Treeworks on Moorfield/ Little Moor Allotments

Urban Green Newcastle is to carry out works to several trees along Moorfield.

Urban Green Newcastle is the body that manages public parks and allotments in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The work will involve four salix (willow) trees as well as prunus:

  • two Willows will be removed as the lower cavities are showing disease;
  • two Willows will be cut down to a height of around 8 to 10 feet, below the limbs to allow new growth to develop; and
  • the Prunus at the main gate (to the Little Moor Allotments) will only be lifted off the highway and a few limbs inside the allotments removed.

HWJRA engagement with Allotment Officer

High West Jesmond Residents Association (HWJRA) has engaged with the allotments officer and we have been informed that he will be looking at replacement trees later in the year.

Letter from Urban Green Newcastle

Please see below a letter from Mark Todd (the allotments officer at Urban Green Newcastle) advising of the need to remove/cut back some trees on Moorfield with work scheduled for next week:

Read the 3 March 2021 letter from Urban Green Newcastle here.

2019 FOVALD Annual Report

Friends of the Valley and Little Dene Annual Report

2019 Committee Annual Report

Well, believe it or not, this is our 10th Annual Report and it is 17 years since we produced our first attempt at an Action Plan for the Valley & the Little Dene!

Plans & actions can produce rewards.

I mention this because this year’s daffodil display on the Valley, referred to by several residents recently, is the direct result of the bulb planting schemes carried out in 2011, 2012 & 2013, that involved some 50 local residents, including students, who brought bulbs along.

Over 4,000 bulbs were planted and, of course, they will now have multiplied! That was a real community effort and the spring displays are the reward!

Some of the 4,000+ daffodils on the Valley, High West Jesmond planted by residents

What’s been happening in the last 12 months?

The year started on a really positive note with our MP, Catherine McKinnell unveiling the reinstated plaque in Little Dene Park but it finished with something of a damp squib, as our attempt to obtain funding for the resurfacing of the paths in the park came unstuck!

In between, there was still quite a lot going on.

Management & Maintenance                   

Our Tuesday morning group, Lending a Hand, has some 15 regulars, with the average weekly attendance being 7-8 residents.

Throughout 2019 there were 7 sessions when holidays or weather intervened, which meant that 45 sessions were held.

At an average of 2.5 hours per session per person, that means that the group contributed nearly 850 voluntary hours during 2019.

That was spent in Little Dene Park, in the Little Dene itself, on the surrounds to the Valley, looking after the verge on Moorfield, looking after the small open spaces where Moorfield meets the Great North Road & edging the paths on the Little Moor.

In effect, we look after all of the public open spaces surrounding High West Jesmond and we continue to recycle virtually 100% of material that we collect.

Highlights

Some of the highlights of the year, in no particular order, were as follows:

  • Gill D prepared a yearly Maintenance Plan for the group, which, after discussion was adjusted & adopted. It catalogues the tasks by area or street and seasons, as well as setting out some of our longer term plans & ambitions. Thank you to Gill!
  • Pruning the vegetation in the north east corner of the Valley in March revealed the remains of a stone wall that probably marked the boundary between the original Craghall Dene and the land to the north. The boundary appears on the earliest 19C maps. At that time the land to the north was farmland owned by a Mr George Dunn, who lived in Berkshire, and was farmed by the Brewis family from South Gosforth farm. It was subsequently used as allotments before being sold for housing.
  • A spring clean in the Little Dene in early April involved removing any potentially contaminated material from the stream bed, so that as much stream life as possible is encouraged. The stream appears to be very healthy. In addition, a substantial wildlife shelter was reinforced. We were careful not to disturb a mallard duck that appeared to be looking for a nesting spot.
  • Little Dene Park was spruced up during May & June with some summer bedding, path edging and shrub pruning, all to ensure that the park looked it’s best for the July event.
  • The school holidays in August brought much reduced parking along Moorfield, which meant we were able to tackle the kerbstones next to the verge. They were completely grassed over in places, which was resulting in drivers damaging the verge when parking. Exposing the whole kerb appears to have reduced damage to the verge and improved the appearance of Moorfield.
  • September heralded spring bulb purchase & planting, particularly in, and adjacent to, Little Dene Park. In addition, the Committee started to investigate the provision of notice boards for the Valley and Little Dene Park. This project remains ongoing.
  • Autumn is always a very busy season. The compost enclosures have to be cleared before the current season’s leaves can be brought in. In October 2019, approx 130 bags of leaf mould were filled, sold & transported to the allotments by the Tuesday group. This was treble the volume of leaf compost produced in 2018. Leaf collection in October & November was hampered by the wet weather on occasions, which may reduce the volume of compost available later this year.
  • A serious issue in Little Dene Park is the condition of the footpaths. In our view, they are dangerous. Responsibility rests with the City Council but lack of finance is constraining the authority’s scope to upgrade the paths. Our attempt to raise funds on their behalf, through a Government Programme, stalled because the City was not able to extend our Open Spaces Adoption Agreement to include Little Dene Park. However, repairing the paths is a top priority.

