Home » Human Life » Urban Retreat – The Story of Mudchute Farm and Park

Urban Retreat – The Story of Mudchute Farm and Park

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For many people  the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf symbolises high tower blocks and high density living, however this is a very recent phenomenon up to the mid 18th century the vast majority of the Island was uninhabited and used as pastures for animals. Even considering the Island was mostly pastures,the creation of Mudchute Farm is however tied into a by-product of the building of the docks.

The large open space where the Mudchute Farm and park now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1865 much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. During construction of the Millwall Docks in 1865–7 the land remained a brickfield,  However  after the docks opened in 1868 the land was once again used  for grazing.

This changed in 1875 when The Dock company developed  an innovative system of dredging its docks designed by the company’s engineer, Frederic E. Duckham. This involved the pneumatic transmission of mud, out of the dock into a pipe which ran under East Ferry Road to be deposited on the grazing land creating a mudfield. Over time the mud accumulated to create small hills and bumps, however towards the end of the 19th Century there was concerns when the Mudfield was considered a health hazard and steps were taken to close the pipe which was discontinued in 1910.

Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments . At the beginning of the war the land was used for gun placements.

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An Ack- Ack gun in the farm to celebrate its role in WW2

After the war various schemes were put forward for the use of the land , however it was not until 1973 that the site was transferred to the GLC to be used for housing. However there then began a campaign by local residents and supporters called the Association of Island Communities who wished the land to be used as public open space , the success of this campaign led to the creation of an urban farm in 1977.

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In 1977 the Mudchute  Association was formed to preserve and develop the area which they have done by adding to the existing fauna and flora to provide a diverse environment that attracts all forms of wild life. It was somewhat ironic that the mud that had caused dismay to many people was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants.

Farm  animals have been introduced over the years to give visitors a variety of experience, there has always been an educational aspect to the Associations work and close ties have been developed with local schools and other community groups

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Since its creation Mudchute Farm and Park has developed into one of the largest City Farm in Europe covering 32 acres and is maintained largely by local volunteers. It is also been supported by many firms based at Canary Wharf.

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Stables and Cafe

It is a testament to the people who fought for the creation of the farm and the volunteers who have maintained it that it is now widely considered one of the finest City farms in Britain enjoyed by thousands every year.

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