Ilford boathouse to be transformed into education centre

A 100-year-old derelict boathouse is set to be replaced by a new education centre which will serve the community.

The finishing touches are being made to South Park Wildlife, Information and Education Centre in Ilford ahead of its opening on Sunday.

Anne Hoad, secretary of South Park Users’ Group which secured funding for the project, said: “A year ago this was just an idea and we are chuffed it has become a reality.”

Six schools have expressed an interest in using the centre for lessons to explore the wildlife living in the park.

Children will be able to tour the area with a factsheet looking for different species and study insects using magnifying boxes.

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The group hopes to add to the building by raising enough money to install a bat roost for the mammals which use the park to feed.

Mrs Hoad said: “We hope to hold bat walks and it would be nice to see them coming out of our own building rather than a house.”

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There is a plan to introduce a pond-dipping area.

The opening day is from 2pm to 5pm and includes a visit from Epping Forest Hawk and Owl Sanctuary.

There will also be experts available to answer any questions on wildlife, and competitions for children.

The facility was paid for using contributions from Area Committee Six, the East London Community Fund and the Grassroots Additional Funding programme.

Work was completed by Homebase, leisure trust Vision, South Park Signs and Vision Windows, both in Green Lane, Ilford, Havering Fencing, Sam’s Builders and Morrison Facilities Services.

The users’ group has nine members and works to support the park keeper and the council in maintaining the park.

Mrs Hoad said: “It went through a very neglected stage some ago, so we are now bringing it back up to standard so it’s a nice place to enjoy.”

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