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Brookmill Nature Reserve contains part of a disused railway embankment between Brookmill Road and the busy lines from Lewisham to St Johns.
The railway from Nunhead to Blackheath Hill opened in 1871, and in 1888 extended on to Greenwich Park. It was not a great success and stopped operating at the end of 1916 as a wartime economy measure. After the war it was left to quietly decay.
The section west was re-routed to connect directly to Lewisham in 1929, while the section through to Greenwich Park was formally abandoned and the tracks taken up.
It was left to its own devices until 1979 when we purchased the freehold of the land from British Rail. Local people took an interest and, with the help of staff from the nearby Ashmead Primary School, formed a small overseeing committee for our first nature reserve.
In 1981, the newly-formed Lewisham Group of the London Wildlife Trust prepared a management plan, and established a series of regular working parties.
The intention was to create an educational site with as many habitats as possible living in a small area. This has been successful thanks to the efforts of David Larkin, a local London Wildlife Trust member who has put enormous amounts of time into the management and monitoring of the site.
The steep sides of the embankment are wooded. Sycamore was the dominant tree before the site became managed, but many of these were removed and replaced with native species such as hornbeam and hazel.
A large plum tree was retained, and provides lots of fruit in late summer for visitors to the reserve - both birds and humans.
The reserve is kept locked, but there are regular conservation work days. The site is well used by local schools for environmental education.