News from the Friends of Greenwich Park

The Friends of Greenwich Park held their 150th committee meeting on Monday 11th August 2014 and invited our Honorary Secretary, Jonathan Chandler, to attend as a representative of the Greenwich Society, replacing Lesley Hodsdon, who had resigned.

Greenwich Park Manager, Graham Dear, also attended and reported to the committee on the funding for refurbishments, both of the Playground – with work due to start early in 2015 – and the area around St Mary’s Lodge. The classroom in the Wildlife Centre will also be redecorated. The report on the archaeological dig around the Keeper’s Cottage is anticipated, as is the outstanding appraisal of work required on the Boating Lake. It was acknowledged that some remedial work is needed on the boundary walls and it was noted both that English Heritage would be consulted (they are also checking the listed building) and that the Greenwich Society had made important points about the required standards.

Graham revealed that the Park had retained the Green Flag and the Green Heritage Award for 2014. Visitor surveys continued to be taken and they showed that 40% of the visitors to the Park came from overseas and, at the request of the Museum, the Ha-ha Gate was being opened between 9am and 5pm throughout August to encourage more visitors to the Queen’s House. The committee also noted that, following a tender exercise for contractors to undertake the cleaning, toilet charges of 20p – common across all Royal Parks – would be introduced later this year.

Active discussions are still under way about Henry Moore’s “Knife Edge” in the hope of gaining a more permanent agreement, but the Queen Elizabeth Oak will probably be allowed to remain and slowly deteriorate, there being no prospect of any preservation.

The Friends were congratulated on their Bandstand concerts and the committee looked forward to he development by two of the committee members of an outline Interpretation Plan to go to the Heritage Lottery Fund for consideration.

There was considerable discussion on a number of topics of concern – including problem with queuing in the Café and busking outside the gates on King William Walk as well as two more serious questions – the future level of policing for the Royal Parks and what might be done to preserve the view from the park across the river – the Grand Axis - as more and more high towers are erected in Tower Hamlets. It was hoped that the Greenwich Society would also lend its voice in support of some action in both these areas.

Jonathan Chandler