Welcome to our May newsletter!
** Weed savvy? Help us do a grassland audit on Friday 3rd June 11am (read on for details!)**
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE The Herefordshire Wildlife Trust are continuing to negotiate with the Church Commissioners on the terms of a long lease. This is a relatively slow and technical process but HWT are hoping to have good news to report soon. In the meantime they have put an application together for a mid-tier stewardship scheme to cover arable reversion and some capital items. We have been in regular contact with the Church Commissioners to request permission to carry out balsam mitigation work as well as to request them to carry out weed mitigation. Specifically we have asked them to top the weeds and remove them from the site. We noted that weed mitigation is time-sensitive and is important to make arable reversion easier. We also noted that such work would need to be undertaken again two months after initial topping. Unfortunately the Commissioners have not responded to these requests but we will continue to be in touch.
THE MYSTERY OF BARTONSHAM’S SCOTS BRIDGE
Three routes bridge the watery boundary between the Bartonsham Meadows and Putson. Eign Bridge, designed by the Great Western Railway’s Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1855, and rebuilt in 1923, is our oldest. Its neighbour, the Canary Bridge, was completed in 2013 while the Sewage Bridge, which lies a little way upstream, was finished in 1974. A structure as unlovely as its name, it pipes sewage to the treatment plant at Rotherwas. Although the top deck was designed to carry traffic, it never did and instead served as a clandestine short cut for local SAS men heading to their base at Bradbury Lines. The other bridges have military links. The Canary (originally the ‘Greenway’, pictured below) was renamed in recognition of the 6,000 mostly women munition workers who filled empty shells with explosives at Rotherwas through two world wars. During the First World War, munitioneers could cross the Eign rail Bridge on foot: a walkway was built on the side of the bridge for them.
The ‘Scots’ Bridge (like Scots Hole and Scots Close) took its name from the force of 15,000 Scottish mercenaries who, under the Earl of Leven, lay siege to Royalist Hereford in 1645. According to Adrian Harvey, addressing Hereford Civic Trust (‘De-coding the Seige of Hereford’) in May, the Parliamentary Scots had, that summer, attacked and killed Royalists at Canon Frome before heading south to Ross and Mitcheldean. Sensing an opportunity to take Hereford they swung back towards the city and, setting up observation posts on Aconbury and Dinedor, bridged the Wye somewhere at Bartonsham. The bridge allowed them to bring heavy artillery on to the Meadows and plunder the South Wye for food and forage. The siege began in July with miners from the Forest of Dean tunnelling under the City walls. But a final assault, planned for September 1, was abandoned when a relief force of Royalists threatened from the north. The Scots retreated to Gloucester, the bridge was destroyed and to this day no-one (least of all the illustrator of this drawing) knows where it stood. Recent archaeological trenches on the Row Ditch, thought to have been used by the Scots, failed to produce any Civil War artefacts, but metal detectorist Jack Daw did discover a quantity of lead musket balls close to the Canary Bridge. It seems there’s more work to be done on our historic Meadows. Note: it’s against the law to carry out metal detectoring without the permission of the landowner. BY BILL LAWS
GRASSLAND SURVEY **JOIN US!**
Weed savvy? Then please join our working group from 11am Friday 3rd June when we will carry out a weed / grassland audit of the meadows. The intention is to survey what is there to help inform future management decisions. We’ll be walking each field and recording dominant vegetation type and weed coverage. Anyone who would like to help is welcome. Meet at the Green Street entrance to the meadows at 11am. Please feel free to share this note with friends who are keen on plant ID.
We have completed our reptile survey along the river and sadly had no sightings. The mats that we placed for the reptiles to shelter below gradually disappeared (into the river perhaps…) leaving us with only 2 by the end of the survey. This means that we can’t confidently conclude that reptiles are absent without further survey, but results certainly indicate a lack of reptiles on the meadows. It may be that reptiles have been absent for many years. Their position on an ‘island’ of greenspace formed by the river and the city to the north, means that once gone, it would be difficult for reptiles to re-colonise. The regeneration of the meadows may provide an opportunity to reintroduce these lovely creatures.
We are continuing to check the reptile mats we laid along the river close to the treatment works. If you would like to check the (few remaining!) mats check the instructions in the poster and please report your findings on this form.
We are excited that Hereford’s tree wardens will carry out a survey of the tree species in the hedgerows, riverbank and the belt around the treatment works.
Sadly we had to cancel our public balsam bash planned for 22nd May as we had not received the requisite permissions in time from the land owners of the riverbank - the Church Commissioners and Welsh Water. We had hoped to hold an event on 12 June as well, but we’ll presume that is postponed as well unless we send out communications to the contrary. JABA did get their permissions sorted and are holding a Himalayan balsam and litterpick on Saturday 11th June 10.30 - 12.30. Please meet at the Victoria Bridge.
The first section of the public footpath from Outfall Works Road past the treatment works became particularly treacherous last winter. Jeremy Milln, your ward councillor, had asked for the guard railing to be extended lest someone slip into the swollen river, but Balfour Beatty’s response was to put up a notice closing the path. It is safer in the summer, but do please go carefully if you continue to use the path until we can get it improved.
KISSING GATES All three metal kissing gates to access the meadows are in poor state, damaged by flooding, most particularly by the Storm Dennis floods in February 2020. We were promised Bellwin funds towards repair but it has proved extremely hard to secure, track and spend against a transparent procurement process added to which some works require landowner co-operation which has not been forthcoming lately. Hopefully by the time Jeremy writes about this in a future FoBM update there will be better news.
BARTONSHAM HISTORY GROUP JUBILEE CELEBRATION
Please do come and chat with us! On Friday 3rd June Bartonsham History Group is holding a Jubilee celebrations and recreation of this historical photo. We’ll have a stand and are looking forward to tea and cake.
YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE. PLEASE COULD YOU:
- Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows
- Consider becoming a supporting member here
- Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours
Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will