Well over 150 people enjoyed the lovely Train Wood and Marriott’s Way in the sunshine at the first-ever Autumn Festival, opened in style by local TV presenter Helen McDermott.
Coffee, cake, nature and railway walks, woodland activities, impromptu music, Norwich Cycling Campaign, a nature trail and even a dog café drew the crowds all day.
The festival was organised by the Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way to celebrate the rare urban woodland which they saved from sale by Norfolk County Council, and the progress made by the community to look after it. The group are one of the first in Norfolk to sign up to the Woodland Trust’s national Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
Held on the former engine sheds area near to the start of the Marriott’s Way at Barn Rd roundabout, Norwich, the event was supported by local pub the White Lion, which even put on a special menu for the occasion.
Helen McDermott cut the ribbon on one of the new benches that Friends of Marriott’s Way and Train Wood have installed thanks to funding the group won from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme – which has also led to the installation of new fishing platforms and vital woodland work.
Former marathon runner Helen said: “It’s great to be down here and see what you are doing as a community group to take action and rescue this place – and I’ve never opened a bench before!”
Chairman Alan Cubbage paid tribute to the many helpers made the festival possible, including Friends of Norwich City Station, Norwich Cycling Campaign, Norwich Fringe Project and the Really Awesome Coffee van.
“People enjoyed two great walk and talks – on nature in the wood from Rose Baulcombe, and on the train heritage from John Batley. It was great to see everyone so involved. So big thanks to those guest speakers – and to the musicians including sax, guitar, drums and even a hurdy gurdy man. It has been a real team effort on the part of all the volunteers who are part of the Friends. But most of all thank you to all those who came along and made the event such fun.”
Three prizes were on offer – thanks to local baker Annie Grange for a big chocolate cake, Go Outdoors for a £25 voucher and Awesome Coffee for a big bag of coffee beans. They were won (respectively) by Jean Bishop, Miriam Barnett and Vicki Lambert.
New members joined Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way on the day, and many surveys were also filled in about what people would like to see done to restore this important piece of city heritage – we’ll share in another post some of the many great ideas.
For now, here’s the words of some young participants. 10 year old Emily Doria said “I like that we are free to ride our bikes and run about with no traffic. More seats and picnic areas would be good!”
Jenny Hopkins said: “It’s a really long path and it’s fun and spooky. Plant more flowers.” while Iona Lincoln liked that “it is a wood and it is near a river,” but would like to see less dog poo.
Luke Chittenden liked that the wood “is big and has lots of funghi and mushrooms” and suggested putting hammocks in the willow trees and a children’s park in the wood.
If you would like to get involved, please contact us.
Thank you to management committee member Stuart McPherson for the photographs.
Plans are steaming ahead for an autumn festival to share the secrets of Norwich’s most unique urban woodland.
The fun, free festival in the wood at the start of Marriott’s Way, Norwich will start at 11am on 29th October and go on until 4pm.
As well as information about the wood, there will be refreshments, railway heritage walks, a prize treasure trail, woodland activities and a cake stall.
Norwich Cycling Campaign will be coming along to give more information and share their thoughts about how cycling in Norwich can be improved.
Bring your friends, come along and support the nature and heritage of this highly popular cycling and walking route, bordered by the incredible River Wensum, which only three years ago was under direct threat as the county council sought to sell it off.
Chairman Alan Cubbage said: “We are looking forward to welcoming members old, new and prospective, and many members of the public to have a look around the wood to see what we have been up to on their behalf since we fought and won the battle to keep it in public hands. We’ll be launching our new fishing platforms and showing off the benches we gained through applying for and winning funding from Tesco and the Groundwork Trust.”
Thanks to the success of our first-ever funding application, a series of eight hands-on work days will extend throughout September, to help restore wildness to the wood as well as providing places to fish and sit down and enjoy Norwich’s rarest woodland.
