Shooters Hill Stables?

Today i was lucky enough to come across a copy of senine, a glossy and entertaining magazine that also has some excellent features relevant to the wider area. One story in this month’s edition particularly caught my eye. In a piece entitled Horse Play they detail proposals that could markedly change the Shooters Hill area by a) placing lots of horses in what is currently the donkey field between woodlands farm and thompsons garden centre, b) by exercising those horses in Oxleas Wood, and c) by increasing the to- and fro-ing of their handlers and vehicles, which may include a new horseback regiment due to move into the garrison. The SSSI designation awarded to the eastern slopes of Oxleas Wood, the attempts to build ringway2 and elrc over it, and the fairly recent development on woodland of the extended café car park and the recently permitted mixed-mode play area for christchurch school and public use (post to follow) mean that the integrity of one of London and nwkent’s last surviving, and in some ways unique (number of wild service trees for instance), areas of ancient woodland continues to require continual and vigilant protection in order to sustain it’s distinct ecology and survival.

Proposals for a new ‘Olympic legacy’ horse riding centre are on course for opening in 2012, SEnine has learned.

The centre will provide stabling for more than 40 horses on the slopes of Shooters Hill.

Maney for the £1m plus centre will come from a variety of sources, including £250,000 from the British Equestrian Federation and match-funding from Greenwich Council Olympic Legacy project.

The location is expected to be between Thompson’s Garden Centre and Woodlands Farm on a council-owned site currently grazed by donkeys from Blackheath.

Detailed plans are expected to be ready for consultation in the New Year but will run into strong opposition from members of the Woodlands Farm Trust concerned at the over-development of open land.

The new centre is intended to increase access to horse riding across the borough and will also include provision for riding for the disabled.

There will also be a link-up with the relocation to Woolwich of the country’s foremost equestrian Army brigade, the King’s Troop, Officers from the Troop, who will move into the former Royal Artillery barracks, will give their time to training at Shooters Hill as part of their commitment to community engagement

As well as stabling, there will also be new indoor and outdoor exercise rings. However, plans to allow the horses to gallop on surrounding land are expected to be opposed by Woodlands Farm and conservationists. Oxleas Woods, are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and horse exercise would churn up paths and leave droppings which could change the area’s delicate ecology.

Chair of the Trust Dr Barry Gray said: “It would be a massive over-development of Metropolitan Open Land and lead to increased traffic in the area. The council seems to take no notice of its own policies for nature conservation and open space.”

I also found a relevant story from 17 December 2009 on the british equestrian federation site, so this is not a new idea at all. I’m not sure why it’s surfaced on the pages of senine now, and can’t find any planning applications on the council website, the land is apparently theirs, so I’m not sure what the consultation process would be, but presumably if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen some time this year.

Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the British Equestrian Federation says: ” … The centre, which is proposed at Shooters Hill, just a stone’s throw from the Olympic equestrian venue [I’d like to see someone throw a stone to Greenwich Park, ed.], will provide a lasting sporting, community and educational legacy for the equestrian community in the city. This project will also be supported by significant local authority funding. ”

Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council said; “We see the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a tremendous opportunity to inspire people to take up sports and are doing all we can to develop a new equestrian centre in Greenwich, as well as a host of other new sports facilities.

“A new equestrian centre will not only introduce thousands of London children to the thrill of horse riding, it will also provide educational and training opportunities for many people for years to come. Our plans are to provide a top quality training centre so that people can gain skills and qualifications in an area that will open up opportunities across the world.

“The Games aren’t just a 17-day sports event for London – they are a chance to create new opportunities and inspire people and we have to start now so that the benefits can last for generations to come.”

Woodlands Farm Toddler Club

Following on from their magic inspired festive activities, Woodlands Farm are now offering a new series of events for toddlers and their accompanying adults:

New Toddler Club in 2011

– Meet the animals
– Arts and Crafts
– Toys, Games and Books
– Tea and Biscuits

Every Thursday in January and February from 10 – 12
£2 per adult, children go free!
(children must be supervised)

No Need to Book – contact the Farm for more information.

Woodlands Farm Christmas Holiday and New Year Activities

Now that school’s almost out, the farm are putting on some Harry Potter themed activities for children in the run up to Christmas.

Christmas activities on 21, 22, 23 and 24 December – come and join in the fun!
Times: 10.00am – 3.30pm daily
Location: Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill, Welling DA16 3RP
Description: Enjoy Christmas with this magical start to the Christmas holidays at Woodlands Farm. Drop-in children’s activities. No need to book – just turn up!

Activities are (£1 per activity per child):

  • 10am-11.30am – Care of magical creatures
  • 12pm-1.30pm – Wand making
  • 2pm-3.30pm – Potions
  • All day – treasure hunt running in the Forbidden Forest!

