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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Local tourism in Rainham

This morning I was with the Diocese of Chelmsford's Regeneration Group at St Helen & St Giles Rainham discussing Heritage, Tourism and Regeneration with representatives of the London Borough of Havering and the National Trust. The borough plan to preserve the attractive heritage of the village and enhance the quality of life by providing an improved and safer local environment, enriched by educational and cultural opportunities for everyone. Rainham Compass, its vision for Rainham, is set around its four ‘points’: Rainham Village, Rainham Community, Rainham Enterprise and Rainham Riverside. Creating high quality public spaces and easy access to the beauty of the Thames and Riverside area is at the heart of their vision to develop Rainham as an attraction in its own right.

The RSPB acquired Rainham Marshes in 2000 and set about transforming it into an important place for nature and a great place for people to visit. Now you can expect to see breeding wading birds in spring and summer, and large flocks of wild ducks in winter. Birds of prey and rare birds are regularly seen too. There are also water voles in the ditches and rare dragonflies flit across the boardwalks. There is an innovative visitor centre, with huge picture-windows that look out across the marshes. There is also a shop and café and a new wildlife garden and children's adventure play area too. A full events programme offers something for everyone. Boardwalks throughout the reserve give access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Rainham Hall is a remarkably intact merchant’s house dating from the early 18th century. Built in 1729 for Captain John Harle, a local merchant, it held a pivotal place in Rainham Village for two centuries, connecting village life with river commerce, right up until the 1920s.  The Hall and its cluster of associated buildings (comprising the Coach House and the Lodge) are situated in the centre of Rainham Village in Essex, next to the Norman church of St Helen & St Giles. Together, Rainham Hall and the church form a visually attractive ‘heart’ of the village.

Being community minded and a friendly and welcoming family of people accessible to all generations, the church is at the heart of not only the village but also the regeneration of the area. One current example of its local contribution is the exhibition of his sabbatical art by the Vicar, Henry Pradella, at Rainham Library.

We discussed the contribution that the Church can make to local tourism and regeneration through its festivals, art trails, history, community engagement/events and the greater effectiveness of this contribution when it is connected to and integrated into borough strategies and campaigns.


Blur - Parklife.

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