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The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoë Colbeck

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)

Friday, 12 October 2012

How much pedalling does it take to power a light bulb?

Our Livinggreen Exhibition has just got an exciting new interactive exhibit - the Geffrye Museum in Hackney has kindly given us one of theirs. Visitors can now pedal with their hands to find out how much energy is used to power 3 different sorts of lightbulb.

James and Paul deliver the exhibit into the stable yard (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Volunteers Sophie and Daniel try out the new exhibit (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Meanwhile our waterwheel and turbine have had exciting new additions too. The waterwheel has finally had its outer bearing replaced - this was missing for years but was found recently down the River Wandle at Abbey Mills. We've now got it back, painted it and Paul and James braved the river to get it back into place.

Paul and James get ready to brave the river (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Paul clears the weeds off the wheel... (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

...puts the bearing in place (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

....and gets a hand back down into the river (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The Archimedes Screw turbine now has nice black railings around it, a new path and a new interpretation panel, so that visitors can properly enjoy it.

Dave from Mackleys comes back to check the new path (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The turbine in the autumn sunshine with its new interpretation panel (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Turbine opens for Open House

Last Friday 21 September we finally turned on our Archimedes Screw turbine, much to the delight of Morden Hall Park's staff and volunteers who had gathered to see it.

Staff and volunteers watch the turbine being turned on (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then did tours of both the turbine and the stable yard for visitors coming to see us as part of Open House Weekend. Everyone seemed suitably impressed!

 Chas, volunteer tour guide, leads a tour of the turbine for Open House (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

     Visitors look inside the generator housing (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The safety cover is now over the Screw, but it can still be seen clearly through it. We're now just finishing off the landscaping around it - installing a path so that people can get round it easily and painting the railings.
The cover is installed over the Screw in 3 sections (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Gareth of Stennett Landscapes starts building a fence around the site (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The turbine turning - with the green eel pass and frothy fish pass next to it (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The site isn't yet open all the time, but group tours can be booked in advance or individuals can ask in the Livinggreen Exhibition in the stable yard if there is someone available to show them around.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Clocks, carriages and cheese

So we're still eagerly anticipating the turning of the turbine, but in the meantime there's always something new happening in the stable yard.

Today we finally got the stable yard clock working, after a year of getting used to it always being 11.13. There are only two people in the country who have the skills to get it working - it was disconnected for the construction works - so finally one of them was able to come here. Now visitors can stop asking why it's not working and enjoys the chimes instead.

The clock finally says 11.43 instead of 11.13 (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The clock man from Cumbria climbs up to the clock with his head torch on (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

There's a new attraction in the middle of the stable yard too - one of the original carriages has been painted and put back in the yard. Nick, our Parks & Gardens Manager, cleverly made some planters out of an old wooden bridge, to go next to the carriage, so they're full of flowers which set it off nicely.

The carriage and flowers in front of the solar slates (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Visitors enjoy a coffee with the new carriage and flowers (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Finally, if you haven't been here on a Saturday recently, you might not know that we have a farmers' market here each week - so next time you want some nice fruit, bread, fish, cheese etc, then you know where to come. It's every Saturday from 10-3.

 Visitors enjoy the new farmers' market (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)