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Archive for January, 2011

Old Willow Works exciting toilet block! The Willow Works on Old Trent Road in Beckingham is the only surviving building of what was once a main cottage industry of the Trent villages. Many villagers were employed in the willow industry to produce baskets and fencing which was a once booming local industry in the mid-1800s. Much of the surrounding land was dedicated to osier beds with many varieties of willow planted and managed for the industry.
 
The basketry industry along the River Trent is all but gone, and the Willow Works gradually fell into disrepair over the decades. The good news is that in recognition of its importance to local heritage, industry and land-use, restoration of this building is one of the main priorities of the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership. Together with other grants, over the past year the Old Willow Works has been saved from total collapse and plans are now underway to create a multi-functional amenity and visitor centre.
 
Beckingham Willow Works in 1974. Photo: Picture the PastIt has still been a turbulent time, however, with the lead partner for this projects withdrawing almost a year into the project. The responsibility has now been taken on by Groundwork Creswell, but this has set the project back several months. With a strong involvement and help from the local community, who have set up a group dedicated to this project, redevelopment work recommenced in October 2010 by Crestra – the trading arm of Groundwork Creswell. Working with people from the Future Jobs Fund, we are proud to announce that the project is now well underway.
 
The Willow Works has been re-roofed and re-pointed, new windows and doors have been installed and new vents in the roof in-keeping with the original style have been added. Bat boxes and owl nest boxes have been created in the loft area to encourage wildlife. The car park is now complete along with fencing and entrance gates. Insulation, resurfacing of the floors and walls has all begun inside the building, while work has started on the outside toilet block, which can be used by visitors to the RSPB Beckingham Marshes reserve. It is hoped that the building will be ready for use by the summer of 2011.
 
Ambitious plans are envisaged for the buildings and include heritage centre with exhibition space and use as an office by Trent Vale staff as a place to coordinate the partnership project. The local community will have exclusive use of a room within the building where equipment and artefacts will be housed. Local history society members can use this room for archiving, research and display preparation.
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Come and explore the Trent Vale by bike! Our Sustrans volunteers (Alan, Roger and Tony)  are developing cycle routes for us which you can find in full by clicking here.

Doll museum at cromwellDistance: 9 miles
Estimated time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Start and finish: Main Street, Muskham

Route highlights: historic Trent Vale villages of Muskham, Cromwell, Norwell and Bathley, North Muskham village trail, the Cromwell Doll Museum (worthwhile a visit as it houses not only dolls, but games, puzzles, books and railway models), and Norwell – an unusual village as most homes and land were owned by the church from the 11th Century. 

We hope you enjoy this new route and would welcome any feedback. Sustrans volunteers will be organising guided cycle rides throughout Trent Vale from 10th April. Look out for more information about these and other new routes soon.

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Come and explore the Trent Vale by bike! Our Sustrans volunteers (Alan, Roger and Tony)  are developing cycle routes for us which you can find in full by clicking here.

Smeaton's arches, the Great North Road viaduct built in the 1770s, leading from Newark towards North MuskhamDistance: 8 miles
Estimated times: 1 hours
Start: Newark
Finish: Muskham Ferry pub, North Muskham

Route highlights: Newark town and castle, the riverside, John Smeaton’s 74 Arches (a very long bridge that since 1770 has allowed road travel in extreme flood), North Muskham Nature Reserve, North Muskham Village Trail.

We hope you enjoy this new route and would welcome any feedback. Sustrans volunteers will be organising guided cycle rides throughout Trent Vale from 10th April. Look out for more information about these and other new routes soon.

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Hawton Allotments Living Willow Jan 2011The Trent Vale Lansacpe Partnership is funding a series of workshops by BTCV for local people to create living willow sculptures in their community. The first of these was hosted on 14 January at the Hawton Road Allotments, Newark, by the Eton Avenue Growers Association (EAGA). Six year 10 students from Magnus School came along to the one-day workshop and developed skills in building a living willow dome with Gill Butler from BTCV.

