About the Forest Centre

What you need to know about the Forest Centre

The Thames Chase Forest Centre

The Forest Centre is at the heart of the Community Forest in a group of historic farm buildings with a stunning wooden framed visitor centre.

Surrounded by a Landscape of woods, meadows, ponds and paths that have been created from disused farmland, there is scope for recreation, discovery and study. The surrounding estate offers all-weather paths for walking for all abilities, cycling (cycle hire available, including adapted bicycles) and horse riding

The carefully restored farm buildings boast a 17th century Essex Barn - one of the best preserved in the London area.

Admire the cathedral-like structure as you enjoy one of the many events held here. The Ford education room converted from the farm cart shed, is used by schools and community groups for study, as a conference centre and for private celebrations.

Find out more about room hire at the Thames Chase Forest Centre.                                       

The Forest Centre and shop

Walk into the visitors centre and you enter a building created almost entirely of wood, designed by the aptly-named Laurie Wood. It is a reconstruction of the original Centre, which was lost to fire following a lightning strike in 2008.

Here, within its award-winning structure you can relax and enjoy a snack or lunch in the Cafe whilst admiring the views from its panoramic window or from the terrace or find that special purchase in the Centre shop. The first floor meeting room can accomodate clubs, community groups and societies. See our hiring page for more information

There is a whole host of information about the local landscape, our partners in the Community Forest project and a suite of resources to help you with your wildlife spotting and identification, with fun activities and craft ideas available to pick up from the wildlife corner.

Family fun at Thames Chase

The Forest Centre offers lots of features and activities for a fun family day out, including a natural play trail. 

Scattered around the site are several environmental play areas for children, including the Ants Nest, Snake Stepping Stones, Hollow Logs and the Trusty Oak, which offers extensive views across the whole site.

The site is an ideal spot for cycling, with a network of flat, surfaced paths – if you don’t have your own bike, you can hire one from the Forest Centre on weekends and school holidays, from April to October.

Nature and wildlife at Thames Chase

Exploring the grounds around the Forest Centre where wildlife abounds can offer a rare glimpse of such natural rarities as water voles, great crested newts, and a wide variety of birds and insects. 

 

Formerly a working farm, locals know the woodland as Broadfields. The site is now home to a variety of surfaced trails, ponds, meadows and even an orchard planted with traditional Essex apple and pear varieties.

The Book of Celebration

The Book of Celebration is a book for dedications to celebrate weddings, births, memories of loved ones and many other occasions. The book, bound in wood, is beautifully presented and the special words of each entry are recorded by a local calligrapher. 

Any donations given as a result of a dedication is used either for tree planting or bulb planting to help create a new place of peace and tranquillity for all to enjoy. 

Those who would like to leave a lasting memory of a special occasion, or person, by donating towards planting in the 40 sq. miles of the Forest, can do so by contacting the Forest Centre.

Accessible facilities

The entire site is completely accessible for people of all abilities. The paths are well maintained and suitable for walkers, cyclists and those who are wheelchair-enabled, and the buildings have access ramp facilities at all entrances and between rooms.

In 2019, the Rt Hon Michael Gove (Secretary of State for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) officially opened the refurbished adapted bathroom.

The facility, which has a ground-hoist, shower, large disabled toilet and raised bed, also boasts a large quiet room overlooking the tree nursery, suitable for those who need some personal time in a safe space.

The adapted bathroom, quiet room and other facilities on the Broadfields site are open during Forest Centre opening hours.

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Thames Chase Broadfields site: Fact File

Size: 56ha
Walking and cycling: 6.4km (2.7km unsurfaced)
Horse riding: 1.5km

Dogs and their walkers are very welcome - dog biscuits and other treats are available in the shop, and there are dog-walker special offers in the Cafe..

Entrance Gate Opening hours

Open - 7am. (Dawn to dusk, check www.forestry.gov.uk/thameschase for confirmed car park closing times)

Centre Opening Hours

10am-5pm in Summer and 10am-4pm in Winter.

Please note that there is a 2m height barrier at the Forest Centre entrance, check the Forestry Commission website for details.

Parking

Car park on Pike Lane, £1 from 1st Nov to 20th March - £2 from 21st March to 31st October

Address

Thames Chase Forest Centre at Broadfields, Pike lane, Upminster, Havering, RM14 3NS 
OS Ref: TQ 585 865

 

Public Transport

Trains and tube

 

Closest Station is Upminster (approx 1.5 miles from Forest Centre).

Busses

Take 346 bus to Pond Walk - approx. 0.6 miles from Forest Centre
Take 248 bus to Moor Lane - approx. 0.6 miles from Forest Centre
Take 370 bus to Stubbers - approx. 0.4 miles from Forest Centre
Take 347 bus to Winchester Avenue - approx. 0.3 miles from Forest Centre
Note - 346 and 347 busses do not run on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

Entrance via Pike Lane.

For more information, call us on 01708 642970 or email us.

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Lower Thames Crossing

The new revised plan has a considerable impact on the whole Community Forest, particularly at the Broadfields site.  The increased land take at the Broadfields, home of the Forest Centre, outlined in the new plans will have a detrimental affect on the establishing woodland, paths and play areas to the east of the Centre. 

Read the response of the Thames Chase Trust here.

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Phone: 01708642970


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