August 2022 Newsletter


Welcome to our August newsletter. The big news is we had a great AGM! Thanks so much to everyone who came along and shared their enthusiasm for creating a biodiverse floodplain meadow at Bartonsham. We’ve written it up as a blog which is available here and follows various updates in our newsletter.


  • The Church Commissioners told us they would be signing a 25 year lease with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust in September or early October at the latest! There will be a ban on ploughing it up again 🙂
  • Huge gratitude to the 437 of you who have filled in our survey! Some results are included in the blog. We have shared the full anonymised results with HWT to assist them in applying for lottery funds to support the restoration of Bartonsham Meadows.
  • A whopping 60 odd people attended our AGM to hear about the project, share enthusiasm and questions, and eat and drink goodies including Fran’s dock seed cake.
  • In response to requests from local residents and FoBM the Commissioners cut a fire break along the back of Park Street (days before a fire broke out on the adjacent farm across the river).
  • Last weekend the Council mowed the river path to ease access, in response to requests from Jeremy Milln.
  • Want an information-rich one minute on floodplains? Check out this video Caroline Hanks of Herefordshire Meadows recommended from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership.

The Friends group want to give a really big shout out to two members of the working group - Rhys Ward who produced the visionary interactive map and Chloe Bradman, our communicative communications manager. We will be less snazzy and snappy without her. Finally, we are so sorry that Andrew Nixon is leaving HWT. He’s been an amazing support to the group since our first meeting and we wouldn’t be where we are now without him.


It is not celebration time ‘til the lease is signed, but we hope it’s just around the corner. Suggestions for celebrations have included Civil War re-enactments and mass dock-scything massacres. Ruth currently favours a more modest litterpick with hipflasks but we are open to suggestions.

By Elaine Underwood


Bill said ‘We recorded 23 species during the monthly Meadows bird count on August 22. A couple of birds – robin, sparrow and starling – proved elusive that morning. Here’s the full list (which included a young sparrow hawk hunting down a small bird)’

Black headed gullsGoldfinchMoorhen
BlackbirdGreat titMute swan
Blue titGrey heronPheasant
BuzzardHouse martinSparrow hawk
Carrion crowKingfisherSwallow
Chiff chaffLesser-black backed gullWoodpigeon
DunnockLong-tailed titWren
Spot the heron… By Bill Laws

 - Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows
 - Consider becoming a supporting member here
 - Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

July 2022 Newsletter


Welcome to our July newsletter. With the mercury recently nudging towards 40℃ and a heap of responses to the current usage survey piling up to mull over, it’s time to check in with what has been happening on, or in regard to, Bartonsham Meadows.

Please do fill in our survey over the next few days and join us and our speakers on August 22 for our AGM or next week for the History Group walk.


Discussions continue between the Church Commissioners and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust on the details of a long-term lease. No details yet but we hope to have positive news in the next few months. Fingers crossed.

Our requests to the Church Commissioners to cut and carry the weeds off site have remained unanswered. The local ward councilor, Jeremy Milln, has continued to push for action from the Commissioners on the weeds and the flood damaged gates. Should Herefordshire Wildlife Trust take on the site they would knock back the weeds this Autumn. 

Concerns have been expressed to us abut the fire to the meadows given the amount of tinder dry vegetation. Bill has been in touch with the local police who recommended raising the matter with the landowners and cutting a perimeter fire break. He has also asked Balfour Beatty, who are responsible for cutting the rights of way, to cut the rights of way. Jeremy has raised the matter with the Church Commissioners who have promised a full response next week. In the meantime – no bonfires or BBQs please!

 Photo: Jeremy Miln

We have been blown away by the number and variety of responses to our survey. Last few days to fill it in!

We are doing this both to improve our own understanding of current local usage and thoughts regarding the meadows, and also to generate data to help Herefordshire Wildlife Trust apply for funding to transform the site into a traditionally managed floodplain meadow. To apply for funding from organisations like the National Lottery we need to know how people use the meadows and what concerns them. The ‘diversity’ questions tell us how demographics shape appreciation of the Meadows and are required for funding application.
Tortoiseshell on Ragwort. Photo: Elaine Underwood
Want to know more about floodplain meadows?

