Construction of a new £1.2m environment centre and visitor attraction at the Wat Tyler Country Park near Basildon has started.
The work to renovate half of the existing Motorboat Museum to turn it into a new Green Centre should be completed by next spring.
The theme of the centre will be sustainability in the Basildon area.
It will include the geological and social history of the district.
The project will be financed with £1m from the government's Thames Gateway Parklands scheme.
The scheme has also received £200,000 from the Veolia Pitsea Marshes Trust.