Use of the Park & the Valley

Summer Happening on Little Dene Park, High West Jesmond – view from Gill’s plant & veg stall

Perhaps the highlight of the year was the “Summer Happening” on Little Dene Park in July.

A last minute decision to postpone for 24 hours by our chairperson proved to be a masterstroke – we avoided our customary rain!!

With a background of folksy music played by the Tom’s Saloon Ukulele Band, residents were invited to sample homemade baking, purchase home grown plants, have a drink & a chat, play games and talk to FOVALD & HWJRA reps about what each organisation does.

It was a very positive & successful afternoon. We had good feedback and must thank everybody who contributed, particularly Cath S & Cornelia M and all the scone & lemonade makers! The event was well attended and improved our bank balance!

Little Dene Park remains a very well used space.

It is, predominantly, a small green oasis that residents, families & schoolchildren pass through. However, the quality of the experience encourages many, on fine days, to stop and relax, absorbing the calmness that the environment exudes.

It is interesting that misuse is extremely rare! The pedestrian count planned for the summer 2019 is now scheduled for 2020 (or perhaps 2021!).

A relaxing time in Little Dene Park, High West Jesmond

The Valley remains a haven for dog walkers. It’s peaceful and relatively sheltered location is obviously popular with dog owners as well as the canines themselves, as that “community” seems to be growing! It does have the benefit of increasing social connections.

Whilst there are some concerns that the number of dogs can discourage other residents & families from using the Valley for a range of activities, last summer saw several groups/families playing with footballs and rugby balls and having picnics with young children.

The lack of a snowfall precluded sledging on the Valley in 2019.

Wildlife

We continued to use pruned branches and windfall from all trees/bushes in High West Jesmond to create wildlife shelters, in Little Dene Park, in Little Dene itself and on the Valley.

Some of these are now quite well established and, hopefully, will be providing a base for many insects and small mammals.

In addition, the natural vegetation on the north edge of the Valley is pushing further into the grassed area, creating a much better habitat for wildlife and helping to re-establish the wildlife corridor linking the Moor to the Ouseburn.

Squirrels (grey variety unfortunately) are frequently seen and hedgehogs have been reported in two gardens bordering the Valley.

We would like to make the north & western edges of the Valley, and the adjacent Rectory Road gardens, a “Hedgehog Friendly” area during 2020.

Initial discussions with residents proved positive. Bats have also been reported but an attempt to video one of them didn’t quite get the speed right. Watch this space!!

Foxes footprints have been seen in gardens next to the Little Dene but no sightings this winter.

Several residents have heard woodpeckers recently, a tree creeper has been spotted on the Valley and a sparrow hawk has put in an appearance in December. Let’s hope the latter may be nesting again.

A range of butterflies were spotted in 2019, including a Common Blue, Red Admiral & Painted Lady!

2020-21?

Our identified priorities are:

i) improving the Little Dene Park footpaths;

ii) providing noticeboards on the Valley & Little Dene Park;

iii) strengthening the wildlife corridor; and

iv) creating a “hedgehog friendly” area.

However, the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 has suddenly made the world much smaller and life more precarious!

Eliminating that problem may well mean that our plans for further improving our local environment will have to be put on hold for some time.

A piece of good news received recently is that we have been awarded £1,000 by the City Council’s Ward Committee to acquire and plant more bushes & trees on the Valley during 2020-21. Let’s hope we can spend it!

Gone but not forgotten

We end on a sad note.

