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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoë Colbeck

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Copella apple juice in the Livinggreen Orchard

Volunteers of all ages came out in the sunshine last Sunday, at the start of Tree Week, to plant fruit trees around the edge of the new Living Green Centre. The “Merton” varieties of apple, pear and cherry trees were funded by Copella, the fruit juice company, as part of their Plant & Protect campaign to increase the number of British fruit trees -

We were delighted to have so many volunteers, particularly young children, come along to help plant the fruit trees. We hope that they’ll come back in years to come and see the apples, pears and cherries which they helped to grow.

The orchard will provide a beautiful welcome for visitors to the new Living Green Centre. It will comprise ten new fruit trees, nine of which are of the local heritage “Merton” variety (the park is in the London Borough of Merton in Greater London and many of the Merton varieties were developed by John Innes, a property developer and keen horticulturalist who created in Merton Park, a ‘garden suburb’ across the road from Morden Hall Park):

• Apple trees - one each of Malus domestica ‘Merton Prolific’, ‘Merton Worcester’, ‘Merton Russet’ and ‘Merton Charm’ apple trees, plus one 'Tyndeman’s Late Orange' apple tree.

• Pear trees – one each of Pyrus domestica ‘Merton Pride’ and ‘Merton Star’ pear trees

• Cherry trees – one each of Prunus avium ‘Merton Favourite’, ‘Merton Marvel’ and ‘Merton Glory’

Volunteers enjoy Copella apple juice at the end of their tree planting. NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst

Look out for apples, pears and cherries from the Orchard being used in the National Trust cafe in years to come!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Are you sitting comfortably?

The chairs we have used in the café at the Livinggreen Heart of the Park visitor centre are no ordinary chairs! Each Emeco 111 Navy chair is made from 111 recycled Coca-Cola bottles.

Emeco 111 Navy chairs in the café - made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles. NPTL/Jon Whitehead

The story of the Emeco 111 Navy Chair goes back to 2006, when Coca-Cola in the USA asked Emeco to collaborate to show the value of recycled plastic by remaking Emeco’s classic 1006 Navy Chair out of a new formulation of recycled plastic bottles. Working with scientists at BASF, the international chemical innovator, they developed a special mix composed of 65% recycled plastic bottles, colour pigment and glass fibre for strength. The mix is processed in special moulds to produce chairs in a variety of colours, which are durable, long-lasting and easy to clean. Each chair can be re-cycled again at the end of its useful life, which is expected to be at leat 30 years.

Emeco recently announced that over 3.5 million PET plastic bottles have so far been diverted from landfills and up-cycled into useful, lasting furniture.

More information can be found at

Come and visit the café soon and try out one of the Coca-Cola bottle chairs!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Come and plant a Livinggreen orchard!

The stable yard is now finished and visitors are enjoying seeing it in the sunshine today.

The stable yard with its 3 sorts of solar panels

Meanwhile work never stops on the project and we're currently planning an event to plant some fruit trees around the edge of the stable yard. It's on Sunday 27th November, 11am-1pm, and we'll be planting ten apple, pear and cherry trees, all of local Merton varieties. The trees have all been funded by Copella, the fruit juice company, as part of their Plant & Protect campaign to increase the number of British fruit trees.

Merton apples at Morden Hall Park's Apple Day, October 2011

If you haven't yet visited the new stable yard with its Livinggreen Exhibition, cafe and craft stalls, come along on Sunday 27th and help plant a fruit tree at the same time!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Livinggreen Heart of the Park visitor centre is officially open!

The Livinggreen Heart of the Park visitor centre was officially opened on 3 November by Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust. This was the culmination of two years of hard work by the project team, staff at Morden Hall Park and numerous partners, contractors, funders and volunteers - a huge thank you goes to all those who have been involved!

National Trust Director General Fiona Reynolds cuts the ribbon, accompanied by (from left to right) chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee, Wesley Kerr, Deputy Mayor of Merton, Cllr Chris Edge, Merton Council Leader Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Livinggreen lead partner, Huib Haccou and Morden Hall Park Property Manager Zoë Colbeck. Credit: Professional Images

Our European partners in the Livinggreen Project also joined us at the launch, from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, so they will be going back to tell others in their country about our project and to share learning from it as they develop their own eco-renovation projects.

Zoë Colbeck, Caroline Pankhurst and Zoë Adams from the project team with Livinggreen Project partners. Credit: Professional Images

On Saturday 5th November we welcomed our first public visitors to see the renovated stable yard, experience the new exhibitions, visit the cafe and craft stalls, and learn about the project. They were also entertained by local musicians, clog dancers and morris dancers. We were delighted to see over 1400 visitors over the weekend.

Visitors are entertained by the Colliers Wood ukelele band. NPTL/Caroline Pankhurst

There are two exhibitions to enjoy. The main exhibition space tells the story of the renovation project and explains the range of energy saving insulations, recycled materials and green technologies which have been used to make the stable yard the most energy efficient and eco-friendly historic building in the country. There is also a smaller, temporary exhibition area which is currently telling the story of the Film Star parties which were held at Morden Hall Park between 1947 and 1951.

A young visitor learns how solar panels work. NPTL/Caroline Pankhurst

The Livinggreen Heart of the Park Centre is now open Monday to Friday 11am - 3pm and between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Please come and see us; we hope you will be inspired by the project and enjoy the surrounding park and gardens.

For more information about the project, please visit the National Trust Website.

Our address is:

Morden Hall Park
Morden Hall Road
London SM4 5JD

Click here for information about travel options - we are very close to tube, tram and bus, and a Sustrans cycle route runs through the park.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Getting ready for the big opening

Here at Morden Hall Park we can hardly believe it - opening week has finally arrived! It's amazing how quickly everything has come together over the last week. We've been busy putting the finishing touches to the new visitor centre and today we managed to get some photos of the finished product. Now, I'm not going to spoil it by posting a blog full of pictures - you're going to have to come along on Saturday to see the end result for yourselves, but here's a sneak preview...

The courtyard has been swept and is ready for our first customers on Saturday. We'll be opening the stable yard from 11am - 4pm, and there'll be plenty to see and do.

Chris, our Warden, worked hard this morning to get our log burning stove up and running. We're pleased to say that it works - so does the chimney!

The exhibition area looks stunning, and dividing the space between our permanent and temporary exhibition areas are these beautiful batiq hangings made specially for us by Cricket Green School.
Yann (our head chef) and Jo (our catering manager) have been settling into the new cafe area today - I can confirm that the cakes are delicious!

...375 days since the builders arrived on site...
...324 solar slates...
...74 hard hat tours...
...27 project volunteers...
...22 photo voltaic thermal solar panels...
...12 photo voltaic solar panels...
...2 waterwheels (one real, one model)...
...1 air source heat pump...
...1 wood burning stove...
and one tired, but very happy, project team!