Check out the recording of this event that we held at the end of last year. There is more information here, and in the resources on the Floodplain Meadow Partnership site here.


Bartonsham History Group Walk Tuesday!
Thistle seed. Photo: Ruth Westoby

We’re holding an AGM on 22 August at the Scout Hut. Come along for cake from 7pm, we’ll razz through a business meeting at 7.30pm with an update on our project and the survey results.

On completion of business, Caroline Hanks, Herefordshire Meadows, will speak about meadow restoration in Herefordshire.

Andrew Nixon, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, will then speak about the process of floodplain restoration at Bartonsham and what this would look like on the ground for all of us.

Bring your questions! We’re sure Caroline and Andrew will have the latest on weed mitigation, best relationships between walkers and wildlife, and the biodiversity gains to be made. We’ll have plenty of time for questions and you can send in your questions in advance to

Small print: the meeting will not be live streamed or recorded but we will produce a blog for our next newsletter.  In accordance with the constitution if anyone would like to stand for the positions of chair, secretary or treasurer please let us know. The people currently holding those positions are willing to serve another term. Our constitution is here and minutes from the AGM will be available on request.


chiffchaffkingfishermute swan
collared dovelesser black-backed gullpied wagtail
greater spotted woodpeckerlittle egretrobin
grey heronlong-tailed titsand martin
grey wagtailmagpiesong thrush
herring gullmallardswallow
house martinmandarin duckswallow
house sparrowmoorhenswallow
31 different species of birds counted on 18th July

Black headed gulls have returned and numbers of lesser black backed gulls, mute swan and mallard counted had increased dramatically. The four young mandarin ducklings are now fully grown.

Purple Loosestrife. Photo: Elaine Underwood


  • Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows
  • Consider becoming a supporting member here
  • Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours
Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

June 2022 Newsletter


Long evenings, warm sunshine, even the odd thunderstorm: it’s summer in the Meadows. Welcome to the June edition of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter. 


Negotiations are still ongoing between the Church Commissioners who own Bartonsham Meadows and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust on the terms of a long lease.

We have been in touch with the Church Commissioners to request cutting and removal of the thriving weeds before they add to the seedbed, but no response. In the meantime that’s lots of food for the birds.

Herefordshire Wildlife Trust too have communicated the need to top, and the Church Commissioners have told them they will look into it.


To help create the change we want to see on the Meadows please could you fill in our survey? This is vitally important to get the data we need to understand how the Meadows are used and the support for biodiverse floodplain restoration right here. We need this data to inform our campaigning and funding. Please fill it in and share widely 🙂


Anna Gundrey, chief advisor, with Sally Webster from Verging on Wild doing a quick survey of how things are coming along and instructions to the grass-mower taking the picture at the end of Park Street
Photo: Mo Burns


Words by Anna Gundrey

Over the last two years we have been carrying out various surveys of the Meadows to understand what its current ecological value is and provide a baseline to allow future management for nature conservation to be targeted appropriately.  As part of this survey programme a group of us had a walkover of the Meadows in June to assess the vegetation coverage and record the extent of the weed coverage.  I am sure no one will be surprised to hear that we found that across the Meadows there was approximately 70% coverage of ‘injurious’ weeds.  The field closest to Canary bridge, Ox Pasture, is particularly striking, as it has almost total cover of broad-leaved docks, with other species restricted to path edges.  Some have a bit more variety to them – the central field (which includes the row of oak trees) has a good cover of mixed grasses growing in it, but lurking below was an abundant crop of creeping thistle. 

Injurious weeds, as prescribed by the 1959 Weeds Act, are native species that have been deemed to cause a problem to farming productivity. There are five species listed in the Act.  These are broad-leaved dock, curled dock creeping thistle, spear thistle and common ragwort.  All too clearly these plants, as native grassland species, have a rightful place within a meadow habitat they can soon get out of control if the land is not managed sympathetically as we can see all too clearly at Bartonsham.  We have all five species on the Meadows, with broadleaved dock and creeping thistle being the most dominant.  Both these species grow readily from root fragments and have capitalised on the inappropriate cultivation of the Meadows.

