This aerial view of Sutcliffe Park was taken shortly after the restoration had been completed.
QWAG’s role in bringing the Sufcliffe Park Flood Alleviation Scheme to fruition has been recognised.
When QWAG chairman Matthew Blumler spoke to the Eltham Society eight years ago, in February 1997, he finished his talk with the ambitious prediction that “one day we will be able to demonstrate that our urban rivers do not need to be open drains – ugly and dangerous – but can be green arteries that bring excitement, beauty and new life into the heart of our urban environment.”
At the time of Matthew’s speech QWAG had already been campaigning for seven years against a proposed flood alleviation scheme which would have destroyed the remaining natural sections of the River Quaggy. Instead QWAG was proposing a radically different approach that would increase and improve the river’s more natural sections.
It would take a further seven years for QWAG’s dream to become a reality with the official opening of the Sufcliffe Park Flood Alleviation Scheme in June 2004. The Environment Agency’s £3.8m project had seen the park transformed from a large expanse of flat, uninteresting open space into an exciting riverside landscape with the restored Quaggy meandering through as it’s centrepiece.
Matthew was back at the Eltham Society accepting their award on behalf of QWAG for it’s role in first suggesting and then helping bring about the Sufcliffe Park scheme. He thanked the Society on behalf of all QWAG members past and present who have worked to influence this scheme and others along the Quaggy. He finished by saying that “when engineers and authorities combine their expertise with the dreams and ideas of the local community then we can bring excitement, beauty and new life into the heart of our urban environment.” It’s a statement with a familiar ring, except now it’s not a prediction, it’s a matter of fact.
The Eltham Society Award Citation
Awarded to the Quaggy Waterways Action Group for the Sutcliffe Park Flood Alleviation Scheme. In the opinion of the Society, this project has produced an imaginative scheme that has made a significant contribution to the quality and appearance of the natural habitat of Eltham.
Sutcliffe Park has been transformed into an enjoyable and pleasing park that has reclaimed the river, provided a lake, ponds, wildflower meadows and reed beds. It has also alleviated the risk of flooding in the area and given full access for disabled people.
Photos courtesy of the Halcrow Group Ltd. and the Eltham Society.