Since the early 1960s Fred Speakman, Ernie Douse and later Ken Hoy had been providing "field studies" for schools in Walthamstow. However there was accommodation for only one class per day and the class had to be divided between two sites in the forest at High Beach and Jubilee Retreat.
As more and more schools wanted their pupils to enjoy these visits to the forest the new London Borough of Waltham Forest started talks with the City of London Epping Forest Committee to build a purpose built centre at Jubilee Retreat. It was at this time that the owners of Suntrap wanted to offer the building as a gift to be used for a socially useful purpose. Waltham Forest instead bought the building and its 7 acres of land - albeit for a nominal £500.
The first classes came to Suntrap in October 1967.
How to mark and celebrate 50 years of environmental education at Suntrap?
We have decided to develop a new habitat within the grounds and so have been working hard over the last few weeks to transform an overgrown area of the camping field into a wildflower meadow, which should have its first flowers blooming by summer 2017.
Last week volunteers joined with staff to clear the bramble and thistles which had taken over the area which is going to become the meadow. The bramble was cut and as much burnt as possible.
The next job will be to clear any small tree stumps and plough the ground - this will take place in early February.
Then on 17th April we will have a family event to sew the grass and wildflower mixture. By mid-summer we should have a beautiful new habitat for both animals and families & children to enjoy.
What a great way to celebrate 50 years of environmental education.