The New Oxleas Gym
There has been some talk on this site about the olympic legacy money that has been allocated for work on Eaglesfield park (gym or trim trail, plus path and signage improvements). Similar goings on are happening all over the borough[1. the new hyperlocal kidbrooke kite has also covered this], with at least one possibly negative outcome: the once tranquil haven of eltham pleasaunce has become something of a playpark since the mini adventure playground was introduced recently, and tensions have arisen between those seeking beautiful gardens, and those seeking a football pitch (who have access to several nearby sporty parks). Over in greenwich, the friends group at the pleasaunce have apparently managed to avoid this scenario by diverting their olympic money into other projects, nice touch! On hearing this, the thought did spring to mind that perhaps the eaglesfield park money might be better spent on updating the 15 year old swing park… anyway, consultations are going on via the hill’s councillors at the moment.
I had absolutely no idea that oxleas wood was going to get an olympic legacy, until today that is, when I stumbled across the gym in the picture, just near the café, by the conker trees. Currently it’s fenced off, but it looks like it could unveiled at any time soon.
Since seeing the gym, I’ve found out that whilst the olympic legacy fund has donated the money to install these new facilities, their upkeep has not yet been provided for. This may mean that once the facilities have been damaged by the elements, the joggers or the vandals, they will not be repaired!
Well, in an effort to lighten my mood after thinking about the potential olympic legacy shambles that has been unleashed on the area, I unearthed a cheerful anecdote about a free open air gym from a guyanese writer called sapodilla, here’s a clip:
Work out in sea-flavoured breeze, sunshine and the scent of sweet ixoria. Get all the benefits of indoor gym without pungent sweat and socks.
Stretch, bend, squat, pull, climb, lift, haul heavy equipment, oooerg, argh, grrr, &^%$!, moan an’ groan an’ complain just like in your indoor gym.
But unlike that indoor gym where the instructor punish you, torment you and holler Go, Go, Go like he is a wanna-be army man, in this gym your instructor gon work right alongside you, telling you stories about this plant, that plant…
Okay, back to work, please pull out all them weeds over there, aha, feel your legs getting stronger with all that stooping and squatting? Hold the plant cutter steady, yes, I know the iron pole is heavy, but think how firm your arms gon get, mm-hm, them pecs gon firm up too…fetch this bucket-load of compost and empty it over there…
Ahhh, thank you ladies and gentlemen for doing all this work in we jungle-garden…remember, one man’s jungle is another man’s gym…
Whilst reading this, it struck me that in a way Oxleas Wood does already have its own free outdoor gym, it’s called the Oxleas woodland working party.
I forwarded this story to kidbrookekite and gamesmonitor, mr kite unearthed a 2008 council document on the adidas gym in charlton [photo], which is available on gamesmonitor, see below for a snip of Clause 7.2 noting that the olympic ‘green legacy gyms’ are possibly going to be managed differently from the one described here which has initial contingency support from adidas:
Adidas will provide a 5 year warranty for the equipment from the time of installation dependent on the equipment being properly maintained to an agreed standard by the Council. It is understood that the cost of that annual maintenance will be in the region of £7,000 per annum. In addition, the Council will be responsible for the replacement cost any items of equipment damaged by vandalism and other misuse. It is understood that it is intended that the Council intends to negotiate a capped limit of 10% of the replacement cost of the equipment in any one year. This will limit the Council’s liability for repair and replacement costs.
— update —
The comments made about the olympic legacy at well hall pleasaunce have led to secretary of the friends of the pleasaunce to write in with a very detailed :
Hilly’s post on Green Gyms contains the following statment:
‘with at least one possibly negative outcome: the once tranquil haven of eltham pleasaunce has become something of a playpark since the mini adventure playground was introduced recently, and tensions have arisen between those seeking beautiful gardens, and those seeking a football pitch (who have access to several nearby sporty parks)’.
The idea that three pieces of equipment tucked away in a previously unused corner of Eltham (sic) or rather Well Hall Pleasaunce have turned it into ‘something of a playpark’ shows a strange sense of proportion.
The area is neither visible nor audible from any part of the formal gardens or informal woodland. The Pleasaunce is 13 acres in all and the play features occupy an area about 10 metres square.
The Friends did a survey of park users over the summer and found overwhelming support for the new play features, which were supported unanimously by the Friends committee.
There’s a reference to a football pitch? There are no proposals to this effect.
Well Hall Pleasaunce was, until a year or two ago, very under-used and it was a key objective of the Friends group to reverse this, making sure the park was as relevant today as it was when first planned in the 1930s.
At that time, it was provided with two bowling greens, four tennis courts and a putting green. Therefore, sport was always seen as an integral part of the design. The new playable space, therefore, is entirely consistent both with the park’s history and original objective.
It was designed by a leading play designer with experience of dealing with heritage environments. The vast majority of people consider it has been sympathically designed, sitting between mature trees. The atmosphere in and around the front of the Tudor Barn and Kidbrooke Lane has been transformed, making it a safe and pleasant family space, used by people of all ages and backgrounds. Anti-social behaviour has been steeply reduced, as the area has become more populated.
Neither the council’s Parks dept nor the Friends group have received any correspondence complaining about the development.
I hope this sets the comments in a proper context.
With thanks to the secretary for getting in touch. I should clear up things from this end: I relayed a grumble that play was spreading out from the adventure playground into football games on the lawn in front of the tudor barn. From what the above email said this must have been a fairly low-key grumble as it has not been made officially, and so it would be a shame if this site was to cast a negative light on what is one of the more sympathetic olympic installations around (low lying, natural materials, secluded location, landscaped surroundings etc). This is in contrast with the acid green metal gym that has landed on oxleas meadow.