Eastbrookend Discovery Centre
The new name for the Millennium Centre
The Eastbrookend Discovery Centre is an environmentally friendly visitor centre, opened in Eastbrookend in 1997 with funding from the Millennium Commission and designed to demonstrate best practice in environmental construction.
The centre is open to the public throughout the year. It is the base of operation for the Park Rangers Service and one of the venues offering our Outdoor Classroom environmental education and outdoor learning sessions.
The building forms a natural gateway into the wide-open spaces of Eastbrookend Country Park and the Dagenham Chase Local Nature Reserve, some of which can be explored via a new interpretation trail, which covers a circular route beginning and ending at the centre. The Discovery Centre contains an introduction to the history of the site, along with the following facilities:
- café and seating area (open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm)
- education room (for use with school groups and available for private hire)
- toilets and baby-changing facilities
- free car park
The centre acts as the focal point for visitors and provides a comfortable venue for walkers, school groups and anyone wanting to learn more about the local countryside or environment. The Park Rangers office is located on the first floor.
Location and access for disabled users Toggle accordion
Opening hours Toggle accordion
April to September
9am to 4pm weekdays (toilets accessible at weekends)
Car park will be locked at 7pm.
October to March
9am to 4pm weekdays (toilets accessible at weekends)
Car park will be locked at 4pm.
Occasionally the building may be closed for staff training or health and safety reasons.
Energy efficient design Toggle accordion
The Discovery Centre was designed to be as energy efficient as possible both in construction and in use. Many innovative techniques were used in the construction of the building.
There are no conventional foundations under the centre. There are a number of large helical screws that anchor the building to the ground. The anchors can be taken out leaving the earth unspoilt should the building be removed at any time in the future.
This is a clean and sustainable way of generating energy. The wind turbine was installed to generate electricity to power lighting inside the building.
The roof is south facing to catch as much light and heat as possible. It is made of recycled aluminium which means that the roof is made of old drink cans.
It is supported by ‘glulam’ (or laminated) beams, constructed by using wood cut from young trees (from sustainable forests) which is ‘pressure-glued’ together creating a much stronger material. This process means old mature woodlands are left intact and only young trees of lesser conservation value are cut down.
Walls and insulation
The walls are constructed using masonite wood fibre composite studs; external walls (and roof) are insulated with recycled newspaper or ‘cellulose blown fibre’. This enables the walls to breathe eliminating condensation. The external walls are all clad in Canadian Douglas fir wood and 2 trees replace every tree harvested. The windows are doubled or triple glazed to allow maximum heat retention.
Underneath the paving slabs the floor is made of layers of sand and gravel, there is also a layer of foam glass made in part from recycled windscreens, which acts as further insulation. In the summer the slabs keep the centre cool and in the winter they store heat and help keep it warm.
Despite the building being 4-5 times bigger than an average house, the boiler used is the same size as one you'd find in most people's homes.
Rainwater from the roof is drawn into channels and collects in an underground reservoir to be recycled for watering the surrounding plants.
These features all help to reduce energy consumption of the building, ensuring cost-effective building management.
Wildlife Toggle accordion
There is a great variety of wildlife in the area including birds, bees and butterflies.
Skylarks are becoming rare, probably because of the chemicals used by farmers. Eastbrookend and The Chase are chemical free zones which means visitors have plenty of opportunity to listen out for the music of the skylarks.
During the summer months the scrubland provides valuable feeding and nesting habitat for small birds such as the blackcap. Eastbrookend has also proved to be a good breeding ground for lapwings.
The winter berries that adorn most bushes attract hungry birds such as fieldfares and redwings that fly all the way from the Arctic to feast at the Eastbrookend. Another bird on the lookout for food is the kestrel.
Woodpeckers are regularly seen flying over the area and come to rest on trees of the woodlands. Mallards and tufted ducks can be seen swimming on the ponds and some of the largest flocks of water birds in east London have settled in the area.
Herons are natural hunters and dive for frogs and other tasty morsels of food in the lakes and ponds in the area.
Dragonflies are fierce hunters of flying insects. The dragonfly larvae lives under water and will eat most other water creatures and small fish.
Butterflies and wild bees
The area has been planted with grasses and flowers so there is lots of nectar and pollen to attract wildlife. Butterflies and other insects abound and the area is home to a variety of wild bumble bees and solitary bees that live alone and not in colonies like honeybees.
There are 6 mature female black poplar trees at Eastbrookend. There are only around 2,000 black poplars in the whole of the country, only 600 of which are female, so it is wonderful that these 6 trees have managed to survive the gravel digging and dumping that previously took place in the area.
The trees are now able to grow safely inside the Chase Nature Reserve.
Friends of Eastbrookend and the Chase Toggle accordion
Join the Friends of Eastbrookend and The Chase.
Main objectives of the group are to:
- promote the responsible use of Eastbrookend Country Park and The Chase Local Nature Reserve
- enhance the parks for the benefit of the whole community
- improve the recreational and educational facilities of the parks
- enhance, protect and promote the natural environment within the parks
- protect and promote the heritage and historical artefacts of the parks
- raise funds to support the work of the group
New members are always welcome. The group meets quarterly at The Eastbrookend Discovery Centre.
You can call us on 020 8227 2332 or email email@example.com.