National Trust logo

The 19th century stable yard

The 19th century stable yard
NTPL Zoƫ Colbeck

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Turbine Taster

Our Archimedes Screw turbine is now well on its way to completion. If you missed the Guardian's coverage of the Screw's arrival a couple of weeks ago, see their article here:

Our ‘Turbine Taster’ evening last Thursday was a great success - it was our most popular Taster Day ever, with 30 participants from the local community and beyond. After some nice cheese and wine, people were able to hear more about the Archimedes Screw technology, see photos of each stage of the site construction, hear how the old mills used to work (like our historic Snuff Mill), see the 9,000 year old skull found on the site, see how the fish and eel passes will work and hear about how the project is helping the National Trust meet the aims of its Energy Strategy.

Henry Reily-Collins from Hallidays Hydropower explains how the Screw works (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

 Dave Craddock from Mackleys shows photos from each stage of the construction (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The brushes to be fitted into the eel pass - shown by Paul Smith of Aquatic Engineering Control
 (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The historic waterwheel at Morden Hall Park - as talked about by Dave Saxby of
Museum of London Archaeology (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The evening concluded with a very exciting tour of the site, in the sunshine.  

Visitors are excited to get on to the site - it's the first time it's been open to the public
 (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Dave from Mackleys discusses the turbine with Jonathan Lewis from Merton Council's
Environment & Regeneration Team (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

It's good to have Sarah Tebbot (now Morris!), ex Project Coordinator, and Nancy Falloon, ex Livinggreen Volunteer, back to see the latest developments (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The fish and eel pass equipment laid out for people to see (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
Everyone's now looking forward to seeing the turbine finished and turning, soon after its completion on 30 August.  

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Green roof ready for bikes and bees

The living green roof on our new cycle shed is finally in place and looking beautiful!

As well as the turbine excitement last week, we also spent two days installing the green roof. John Little, who ran the workshop here in May, came back to do it, with Rob and Dave who help him as part of the Grass Roof Company (

First of all Gareth, from Stennett Landscapes, finished building the shed, as John was starting work on the roof - it was quite a busy site:

Gareth and John both work on the shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

John, Dave and Rob then got to work properly on the roof, adding three waterproof and protective layers to make sure that it doesn't leak:

John carries the waterproofing on to the shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

John, Rob and Dave lay out the waterproofing (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They added a gabion edge and then cut the waterproofing to size:

John adds the gabion edge (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The layers are cut to size (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Dave fixes it all in place with strips of recycled plastic (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Drainage was then added, to take away excess water from the roof:

Rob and Dave measure up for the drainpipe (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Rob cuts the drainpipe (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They added little logs from John's garden, to make the edge look nice:

Dave with the gabion edge (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

They then added lots of substrate - we designed the shed so that we could have deep soil and therefore a variety of plants - we allowed for 250kg per square metre. That means lots of buckets of soil being heaved up on to the roof.
 Rob and John pass each other buckets of soil to cover the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

A 'leaky pipe' was then fixed to the top of the shed and buried underneath the soil in big loops. This means that when we need to water the roof in very dry weather, we just need to attach a hose to the end of the porous pipe, and water will leak out underneath the plants.
 The leaky pipe is attached to the corner of the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Dave, John and Rob all hold the pipe down and bury it under the soil (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Next it was time for the most exciting part - the planting. I joined in, as did Justin and Annie, our two garden volunteers who came to our green roof workshop recently.

First of all we planted some plug plants, all chosen for their suitability on green roofs. They included flowers which attract bees, such as ox-eye daisy and red valerian, and edible and aromatic herbs such as chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano.

Justin and Annie plant the plug plants (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then went to the garden centre in Morden Hall Park to buy some more established plants, such as hyssop, delosperma, drosanthemum and various types of sedum.

