Morden Hall Park becomes the most energy-efficient historic building in England

The National Trust reports on the new hydro-electric power coming to Morden Hall Park, near Wimbledon, that will make its visitor centre the most energy-efficient historic building in the country.

At the National Trust this month, we are powering up for a brand new form of sustainable energy, as the first ever Archimedes Screw hydro-electric turbine to be installed in London reaches its completion at Morden Hall Park in Morden, near Wimbledon.

The turbine is being installed inside the park’s perimeters, close to our historic Snuff Mill and in the River Wandle, which runs through south west London. We are hopeful that it will generate enough electricity to help power both our new, award-winning visitor centre as well as our popular education centre, both of which are situated nearby in Morden Hall Park.

Zoe Colbeck, property manager for Morden Hall Park, explains further: “The hydro-electric turbine is the final phase in our two-year project to transform the park’s semi-derelict stable yard into a vibrant new visitor centre that will be the most energy-efficient historic building in the country,” she says. “This exciting new addition will contribute to the centre’s energy needs, adding power to our existing solar panels, an air source heat pump and wood-burning stove.”

The first installation of its kind to take place in the capital, the project has been financially supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, with the Archimedes Screw phase receiving extra funding from the City Bridge Trust and Thames Water. We understand that it will generate an estimated 59,000 kWh per year – that’s around 12 times as much electricity as an average household uses.

Going green...Visitors can already come along to our new visitor centre at Morden Hall Park, which opened last November, where they can try out our interactive Livinggreen exhibition and learn about sustainable living. There is a changing community exhibition area, craft stalls for local artists, water-saving eco loos, plus a small caf�.

The new Archimedes Screw hydro -electric turbine, which has been installed by Mackley Construction and Hallidays Hydropower, will further provide us with an excellent opportunity to teach visitors and local people about renewable energy and water power. It is expected to start generating electricity very shortly – and, in fact, we are writing a blog about its progress, which can be followed online at

Zoe continues: “We are very excited about our modern-day ‘water-wheel’. It will harness the power of the River Wandle and will take us back to some of the park’s most important origins – water power. We are very pleased to have reached this final stage in our pioneering sustainable living project.”

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As a national organisation, here at the National Trust we are working on numerous renewable energy projects across the country. These involve promoting and fulfilling methods of conserving energy and reducing waste; producing and generating our own electricity and heat; moving away from oil and other non-sustainable fossil fuels; and seeking inspirational energy best practice.

Morden Hall Park is a 125-acre green oasis in south west London, on the border with Surrey. It is free to enter and open daily, with more than 750,000 visitors coming to enjoy walks, events and to simply take in the park’s enviable tranquillity every year. There is a full programme of family activities, based on family, wildlife, cultural and environmental themes. For more information, visit the website at  

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2012

In this month’s column from the National Trust, spokesperson Emma Brien reports on the new hydro-electric power coming to Morden Hall Park, near Wimbledon, that will make its visitor centre the most energy-efficient historic building in the country.

Photo: National Trust / Andrew Butler

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