Thursday, December 03, 2009

The James Leal Centre

For those of you who don’t know, James Leal was a Conservative Councillor for Bridge ward from May 2002 to 2006. He was re-elected in May 2006 but sadly died shortly afterwards. He was in his 30s. I often bumped into him on the Central Line. A very nice bloke. That is why the new re-build of the vandalised and burnt down Ray House is named after him.

The Redbridge Press Release starts:

The eagerly awaited James Leal Visitor Centre will be officially opened to the public in a special ceremony on Saturday 12 December, between 11am and 3pm.
Yes, eagerly awaited. It’s only 9 months late!

It goes on:

The Centre has been crowned the most environmentally-friendly building in the Borough due to a number of features including solar panels, earth tubes which regulate the building's temperature and a biomass boiler which provides energy by burning recycled wood pellets.
Oh really! The last progress report I sat through from a Council Officer said that some of these environmental features had been abandoned due to the usual state sponsored cost overrun. But I will be very pleased to be proved wrong when presented with the evidence that they actually exist.

Mixed response from park users as new visitor centre nears completion



  1. Eagerly awaited perhaps. But has anyone actually seen this ghastly monstrosity of heartless modernism in the "flesh"?

    Cold, soul-less, with no warmth or character, steel shuttered windows to prevent vandalism; the late Cllr. Leal, I suspect, would be outraged if he saw what was being put up in his name.

  2. Its design may look strange and awkward to the older generation who seem to be more relaxed around a 200 year mansion in places like parks, but are we forgetting that this structure was originally going to be a shining example, to the younger generation, of how to build a modern eco-friendly self supporting building with a spiral wind turbine outside to supply energy. As our host states some eco features had to be dropped due to the constant escalation of charges coming from the constructors. Not all the money has come from the Council, the majority was a grant. Had the designers known some of the eco features would have to be dropped I wonder if they would have stuck to their design. I haven't seen the interior yet but I'm told its very impressive. I'm glad our Conservation team are moving in, I hope their presence may encourage a little more interest in wildlife in the area.
    Lets hope the youngsters appreciate its design and treat it with respect. Good luck to you
    'James Leal Centre'

    Ron King

  3. I have been speaking to some of the users of Ray Park, mainly dog walkers, and what they have said abut the new J.L.Centre isn't not working out very good as users of the Park are not allowed in if they have muddy shoes, there is no serving hatch for outside customers to use. Next I'm told that the J.L.'s family, just like many local residents, didn't like the outside vivid colour, so it was painted over in green. Much better to the eye but not to the finger. The painting was done over the top of the original Graffiti
    resistant paint and a wipe of the finger down it gives you green fingers.
    In front of the Cafe is the Children's playground, fenced off to keep out unwelcome Adults and Dogs. This has now been changed,
    the fencing has come down and £250,000 worth of Keep Fit equipment is now accompanying the the swings roundabouts. Mums are moaning at this as it was a very protected play area in the fears are dog s may leave a calling card. I understand the Outside Gym is well worth a try.
    Residents also are trying to save some trees there which have been earmarked for removal. The earth works, they say, to install the piping for the underground heating has caused the area surrounding the cafe to hold a lot of surface rainwater. Other moans are too trivial to mention but the feeling is that things have not been co-ordinated. and thought through properly.
    Incidentally the Outside Gym equipment was a donation from a sports equipment supplier.
    Ron King

  4. Ron, just as well this is Barkingside 21 blog and not the neigbhour thing on the rediwebsite!
    You would not have lasted there a second. They would have deleted you instantly.
    A little detail: I heard that they were removing the 'keep the dogs off this children play area' railings because people decided to drop their poodles in there to be safe in a play-pen. Dispair!

  5. We attended the opening ceremony yesterday. It was really good. Very impressed with the interior.
    The outside paint is now dry. I can
    see this building becoming an important meeting place for the community. There are a few teething troubles and it seems mats are to be put down for visitors with dirty shoes. Well worth a visit.
    Ron King

  6. Thanks, Ron. I couldn't make it on Saturday as it was the witchling's 4th birthday party. But I intend to bike up there in the week to have a look.

  7. I am writing an access audit of the James Leal Centre and must confess I was involved in the original design. Anyone know who the architects are or where the minutes of the meeting I attended would be on Redbridgei?

    CABE were also involved.

  8. There is a committee document search facility of Redridge-i here.