Grove Park Nature Reserve
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When it's open
Open access all year.
Where it is
Across the railway from Hither Green Cemetery (see map below).
Nature and education
Grove Park Nature Reserve contains many habitats, including the only substantial area of grassland with a calcareous influence in the borough (meaning mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate).
These habitats support a wide diversity of plants and animals, including a number of locally rare species.
People enjoy visiting the reserve to:
walk their dogs
pick blackberries and plums
quietly enjoy a peaceful wild space.
The nature reserve is an important wildlife site and it also makes up part of the South East London Green Chain Walk and the regional Capital Ring.
Local schools make good use of the site for educational visits. It is part of a suite of open spaces, including Hither Green Cemetery and what remains of the former railway sidings.
19th century and the Second World War
The railway from New Cross to Chislehurst opened in 1865. This increased in importance in 1868 when it became the main line to Tonbridge. In 1904, the main line to Grove Park and onwards was quadrupled.
Between St Mildreds Road and Grove Park station, a very wide corridor of land was left. To the east of the line, apart from the goods sidings and carriage sheds, this was largely given over to allotments until the 1980s.
The land which now comprises the nature reserve has a rather complex history. The woodland at the southern end was once the garden of a large house. This appears on the Ordnance Survey six-inch map of 1894–96.
Most of the rest of the reserve was allotments, at least during the 'Dig for Victory' campaign in the Second World War, and parts were allotments before then.
The western edge of the reserve lies on the shallow bank of a cutting which has remained more or less undisturbed since the railway was built.
The site first became a nature reserve in 1984, when we agreed to manage it under a licence from British Rail. It had been used for informal recreation by local people for many years before this.
We acquired the freehold of the land in 1987 following a public inquiry in 1986 which allowed planning permission for housing on land just north of the reserve (now 'Bramdean Village').
When the freehold passed to us, it was agreed that the site should remain open access for the public.