All are welcome to join in restoring fishing platforms on the bank of the River Wensum. The TCV and Aviva will also be lending a hand, helping to install four new benches, and mow paths and wildflower meadows.
Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way chairman Alan Cubbage said:
“Having rescued this rare urban wood from sale, we have been busy litter picking and monitoring it. But we always wanted to go further for this special place. We asked people what they wanted, then with the backing of Norfolk County Council environment team officers, we put in a bid for funding to repair some of the derelict fishing platforms, build new benches and create wildflower meadows.”
“We are delighted to be able to get on with this work having applied for and won an £8,000 grant from Tesco and the Groundwork Trust’s Bags of Help initiative. We have asked Norwich Fringe Project to help us deliver this spruce up – the first of what we know will be a constant series of improvements to this long-neglected wood. It will be restored to be more natural and wild, to increase biodiversity and enjoyment for all.”
Train Wood community work day: all welcome
Repair fishing platforms 7 September 9.30am to 3pm Meet 9.30am at the Barn Road entrance to the Marriott’s Way. All tools, material and training and refreshments will be supplied. Bring your own packed lunch and wear walking boots, safety boots or wellingtons.
Did you know that Train Wood has bats?! It’s not really surprising that this long, narrow natural corridor is a haven for all sorts of wildlife.
Last year we did a bat survey which uncovered some interesting facts. Yet there is still so much to know. Do they navigate using the river? Do they feed on the wing? Do they sleep hanging upside down in the trees? Would they ever really get tangled in your hair?
Now is your chance to find out more. The first of Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way’s upcoming events is a bat walk. Led by Michelle Fielden of Ecology Consultancy on Wednesday 31 August at 7.45pm, meet at the Barn Road entrance to the Marriott’s Way. Suitable for adults, and children aged 9+, who must be accompanied by adults. Cost £2 per adult, children free.
Come along to our next litter pick.
April 9, 10am, Barn Road entrance.
Wear stout shoes, all equipment provided.
We are celebrating our first major grant success!
After asking the public and our members on what to bid for through open days and meetings, we focussed on restoring the rare urban wood to be more natural and wild, to increase biodiversity and help people enjoy it. Wildflower meadows will be planted, paths improved, and fishing platforms put back through our £8,000 grant success.
• Areas of the wood will be opened up to use by clearing and making safe overgrown trails.
• Underplanting will be replenished to encourage greater biodiversity, including new wild flower areas.
• Seven derelict fishing platforms and eight benches will be repaired and replaced, and trails will be waymarked with signs.
The funding comes from Tesco and the Groundwork Trust’s Bags of Help initiative. Train Wood has secured either £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000 – depending on the public vote. Voting takes place with tokens in Tesco stores.
The further award (£10k total) would enable the group to do a lot more work on the marsh and pond – replacing the footbridge and making it accessible to wheelchair users, and conduct an ecological survey of the pond and establish what management is required.
The maximum award (£12k) would enable them to manage the pond area and create additional picnic areas near wild flower glades and interpretation boards to inform visitors of flora, fauna and railway heritage to be seen on the site.
Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way chairman Alan Cubbage said: “Train Wood has had minimal direct investment in the woodland in the last at least six years – if not longer. This is despite it being the start of the region’s most popular off road cycling and walking route – around 13,000 walkers, and 21,000 cyclists were recorded in a month last year .”
“Sited close to Norwich city centre, it is the location of valuable railway history (Norwich City Station). Trees are growing close to these heritage structures and are damaging them. A rare wet woodland, this county wildlife site has not been managed to increase and protect its natural riches, and there is an issue with anti social behaviour at points.”“We have consulted with our members and many users of the trail and are therefore delighted to have bid for this, with the support of Norfolk County Council officers, and won. We hope everyone will get involved. Please do join us at this exciting time – all are welcome to become members. And in the short term, if you are in Tescos, do vote!”
Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. Bags of Help offers community groups and projects a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags.
