Apologies for the late issue of this month's newsletter. This was due to complete computer failure!
Above: The stone seat, an architectural joke likely placed on the Penpole Wood pleasure walk by garden designer Thomas Wright.
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Working Party update - Back to the laurels I
Iron Bridge Update
Reassurance on recent tree works
Victorian view surfaces
Working Party Reminder - Planned working party event Saturday July 10th
Reminder: July’s working party will take place this Saturday 10th. Again this month ANYONE who would like to help out can come along throughout the day and we are no longer restricted to teams of 6.This month we'll continue with cherry laurel clearance that allows us shaded working during the summer months and prevents conflicts with bird nesting season. Work will involve felling cherry laurel within parts of Penpole Wood we’ve not dealt with before. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet at the same place on Penpole Lane, opposite the school, at 10am. We will be working here:
Please feel free to come along any time during the day, but we do prefer to be able to do health and safety briefings as a group at 10am if possible. There will be tasks to suit most abilities though this month it will be principally focused on trimming regrowth, with some felling vegetation. Please come along with suitable clothing for the weather on the day, bring hand-tools if you have some suitable, and we hope to see you there. Please keep an eye on our Facebook Page in case of any change of location, or call 07811 666671 on the day to find us.
Sorry for the late issue of this month's newsletter, the shorter length, and the regrettable lack of our usual photographs, this was the result of a complete computer meltdown last week that meant we lost a lot of recent material.
Working party update - Back to the laurels
Last month KWAG volunteers returned to the hard graft of cherry laurel clearance. Those who’ve been following our activities for the last ten years will know that this sort of work has become the bread and butter of working party events, but even so we were challenged with the scale of some of the laurels. The area selected connects two we’d previously attended to in Penpole Wood and bounds the main carriage drive to Penpole Point.
Regrettably, because of computer issue our usually meticulous before and after photos have been lost, but fortunately a couple of less well matched mobile phone shots survive to record at least a little of what was achieved. The laurels, some of which had begun to overhang the path, were pushed back up the slope, and the vast majority removed from the area concerned. Unfortunately, partly due to the complexity of the task, partly through fewer volunteers, and partly the summer we didn’t manage to finish the whole of the planned area, with a number of the largest laurels being beyond our ability.
We hope to return to the same place again this month and continue work, adding to the clearance area and removing more of this invasive and damaging shrub.
Iron Bridge Update
KWAG were hoping to have some positive news on the Iron Bridge this month, but things have been a little delayed. The Planning application was due to be determined by the 21st June, but there were ongoing issues which meant that the application was still waiting comment from the Council’s Highways Development Management Team. This has now come through to us, and there are a number of issues we will need to attend to before the proposals can pass on to the planning committee. The highways tem have some concerns about introducing new structural columns close to the highway which may increase the risk of impact from vehicles, and there are further risk assessments required over vehicle movements of large lorries that are too big to get beneath the existing bridge. We hope to be able to respond in depth to these concerns soon and, whilst there may still be concerns raised, we hope that planning committee will come to a balanced decision over the benefit of the proposals.
For those of you following the Save the Green Iron Bridge campaign on Facebook you may already have seen the Mayor’s response to KWAG’s appeal for him to support the proposals; this would be important should the planning application pass. Unfortunately his response appears to confirm popular opinion that the Iron Bridge is no longer a Council priority, that there is no budget, and that there is no timescale for repairs. Nether was support given, but the cost of the alternative plans to the Council’s asked for.
This has, and will, come as a disappointment to the large number of people following the issue of the bridge and the Mayor’s response was forwarded to Darren Jones MP. Darren Jones has since met with the Mayor and his team and sought to clarify the situation. We’re reassured by Darren’s sense of how his meeting went which sounded more optimistic about progress than the original written response received. We hope to be able to detail more from Darren shortly.
Reassurance on recent tree works
We received a raft of concerns recently over tree felling work close to Kings Weston house. Park users were devastated on finding a wrecked birds nest and dead hedgehog resulting from these works, and alarmed that trees have been felled in the public parkland, outside the house’s leasehold area. There was also concern that the proposed second driveway that had been proposed some years ago, but gone down very badly as an idea was being pushed through. These works weren’t anything to do with KWAG and we raised the issue with Kings Weston house. Darren Jones MP had also received complaints.
We’ve had reassurance from John Barbey of Kings Weston house that the works were commissioned because of health and safety issues and large boughs dropping from unhealthy trees. None of the management team had been around when the work was undertaken and what resulted was not as anticipated. He wrote “ When we returned the next day, we were as shocked as you were to see all the trees down and thought they'd gone a bit too far that day, and hoped they'd done all that with appropriate paperwork. I am agonized as something here appears to have been done in my name that I did not request. I did notice that woods trails around the removal site had been appropriately blocked with bright orange plastic fencing. And yes, we are insured.”
There has been an increasing issue of criminal activity occurring in the woodland car park behind the house which the Police have been liaising with the house over during Lockdown. Some of the clearance work was designed to better improve lines of sight, but there is no intention to form a second drive access. Unfortunately the appropriate tree felling consents had not been obtained ahead of work, so there was no warning of the felling, or the reasons it was deemed necessary. We understand that Council arboriculture offices have since been to the site to advise on the situation.
Victorian view surfaces
Due to computer issues over the last week we’re not able to bring you much in the way of a history story in this month’s Newsletter, but we would like to share this recently uncovered Victorian photograph with you. Panoramas from Penpole Point were once famous, but most picturesque paintings or postcard views focus on the prospect northward, towards Avonmouth and Wales. From the camera of George Washington Wilson comes this 1890s photograph looking westward from Penpole, in the direction of Pill and the hills of Somerset. This is the only version of this view we’ve ever seen and adds to our understanding of the extent and attraction of views from Penpole. In the distance the Pill railway viaduct can just bee made out, and tall elms lining the bank of the Avon in the middle-ground. The open field in the foreground is now covered by houses along Home Ground, and the view now firmly obscured by more than a century of tree growth.