To keep our members informed about latest news and events we update this website frequently. News item headlines are listed in order of publication - most recent on top. Click the headline to see the full item.
Members also receive the Friends Newsletter, printed and sent out (or delivered - by Friends volunteers) 3 times a year. It presents the most relevant news items as well as details of forthcoming events. The front page of the most recent edition is on this website under Newsletter.
Bird Watching for Beginners-But Experts welcome.
Bird Watching for Beginners-But Experts welcome.
The Friends are pleased to confirm that the bird walks will resume in the Autumn. This is an interesting time of year as birds are on the move. Julia Holland will lead the Sunday Morning Bird Walks on 30 September, 25 November and 30 December. David Morris will lead a walk in October but the date is still to be confirmed (details will be available on the Friends' notice boards). These guided walks are free and you don't need to book. Just turn up at 8.30am at the Blackheath Gate. If at all possible, please bring along binoculars because this will improve your experience enormously.
All eight Royal Parks up for prestigious ‘People’s Choice’ Award
Park visitors across the UK are being given the chance to decide which Green Flag parks and green spaces should receive a People’s Choice Award for being the UK’s favourites.
In July this year, the experts had their say and all eight of the Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park, Green Park, The Regent’s Park, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Parks - succeeded in retaining their Green Flag status with some of the highest marks awarded in the scheme.
Now, it is up to the nation to choose which 10 parks and green spaces should receive a coveted People’s Choice award.
Simon Richards, Head of Parks Operations at The Royal Parks, said: “Whether you enjoy visiting our parks to soak up the historic natural environment, enjoy world-class events, exercise in beautiful surroundings or simply get away from the hustle and bustle of London, now’s your chance to celebrate your incredible park by voting for it to be recognised as one of the nation’s favourites.”
Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Manager, added: “The People’s Choice award is a chance to show how much your favourite park means to you. If it’s worth shouting about, make your voice heard and vote now.”
Voters can visit www.greenflagaward.org to find all of the Royal Parks on the winner’s map and click the voting button. Once the vote has been registered, people are invited to encourage others to get involved through social media using the hashtag #PeoplesChoice.
Voting is open now and closes on 30 September, with the top 10 sites being announced on 16 October.
Greenwich Park Catering Survey
A survey of the catering facilities in the Park will be conducted in August. It is part of the current bid for HLF/BIG Lottery funding for the Greenwich Park Revealed project and will inform the Park’s catering strategy for the next 5 - 10 years and decisions made as part of the project. For this reason, The Royal Parks should like to encourage as many of the Friends as possible to take part in the survey, which will take only 5 - 7 minutes to complete. It is available here
Please encourage anyone who uses the Park to participate. There will also be staff in the Park inviting people to answer the questionnaire.
On a related note, the contract to provide catering within the Park is currently being tendered and a new catering concessionaire will take over the catering in November.
If you have any difficulty in accessing the survey, please contact Sean Morris by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The History Group Meeting Cancelled
The next meeting that was provisionally scheduled for 11 am on 7 September in the Wildlife Centre has been cancelled.
Royal Parks Playgrounds
Grants totalling £841,500 have been awarded from the London Marathon Charitable Trust. they are for improvements to Gloucester Gate Playground in The Regent’s Park and Greenwich Park Playground. The new playgrounds will change the way young people play, inspiring them to use their imaginations and encouraging collaboration.
Loyd Grossman, Chairman of The Royal Parks charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive these grants which will allow us to transform play opportunities for children in two of London’s best-loved parks. The benefits of outdoor play and connecting with nature are significant, in particular for those young people who may have limited access to green space.
“This investment will allow the creation of play facilities of the highest quality. Through innovative design, the existing playgrounds will be transformed, catering to visitors of all ages and abilities and encouraging imaginative and social play. We are very grateful to The London Marathon Charitable Trust for making these ambitious plans a reality.”
Gloucester Gate Playground, The Regent's Park
The new designs are inspired by the surrounding park landscape and will encourage families and groups of all abilities to play together in a safe environment that also fires the imagination.
It incorporates structures that invite children to scramble, climb and balance as well as spaces for storytelling and contemplation. The £495,000 is a huge boost towards this amazing natural, sustainable and inclusive ‘playscape’ reaching its funding target.
We are appealing to the local community of visitors and residents to help us fundraise a further £100,000 towards our £1 million target.
Greenwich Park Playground
The £346,500 awarded to Greenwich Park will see the playground given a modern transformation inspired by nature. It’s an improvement that could be the first of many for Greenwich, with the Greenwich Park Revealed project seeking to uncover some of the park’s hidden gems and improve its world famous features for future generations.