The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards. The Tesco stores where the voting for the project will take place in-store voting dates (27 February to 6 March) are:
· MAGDALN RD NRWCH EXP
· EARLHAM RD NORWCH EXP
· PLUMSTEAD RD NRWC EXP
· NORWICH WESTLEGTE EXP
· NORWICH AYLSHM RD EXP
· NORWICH WALES RD EXP
· NORWICH DEREHM EXP
· NORWICH METRO
· GROVE RD NORWICH EXP
· HETHERSETT EXPRESS
· UNTHANK RD NORWCH EXP
· NORWICH HARFORD BRIDG
· NORWICH ACRES WAY EXP
· TAVERHAM NORWICH EXP
· WROXHM RD NORWICH EXP
· NORWICH CROMER RD EXP
· NORWICH EXTRA
· NORWICH DRAYTON
We will be holding a litter pick on the Train Wood section of the Marriott’s Way on Saturday 5th September 2015, meet 10.00am at start of Marriott’s Way, Barn Road roundabout. Equipment provided. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org confirming if you can come. As we need an idea on how many pairs of gloves to bring.
A unique piece of Norwich’s natural and historic heritage has been saved by a community group’s hard-fought campaign to keep it in public hands.
Friends of Train Wood are celebrating after hearing yesterday that their 18-month battle has been successful and the land off Barn Road has officially been removed from Norfolk County Council’s ‘for sale’ portfolio, where it had been placed as ‘surplus to requirements’.
The move comes after a summit meeting with the group and the deputy leader of the county, David Harrison.
The council has also agreed to undertake the management of the site through its environment team, develop a management plan for the Marriott’s Way and Train Wood site and seek designation for the area as a Local Nature Reserve.
A jubilant Chair of Friends of Train Wood Alan Cubbage said the breakthrough had come after months of pressure: “We have been working very hard and this success is down to our whole committee and membership.”
“We knew that we could not give up on this piece of land. It has been neglected and the councils have not realised its potential. It is the most popular bit of cycle way in the eastern region, a key walking route, incredible railway heritage as the site of Norwich’s former station, a natural wonder with riverbank and wet woodland in the heart of the city.
“How it could be sold off was beyond belief. The community want to be part of managing it into the future. Already there are at least three funding bids in for the site and we will play a long term role.”
He also thanked partners involved in the campaign: “We haven’t got this far on our own. We’ve had strong backing from many organisations including particularly the Land Trust; Shared Assets; the Forestry Commission; Friends of Norwich City Station; Norwich and District Angling Association, Mills and Reeve solicitors, Starfish graphic design and the Stage.”
Richard Bearman, Green Party county councillor for Mancroft ward, where the wood is sited, said: “I want to pay tribute to the efforts of the community in getting this great outcome, so that the wood remains safe for ever for the benefit of everyone.”
Committee member and Wensum ward Green councillor Lucy Galvin said: “There aren’t many places in Norwich where you can hear a nightingale, see an otter AND get to work on a bike without risk of being in collision with a car. Train Wood is unique and precious and after a lot of hard work by many people we are all delighted and excited its future is secure.”
Saving Train Wood: campaign
March 2013 County council announces sale of Train Wood at auction with a guide price of £26,000
April 2013 Petition to Norwich city and Norfolk county councils to work together to keep Train Wood in public hands gets nearly 2,000 signatures
April/May 2013 Ruling Tory administration of Norfolk County council announces it will hold off sale to allow groups to bid; later confirmed by new Labour administration
August 2013 Friends of Train Wood officially forms and gets the site formally listed as an Asset of Community Value
March 2014 Friends of Train Wood now numbers 50 members; wins Norwich city council eco award for its activities including litter picks, surveys and events
September 2014 Deputy Leader Norfolk County Council David Harrison agrees Friends of Train Wood develops management plan for site with Land Trust; presents to Norfolk county council
November 2014 Train Wood removed from for sale portfolio; Norfolk County Council agree to undertake the site management, look to a range of funding sources