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A Walk around Mudchute Park and Farm

With our increased freedom after the latest lockdown, I thought it was time to take a walk around Mudchute Park and Farm.

Mudchute have used the lockdown to start a few improvements including many of the pathways, refurbishment of the main courtyard including brand new toilets and a new water system around the whole farm.

Therefore there are parts of the farm which are closed off, however that will not spoil your visit too much because the wider park is open with many of the familiar animals in their fields and wide open spaces and woodland to enjoy.

A new part for me to look at was the memorial garden which is located near the large Ack Ack gun.

This time is usually noticable for the lambs jumping around but obviously this year that has changed.

One part of Mudchute that often get overlooked is the woodland walks which are very relaxing with plenty of birds flitting in and out of the trees.

The good news is the very good cafe is still open on Tuesday – Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday – Sunday 10am-5pm.

Mudchute Park and Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity which runs a number of events throughout the year.

This is the first time since its inception that Mudchute has been able to undergo such refurbishment and improvements and it is hoped these works will have major positive effects for visitors to Mudchute.

A Spring Stroll to Mudchute Park and Farm

It is that time of the year when the spring flowers are blooming, the blossom is filling the trees and the birdsong is at its loudest. Although I enjoy the urban life, I do yearn occasionally for a walk through a woodland and the sound and smell of rural life.

To get my rural fix, I do not have to travel to far because we have Mudchute Park and Farm on our doorstep.

Like most things on the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute Park and Farm has a fascinating history, the large open space where the Mudchute Farm and Park now stands was for centuries 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. Many people may be surprised when they come across a large Ack Ack Gun in the farm but this is a reminder of its former use.

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.

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 companies, local schools and other community groups.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit the farm with spring lambs running around the field. The outer parts of the park is woodland with lots of wildlife and paths that take you all over the park.

The sheep were not the only attractions, there Alpaca were enjoying the sunshine as were the various horses, cows, donkeys, chickens, turkey, pigs and much more. Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity which runs a number of events throughout the year.

If you suffer from some the strains of urban life, why not take a wander to Mudchute and enjoy the wonderful rural surroundings of the park and farm.

A Spring Stroll to Island Gardens and Mudchute Park and Farm

Last week when it looked like Spring had finally arrived, I put on my walking shoes and wandered around Island Gardens and Mudchute Park and Farm. Arriving at Island Gardens it was with some surprise to see that the Calder Wharf development had started. The development has been the subject of some controversy due to its design which brings the property right up to the Island Gardens wall and dominates the dome where the foot tunnel is located. First impressions are not very good and the local community is still seeking answers to why the development has been allowed to go ahead without adequate consultation.  

Better news was a flag that denoted that Island Gardens had been selected to receive a Green Flag award which is a national quality standard for parks and green spaces.

Wandering around the gardens it was easy to why the award was given, spring flowers were in abundance and the blossom was on the trees.

One of the most unique features of the gardens is the view across to Greenwich, this famous view is still one of the great views of London and has remained largely unspoiled for centuries.

We are very fortunate on the Island that we have Island Gardens and Mudchute Park and Farm. Spring is a wonderful time to visit the farm with spring lambs running around the field. Local children stood captivated as the different breeds of sheep showed off their young lambs. The lambs began racing each other around the field till it was time for a drink.

The sheep were not the only attractions, the Alpaca were enjoying the sunshine as were the various horses and donkeys.

It is remarkable that in the middle of an urban scene that you can watch sheep in the field and the various animals enjoying the more rural location.

If you suffer from some the strains of urban life, why not take a wander to Island Gardens and Mudchute and enjoy the wonderful surroundings.

A ‘Rare’ Award for Mudchute Farm

Visiting Mudchute Park and Farm is one of the joys of living on the Island and I was delighted to hear they had been awarded Rare Breed Survival Trust Approved Conservation Farm Park Status.

Mudchute is home to a wide range of rare and native breeds including Oxford Down, Whitefaced Woodland, Southdown and Jacob sheep, Dexter cattle, Tamworth, Large Black and Middle White pigs as well as Golden Guernsey goats. The farm is also home to rare breed poultry including Aylesbury and Rouen ducks, Dorking and Indian Game chickens.

This policy of supporting a rare breeds programme has been recognised and the award of the prestigious Rare Breed Survival Trust Approved Conservation Farm Park Status for an urban farm is ‘rare’ and is high level recognition for the work of farm manager Tom Davis, staff and volunteers. 