They are also starting a Toddler Club in the new year:

New Toddler Club in 2011

  • Meet the animals
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Toys, Games and Books
  • Tea and Biscuits

Every Thursday in January and February from 10 – 12
£2 per adult, children go free!

(children must be supervised)

No Need to Book

Please spread the word.

Fever Pitch Carols at Woodlands Farm

I went to the christmas fayre at woodlands farm on Sunday, and to my eyes numbers were down on last year despite the increase in the amount of stalls. In other events this year, the apple day was well attended, the summer show a bit quieter than last time, and the lambing day was absolutely massive this year. On balance I’d say it was a good year for enjoying festivities at Woodlands.

In other farm news, Bella the pig (saddleback I think) had five babies in November. The piglets are very sweet, and they also remind me of the days when the co-op made bacon there.

The accompanying audio is a short clip of some nice multipart harmonies recorded live at the farm, I’m not familiar with the second song, but it’s an interesting arrangement. The date of the event also marked the advent of Christmas, and I am trying out a new christmas pudding recipe which is mainly beeton #1:

Fever Pitch at Woodlands Farm Christmas Fayre by eshootershill

Well, I wish you well this Christmas.

hilly's christmas pudding (as yet untasted)
4 oz organic fairtrade muscovado (carbon footprint marks coming soon, will probably be shocking for tropical goods.)
4 oz suet (lawson uses butter)
4 oz sultanas
4 oz raisins
2 oz currants (or dried flies as my dad calls them)
2 oz shredded mixed candied peel (some people hate these, and there are less victorian ways to get the taste of oranges and lemons in)
2 oz of plain flour
2 oz breadcrumbs (now possible to buy these in packets from polish shops, very good for fried fish too)
1 oz almonds (ground, flaked, or best of all hand blanched, peeled and shredded)
The grated rind of a 1 lemon (I didn't have a lemon handy so I just hope the mixed peel did the trick)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon of nutmeg grated (if you like nutmeg then put more in)
½ a teaspoon of salt
18 pint of milk
1 small wine glassful of dark rum
lawson also puts in couple of ounces of cocoa

pack in a heatproof bowl cover with greaseproof paper and tie with string.
steam for 5 hours.
steam it for at least 2 hours on christmas day, and serve with rum butter.

Woodlands Farm Summer Show

Although I previously blamed my batteries, it actually turns out that I haven’t got much to say about the Woodlands Farm Summer Show after all: I arrived in time for the extreme falconry, to see a harris hawk surfing on a mock rabbit with accompanying sardonic commentary, plus the tug-o-war to sound of ‘eye of the tiger ‘, but I did miss the bakewell cupcakes, w.h robinson steam machines, sheep shearing, and the blacksmith, plus I noticed the bromley bee keepers weren’t there, perhaps as a result of woodlands farm’s own bee keeping operation turning out to be better than theirs? The next barn dance, on June the 19th was being promoted, this time in aid of Severndroog castle.

Woodlands Farm Summer Show

The biggest of all the farm shows is happening this Sunday:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our café to music by Greenwich Concert Band, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts and falconry. Entry is £2.50 adults, £1.50 concessions and £1 children aged 4-16. Children aged 3 and under go free. All proceeds go towards caring for our animals. A great family day out!

woodlandssummershow

Dosey Doe

The first Woodlands Barn Dance of the year is coming up this Saturday, and has been added to the events list, here’s a bit of eynsham morris to get the mood going, although i gather that skinners rats are a full ceilidh group offering all styles of folk dances… The next event is on the 10th of July.

Brighton Camp, Eynsham by eshootershill

Sat May 15 2010 7:30 PM: Music by Skinner’s Rats; ploughman’s meal included, but please bring your own drinks and glasses. Tickets £10, available from the Farm office. These dances were very successful last year and sold out quickly so please book early to avoid disappointment. Tel: 020 8319 8900

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day

Woodlands farm are about to present the first of their 4 annual events, the peak of lambing season! The event is on saturday april the 3rd from 1100-1630. hope to see you there.

2010lambingday

People Against the River Crossing: Were You There?

people against the river crossing
People Against the River Crossing

July the 8th 1993, central government withdraws the Oxleas Woods section of its infamous Roads to Prosperity scheme. The hill is saved!

I’ve been asked whether I’d like to investigate this, and since this is quite possibly one of the most significant things to ever happen here, it seems like a good idea for this site to cover this part of the Shooters Hill story.

Since this is a relatively recent episode, and an example of people power, I’m hoping to include some thoughts from those who participated in and observed the saving of the woods. So, if you were there, and would like to reminisce, I would like to hear from you. If you are interested please get in touch via the email address at the foot of the page.

parc-maps

The map shows how the bypass would have run right through woodlands farm, oxleas wood, and sheperdleas wood to meet the a2

At some point this year a post on this will appear, but for the time being, here’s the oxleas section of an alarm uk publication from 1995 (taken from the limited online information I’ve found so far):

“Whenever I used to visit Oxleas Wood I would visualise the proposed road cutting through it. It’s hard to believe that the woods are now safe. But safe they almost certainly are!

