Thursday 18th December 2015
I suppose that this blog should have been posted before my previous one (dated 4th December) as that one was meant to be my last and a summary of our year. However, today is our first visit to a new site for the ‘Fringe’, so I could not pass-up the chance of being there on the day.
This new site for us is a woodland setting on the northern side of Norwich. ‘’Harrison’s Wood’’ is a mature and tranquil woodland which falls within Sprowston Town Council’s management control and we are here today carrying out work on their behalf.
The wood itself covers an area of approx. 27 hectares (almost 67 acres) of mixed evergreen and broadleaf trees. The name ‘’Harrison’s Wood’’ is a recently adopted name, given to it by Sprowston Town Council and is an amalgamation of areas which have been known as – ‘Harrison’s Plantation’, ‘The Beck‘, and ‘Boar Plantation’. The council chose the name to commemorate the connection with the Harrison family who had owned a local Post Mill (which burned down in March 1933) and is represented in the town’s logo.
The land was once part of a much larger Mousehold Heath which stretched out as far as Salhouse and Rackheath. By the late 19th century the majority of the site had been cultivated or was being managed for timber production.
The wood was, in the past, owned by the Gurney family and from the early 20th century managed for timber production. This has resulted in a great diversity of tree species and age structure with continuous woodland cover. The long term aim is to continue active management by selective thinning and new planting which will create open glades, heathland and wetland habitats.
The task we were undertaking today was to put up ‘way markers’ (sign posts) to mark the safe paths around the site. These ‘Rides’ as they were called in the past, follow the course of old tracks used by the woodmen who, in the past, managed the sites for timber production. In preparation for the site being open to the public, two new entrances are being constructed with road crossings, one on Salhouse Road and the other on Blue Boar Lane opposite the ‘Cottage Plantation’ car park. Our signage was installed to lead from these two entrances to help guide walkers through the woodland.
This wasn’t a huge assignment for the day, so with eight volunteers working we soon had the task completed, which left plenty of time for tea and to sample Chris’s excellent flap jack. Not everybody had a piece, so as there were some left over, I had more than one piece (so that Chris didn’t have to carry it all home with him).
There is a lot of management work to do on this site, so I hope we will be back here again in 2016 to help look after (and enjoy) this ‘Greaaaaat’ (as Tony the Tiger would have said) wood.
Written by Alan Rae Norwich Fringe Project volunteer