Thursday 23rd & Friday 24th March 2017
The final passengers arriving at the second platform at Reepham station when it closed in 1952 would no doubt have been greeted by a pristine platform kept neat and tidy by the station staff. Over the intervening years trees, ivy and brambles have colonised the platform to the extent that this was barely accessible. Funding, through Norfolk County Councils Heritage Lottery Grant, has become available to clear the platform, to look as good as the main platform; the Norwich Fringe Project have been tasked by the County Council with getting this work started. The difference at the end of the day was remarkable but much further work is needed to achieve the overall aim.
On Wednesday, last week Matt and Will felled many of the large trees along the platform and piled the brash along the old tracks. Our task on Thursday was to clear and burn the mammoth pile of brash and cut back the ivy and brambles. We soon had a good fire going and made numerous trips along the length of the platform hauling the brash to the fire. We also used brush cutters with mulching blades to shred the brambles and ivy and used a pole saw to cut back overhanging branches on the remaining trees. Meanwhile the team at the pine shop at Reepham station carried away the larger logs for their woodburner.
Reepham station is a good place to work since it has plenty of on-site parking and a tearoom. There are also toilets with running water and towels which is a real luxury for us volunteers who are more used to using the facilities nature has to offer! Sadly, on the day we were there the electrical supply to the site had been disconnected for maintenance work so there was no hot food or hot drink available – but of course we are always self sufficient when it comes to tea or coffee. We will visit again next week to replace a gate so we hope to be able to sample their hot sausage rolls and warm home made scones and, perhaps, real coffee.
Our second day out was a final visit of the year to Charter Wood at Bowthorpe to put guards around the recently coppiced hazels to prevent rabbits and deer from eating the new growth. This was a fairly relaxed task to encircle the hazel stools with mesh and then secure this with stakes. We reused many of the mesh guards from a previously coppiced area of the wood where the hazels have reached a good height.
Our woodland work has now come to an end until next autumn when the cycle of selective tree thinning starts again. In coming weeks, we will concentrate on fencing and gate repairs and then move onto footpath maintenance as the grass and other vegetation starts to grow over these.
Written by Chris Stebbing, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer