Winter 2016 – 17
There has been a serious omission from our past several newsletters, which is not to have expressed our appreciation to Chesterton Primary School for allowing us the use of their facilities for our monthly committee meetings. Apologies and our sincere thanks to all concerned.
Something interesting came to our attention recently: did you know that in the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s, there was a bacon factory (Cole & Lewis) on Mount St, somewhere around where Martin Close is today? Apparently, sulphur fumes from the processing were responsible for quite a lot of damage to the stonework of the obelisk. That could put you off your bacon sarnie if you thought too much about it but leads in nicely to our regular round up of the different elements of the AQIVA complex.
As advised in our previous newsletter and subsequent communications, on 28 January the design workshop for the area surrounding the obelisk took place. The overall intention was to explore how the location might be regenerated to be in keeping with its 18th century origins. A very open and informative discussion ensued with everyone present having the opportunity to make a contribution. Broadly, it was agreed to divide the site into several sub-sections, with maybe a different type of planting in each. Particular thanks are due to Sophieke Piebenga of the Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust for her guidance on all matters horticultural. Also, to Martin Portus of Portus & Whitton who had the thankless task of trying to collate and summarise all the ideas and who will be drawing up a draft plan based on all this input for further consideration.
However, whatever may or may not ultimately be agreed, there still remains the minor question of funding, both for the significant amount of clearance work that will be necessary, and for the plants/shrubs/trees that will be needed. Possible sources are being explored, but this is likely to run into many thousands of pounds. Updates will be given as and when more is known.
The season of mud is upon us again, particularly difficult being the area from the woods into the amphitheatre and the section after the end of the gravelled pathway on the walk down from Cotswold Ave. The town council have done what they can within reasonable cost constraints to minimise the problem, but it is not always easy to stay upright. On the plus side, those visitors with 4 paw drive seem to revel in it. We have assumed you have no interest in a photo of mud so, instead, include a couple of more attractive pictures from the winter conditions.
Considerable further tree maintenance and clearance work continues, in view of which the installation of the bat boxes, originally planned for the autumn, has been put back. This is now scheduled for 18 March and the scouts, who actually built them, will be invited for an introductory talk and will be welcome to watch the boxes being put up. To allay any concerns that parents might have, the scouts will not be allowed any tree climbing.
A special event took place on 4 February, with the Ronan’s Trust undertaking a significant tree planting project in the woods. All told, there were some 50 hazel whips, as well as a quantity of lime, oak, silver birch and beech trees to be put in. Ronan’s Trust was set up specifically to support people who have suffered a close family bereavement, and sets out to achieve this by bringing them together to share a range of horticultural projects and experiences. If you would like more information, please visit their website www.ronanstrust.org
Against all expectations, the day was gloriously sunny and there were some 35 adults and children on site. Further visits by Ronan’s Trust are planned for later in the year and we’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, we had a grant from the Chestnut Fund for the purchase of tools. This gave us the opportunity to give them their first outing (we did get more than just two spades).
Yet more volunteer work took place on 14 February, this time by the Gloucestershire section of FWAG (Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group). This mainly involved clearing a lot more of the laurel growth and creating more dead hedging.
A great deal of thanks is owed to the many groups who have spent time to maintain and improve different areas of the complex.
Four Acre Field
We previously advised that the wild flower strip along the east side would not be worked on this year. However, the Community Payback Team were able to allocate more time to the site and a significant amount of further clearance has been done. There is still a lot of root in there but the likelihood is that it will be seeded again this year after all.
There is still the intention to replace the unsightly wire netting at the entrance from Cotswold Close with a knee high fence, hopefully during the course of this year.
The Cirencester Wildlife Group is a newly formed organisation, operating under the umbrella of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Its objective is to work with other community groups and organisations to promote wildlife and biodiversity across all of Cirencester’s parks and green spaces. In conjunction with the Gloucestershire Naturalist Society, they will be undertaking a “bioblitz” survey across the AQIVA site in June: more detail when the plans are firmed up.
ABBEY 900 – not on our patch, but too important an event for the whole town, not to be mentioned. The opening ceremony takes place on Wednesday 22 February and will be in two parts, starting at 3pm with the planting of a commemorative tree in the Abbey Grounds by the festival’s patron, the Bishop of Gloucester. Then, at 6.30pm, will be the opening service, also conducted by the Bishop, followed by refreshments. All are welcome to attend both events.
Our programme for the year is still being formulated but will include the bioblitz as mentioned above.
Apart from this newsletter, you can find information and photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfAmphitheatre?fref=ts