We enjoy filling a trolley at the garden centre (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The plants were passed up to John on the roof, then we climbed up and planted them (cunningly taking photos of them with their labels, so we know what we're looking at later):

 The plants are lifted up and photos taken (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

A hard day's planting was almost complete and we could admire our handiwork:

Justin, Annie and John pose on the new roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We just needed to add a bit more to encourage wildlife - a pile of stones at one end of the roof and two 'insect hotels' for solitary bees on the sunny end:

Caroline with the wildlife habitat pile of stones (NTPL/John Little)

The insect hotels made from recycled drain pipe and local wood (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We then watered the roof, using a hose attached to the leaky pipe:

Justin and Annie water the roof (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

 The cycle shed is then complete, and ready to welcome the park's bikes and bees:

The finished cycle shed (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The taming of the Screw

London's first Archimedes Screw hydro electric turbine finally arrived at Morden Hall Park this morning!

When the turbine is up and running, it will generate enough electricity to power the park's newly renovated stable yard and historic Snuff Mill - 59,000 kWh a year - or enough to power 18 average households.

The Screw, manufactured by Spaans Babcock in the Netherlands, arrived in our car park last night, where it was guarded overnight by its Dutch driver.  When it was unveiled we were relieved to see that it was painted its nice National Trust green.

Albert with his precious cargo from the Netherlands (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
Early this morning it was transferred on to a smaller lorry to get it into the turbine site.

The Screw hangs in the air over the car park (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
The garden centre delivery people wondered why the car park was so full of excited people.

The usual car park sight next to a rather more unusal one (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
Mackley Construction, who have been managing the turbine site, then took the Screw round a few local roundabouts in order to get from the car park into the turbine site:

The Screw makes a trip through Morden (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The Screw was then put on the crane again to get it installed into its final resting place. The team from Mackley Construction, Hallidays Hydropower and Spaans Babcock eased it into position.  

The Screw hangs in the air again (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The Screw is lowered into position beside the River Wandle (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
The turbine was then tweaked into position behind the Grade II listed Snuff Mill and the original waterwheel. It will act as a modern waterwheel, harnessing the power of the river to generate electricity - taking us back to the reason the park exists - water power.

Mackleys, Hallidays and Spaans play around at the bottom of the Screw (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The gearbox and generator were then attached to the top of the Screw:

The gearbox is attached (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)
The Screw was then finally settled in, the cranes could disappear and everyone could breathe a sigh of relief. 
The Screw finally in place opposite the historic waterwheel (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The Screw is due to start turning and generating energy on 30 August.  If you can't wait till then to see it, come and see our identical working model in the Livinggreen Exhibition in the stable yard.

Monday, 16 July 2012

HLF and DECC use stable yard for green inspiration

Over 20,000 visitors have come to our stable yard since it opened in November, and we're pleased that organisations leading the way in energy and heritage are also now using it as a demonstration centre.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), who funded the project with a grant of £990,000, held their annual regional event in the stable yard recently, with all the great and the good from the local heritage world attending. Amazingly the sun shone, showing the stable yard at its best!

Wesley Kerr, Chair of the HLF London Committee, welcomes visitors to the stable yard
(NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We've also had two visits from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), who have booked three tours for their staff as part of their Learning & Development Programme.  As well as a tour of the project by Caroline, the Project Coordinator, participants also had a chance to hear more about the National Trust's energy strategy and about our other projects demonstrating renewables, from James Lloyd, Senior External Affairs Officer and Kirsty Rice, Energy Advisor. In DECC's survey after the first tour, 100% of participants agreed that "the content was instructive and interesting".

James Lloyd welcomes DECC to the stable yard (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

Caroline gives a tour of the project (NTPL/James Lloyd)

Kirsty Rice discusses the National Trust energy strategy - in Morden Hall Park's historic Snuff Mill (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

We look forward to more such events in the future - and from September they'll also include a look at the Archimedes Screw turbine in operation!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Launch of 'Livinggreen Guides'

Lots of visitors to our Livinggreen Exhibition ask us for more details about the technologies and materials they're seeing - how they work, how much they cost, the difference beween various types etc.

This is why we've just launched a series of 7 'Livinggreen Guides' - fact sheets about the following:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar glazing
  • Under floor heating
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Lime plaster
  • Insulation
Two of the Livinggreen Guides (NTPL/Caroline Pankhurst)

The Guides, ranging from 2-6 pages, are available in our Livinggreen Exhibition and are also free on our website - take a look here if you want to find out more:

We hope that you like them!