Both these species support a range of invertebrate species –  look out for the painted lady butterfly which is on the wing at the moment and whose caterpillar food plants include creeping thistles – and the seeds are valuable forage for birds such as finches.  But a virtual monoculture of any plant species is rarely good news as it lacks the variety of structure and range of feeding opportunities that a mixed habitat can supply.  That is why a well-managed flood-plain meadow is so beneficial to wildlife .  A good example can support up to 43 plant species per sqm, and with that botanical variety comes invertebrate diversity and so-on up the food chain.

Tithe Map. Bartonsham Meadows’ field names from the tithe map (held at Herefordshire Archives and Records Centre)


Dick Jones and Bill Laws are on the case. This month (20th June) they spotted:

blackcaplesser black-backed gullrobin
blue titlesser whitethroatrook
carrion crowlong-tailed titsand martin
chiffchaffmagpiesong thrush
great titmallardstarling
greater spotted woodpeckermandarin duckswallow
herring gullmistle thrushswift
house martinmoorhenwood pigeon
house sparrowmute swanwren

Dick said, ‘Lesser whitethroat and swift are on the list for the first time and there were four young spotted with the mandarin duck!’


Bill Laws directs our eyes skywards this month.

This July marks a significant event in local aviation history: the fatal aerial bombing of Rotherwas’ munitions factory.

At six a.m. on a bright, clear morning eighty years ago a German Dornier flew over the Meadows and, moments later, dropped two bombs on the factory. 

“I saw the bombs come out,” Ken Hursey, the son of the camp’s police superintendent, told me in 2001. “I watched the third bomb bounce along the ground, clear the perimeter fence and bounce straight into the front of our house.”

Ken was the only survivor in a house of six people including his parents. Inside the factory another 17 workers were killed, and many more were injured.

September 3rd, however, heralds a happier chapter in aviation anniversary. In 1913 pioneering aviator Benfield C Hucks landing his £1,200, 80 hp Gnome Bleriot monoplane on the Meadows and for the next two days performed aerial displays (Hucks is credited with perfecting the loop-the-loop manoeuvre) and carried fare paying passengers on a £5 solo flight over the city.

With war looming, Hucks and several fellow pilots who were based at Hendon, toured the country to persuade politicians and the public to invest in aerial warfare. Hucks flew through the war and died of pneumonia after contracting Spanish flu on the last day of war. 

The images, kindly loaned by Derek Foxton, show Hucks on The Meadow ‘by kind permission of the Mayor’. We have yet to work out which was ‘The Meadow’ on which he landed.

A Luftwaffe spy shot of Rotherwas munitions factory showing part of the Meadows taken in 1940. Two years later on July 27 the Germans were back – on a bombing run.


JABA Balsam Bash and Litter Pick

Sat 2 AND Sat 9 July 10.30 at Victoria Bridge, Bishops Meadow or find along the riverbank. Please help out! Gloves provided.

JABA volunteers at work on the riverbank. Photo by Elaine Underwood.


Sat 9 July 5.15pm come and talk with us and attend the screening and discussion of RIVER at the Courtyard.

Save the Wye is screening of the amazing film River followed by a panel discussion on the state of the Wye.


Part of the Wye July campaign:

This beautiful film celebrating the world’s rivers is written by adventurer Robert Macfarlane and features music by Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, Richard Tognetti and William Barton.  It has won prizes for its sheer beauty and innovative cinematography – drones, satellites and conventional filming make it a unique experience.

Throughout history, rivers have shaped our landscapes and our lives; flowing through our culture and our dreams.  RIVER takes us on a journey through space and time; spanning six continents, it shows rivers on scales and from perspectives never seen before.  Its union of image, music and sparse, poetic script creates a film that is both dream-like and powerful, honouring the wildness of rivers but also recognising their vulnerability.

From the Director of SHERPA and MOUNTAIN.

History Walk

Tues 2 Aug 6.30pm

Delve into the history of our Meadows, from the Scots army encampment during the Civil War to the busy river wharves of the 19th century, with Bartonsham  History Group. Meet by the Meadows gate on Green Street. 

Annual General Meeting

Mon 22 Aug 7pm FoBM AGM (venue TBC)

Please come to our Annual General Meeting! We warmly iinvite for all interested in the future of the Meadows as a carbon capture, wildlife-friendly, community enhancing, managed floodplain. Please come to support and learn more about how we can achieve this aim together at our first AGM on. Venue to follow in next newsletter.

