your house? Or are you thinking about a heat pump or wood burning stove but don't know where to start? Or do you just want to find out various ways you can make your home more energy efficient?

If so, our FREE one-to-one eco advice sessions on Wednesday 28 November could be for you.

We've teamed up with Parity Projects, experts in low energy refurbishment ( to offer free advice sessions where people can talk to an expert, one-to-one, for 10-20 minutes.

We're offering one session at lunchtime, 12-2pm, and one in the evening, 6-8pm.

If you'd like to book a slot, please call me on 020 8545 6856 or email me on

We hope to see you then!

PV-Thermal Panels in the Morden Hall Park stable yard (Credit: Louis Sinclair)

Log burning stove in the Livinggreen Exhibition (Credit: Louis Sinclair)

Friday 2 November 2012

Simon Jenkins and Ed Davey turn on the Screw

Today we officially 'turned on' our Archimedes Screw, the first hydroelectric turbine in London. We did it in style, with Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust, switching on the turbine with Rt Hon Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Ed Davey MP gets excited about the seeing the Screw (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Ed gets a personal photo before the crowds arrive (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Both Simon and Ed spoke to a crowd in the historic Snuff Mill, with lots of positive words about hydro power and just a few friendly words about wind.

Ed Davey congratulated the Trust’s green energy vision.   He said: “It’s great to see the National Trust getting on board with clean, green power with the launch of the hydro power turbine at Morden Hall.  Not only will this new kit power Morden’s visitor centre, the project will help educate visitors on this type of energy and the benefits of renewable energy too.”

Simon Jenkins talks in the Snuff Mill (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Simon and Ed exchange smiles between speeches (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Wesley Kerr, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, also spoke at the event, choosing to sit outside by the turbine to do so, as it was such nice weather. He said of the project: “This is an innovative and exemplary approach to restoration, conservation and interpretation. The addition of the Archimedes Screw to the restored historic features of Morden Hall Park makes this a genuinely sustainable ‘deep green’ heritage project - simultaneously bringing alive the industry of the past whilst embracing that of the future. This whole scheme is an exemplar of what can be achieved in public parks.”

Wesley talks from the turbine fence (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
Naturally we then had to cut a green ribbon:

Ed, Wesley and Simon cut the green ribbon (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Ed, Simon and Wesley look over the turbine (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
City Bridge Trust and Thames Water, the other two key funders of the turbine project, also came along to see the results of their funding and seemed impressed. 

Rosemary and Helen from Thames Water  and Stewart from City Bridge Trust join Wesley and Zoë (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Ed Davey then had a tour of the whole project, enjoying the technical side of the turbine and then the bike-powered light bulbs in the Livinggreen Exhibition:

Henry from Hallidays shows Ed and Wesley how the turbine works (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Ed enjoys the Livinggreen Exhibition (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Refreshments in the stable yard were then enjoyed by all - thanks to our cafe for putting on a lovely spread as usual.

 Drinks in the stable yard (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst

Visitors will now be able to see the turbine on regular tours.

Monday 29 October 2012

Green roof gets a green ribbon opening

Our new cycle shed with its living green roof is looking so lovely we thought we should have a little celebratory launch event for it - so it was officially 'opened' last Friday by members of the Wimbledon and Epsom & Ewell National Trust Associations who helped to fund it.

Paul installs our new water butt and Annie tidies the roof in preparation for the event (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We had some nice tea and scones (home-made by our cafe, of course), then John Little, who installed the green roof on the shed, talked about the benefits of green roofs in urban areas such as Morden.
John Little talks about his green roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Our visitors were amazed to see so much colour in the flowers on the roof and wanted to know all about how to water it and why we'd decided to give solitary bees a hotel. 

Flowers on the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Charles Barraball from the Merton Cycle Campaign also came to the event and was delighted that we've provided more cycle facilities in the park, and such lovely ones.

Every opening event has to have a ribbon cutting, so Paul and Don, the Chairs from the two NT Associations obliged in cutting a green ribbon.

Paul and Don, Chairs of the Wimbledon and Epsom & Ewell NT Associations cut the green ribbon (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then took our visitors for a look at the Archimedes Screw turbine, which they thought was suitably impressive.
The NT Members look at the Screw (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The remaining scones were then polished off and John did a spot of weeding for us on the roof.

John inspects his roof and pulls out a few weeds (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

He found many more beautiful flowers than weeds, though:

Flowers on the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The park is really grateful to the NT Associations for the support they give to us, which makes ideas such as the cycle shed become a reality. We hope that cyclists enjoy the new shelter and all of our visitors enjoy the beautiful new view behind the stable yard.

Friday 26 October 2012

Living it green in Lille

Every 6 months all the European partners in the Livinggreen Project get together in one of our cities to plan the next stage of the project and sometimes hold a public event. This week it was time to go to Lille, in northern France.

The main square in Lille, with its 17th century buildings (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The day before our meeting we held a public event in Lille City Hall on the topic of 'Eco-renovation and the architectural value of housing - constraints or opportunities?'. The day was well attended by local property developers, architects, engineers, landlords, home owners etc.

The public event in the City Hall (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The day included a visit to one of four sites nearby, to see eco-renovation in progress in different types of building. I visited a small courtyard, hidden away off the street, where lots of small terraced houses are being renovated. I particularly liked the 'Metisse' insulation, made from recycled denim jeans by a local social enterprise.

The small courtyard with houses on both sides (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The blue 'Metisse' insulation made from recycled jeans (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Our partner meeting itself included a visit to the French building in our Livinggreen project - an inner city warehouse from the end of the 19th century. This is being renovated into a centre of sustainable housing, which will offer advice and information on various aspects of sustainable living, in a similar way to our Livinggreen Exhibition here in Morden. It will open in 2013.

The Livinggreen warehouse (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

And as seems to happen on these visits, I found myself using my few hours of spare time to visit a renovated building - this time an amazing museum in an old art deco swimming pool - the Museum of Art and Industry in Roubaix. Well worth a visit if you're ever in Lille (after the sustainable housing centre, once it's open!).

 The Museum of Art and Industry, Lille (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)