Thanks to National Lottery players, the hard work and dedication of a team of local community volunteers plus the support of Wandsworth Council, this weekend will see the grand opening of a newly refurbished and restored pavilion on Tooting Common that will serve as a hub for a range of community uses including conservation projects that benefit this popular green space.
On Sunday afternoon a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held to officially reopen the Woodfield Pavilion which will provide a home for a wide range of community uses including volunteering and horticultural training opportunities along with environmental and conservation projects to improve the common.
The pavilion dates back to the 1930s and stands on a part of the common known locally as the Woodfield Recreation Ground. It has been transformed into a state-of-the-art community hub at a cost of around £470,000.
The refurbishment has been made possible thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund with further support from Wandsworth Council and match funding raised by local community group The Woodfield Project.
The initiative is part of the wider £1.9m Tooting Common Heritage Project which is rejuvenating this important south London open space and enhancing its overall heritage.
The council’s parks and open spaces spokesman Cllr Steffi Sutters said: “This is more good news for Tooting Common and for the people who love to spend time visiting it and learning about it.
“This is an exciting refurbishment scheme that will promote and celebrate the common’s biodiversity and breathe new life into this corner of the recreation ground.
“Based in the newly refurbished community pavilion, The Woodfield Project will be organising a wide range of events and activities for the benefit of local people and organisations, including schools, voluntary groups and people involved in training and education.”
Manager of the Woodfield Project Joe Boyle added: “At a time when so many social spaces are being shut down, we hope to make The Woodfield Project a space to gather, teach, learn, and play. Only the outline is settled about the coming uses of the pavilion and ground, with community-building, wellbeing, and ecology being central to our future projects. We’re looking to engage with people of all ages, and it will be the community who use Woodfield who come to shape its future.
“On the opening day, The Woodfield Project will ask people how they would like the project to develop. We are returning the pavilion to community-led use and hope to support residents of the surrounding areas to make the space their own. Whatever your idea, if you would be interested in volunteering or otherwise collaborating with us, we would love to have you on board.”
The grand reopening of the pavilion will be on Sunday, June 30 between 12 noon and 5pm. The pavilion itself is just off Abbotswood Road and the event will offer “food, fun and workshops” including yoga, music, storytelling, games, wildlife walks and community stalls.
Tooting Common covers 220 acres and is the largest open space in Wandsworth. It has been designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation – and is ranked in the top tier of these protected spaces – a site of Metropolitan Importance. It is also home to more than 3,000 trees.
As part of the 1.9m conservation project, the common’s lake has been refurbished to improve water quality and offer new and better wildlife habitats. The project has also created new acid grasslands, paid for extensive refurbishment work at the popular Tooting Bec Lido, recreated a historic avenue of trees, a new enclosure for the common’s famous fossil tree and funded the complete restoration of the common’s 1930s drinking fountain.
As well as restoring ancient habitats and boosting biodiversity, the scheme is also offering new volunteering opportunities for local people that not only improve the common but give those who take part useful new job and life skills.
It has also seen the compilation of ‘The Common Story’ - a volunteer project that has unravelled some of its historical mysteries and provided research and archive training to those who took part.
The Tooting Common Heritage Project has been awarded just under £1.4m by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore, conserve and enhance Tooting Common’s cultural and natural heritage. Another £500,000 is being match funded through various partners including Transport for London, The Woodfield Project, Wandsworth Council and Enable Leisure and Culture.
The Woodfield Project has raised match-funding from Veolia Environmental Trust and from Western Riverside Environmental Fund, in both cases under the Landfill Communities Fund scheme, so it is thanks also to these funders that the pavilion’s refurbishment can go ahead.