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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoë Colbeck

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Rocketeers - tidying the planet one apple core at at time

Morden Hall Park's Rocketeers
More excitement last week following the arrival of our very own A700 Rocket® composter! Imagine a compost bin with better looks and an attitude and you’ve got the Rocket Composter. Manufactured and installed by Tidy Planet, it is an impressive piece of kit that digests food waste, speedily turning it into usable compost in just two weeks. What’s more, it actually looks like a rocket!
Gwen, Tidy Planet’s master composter, was on hand to teach the new team of Rocketeers how to feed and take good care of the Rocket. It will be enjoying a tasty diet of fresh scraps and cooked leftover food (including meat and fish) from Morden Hall Park’s Riverside Café, as well as garden waste treats from the park. And if it's really good we even might let it have some leftover ice cream from the ice cream parlour in the stable yard when it opens following the renovation work.
Ian, our assistant gardener, feeding the Rocket

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Photovoltaic solar slates on the roof of the stable yard. NTPL/Sarah Tebbot

Work continued last week with the installation of 300 photovoltaic solar slates on the east-facing roof of the stable yard.

These innovative photovoltaic solar panels are made by Solar Slate Ltd. They look like normal roof slates and although they are less efficient that the PV panels that we have installed on the opposite roof, they have the advantage of blending in well with the existing roof slates. Maintaining the appearance of the historic building was an important consideration for the National Trust when we were designing the project. These solar slates are therefore ideal, as although the stable yard is not a listed building, it is in a conservation area.

Each solar slate measures 500mm x 252mm and weighs 1.8Kg.  The slates are wired individually and together use over 1km of wire. The slates are installed in the same way as normal roof slates and the rest of the roof will be retiled using as many of the old roof slates as possible.

The solar slates are being installed by Greener Power Solutions Ltd working with their sister company of specialist roofing contractors, Old English Roofing Ltd.

Climate Week - One week to show how we can combat climate change

21-27 March 2011 marks the UK’s first Climate Week and to celebrate the Heart of the Park project team will be leading free hard hat tours of the renovation work taking place in the stable yard. Tours will take place every weekday lunchtime during Climate Week.

Tours will start at 12.30pm and will last for about an hour. Hard hats etc will be provided. Places on the tours are limited so please contact us to book a place on 0208 545 6856 or .


The Heart of the Park project is just one of the ways that the National Trust is working towards our 2020 energy goal to reduce our use of fossil fuels for heat and electricity by 50% by 2020.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Ville de Lille

To Lille last week for the mid term review of the five year project.

The meeting took place in the striking town hall built between 1924 and 1932. The exterior was inspired by  typical Flemish triangular-gabled houses and features a 104m high belfry which dominates Lille’s skyline.

Inside, the building is full of surprises, not least the room where we had our meeting.The French love bande dessinée and the room was decorated with a full-height comic strip mural depicting episodes in Lille’s history from the 7th century tale of Lydéric and Phinaert to the present day.

Legend has it that Salvaert, prince of Bourgogne and his wife Emergaert were travelling to England when they were attacked by a bandit, Phinaert. Salvaert was killed and Emergaert hid her newborn baby boy in a bush, where he was rescued by a hermit and nursed by a goat. Baby Lydéric grew up to be a fierce warrior and in the year 640 aged 18 he fought and killed Phinaert, who, according to my rusty French, was a giant. 

Thankfully our visit and Eurostar home was much less eventful and the only drama we had to contend with while in Lille was a city-wide shortage of milk. 

The 7th century legend of Lydéric and Phinaert

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Eco-construction wins hands down

Our visit to last week’s Ecobuild was a day spent watching practical installer demonstrations, visiting the hundreds of trade stands and admiring innovative projects such as the Space of Waste pavilion made of woven willow and full-body Speedo swimsuits that have been banned for use in competitions, leaving a potential lycra mountain.

We made a bee-line for the Kingston University stand, as we are hoping to work with some of their students as part of our project. After admiring an electric guitar made of hemp, we were invited to join in a game of eco-construction trumps - the School of Surveying and Planning’s new take on the classic Top Trumps game. 

Spurred on by memories of playing the game as children, we played a few rounds. We are quickly expanding our knowledge of insulation and all things sustainable and found the game a great tool to get people thinking about different building materials and to compare properties such as embodied carbon, durability and recyclability. The data for the game came from the mine of information that is GreenSpec, a site which I can see us visiting quite a lot. 


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Here comes the sun!

Much excitement in the project office today. The first of the photovoltaic solar panels were installed on the roof of the stable yard, and it seemed only fitting that the sun shone all day to mark the occasion. 

The PV panels, made by German company Schüco, will eventually cover an area of 18m on the west-facing roof of the stable yard. These will be followed over the coming weeks by PV solar slates on the east-facing roof and PV-T (combined photovoltaic and solar thermal) panels on the south facing roof. Together we estimate that these will generate over 6,000 kWh of electricity per year. 

NTPL/Jon Whitehead

Friday, 4 March 2011

Funding floods in from Thames Water

This week in the Heart of the Park office the hot topic of discussion is water saving after Thames Water has generously agreed to make a vital contribution  towards the project. The £75,000 grant will help fund the installation of the Archimedes Screw hydroelectric turbine in the river Wandle.
The Thames Water funding comes from their Ten for Ten programme  which aims to fund educational and awareness raising programmes relating to water efficiency, biodiversity and conservation. As part of our new partnership with Thames Water, the new Heart of the Park centre will include a permanent exhibit on water saving measures to save money and energy. In the meantime Thames Water’s website includes some handy tips to help you become more ‘water wise’. 

Water is a resource we often take for granted, but it is actually becoming increasingly precious due to climate change and the increasing demand for water in dishwashers, washing machines and other water hungry appliances like power showers. In fact, according to Thames Water, people in the Thames region use 20 litres more per day than they did in the 1980s, that’s an extra 140 litres a week. 

So, to try to become more ‘water wise’ we have ordered our Thames Water shower timers and are keeping clean whilst taking up the 4 minute shower challenge.