The restoration officially opened five years ago today.
Above: The iconic before and after views of the Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows.
“It rained on the 29th October 2002 but no-one seemed to mind. From those expensively shod to the wellington-boot brigade, all who attended the ‘Changing the Channel Event’ were in agreement that it was a very good day to be there. After all, the rain was only demonstrating the effectiveness of the carefully sculpted flood plain and weren’t we there that day to witness the official opening of the restored River Quaggy by Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham?”
So began our report on the official opening of Chinbrook Meadows five years ago today. It went on to describe how, seven weeks earlier, QWAG had organised a preview walk for interested supporters – of which a hundred came. And how they saw not a sterile Quaggy encased in concrete as it had been for almost seventy years, but a river gently shaping its own meandering bed within a carefully crafted flood plain.
How have the meadows fared over these five years? Regular visitors to the website will know that they have thrived as the waterside habitats matured. The park is now a rich, diverse ‘reservoir’ for the flora and fauna that call the Quaggy their home. And, as a glance through the restoration timeline will testify, the efforts of the partnership that oversaw the project have been rewarded with numerous accolades locally, nationally and internationally.
Happy Birthday, Chinbrook Meadows!
Chinbrook Meadows restoration timeline
1995 The restoration of the River Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows is outlined and proposed in QWAG’s Operation Kingfisher.
1999 The London Borough of Lewisham proposes changes to the park that would have made restoration of the river impossible. QWAG opposes the plans and secures a promise of support and a possible £250,000 from the Environment Agency. QWAG persuades the Council to consult local people, who give overwhelming support for the restoration of the river as QWAG originally outlined.
2000 A partnership including QWAG is formed which oversees the project to regenerate the whole park, including the restoration of the river, and which raises funds to enable the works to go ahead.
2002 The work to restore the River Quaggy in a regenerated park is completed.
2003/4 Chinbrook Meadows is awarded Green Flag status – the National Standard for Parks – which it has retained in all subsequent years.
2004 Chinbrook Meadows is listed as one of 23 world-wide exemplary projects cited in a study, Urban River Basin Enhancement Methods, funded by the European Commission.
2005 The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) cites Chinbrook Meadows (and Sutcliffe Park) as examples of good practice.
2005 The Lewisham Community Development Strategy highlights Chinbrook Meadows as an exemplary project.
2006 Delivering Regeneration through Environmental Improvement, a report by the University of West England on behalf of the Environment Agency, concluded that the River Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows is a huge community asset much appreciated by local people.
2007 Chinbrook Meadows (and Sutcliffe Park) win the Natural Environment category of the Waterways Renaissance Awards, sponsored by the British Urban Regeneration Association.