Photo: Elaine Underwood

- Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows
- Consider becoming a supporting member here
- Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

May 2022 Newsletter


Welcome to our May newsletter!

** Weed savvy? Help us do a grassland audit on Friday 3rd June 11am (read on for details!)**


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.
Image by Ruth Westoby


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.
Bill Laws
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.

Bill Laws


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.

Image by Elaine Underwood


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 Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has prepared some fabulous materials to explain why and how you should identify Himalayan Balsam and pull it here.


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.


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.


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.

Outside the Scout Hut, on the Green off Eign Road, over ninety mums, dads, children, grandparents and teddy bears gather for a photo shoot. It’s June 1953 and they’re celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. 


  • Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows
  • Consider becoming a supporting member here
  • Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

April 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to our April newsletter!


The Friends group is pleased to report that negotiations are continuing between the land owners, the Church Commissioners, and Herefordshire WIldlife Trust (HWT) as the prospective tenant. Discussions on the terms for a long lease are getting into the fine detail of biodiversity net gain and carbon credits and will take some time to conclude-  we hope, with the HWT as the incoming tenant. HWT are currently drawing up an application for a mid-tier stewardship scheme. This would fund, in the long-term, a species-rich floodplain meadow restoration scheme which would initially see arable reversion take place probably next year. Lottery funding will also be sourced as an important income stream.. Dŵr Cymru, Welsh Water, are also interested in supporting the project in the interests of water purification and natural flood management. 

This is all very exciting but nothing will change on the ground in the next year. This coming year will see the continued gentle ‘rewilding’ from an arable or fallow basis, and the Friends group will continue to carry out baseline surveys of flora and fauna this year, and encourage the landowners to top the flourishing weeds.  

In the medium term, the Wildlife Trust’s HWT’s management plan would see floodplain restoration and perhaps scrapes. In the longer term it may be possible to restore ponds and wetlands.

What can we do?

Delight in this stunning resource on our doorsteps and perhaps help get rid of the balsam. See below for dates of balsam bashing.

Shots below by Lisa Stevens and Elaine Underwoood.


We’ve laid the mats and are checking them with huge excitement. You’re welcome to check them yourselves and report your findings. Check the instructions in the poster and please report your findings on this form.
Plotting the reptile mats by Bill Laws


Blue tit 5
Great tit 6
Long-tailed tit 3
House Martin 3
Swallow 1
Robin 6
Crow 8
Mallard 20
Goosander 5
Grey heron 1
Magpie 5
Mute swan 1
Greater spotted woodpecker 1
Blackcap 3
Goldcrest 1
Wood pigeon 32
Wren 10
Greenfinch 2
Collared dove 2
Song thrush 1
Chiff chaff 2
Willow warbler 1
Lesser-black backed gull 9
Jackdaw 1
Blackbird 6
Moorhen 1
House sparrow 3
Bird survey for April

“We were surprised not to hear skylarks which had been calling intermittently. Hoping this is no more than a temporary absence.”

Dick and Bill


JABA balsam and litter picking event

  • 14 May at Bishops Meadows, St.James’ Community Association balsam bash and litter pick on Saturday May 14th from 10.30 at Bishop’s Meadow riverbank, King Georges Field at Victoria Bridge. See

Friends’ group balsam bashes

We are in the process of checking permissions with the landowners and Natural England to hold public balsam bashing events. If we can get the paperwork in place please join us!

  • 22 May at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm. 
  • 12 June at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm.

AONB’S Invasive Species Week

Check out the Wye Valley’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)’s detail on Invasive Species Week here 

Bartonsham History Group

  • 3 June afternoon. Bartonsham History Group will commemorate this street party from 1953. We’ll be there to wax lyrical about floodplain restoration. And eat cake.
  • Check out their website here

Save the Wye

Events are planned along the length of the Wye on the second weekend of July. Watch this space… 

Docs getting off to a healthy start by Ruth Westoby


As always, if you could do any of the following we’d be super grateful:

  • Share this newsletter 
  • Join us on Instagram and Facebook
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – sign up here
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will