My involvement in the campaign against the East London River Crossing began in earnest in the late eighties. By this time the road had been scheduled for construction for many years and had already been approved by the longest Public Inquiry ever held into a road scheme. That inquiry had lasted 194 days; the transcripts of the proceedings contained 9.5 million words!

Local people, in the form of People Against the River Crossing (PARC) and Greenwich & Lewisham FOE, were fighting a determined and exhausting battle against a scheme which would not only cut a swathe through 8,000 year old Oxleas Woods but would also take out several hundred houses in the quiet and pleasant suburb of Plumstead. But with approval in principle granted, and with the Government, developers and some socialist local authorities strongly supporting the scheme, the odds against stopping it were getting bigger all the time. To achieve victory, a concerted strategy was needed to make Oxleas Wood a big issue locally and give it wider significance – a strategy to make it a symbol of the environmental damage that the road programme was causing and a rallying point for the environment movement. If that could be done, then, given Oxleas Wood’s proximity to Westminster, it might force the Government to back down rather than risk confrontation with a united community and environment movement, in its own “back yard”.

Like all the best campaigns we fought on every level. There were letter-writing stalls at the popular Greenwich market, politicians were systematically lobbied and a well-presented public transport alternative was drawn-up. We organised an “Adopt-a- Tree” scheme; the aim here was to get every tree in Oxleas Wood adopted. As well as bringing in funds and publicity, it would give supporters a real stake in the campaign. And if the worst came to the worst we could invite tree adopters to turn up to defend their tree.

In order to make Oxleas a “line in the sand” for the environment movement, we got some of the large environmental non-government organisations (for example the Wildlife Trusts and World Wide Fund for Nature) to take part in an Oxleas Strategy Group. This helped lock them into a campaign that was ultimately run by local people, but which made the best use of the resources of the national campaigns.

A couple of legal lines of last resort helped propel the campaign into the national news. The Government had failed to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment for the scheme, as required by European Community law. The heroic European Commissioner for the Environment, Carlo Ripa di Meana, took up this complaint causing Prime Minister Major to hit the roof and interrupt a Commonwealth conference to condemn the EC’s action. The complaint was never seen through by the EC, but the publicity was invaluable, as was that which resulted from a High Court case where the “Oxleas 9” (nine local people) put their assets on the line to take the Department of Transport to court over their failure to provide adequate land in exchange for the damage to Oxleas woods. The case was lost, but Oxleas had caught the public imagination and the pressure on the government was intensifying.

Meanwhile, campaigners were preparing for the worst. A “Beat the Bulldozer” pledge was launched, with the aim of getting 10,000 people to pledge to be there if the bulldozers went in. With the TV pictures of direct action at Twyford Down fresh in their minds, as well as the vivid pictures we had painted of what would happen if they violated Oxleas Wood, the Government backed down.

For me the Oxleas campaign had meant hours of hard work in meetings held in draughty halls on dark, rainy nights trying to get the best campaign that I could. For hundreds of local people it had been years of struggle. Was it worth it? Definitely. Oxleas was a turning point. We’d shown how people power could stop roads, a lesson that was quickly learnt right across the country. We’d shown that the environment movement, when it’s focused and working in harmony with local communities, could win. And of course the peace and beauty of OxleasWood has been preserved.

Jonathan Bray, founder and convenor of the Oxleas strategy group

elrc-map

East London River Crossing Trunk Road

From the oxleas woodland management plan:

The Hedgerow on the eastern side of the meadow is composed of mainly hawthorn (Crataegus spp) with some self-seeded oak. This hedgerow is rather special as it contains some examples of butchers broom (Ruscus aculeatus), which is used as an indicator of ancient woodland, as it rarely grows in regenerated woodland. It was the presence of this plant that aided the campaign to stop the East London River Crossing putting a road through Oxleas Wood. This hedgerow was re-laid in 2004 by the GLLAB New Deal project.

Winter Family Activities at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Winter Activities
Woodlands Farm Winter Activities

The farm’s educational activities are becoming increasingly popular, with thousands of school children visiting each year – and so it’s nice to see that they are putting on some after school activities too. It’s been quite busy there of late, with various new faces moving in, including some ducks, and some sheep from cumbria (via heathrow).

Do Your kids have lots of creative energy to burn?

Join in the fun at our new:

Drop-in family activity workshops

* Explore Nature
* Listen to Stories
* Create Animal Art Masterpieces

WHEN? First Wednesday each month – 3.30-5.30pm
WHERE? Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill. DA1G 3RP
WHO? Primary and pre-school aged children and families
BOOKINGS: No need to book. just turn up (places are limited)
HOW MUCH? free!

They also have their Christmas Fair coming up next Sunday from 11-3.