Grove Park Community Group
Postal Address:
268 Baring Road
Grove Park
SE12 0DS
Telephone: 020 8857 7980
Registered Charity No.: 1046082
Chris Blake
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History of the Grove Park Community Group 1972 to 2009


When the plans to build the London inner ring road, known as “Ringway 2” were being opposed in Grove Park, people realised that when they acted collectively their views and concerns had to be listened to. Once the struggle to protect the area from this M25 style motorway was over, the various groups and people involved decided they wanted to continue working together to improve the amenities, social life and welfare of the people in the area. They held several public meetings and set up a properly constituted steering group which decided to form the Grove Park Community Group (GPCG). The inaugural meeting, held in May 1972, was attended by representatives of the local churches, tenants and residents associations, political parties’ ward representatives, elected ward councillors, uniformed youth associations and a number of interested local residents.


Later in 1972 the Chair wrote to Lewisham Council that the Group’s “desire is to build up and consolidate a sense of real community within the area, and has from the beginning had in mind the provision of a community centre as an important adjunct to the work it is trying to do, and in its efforts to foster the spirit of care and concern for the Community — by the Community of Grove Park.”


One of the first projects which the Group decided to tackle was the conversion of a small piece of land behind Grove Park Library into a park and children’s play area. The Group raised the money at a Fete and Jumble sales to buy trees and play equipment for the area, now called Grove Park Library Gardens.


In 1976 the Under 5’s building in the Library Gardens was completed. It was agreed that the Under 5’s would use the building during the daytime on Monday to Friday, and the Community Group would manage the evening and weekend use of the building for the benefit of the local community. This arrangement, plus the use of an office space in the Library, provided the Group with its first proper base in 1976.


In February 1980 the GPCG got planning permission to put two ex-GLC prefabs on the site of 262/264 Baring Road. Local volunteers then set about preparing the site and the foundations to receive these buildings. The Group set about raising funds to pay for the disconnection, transportation, lifting and resiting of the prefabs. (One of them is still on site.) The response from the people of Grove Park was such that the money needed was raised within one year.


Local residents and local youth groups and committee members volunteered practical help. The GLC provided a grant to cover material costs and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) provided a training officer and workers who did much of the conversion work. Our first Community Centre Worker was appointed during summer 1983 and the Ringway Centre was officially opened on 11th November 1983.


In 1991 The Trust for London gave the Group a grant to buy and install another pre-fabricated building which provided a much larger space for community activities. Once again the foundations were built by volunteers and the installation was overseen by the Centre Manager with help from committee members and local volunteers. In July 1992 the first social function was held in the new Eric Richards Hall.


In 2001 the Council advertised that they intended to give away - free - a seven section portable building to any group with the space to install it. The Group lobbied the Mayor of Lewisham, Cllr Dave Sullivan, many Councillors, our M.P. at the time, Bridget Prentice, and Officers of the Council to help secure the building for the Ringway. The Council arranged to have the building moved to Baring Road, everyone from our M.P. to members of some user groups helped with the renovation and alterations, and in September 2001 the building was opened.


During the past 38 years there have been many attempts to design and secure funding to build a Community Centre for Grove Park. Perhaps the hard work and effort is the glue which binds this community together.


Managing the Ringway Centre is just one of the many aspects of the work which the Group undertakes.


Over the years the Group has gained a reputation for successfully using the Planning Policies of the Council to protect much of the green open land in Grove Park from inappropriate built development. The Group has arranged for local consultation about many planning proposals to be held, in order to give local residents an opportunity to make their views known to Planning Officers and Developers.


Ringway Training was another project run by the group for nearly twelve years. This Computer Training project helped to retrain people whose office skills needed updating in order for them to return to work.


The Community Group organised the Grove Park Carnival Parade for several years. They held Annual Summer Fairs in Northbrook Park and at the Ringway Centre. Until very recently they held a free-of-charge Christmas Social where every child saw Father Christmas, and received a small gift, until the numbers became too large for our Hall.


Numerous activities, too many to mention, have been organised, supported and subsidised by the Group.


The Group publishes a Newsletter three times a year. It is delivered by local volunteers to at least 5,000 homes.


Grove Park Community Group is a member of the Federation of Conservation and Amenity Societies in Lewisham.