Bob Curry, the former chairperson of HWJRA passed away last month after a long illness. Bob was a keen environmentalist and ornithologist.

During his spell as chair of HWJRA, he negotiated a significant grant to provide more under-storey planting, mainly hollies, but also including wildflower plugs, in the Little Dene. That was 10 years ago and was referred to in our first Annual Report.

The hollies are slowly making progress and some of the wildflowers, particularly primroses, are now well established and make their contribution each spring!

So, thank you for your contribution Bob, it will last for years to come.

Primroses in the Little Dene, High West Jesmond – first planted in 2010

Committee of Friends of the Valley and Little Dene
March 2020

Read more: You can read more about the work of FOVALD and see a plan of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park on the FOVALD page.

Summer Happening on Little Dene Park

 

***Change of date – now Sunday 21 July from 1pm***

Friends of the Valley and High West Jesmond Residents’ Association are hosting a small event on Sunday 21 July 2019 on Little Dene Park (Moorfield) to celebrate the green environment that surrounds our community, High West Jesmond.

You may know that FOVALD, has adopted both the Valley & Little Dene Park and has also been managing the Little Dene as a nature resource for 19 years now.

Volunteers lending a hand

A lot of the maintenance work is carried out by the Tuesday gardening group, Lending a Hand (which is part of FOVALD), which also undertakes environmental tasks on many of the streets in our community, as well as the Little Moor.

Little Dene Park adopted

It is more than a year since Little Dene Park was adopted, so the motivation for the event is:

(i) to celebrate the Park’s 66’th birthday;

(ii) to try & raise some funds for one or two proposed improvements;

(iii) to let residents see the latest Streets for People proposals;

(iv) to provide an opportunity for a “get-together”.

Summer happening

There will be some cakes & soft drink tables, a tombola, a few games to try your hand at, some photos of the Valley & the area to look at and discuss, plus up-to-date info from the Residents Association about the Streets for People programme and other “big issues” on the horizon!

Last but not least, there will be a Ukulele Band playing some entertaining & soothing background music!

So please come along and join us for a chat and to listen to the music on Sunday 21 July 2019 from 1pm.

***The event will now take place on Sunday 21 July, rather than the previously advertised Saturday 20 July due to the weather forecast for Saturday***

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cath Snowden, Chair – FOVALD and Nick Moore, Chair – HWJRA

Blue House roundabout plans ‘on hold’

The Evening Chronicle has reported that the plans to overhaul Newcastle’s Blue House roundabout are ‘on hold’ because of the city’s pollution issues.

Newcastle City Council first unveiled its plans to make major changes to the Blue House Roundabout in 2016.

‘Mega roundabout’ on the Town Moor

The original plans were for a so-called ‘mega roundabout’ to be built on the Town Moor.

There was substantial concern from local residents and huge protests took place which saw the original proposals abandoned.

High West Jesmond Residents Assiciation (HWJRA) represented the views of local residents at the time and opposed the 2016 plans.

Subsequently HWJRA, together with Jesmond Residents Association, West Gosforth Residents Association and others were represented on the Blue House Working Group which was then set up to consider alternative suggestions.

You can read a background summary on the Blue House Roundabout here.

Blue House Working Group made proposals

It’s now more than a year since an the alternative proposal from the Blue House Working Group was unveiled and it was expected that a response from Newcastle City Council would be announced soon.

It was anticipated that final designs for Blue House roundabout were being developed and modelled based on recommendations from the working group set up following the backlash to original proposals in the summer of 2016.

And these final plans were anticipated to be publicised this summer.

Read more: Haddricks Mill roundabout improvements to start

Read more: Blue House Working Group recommendations slide deck available 

Read more: Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

‘On hold’

The Evening Chronicle has reported that plans for the Blue House roundabout have been put ‘on hold’.

Read more on the Evening Chronicle website: Blue House roundabout on hold due to pollution crisis

We need to ‘take into account air quality’

The Evening Chronicle reported on 28 March 2019 that Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, told a Newcastle City Council Oversight and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday that:

“We need to take into account the consultation on air quality.

At the moment, both the Blue House roundabout and Haddricks Mill both feature as part of the Clean Air Zone – we have been clear that we are open to different ideas and interpretations and are consulting on an alternative.