The students, who are are working towards a Horticulture Diploma, will be re-creating a second sculpture in their school grounds later in the year. The willow was donated by the Notts Wildlife Trust reserve at Farndon Willow Holt. If you want to see how the scullpture grows and develops you can visit the allotments (between numbers 77 and 79 Hawton Road, Newark) on Friday mornings.

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Besthorpe Nature Reserve Photo: Michelle NaysmithStarting this month, the Trent Vale Landscape Partnership is co-funding work to restore wetland habitat at the Notts Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Besthorpe. It will represent the single biggest environmental restoration project that the Trust have created and will provide almost 8 hectares of reedbed, 3 hectares of wet grassland and various ponds, ditches and and other associated habitats.

The enhanced reserve will complement the extensive reedbed and wetland created to the south at nearby Langford Lowfields by the RSPB, and will extend wetland habitat for a variety of wetland specialists such as reed warbler, bearded tit, bittern, otter and marsh harrier. Over the next couple of years, Besthorpe Nature Reserve will become part of nearly 500 hectares of continuous wetland habitats throughout the Trent Vale, with reedbed, wet meadows, open water, hedgerows, ditches and streams, as well as the Trent itself, through which wildlife can live and move freely.

Following the completion of gravel quarrying activities at Besthorpe, the area will be excavated to bring the ground closer to the water table, allowing reed to flourish once more. To ensure the sustainability of the reedbed areas, a water control system will be installed, connecting the Trent to an existing lagoon, then through a series of ditches and pools and on into the reedbed. This means water levels can be kept high, ensuring that the area does not become scrubbed up again. Material from the excavation at the northern half of the reserve will be conveyed to the southern part of the site, where it will be used to create gentler lake margins, creating feeding zones for wading birds, as well as more diverse marginal vegetation, including fringing reedbeds and areas of seasonally wet grassland. An existing steep-sided island will be graded down to water level to create additional shallows and reedbed.

This reserve will be a major resource within the Trent Vale that will enhance biodiversity as well as raising awareness about the Trent and its heritage. As part of the Landscape Partnership, the Trust will be working in partnership with archaeologists from the Nottinghamshire County Council to find out more about the history and heritage of the area and to enhance interpretation.

Get involved
Landscaping work at Besthorpe, which will require heavy plant on site, will take around 3 months. During this time, the reserve will be closed to the public. By the end of the winter, the machines will have left, but there will still be plenty to do. Thousands of reed plugs will need planting, meadow areas will need seeding, fencing, path and sign improvements need to be carried out, as well as a whole range of other activities which will result in a reserve that is as welcoming to wildlife as it is to people. If you’d like to play a part, then there will be many opportunities for volunteers over the spring and summer.

If you are interested please get in touch with the Notts Wildlife Trusts to find out more.

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Nottingham Autumn Crocus at Farndon Willow Holt Sept 10 Photo: NWTNo, it’s not spring quite yet but it’s uplifting to start 2011 with some news of a rare species recording in the Trent Vale. It is confirmed that an impressive clump of Nottingham autumn crocus (Crocus nudiflorus) was was recorded for the first time in September 2010 at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts Farndon Willow Holt.

It originates from the Pyrenees but was likely introduced to the UK in medieval times for medicinal and culinary purposes, and is now classed as a naturalised species. Today’s distribution of the Nottingham autumn crocus and its close relation, the Nottingham spring crocus (Crocus vernus), is strongly associated with former monasteries. It is believed that both species were used to treat malaria, which was endemic in Britain during medieval times particularly in the extensive wetlands around the River Trent.

Until development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both the spring and autumn crocus were widespread in meadows alongside the Trent, mainly in the Nottingham area. Now their distribution is limited to isolated sites such as cemeteries, parks, golf courses and nature reserves. These crocuses at Farndon were probably planted by the late Lever and Brenda Howitt who created the internationally the adjacent willow holt.

During 2011 we are sure to report on lots of other inspiring news in the Trent Vale – from new archaeological finds and wildlife recordings to training and fun events for the local community, thanks to our Landscape Partnership. If you would like to get involved or find out more about habitat creation, volunteering opportunities, wildlife, archaeology and much more, please click the ‘contact us’ tab on the right hand menu to get in touch.

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