The official unveiling of the new approved farm park sign took place  on Tuesday, January 30th with the help of celebrity chef and rare breeds ambassador Cyrus Todiwala MBE.

Quite naturally, everyone at Mudchute was delighted with the award but a few of the animals didn’t seem that impressed.

There have been quite a few developments at the farm recently which offer a variety of attractions, the Park and Farm are well worth a visit at any time of the year.

 

Christmas at Mudchute Park and Farm

Sunday was a bright, sunny if a little chilly morning and it was time to turn my back on the road works and building sites on Marsh Wall and head for the wide open spaces of the countryside. Fortunately when you live on the Isle of Dogs, the countryside is not far away, in fact it is only a short walk down the Island to Mudchute Farm.

Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables and a wide range of education activities.

The Park and Farm are a great example of community action, in the 1970s, the Island community fought against plans to build a high rise estate on the land. The success of the campaign against these plans led to the creation of the Mudchute Association which was formed to preserve and develop the area. Since then it has become a well-known London attraction loved by adults and children alike.

One of the ironies of the site is that the hills and mounds were formed in the 19th century by the waste matter dredged up by the construction of Millwall Dock. This foul-smelling mud put off any prospective developers of the land and it remained derelict for much of the 20th century. Another irony was that the mud was actually full of minerals and nutrients and provided ideal growing conditions for the many allotments that were built on the site.

Once inside the gates of the Park and Farm you are transported into another world of sheep grazing in the fields, donkeys, goats, llamas and pigs.

But that is not all, the Park and Farm is proud of its roots in East London and you can even enjoy some mussels and jellied eels. 

A visit to the Park and Farm is a pleasant way to get away from stresses of Christmas shopping and crowded trains. You can wander around the fields and look at the beehives, visit the old Ack Ack gun which was stationed in the park in the Second World War, let the kids have a go on the merry go round and enjoy a warm drink at the wonderful café whilst watching the horses in the stables.

Not surprisingly, the Park and Farm is very popular with families but is free and open to everyone who enjoys some peace and quiet away from the urban jungle.

If you are looking for a Christmas treat, the Park and Farm is having a special Christmas Open day on the 9th December between 11am and 4 pm with a Santa’s Grotto, Kid’s craft workshops, Donkey rides, Fairground rides, Cream teas and plenty of food and drink options. 

The Park and Farm are also selling Christmas Trees from 3ft to 10ft with proceeds going to the Mudchute charity.

If you have never been to Mudchute Park and Farm, it is well worth a visit at any time of the year and is one of the best and most enjoyable open spaces on the Island.

If you would like more information about Mudchute Park and Farm, visit their website here

 

 

Walking the Island Board Walk Trail (Part Three)

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The next part of our walk brings us to the middle of the Island and Millwall Docks, and the boards provide information into yet another interesting and historic part of the Docks system. The creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s was against the background of economic depression and when they opened in 1868, there was little indication that they would be a success. However by 1869 the warehouses were nearly full with a variety of goods.

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Unlike the West India Dock, goods were stored in transit sheds rather than warehouses and wholesale building around the dock never really took place. Millwall Docks became the main destination of grain and timber into the docks system and in the 1870s, innovative methods of handling grain were developed.

The dock company built granaries and extended its warehousing in the 1880s and Millwall Docks were considered as the centre of the European grain trade. By 1900 about a third of London’s grain imports and 10 per cent of its timber trade came through the Millwall Docks. From 1909 to 1980, the PLA administered the Millwall Docks with the East and West India Docks and The West India and Millwall Docks were connected by the formation of the Millwall Passage in 1926–8 .

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In the Second World War, Millwall Docks were damaged but not as badly as the West India Docks, however the entrance lock suffered a direct hit and never reopened. After the war, the PLA developed Millwall Docks especially in the 1950s and 60s with the creation of the Fred Olsen Terminal. Various huge single-storey sheds were erected with large doorways for fork-lift trucks and mobile cranes. This redevelopment led to the belief that the berths at the Millwall Docks were among the most efficient in the world, unfortunately this did not prevent their closure in 1980s.

