Category Archives: Environment – current

Great Pagoda restoration, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Restoration of the Great Pagoda

Update 30/07/2018

Polly Putnam, one of the Historic Royal Palaces curators who has worked for the last 2 years on the restoration of the Great Pagoda, has kindly provided us with the text of the speech she made at the re-opening of the Great Pagoda, described in the update below.

Here is the text – it is a fascinating and very personal account of the meticulous research behind the restoration, uncovering definitive evidence that the dragons were indeed an original feature of the design.

Polly Putnam Great Pagoda opening talk

Update 13/07/2018

In recognition of our sponsorship of one of the newly restored dragons, we were invited by Historic Royal Palaces  to the opening of the Great Pagoda yesterday in the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.






The Prince of Wales at the opening

The Pagoda is now open to access so you can climb to the top and take in the panoramic views across the Gardens and beyond. The dragons are most easily seen from the outside though you can see their snouts and the occasional claw if you look hard from inside.

The dragons restored

The ground floor entrance has been transformed with information on the history of the Pagoda, a panel showing who contributed to the restoration, including the Kew Society, and two large encased automata – turn the handles and different objects and figures in the scene start to move. Below is a picture of the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Richard Deverell admiring one of the installations which depicts William Chambers, the architect of the Pagoda, visiting Canton.

Richard Deverell admiring the automata

At each level the floor you have reached is shown in beautiful lettering. Here is the number 5 – the level occupied by our dragon.

The floral lettering for the number of each level

At the top floor are equally beautifully executed descriptions of the vistas, including our dragon’s view of the Royal Observatory.









There is no doubt that the restoration was necessary. Here is a photo of one problem area now addressed:

Update 04/07/2018

The Great Pagoda within the Royal Botanic Gardens has been beautifully restored to its former glory. The meticulous work has been overseen by the Historic Royal Palaces. The Kew Society sponsored 1 of the flight of 80 dragons which were one of the original  features of the Pagoda. Our dragon is on level 5, position 6, and, appropriately we think given our concerns for the heritage of Kew, faces the historic King’s Observatory.
You can see our dragon here:
You can see more background to the history of the Great Pagoda here:
And on the King’s Observatory here:

Richmond in Bloom

Richmond in Bloom: Best Village in Bloom Update 08/07/2018 The judges – Hugo Ross Tatum and Ed Locke  – viewed our entry last week, starting with the bench/planter outside the Kew Greenhouse cafe.  We are grateful to the Shoe Station for their flower laden tricycle and to Canopy for their floral window display to helpContinue Reading

Cycle Superhighway 9

Cycle Superhighway 9 Update 23/09/2018 Transport for London (TfL) has acknowledged that there were significant flaws in the consultation held for Cycle Superhighway 9 (CS9). They have now pledged to consult more widely in advance of submitting a revised plan which they will do once they have fully assessed responses to the initial design. HounslowContinue Reading

Air Quality

Update 13/08/2018 Clean Air Strategy 2108 consultation We have today submitted comments on the consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on a new Clean Air Strategy. You can see the consultation document here:   And our response, urging the Government to take stronger and more rapid action, including a newContinue Reading

Way finding in Kew

Way finding in Kew Pedestrian accessibility improvements; Kew Gardens station forecourt Update 14/07/2018 The new administration at Richmond Council have put these proposals on hold while they reconsider options and the views of residents. Update 21/12/2017 We have followed up our comments to Richmond Council on the changes proposed to the Kew Gardens Station forecourtContinue Reading

Kew Gardens Station Platforms planting

Gardening training opportunity Update 15/04/2018 Energy Garden who worked with us to create the planting at Kew Gardens Station have just launched their 2018 youth training programme, aimed at 16-19 year olds living near Energy Garden sites. You can see the details here: Energy Garden youth training 2018 This is a paid AQA-accredited programme in horticulture, renewable energy,Continue Reading


Graffiti along the rail track between Kew and Richmond Update 17/08/2018 Community public meeting on transport Zac Goldsmith MP has organised a community public meeting for all to put their questions on transport to South West Rail, Network Rail and Transport for London on Wednesday 12th September at 19.00 at the Duke Street Church, DukeContinue Reading

National Park City

Kew Society support for the Greater London National Park City Update 17/11/2015 We have added our support to this initiative which aims to identify Greater London as a National Park. Though London would not have the same legal status as other National Parks, it would emphasis the value that we put on our natural heritageContinue Reading

Heathrow 3rd runway – the fight goes on

Heathrow expansion proposals Update 22/07/2018 Richmond Council announced that, on 19th July, acting together with 4 other Local Councils –  Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead –  they notified the Secretary of State for Transport that they will seek Judicial Review of the Government’s decision to support the Airports National Policy StatementContinue Reading

Policy Consultations by Richmond Council – 20mph speed limit

20 mph Speed Limit across the Borough Update 24/09/2018 Richmond Council have started a consultation on introducing a 20mph speed limit across the Borough. We encourage you to have you say. You can see how to do so here: Richmond Council’s Local Plan Update 08/07/2018 Richmond Council adopted its new Local Plan on 3 July.Continue Reading