“We need to understand where we are going with that piece of work before we can commit to the design of the Blue House roundabout.

We have said that we will deliver improvements there not all at the same time — we are doing Killingworth Road, then Haddricks Mill, then Blue House roundabout.

We feel that we have sufficient time to take into account the outcomes of the air quality work before we finalise proposals.”

You can read a background summary on the Blue House Roundabout here.

FOVALD appreciation of Susan Lydia Challoner

Plaque commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group to show appreciation to former resident who donated the ‘gap in the wall’

The Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park’s (FOVALD) Lending a Hand Group has recently commissioned a new plaque to tell the story of the ‘hole in the wall’ at Little Dene Park.

On Friday 8 February Catherine McKinnell MP was invited to unveil the plaque commemorating the gift by Susan Lydia Challoner of the ‘gap in the wall’ that gives us all a short cut on to Moor Road South.

The plaque has been commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group that now looks after the Little Dene Park in addition to the Valley and Little Dene.

Members of FOVALD, the Lending a Hand Group and local High West Jesmond residents attended the ceremony to learn more about the generosity of Susan Lydia Challoner and the history of this part of High West Jesmond.

Who was Susan Lydia Challoner?

The plaque commemorates a lady called Susan Lydia Challoner who lived in Moor Road South between 1936 and 1953.

The park, which we now know as Little Dene Park, was constructed by the Newcastle City Council in 1952-53.

Mrs Challoner, who died in that year, bequeathed the money to pay for the entrance from Moor Road South.

The ‘hole in the wall’ has become a very well used route for residents in Gosforth and High West Jesmond.

The original plaque commemorating Mrs Challoners gift disappeared around 1990.

As part of FOVALD’s environmental improvement plan for the Little Dene Park they decided to reinstate the plaque.

FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group tapped into resident’s memories to find the wording that best reflected the original and they commissioned the new plaque from Thorpes of Gosforth.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, the Little Dene and Little Dene Park) a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and the Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.

Chris Morgan also writes to share some history

When the High West Jesmond estate was first laid out Moorfield stopped at the now triangular junction with Lodore Road.

The main way into HWJ from the Great North Road was by the path that cut across the Little Moor.

However there must also have been a path leading from that corner to the bottom of Moor Road where the Little Bridge still crossed the Craghall Burn. My mother remembered playing in the stream at that point.

It must have been very soon after WW1 that Moorfield was extended through to the Great North Road and the stream went into a culvert to emerge in the grounds of the old house, Little Dene.

Boundary of Newcastle

At this time the stream formed the boundary between the City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne and the County of Northumberland. On the surface the stone wall was the boundary.

The Little Moor is part of the Town Moor owned by the Freemen, but this part of the Little Moor was now isolated.

Little Park

In 1952 the Freemen released the area north of Moorfield to form a Coronation Park (there must have been thousands of others across the nation, it was a time of great euphoria and celebration), although it wasn’t known as such. We all called it the Little Park.

The flower beds created were almost totally of clay and little grew for decades! I believe they may still be a challenge.

When the park was laid out there was a path extending around the perimeter with a dead end spur ending beside the stone wall. If memory serves correctly my friend Tony Devine’s bike/trike/scooter ran away down the gradient and he crashed into the wall, badly breaking his arm.

Hole in the wall

A clamour grew to have the wall opened up to allow free passage onto Moor Road South. It may not have happened for 2 or 3 years after 1953.

A simple plaque was positioned and the name Challoner was on it. There may have been another name as well.

Twice a day nuns from the convent just up Moor Road walked through the gap to and from La Sagesse school at the top of Matthew Bank.

Lending a hand path tidying along Lodore Road

The Lending a Hand group of volunteers have been busy tidying up the path along Lodore Road, High West Jesmond.

Here is a photograph taken by Chris Morgan who was visiting High West Jesmond at the time and spotted the work party busy with their work.

Chris commented on our Facebook page:

“What a team spirited group. Think they may have persuaded me to do another history walk first Sunday in June 2019. Will have to check diary to confirm in the New Year.”

That’s certainly something to look forward to – last year’s Walking the Bounds of High West Jesmond was a well attended and interesting event.

UPDATE: The Walking the Bounds 2019 will take place on Sunday 2 June 2019. Details will be posted to this website nearer the time.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park) is a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and  Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.