Painted Hall Ceiling Tours Discount to Friends
This event in January was considerably oversubscribed but, thanks to Teresa O’Flynn the Conservation Administrator, we were able to accommodate everyone in three separate sessions. An introductory talk by our guide in front of the magnificent west wall took us
through how Sir James Thornhill conceived and executed the scheme in the early eighteenth century, adapting it in response to the changing politics of the time.
Then came the 60 foot climb up to the observation platform to meet the conservator Stefania hard at work cleaning the vast ceiling. It was last treated in the late 1950s when old varnish was removed with quite strong solutions and two new layers applied to enhance the colours. Since then smoke and dirt has built up and heat and humidity have taken their toll. Stephania showed how the current cleaning process involves gently applying a soft pad to the ceiling, using a water based solution to remove the grime and then sponging it to clear any residue. A pail full of dirty black liquid was produced in evidence of her morning’s work. She stressed that although the earlier varnish is not being removed and replaced where it is generally in good condition, there are serious problem areas where varnish cracking and lifting - or ‘blanching’ - needs to be dealt with and a new modern varnish applied. As she demonstrated, this can be better identified nowadays using UV light. After she had dealt with all our questions, we then had the opportunity to look round the whole ceiling with our guide pointing out its focal historical and allegorical figures and features.
This was a fascinating and informative experience and a unique opportunity to see the work in progress. The general ceiling tours will continue until 30th September when the cleaning finishes and the scaffolding comes down. If you would like to take advantage of visiting during the last few months, go online for information and booking. Friends have been offered a 10% discount. The discount flyer that can be used at the Visitor Centre on the day is attached here or use the code GROUP10 online.
Barbecues - The root of fires in the Royal Parks
Accidental fires caused by using BBQs during the heatwave could have disastrous consequences for wildlife, destroying veteran trees, annihilating wild-flower seed banks and harming or even killing birds and mammals, warns The Royal Parks. Several fires are accidentally started in the Royal Parks every year by embers and ash falling from disposable BBQs.
Dry Grass is like Tinder in a heatwave!
The fires can have devastating effect, destroying historic parkland that hosts a rich diversity of wildlife, killing plants and trees, and wiping out valuable wild-flower meadowland.
Fires are often started when people have positioned their BBQs under the shade of large trees, which could be hundreds of years old. Many have become hollow over time and when a fire starts they act as a chimney, causing the fire to spread through the tree rapidly, destroying the tree and killing animals.
At Richmond Park, an important habitat for wildlife and a National Nature Reserve, trees of up to 700-years-old have gone up in flames following accidental fires caused by BBQs.
Adam Curtis, Park Manager for Richmond Park, said: “In some areas of the park we’ve seen centuries of biodiversity wiped out because of a fire caused by a BBQ.
“We’ve lost veteran trees and even if the tree survives the fire will burn out the decaying wood within. This important habitat supports over 1,000 different species of insects and their larvae which can be destroyed. Birds will fly off but sadly baby birds will die, as will roosting bats.”
“Grassland fires spread quickly and set off a chain reaction. In fallen deadwoods I’ve found burnt grass snake eggs and stag beetle larvae. Invertebrates in the grass also get burnt - mammals will run off but their nests get burnt.
“The grass dies as does any seed bank. Often what grows back is a different composition of species and if more aggressive rye grasses get in, then we tend to find the grass loses some of its wildlife value.
“Worryingly we do get BBQs put into bins when still alight and I’ve had to put out bin fires. On one occasion a car was parked next to the bin and I have no doubt it would have caught fire if I hadn’t got there in time.”
Dennis Clarke, Head of Park Services for The Royal Parks, added: “We understand the temptation to use beautiful green spaces for barbeques, but hot coals and dry grass don’t mix. During the hot weather the hot grass in the parks is like tinder.
“No-one ever believes it’ll be their barbeque that causes a fire, but fires can start easily and rapidly get out of control especially in the wilder, more secluded parks.
“Fires quickly become very dangerous, and are a risk to visitors and wildlife. We ask everyone to respect the ban on barbeques, to keep visitors safe and protect wildlife.”
Greenwich Park Lichen Survey 2017
Joe Beale has sent us a copy of the recent lichen survey of Greenwich Park. This updates the earlier one from 2008. There is a fair amount of lichen diversity and there are new additions to the Park list. The report was published last year in the British Lichen Society's magazine.