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Nearly the entire dockside around Millwall Docks has been developed with a large number of apartments and development is still continuing with the Baltimore Tower complex.  Walking over the Glengall Bridge and down to the old dry graving dock is  slightly less developed and is quite picturesque with the houseboats and occasionally the yachts from the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre.

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Walking away from the dock we cross the East Ferry Road and move from an urban to a rural setting when we walk through the gates into Mudchute Park and Farm.

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The large open space where the Mudchute Park and Farm now stands was once grazing land. However during the building of the Millwall Docks in 1860s much of this land was used for storing the bricks that were used to build the dock walls and buildings. 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. Gradually the hardened mudfield became known as the Mudchute and was later used for allotments.

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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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It was somewhat ironic that the mud from Millwall Dock which was considered a health hazard and made the land unsuitable for development turned out to be blessing in disguise as the concentration of mud was full of nutrients that provided good growing conditions for many plants and ideal for farm animals. 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.

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The Boards are a great introduction to the Island and this project provides plenty of interest, the new audio tour has been devised to coincide with the launch of the walk and will be available to download as a podcast from the website: www.islandboardwalk.com/audio-trail It is derived from exclusive interviews with those who live and work on the island and provides real insights into the past, present and future of the Island.

‘Free’ Leaflet/Trail Maps which are available to download online and to collect from The Ship pub, The George pub, HubBub cafe bar and restaurant, Cubitt Town Library and the Great Eastern pub by the School Day’s board at start of the trail.

For downloads and more information visit:

www.islandboardwalk.com

Springtime at Mudchute Park and Farm 2015

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It is that time of the year when walking around building sites on the Isle of Dogs begins to lose some of its appeal and I yearn for the countryside. To satisfy this urge, I pick up my rucksack, put on my walking boots and set forth.  Fortunately when you live on the Isle of Dogs, the countryside is not far away, in fact it is only a short walk down the Island to Mudchute Farm.

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Once through the gates of the Park and Farm you are transported into another world of snoring pigs and Free range children.

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There are sheep grazing in the fields, donkeys and Shetland ponies eating grass and the sound of baas of lambs in the distance.

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Before I get too carried away, it may be as well to tell the uninitiated of the delights of Mudchute Park and Farm.

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Mudchute Park & Farm is one of the largest inner City Farms in Europe with a wonderful collection of British rare breeds and currently home to over 100 animals and fowl. Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables, a children’s nursery and a wide range of education activities.

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The Park and Farm were established by the local Island community in the 1970’s when there were plans to build a high rise estate on the land. The success of the campaign against these plans led to the creation of the Mudchute Association which was formed to preserve and develop the area. Since then it has become a London wide attraction loved by adults and children alike.

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One of the ironies of the site is that the area was formed in the 19th century by the waste matter dredged up by the construction of Millwall Dock. This foul-smelling mud put off any prospective developers of the land and it remained derelict for much of the 20th century. Another irony was that the mud was actually full of minerals and nutrients and provided ideal growing conditions for the many allotments that were built on the site.

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In April, the Park and Farm have a number of events for all the family.

Wednesday-Thursday
April 1st-2nd
Easter Eggstravaganza
10am-12pm
Living Classroom

Wednesday-Thursday
April 1st-2nd
Easter Bunny Visits
12-1pm

Thursday
April 2nd
Easter Egg and Prize Hunt
1-1.45pm
starting at the Mudchute Shop

Search for Easter eggs and prizes! To start the egg hunt, collect your egg hunt sheets from the shop located in our Main Courtyard. There will be 3 age categories: Under 5 years, 5-8 years, and over 8 years. Taking part costs £1 per child with one egg per child.
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Thursday
April 2nd
Easter Bonnet Parade
12.30-12.50 (bonnet making)
1.45-2.30pm (parade)
Lower Paddock

Come take part in the annual Mudchute Easter Bonnet parade! Bring your bonnet or make your own from 12.30-12.50 in the barn for a £2 donation for materials.

Saturday
April 25th
Wool Crafting at Mudchute
2-4pm
opposite Mudchute Kitchen

Calling all who knit, crochet, felt, weave or craft with wool! Join Mudchute  for the monthly wool crafting meetup! Bring your projects (or get inspiration for new ones)! We’ll meet at the main courtyard opposite Mudchute Kitchen. Find out more about Mudchute Wool here and email farm_office@mudchute.org for details.

If you would like to find out more about Mudchute Park and Farm, visit their website here