Epping Forest Field Centre was established as a purpose built non residential centre to commemorate the European Year of Conservation in 1970, and was officially opened in 1971. It is located in ancient woodland and on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation.
The Centre is located on the site of the first British venue for motorcycle speedway, in High Beach, Epping Forest. The speedway was opened in 1928 and attracted large crowds in its early days. The track was closed after the Second World War , the remains of the track are still visible in the Centre grounds.
The idea for the Centre came from Alfred Qvist who was Superintendent of Epping Forest from 1948 until 1978. Alfred Qvist was a firm believer in the value of outdoor education and teamed up with Professor Grimes, Dr John Carthy and others to steer the development of the Centre, seeking the required funding from the City of London Corporation and co-operation from the FSC to run the Centre.
The Centre is managed by the Field Studies Council on behalf of the City of London Corporation.
- 1991 ‘There are deeply disturbing figures which justify the decision to re-structure the Centre into separate units’ (Separation of Education, Information and Consultancy services from the combined ‘Conservation Centre’ services).
- 1992 New Head of Education Service (Steve Bunce) appointed.
- 1995 A new all time participation record achieved: 11,648 student days. “The Centre is a well managed and effectively run unit .... offering the necessary quality of service demanded by its customers” (Performance Review by City of London). Phil Drabble Award for ‘Commitment to Youth’.
- 1997 Participation level over 12,000 student/days for the first time.
- 1998 First environmental education centre to gain IIP recognition. Refurbishment of Centre by City of London included pitched roofs, double glazing, insulation, improved heating plant, improved classroom space and a new entrance hall.
- 1999 Main building dedicated to Alfred Qvist who, as Superintendent, had inspired the establishment of the Centre. Royal visit by the Ranger of Epping Forest, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, GC GCVO.
- 2000 Record levels of income generation achieved.
- 2003 Re-accredited with IIP status. Hosted 60th Anniversary celebrations for FSC, with its AGM at an FSC Centre, for the first time. 10th year of Holly House Hospital sponsorship.
- 2004 Launch of our ‘Sustainable Schools Project’. Eco-Centre re-accreditation.
- 2006 Participation level over 20,000 learner/experiences. Significant classroom refurbishment.
- 2007 The work of the Centre work was featured on the cover of ‘Teach’ magazine as a model of best national practice. Income generated now three times the level of the early 1990’s. ‘The quality of guidance and support offered to learners (and) the overall quality of both leadership and management is outstanding’ (Chris Warne, former Senior Inspector for OFSTED).
- 2009 In the very first tranche of Centres to be awarded the LOtC Quality Badge. ‘The overall provision of field centre is outstanding’( Chris Warne, former senior inspector for OFSTED). ‘Lessons from Nature’ project initiated. Launch of ‘Discovering Epping Forest’ HLF funded project. ‘HLF monitors, Mike Harding and Sharon Goddard, ...use Discovering Epping Forest as exemplar for other HLF learning projects, especially evaluation techniques and data presentation’ Catherine Cavanagh, ‘Branching Out’ Project Manager.
- 2010 Participation level over 22,000 learner/experiences. Featured on the ‘The One Show’. 502 days of excellent volunteer support.
- 2011 Celebrated the 40th anniversary of the official opening. Welcoming the Centre’s half-millionth visitor. Launch of ‘Learning for Biodiversity’ City Bridge Trust funded project. ‘A comprehensive and extremely well prepared report. The appendices were very informative and it was evident that this has been a popular programme. EFFC clearly has good data capture systems in place. The photos really helped bring the report to life. Thanks to all involved for the time and care taken – the hard work done on the project and the report came across well. Tim Wilson, Principal Grants and Social Investment Officer
‘An example of outstanding learning through well structured and innovative activities and staff who constantly challenged and support pupils to achieve to the highest levels possible’ QB Assessors.
- 2013 Gold Shield Health and Safety Certificate. Congratulations on being the first centre to achieve 100%.... Congratulations on maintaining the Gold award’ Terence Rebanks, CMIOSH, MIIRSM, NorthgateArinso. Celebrated 20 years of support from The Associates of Epping Forest Field Centre
- 2014 Eco-Centre re-accreditation.
- 2016 Gold Shield Health and Safety Certificate re-accreditation