Thamesmead District Park

Besides ffrom working on teh flood defence walkways and balustrading along the Thames, i was also involved in producing ideas for the old arsenal. This was a semi-derelict area of land which had a network of brick built storage tumps for bombs and explosive material connected by a series of absolutely level concrete pathways. these had to be level because they carried volatile explosive materials and any sudden jolt could cause an explosion. the brick tumps were solid engineering brick structures and tehy had a mysterious sculptural quality. the whole area was polluted with chemicals which were side products ofteh bomb making and storing processes. There were high levels of arsenic and other chemicals.

The GLC came up with the brilliant idea of capping the entire area using sediment from the Thames. It was a win-win situation, as the material could be pumped straight from the adjacent Thames up over the flood defence wall, and allowed to flood the area. the silt then settled and the water was run off back into the Thames leaving an even capping. It removed silt from the river, effectively dredging it, and it removed teh need to remove all the toxic chemicals, which would have been extremely expensive, as well as creating a huge new problem of transporting and disposing of this toxic material elsewhere.

This poor image shows an isometric of how the capping was done from the Thames. The existing ground formation was a series of earth embankments interspersed with concrete pathways. The orange sections show the deposited material capping the ground.

Once the site was capped it could be built on, but to be absolutely safe, the GLC wanted to turn part of it into a District park. it would be adjacent to the Thames and provide a valuable recreation space for the new housing which was rapidly going up in the surrounding areas. Such parks were novel ideas at the time, although common in more advanced countries like the Netherlands and Germany. After extensive consultation and brain storming I produced this masterplan.

I included a miniature railway to take visitors around the park. the absolutely horizontal concrete paths were ideal for this. I had a Butterfly house, a huge conservatory like that in Kew Gardens, and there were a multitude of sports facilities, picnic reas, little gardens, performance spaces and other ideas. it would have been a major tousrist attraction had it been built as planned.

The project was killed by Mrs Thatcher when she abolished the GLC, and the land parcelled up and sold of to private Developers to build housing. Years later i read about toxic material being found in gardens and playing fields in the area. Another unintended cost of the GLC abolition.

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