A STREAM that runs through the heart of Leigh Park is the focus of an innovative project aiming to highlight the area’s history and wildlife.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has handed over a grant of £283,000 to fund a scheme based around the Hermitage stream.
Over the next three years, the charity Groundwork Solent will be working with schools, colleges and family learning centres to use the stream as an outdoor classroom. The aim is to tell the story of the area.
During its history the four-mile-long watercourse has had connections with prehistoric settlement, a Roman road, a country house estate, Second World War military camps and temporary accommodation for refugees forced to leave nearby Portsmouth due to wartime bombing.
Following the war, one of the largest ever housing estates in the country was built.
The stream runs into Langstone Harbour and is an important wildlife corridor for fish, birdlife and a wide range of plants.
In recent years the steam’s culverted concrete walls have been replaced with more natural, gently sloping banks.
To further enhance the stream, community volunteers will be recruited to create a map and guidebook.
And there will be guided walks and activity days for everyone to join in.
A highlight will be a community treasure hunt, where people will have to find items that relate to the stream’s history.
The aim is to improve access to the stream and tackle litter problems.
Leigh Park residents have already shown their support by setting up a Friends group.
Fittingly, the project is called Go With The Flow.
David Willetts, MP for Havant, said: ‘This is a really valuable project. The Hermitage Stream has already been much improved with less concrete and more natural embankment. Learning more about its history will further bring it to life.’
Stuart McLeod, head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: ‘Havant is a priority area for HLF so we are delighted to support this imaginative project where the stream takes centre stage as a means of strengthening community involvement.’