Regenerating Erith marshes

By Lydia Coelho, Engaging Places advisor | 15 January 2010

Bexley Borough Council wanted to involve young people in the regeneration of Erith marshes, so as part of the 2009/10 Engaging Places network, they approached Trinity School and Sarah Butler from literature consultancy Urban Words to run a partnership project which would explore the marshes’ development and ultimately create a guide for the local community and visitors.

Photo of green marshes

Erith Marshes, Bexley © Design for London

Trinity School sits near the river Thames in urban Belvedere, minutes away from the marshes. Science teacher Bright Okojie was interested in how students could learn about ecology through studying these marshes. So, he arranged for year 8 gifted and talented students to take part in the project which would see them become 'marsh detectives'.

Plans for change
Through this project it is hoped that students:

  • will develop a positive relationship with the marshland and be able to articulate that to their peers
  • will understand their role in maintaining an environment for future generations
  • will be able to analyse and interpret data and communicate their ideas accurately.

As marsh detectives the students will consider the site’s heritage, the ecology of the marshland, and the area’s future. Working with a green space planner, local historian and archivist from the Council, students will have the opportunity to explore the marshes from different perspectives including a visit to Crossness Pumping Station.

Photo of the inside of the Victorian Crossness Pumping Station

The interior of the Crossness Pumping Station © meneerturr,

Although primarily a Key stage 3 science project which will see the students perform ecological studies, Bright is making links with English, geography and history. Once the students have a good understanding of the area they will be challenged to come up with ideas for promoting the place and increasing community participation. This will culminate in a ‘rough guide’ to Erith marshes to engage the wider school, local community and visitors in this environment.

The project will take place before May 2010, so make sure you return to Engaging Places in spring 2010 to read about the end result.

In the meantime have a look at the following places for ideas to run a similar project:
The Centre for Alternative Technology
BRE Innovation Park

Interested in finding out more about the Erith marshes?
Visit the Ideal homes: suburbia in focus website - for historical images of Belvedere marshes and the surrounding area.

Visit the Thames Pilot webiste – for images and documents that chart history of the River Thames.

To find out about other partnerships and projects developing through the Engaging Places network visit the 2009/10 Engaging Places network article.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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