White Colne Meadows
Photographs by John Watt
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White Colne Meadows
Meadows Dates to Note
Latest pictures from the Meadows
Installing the Interpretation Board March 2009 Alex Adlem’s idea of hard work!
The New Interpretation Board
First fruit from Heritage Orchard
Photographs by Colin Armstrong
History of the Meadows
In the 1920s the Hunt family of Earls Colne gifted six acres of arable land, located close to the railway, to the Parish of White Colne. It became allotment gardens used by over 100 village families until, in the 1970s, a large part of the site reverted to arable farming.
Thirty years later the Parish Council proposed that this area be developed as a “Doorstep Green” – a space for informal recreation, accessible to all and designed to encourage wildlife.
With financial support from The Countryside Agency, Coda Wildlife Trust, Awards for All and Essex Environment Trust, and under the guidance of The River Colne Countryside Project, the villagers of White Colne have created White Colne Meadows.
While contractors did much of the heavy work, volunteer groups planted over 1000 trees and hedging plants, built the pond dipping platform, erected bird and bat boxes, created insect habitats, installed picnic tables, benches and interpretation boards. Most recently, work groups planted bluebell plugs, cleared the pond and erected the pavilion.
The beacon was designed and made by local blacksmith, Tatums of Wakes Colne, installed in September 2005 and lit to celebrate Trafalgar Day, 21st October 2005. The art feature was designed to our requirements by Rod Fender of Black Forge Art, and was installed in April 2006. The Meadows are becoming increasingly popular with walkers and families, for picnics and informal games. We have also had several events – among them kite flying and organized games. We celebrated Trafalgar Day in 2005, Victory Day also in 2005 and a Medieval Revel in 2006 marked the official opening.
David Hopkins from The Countryside Agency said: “You should be very proud of what
you have achieved -
The Meadows site can be found at the end of a long chase; the entrance gate is just past the village hall off Bures Road.
Regular visitors to The Meadows will not need telling how much our “doorstep green” has come on this year. It is only six years since the 900 or so trees were planted and, with few exceptions, they have flourished, particularly the oaks, birches, hazel and guelder rose planted above the pond.
The apple trees, planted later, are also starting to mature although there appears to be little fruit this year. An accidental introduction, and loved by bees, is buddleia, of which there are several in amongst the trees.
The wildflower areas have been very colourful over the past couple of months with Lady’s Bed Straw making an appearance this year to form a fluffy yellow carpet. The better weather has encouraged all plants to grow well. Though some are less welcome – like the thistles –
even these have their use as wild bird food and habitat.
The pond also looks a picture; the yellow flag irises have finished flowering but water lilies, although not indigenous, look very pretty in flower just now. Another introduced species is goldfish – eight being the highest number seen at one time so far, although they can be secretive and are not always on show.
The highlight this year is the breeding success of a pair of moorhens. Their first brood is now a couple of months old and seven juveniles can still be seen around the pond, generally retreating to the deep vegetation if disturbed. Last week five new chicks were spotted, very small and fluffy but paddling frantically after their parents.
So far this year, blanket weed has not been a significant problem, indicating a better and healthier balance in the pond than in previous years.
Lastly, on Meadows wildlife, families of swallows have been doing their aerobatics over the area, catching insects, learning and playing before their long migration.
The Parish Council has agreed to install an extra dog poo bag dispenser in the pond area and notices will shortly be going up reminding dog owners to “bag it and bin it” for the benefit of all those who enjoy The Meadows.
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