November 15, 2008


About the site

Energy café will be based in the Field station over flow Car Park. The location is ideal, a vacant piece of land, approx one acre – slightly hidden from the main parkland, a popular route for dog walkers and other park users. It is close to the main road, so easy for people to stop and take an energy café break!


Directly opposite Energy Cafe site, stands the Sainsbury’s Distribution Unit – apparently the largest in Europe.

We are continuing our investigation in the food production to debate. We are making a documentary within the six mile radius – talking to growers who have from allotments, gardens, farms to large scale Agri business. If you would like to take part in the film please get in touch.

We found five unidentified concrete circular stones.
Imagined it an ideal base for building clay, brick and mud ovens.


Does anybody have an idea what these were used for?
we presume they are mill stones that were originally used in the Gunpowder mill?


Identifying and drawing the edible wild food on energy café site


View from Energy Café site just after the harvest.


Gunpowder Park entrance to the field station


The Field Station


Gunpowder park comprises of 175 acres of natural parkland with 21 historic buildings.

“The Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey have been involved in the production and development of explosives for over 300 years. Gunpowder was the first, and for some centuries the only explosive and propellant. Later the site manufactured guncotton, nitro-glycerine, cordite paste and tetryl, and after World War II the site became a research establishment for non-nuclear explosives and propellants’.

We have talked to a few local residents who remember the small arms factory where many local residents found employment. We discovered that the earliest works relied on water power to manufacture gunpowder.

“By the end of the 19th century chemical explosives were replacing gunpowder. The incorporating mills and other buildings were converted to produce these new explosives like cordite, and new buildings were constructed. After World War II the site changed again to a research establishment and many of the buildings were converted into laboratories.

With its history as an explosives testing ground, the land became highly contaminated. In the 1990s it went through a remediation process, that wasn’t entirely successful as now there are mine shafts appearing thoughout the parkland. Consequently much of the park is fenced off, out of access to park goers. The positive side of this however is that it has allowed natural wildlife to take root.

Local resident, allotmenteer, Julie warned us to not use the ground directly for growing.

This also puts in question all the wild food we have found in the area – so we would like to find someone who can give us advice on this too.