Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year
Above: Sun filters through Penpole Wood ahead of last month's Working Party.
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- Working Party update - Penpole tidying II
- Working Parties for 2020
- Iron Bridge update
- Kingsweston Hill in history
Working Party Reminder - Saturday 14th December
Cherry laurels and sapling transplanting
Reminder: December's working party will take place this Saturday 14th. This month we're continuing the removal of cherry laurel in the area tackled in November. Work will involve felling cherry laurel, and also transplanting beech tree saplings from one part of the wood to the newly open area. PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at Shirehampton Road car park at 10am. We will be working here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1VkCHs0l2fMQptasM1Vb1gWTXB5xS4OOa&usp=sharing
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. 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.
Working Party update - Penpole tidying II
KWAG’s volunteer working party focused on more invasive laurels this last month. Our work picked up on an area in Penpole Wood close to the White Oak and sought to push back the undergrowth to open up the woodland floor to native species. This is another area of the woodland that’s suffered badly from overshadowing, competition for water and nutrients, and toxic decay of laurels. There are few healthy natives in this area, but we hope to be able to rectify that soon.
Above: Before and after working party looking west along the main path through the woods.
Working party focused on the area adjacent to the main path for this work and a large number of substantial cherry laurels were felled. The opened area retains two maturing yew trees and a number of rickety sycamore trees that will provide the foundation for re-naturalisation of the area.
We will continue work in this are in December and look to relocate a number of self-seeded saplings from elsewhere in the wood where they’d otherwise be out-competed by other surrounding trees. In this way we hope to maximise their survival within the wood.
Above: Looking west across the working party area before and after laurel clearing.
below: The impact looking east along the main path with the area on the right.
Working Parties for 2020
Working Party events are an important feature of KWAG’s work. Our calendar for next years’ events has now been finalised. We would love to see new volunteers help us with work restoring and improving the estate, and the more people who can lend a hand the more we can achieve together. If you know anyone who might be interested in helping us out please pass or details on.
In 2020 we hope to make sure we have a more varied range of projects across the estate that will have wider appeal than the regular felling of cherry laurels. We are planning returning to the pond next year to clear it again, and hopefully install new measures to try and protect it in the future. We are also considering improvements to paths around the parkland, and, following the incredible turnout for our bulb plant this year we are looking at a Spring native flower plant.
But Kings Weston is everyone’s park and we’d very much like it if people could put forward their suggestions on what we should prioritise. We have to work within the scope of the Council’s Conservation Management Plan, but there’s a lot of opportunity for projects we can tackle, so please, what do you think would benefit the parkland for everyone? Email us at email@example.com and let us know.
Dates for 2020 are as follows:
Iron Bridge update
Some may be aware that recently the bridge was hit yet again by another lorry. It was recorded in the act by passers-by, and the damage is hopefully restricted to the scaffolding, but the question remains how it managed to pass the height warning signs, miss the high-vis banners on the bridge itself, and get directed on this rout in the first place. The lorry involved was not the average juggernaut either; it was one with additional height that raising the bridge 1m would not address. We continue to doubt the Council’s strategy and justification for their intention to build the abutments up and form ramps either side for pedestrians.
Below: Photos uploaded to Facebook by Ricahrd Ganniclifft showing the huge lorry that got stuck on Sunday 1st December and had to reverse back down Kings Weston Road.
KWAG submitted notification to the Council in September that we intended to submit our own planning and Listed building application. This will include a detailed methodology for the careful dismantling of the bridge, its repair and restoration and its reinstalling in the current location. To offer permanent protection for the bridge we are proposing height restrictors at either end of the cutting to offer a highly visible and physical deterrent for lorries trying to misuse this lane.
KWAG have committed funds to pay for the required method statement from national specialists in metal restoration Dorothea Restorations who, coincidentally, are a Bristol company. We are also committing funds to making the Planning Application. We would have opened up a crowdfunding page, or called for donations to pay for this work, but we felt that it might be better to hold on in case the more challenging costs of repairing the bridge end up falling to the community at a later date.
KWAG’s planning application will be submitted before the end of December.
Research Update: Kingsweston Hill in history
Since the closure of the iron bridge four years ago we’ve somewhat neglected the eastern part of the historic kings Weston estate incorporating Kingsweston Hill. The boundary identified by Historic England between the Kings Weston and Blaise Castle estates runs across the middle of the hill along the line of the reputed Roman Road that zig-zags between Sea mills and Lawrence Weston. However the eastern end of the Hill, including the Bronze Age encampment really falls within the historic bounds of Kings Weston. Until the 1800s the hill remained open grazed downland and the prehistoric monuments that stood there stood out in high relief on the horizon.
Below: Aerial view west across Kingsweston Hill with the house in the far distance
The hill has been treated as common land for centuries, but it’s never known to have actually held that status officially. In the 1840s there were alarmed newspaper reports that the Miles family, who’d recently taken up residence in Kings Weston house, had set up gates and fences and were preventing the public from accessing that which they considered their own. The situation was rapidly resolved, but the privacy-loving miles family can’t have been comfortable with the constant traffic across the hill to take in the views.
Above: First edition Ordnance Survey map of the 1880s showing the hill, reputed Roman Road, and Limekiln Wood marked.
It was these views, particularly the ones looking northward across the Severn towards Wales, that were a popular attraction for Bristol residents keen to escape the city for a few hours recreation. The hill was famed for much of the Nineteenth Century for its panoramic aspect, but today these have been replaced by dense woodland plantations established by the Miles family and the Southwells’ before them.
Already by the 1830s Limekiln Wood on the north side of the hill was well established, replacing the historic grassland, and Evergreens Wood and Southside Wood on the opposite side of the hill, followed. The lime kiln that gave the northern wood its name was established already in the Seventeenth Century and its setting-up is mentioned in documents written by Sir Robert Southwell. Limestone quarried from the slopes was ideal for burning to extract lime used in the building trade and agriculture. The kiln has long vanished, but formed an atmospheric landmark until the 1840s.
Below: the lime kiln is seen on the right in this view looking north-west from the hill, along the line of the modern path crossing it. Painting by James Baker Pyne from about 1830.