Urban Forest: Bermondsey to Borough

10.30am – 12.30pm Sunday 12 November Start: Bermondsey tube station (Jubilee line) 142 – 154 Jamaica Rd. London. SE16 4RX  Finish: close to London Bridge rail & tube station

Launching a new series of Stalking Trees walkshops, we are delighted to welcome Paul Wood, author of London Street Trees, to entice you to Explore the Urban Forest.

We will trace the old borough of Bermondsey, which we can thank Ada Salter, former Bermondsey Mayor, a devotee of the ‘Tree of Heaven’ (Ailanthus altissima) for which she organised the planting around the borough.  Although Bermondsey has been absorbed in Southwark many of these trees remain and the boundaries may just be discerned through the historic planting decisions.  Ada Salter is commemorated at various points along our route, so the walkshop will be a part social history, part street tree exploration.

Our route will include visits to the Thames riverside, at Bermondsey Wall East, Bermondsey Spa Gardens and three sites where Ada Salter is commemorated.  It will follow the old Bermondsey Borough and will also provide an insight into this once industrialised area, where new housing was created for the poor and Mayor Salter’s vision for healthy neighbourhoods began to evolve.

Tree of Heaven in Haggerston – photographed on a previous walkshop by participant Tim ingram-Smith

‘Tree of Heaven’ (Ailanthus altissima) flourish in London’s micro-climate as it is resilient to air pollution.  It was brought from China in the 18th century, when ‘Chinoiserie’ was the height of fashion.  It was popular as a street tree as it could grow in smoke filled streets, offering welcome shade.  It grows for little more than 70-100 years, but some specimens from Ada Salter’s original plantings at the beginning of the 20th century still survive. Now it is very rarely planted as it is very invasive so it can often be seen sprouting from railway embankments and cracks in walls.

Ada Salter encouraged tree planting across the borough, not just at the borough’s boundary, and fortunately she did choose other varieties too.  Those with more recent plantings provide a wide variety of street trees for explorers to discover.

We will be handing out a field notebook and pencils, for you to keep your own learning journal and Paul will be signing copies of his book that will be available to purchase.

Our route begins at Bermondsey tube station (Jubilee line) and will finish close to London Bridge rail & tube station.

Book tickets: in advance on-line Early Bird £15 until midnight on 31 October, then £18 , on the day £20 Accompanied children free

Find out more about Paul and our Explorations of the Urban Forest

What participants told us on previous Exploring the Urban Forest walkshops: 

What I like best about the event | What I found surprising | How much I enjoyed it and why?

  • Learning and fun as one | All our friends wanted to come | 5 stars |
  • The tree talks | The trees that only Hackney plants | 4 stars | Very interesting and good guide
  • Looking at local area & stories | The depth of knowledge of the guide| 5 stars | Interesting & enjoyable, lovely detail in unexpected places
  • The diversity of trees I had never seen before | The Strawberry tree | 5 stars | Paul was very informative

Walking in Step with

Paul Wood