Our Green Space, a Cumbria-wide project was developed and managed in partnership by Friends of the Lake District (FLD) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT).
It was funded by the Heritage Lottery ‘Your Heritage’ grant scheme and Friends of the Lake District and run with the support of many other individuals and organisations. The project employed two part time Project Officers and initially ran from January 2008 to December 2010 but was subsequently extended to December 2011.
About Burgh By Sands
Burgh by Sands lies within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, about seven miles west of the City of Carlisle. Famous as the place where Edward 1st was brought after his death on the marshes in 1297.
The course of Hadrian's Wall runs right through the village with the vallum – an earthen rampart defining the Roman Frontier, crossing the green space. The vallum at Burgh is a listed Scheduled Monument.
The community at Burgh embarked on an ambitious and challenging project to develop a field into an accessible village green and biodiverse wetland and meadow in an area of important archaeological and historical interest.
- To physically realise an accessible green in the centre of Burgh by Sands.
- Register the green space as a Town and Village Green once all development had taken place.
- Establish the village green as a focus for community recreational activities.
- Create an integrated “Heart of the Village” encompassing the village hall, school, pub, church, village shop and post office - with the green and wildlife area as a core component.
- Develop interpretation boards and heritage walks that link Burgh by Sands with other surrounding villages and sites with common heritage interest, to provide a comprehensive experience of the areas history.
- Carry out a full environment and habitat survey of the site prior to ground works to determine what flora and fauna were currently on site and a management plan to protect and develop the greens to make them biodiversity rich in the future.
- Develop a strong education element working with the local school and youth groups. Embedding learning and a sense of ownership.
- Strengthen the community, engaging all the people in the village and building future capacity and skills to manage its shared facilities.
- Celebrate the fantastic achievements of the community at Burgh Past and Present – use the green as a place for sport, recreation and celebration.
- Creation of a Recreation Area and a Safe Place for Quiet Contemplation
The community wanted to create a multi functional village green in the centre of the village, a space that would provide a quiet green haven which could be accessed by all members of the community. The upper part of the green closest to the village hall would be a sports field for team games, especially cricket. They had always envisaged that they would create access from the village hall (recently restored) to the green which would allow changing and showering facilities.
The lower part of the site would become a natural wildlife habitat. However before any work could begin the community had to tackle some significant and immediate “heritage challenges”.
The community employed a local solicitor and using the Land Registry plans they established the physical boundaries of the green. Some of the boundaries belong to the BSSRA, some to the adjacent land owners and some fell under a shared responsibility. Negotiations were necessary to reach legal agreements over liabilities and responsibility of current management and future maintenance. The long boundary running the length of the main road through the village was both hedged and walled and this whole length needed to be replaced by a low wall with a railing top which would allow the green to be viewed and be in keeping with the village’s age and aesthetics. Gateways with both vehicular and pedestrian access were created at either end of the green, in keeping with the boundary wall design.
With large machinery, wagons, walling and drainage works in process there was considerable disruption to traffic along the main thoroughfare, with a lot of noise and mud on the road. The community needed to be tolerant. To maintain their support the working group made regular updates on how things were proceeding. Design plans were put up in the pub and local meetings, where all stakeholder groups and individuals could input into the process, were held. Updates were posted in the parish magazine and working group members joined project officers and gave presentations at local Neighbourhood Forum meetings.
- Creation of a Central Village Facility for Indoor and Outdoor Activities
The proximity of the village hall to the green space right in the centre of the village opened up opportunities to combine resources and provide a range of outdoor and indoor activities for the community. The two management committees decided to work closely together to lead mutually supportive developments. However during the restoration and extension of the hall the community has experienced some remarkable setbacks; due to the historical nature of the village, these unforeseeable setbacks led to a six week delay in completion and a rise in costs.
In June 2008 trial excavations were carried out by North Pennines Archaeology as part of the design for the new development.
The village hall committee with the support of the community has worked incredibly hard to raise further funds which have allowed works on the hall to be completed.
- Re-creation of a Natural Wildlife Habitat
A part of the village green of approximately 3 acres, was identified as an ideal site to create a wildlife habitat area. It was agreed that a number of conservation projects would be undertaken to create a range of protected habitats that were characteristic of the local area. One of the main aims was to encourage community involvement and raise awareness of conservation issues at a local level. The community referred to and tried to recreate habitats identified within the Cumbria Biodiversity Plan. These are usually habitats that have declined in overall area within Cumbria in the last 60 years. To find out more visit http://www.wildlifeincumbria.org.uk/cbap/index.asp
The community were very aware that any current wildlife using the site may be disturbed by works to improve the space. To be able to monitor this, they carried out surveys on existing flora and fauna before starting.
The community employed a locally based ecological service who offered both consultancy and management planning / landscaping ground works, native planting and ongoing management.
The beck that runs through the green was re-profiled to create a pond and wetland meadow with significant “edge” and shallow stepping pools to encourage a wide range of flora and fauna. A dam was built with a sluice system to control the water levels and create a pond level suitable for pond dipping.
An area of reed bed filters kept any run off from the recreation area and the road from polluting the wetlands and the surrounding area of dry meadow stretches out to a “bund”, a wall of planted earth, which stops any flooding of the area reaching the houses beyond.
The community engaged a number of volunteers who had extensive knowledge of environmental surveys. The site was surveyed during and after the works took place. One volunteer also provided a wonderful personal insight by way of regular reports on how the site was developing.
- Local Education – Working with Schools and Young People
The community worked closely with the local primary school and youth group, children have been involved at all stages of the project.
“There are green shoots on the reeds we planted last year in the thick mud. The planting day was brilliant, lots of people all different ages out in the mud, getting dirty but doing something wonderful together. We can see the village green project as part of the bigger picture - developing alongside the village hall and school.”
(Local volunteer on planting day)
- Wildflower Planting on the Green
All the pupils of Burgh-by-Sands Primary School helped plant plugs suitable for a wildflower meadow on a part of the green in June 2009. The area had been divided up into 1m squared sections so that the pupils could work systematically, plants included red clover, cowslip and meadow buttercup, water mint and water figwort and other such plants around the pond. One of the mums said how “all the pupils worked really hard and enjoyed getting their hands dirty.” She feels that by actually doing the planting themselves, the young people gain a sense of ownership of the village green.
About 200 pupils also came from the local comprehensive. There were also some “come along” evening events so that the wider community could get involved in the plug planting of the meadow. One evening the local wildlife expert worked with Burgh-by Sands Brownies and their leaders planting the wildflower plugs.
- Oral History and Archiving Project
The community wanted to create a Burgh Archive by cataloguing existing records, organising the collection of photographs and old postcards of the village and interviewing longstanding residents about village life and past events (such as the Second World War, Foot and Mouth disease). Copies of documents and microfilm (the originals are at the new County Records Office in Carlisle) will be housed in a specially equipped room of the village hall, where they can be freely accessed by members of the community and visitors.
Key Stage 2 pupils and their class teacher, were trained in how to use the new pieces of equipment such as a microfiche reader. Pupils could then interview three older residents of Burgh-by-Sands to find out what life and buildings were like in the village in the past.
The Burgh-by-Sands Tourism and Heritage Group undertook a survey of people born and bred in the village, from current teenagers to 80 year olds. The group also ran a drawing competition in May 2010, asking all ages to submit pictures on the theme “My Burgh-by-Sands.” The entries were extremely varied, from drawings of the Solway marsh, the church or even the artist’s own house. This material (historic documents, old photos, video and voice recordings) has added colour and anecdotes to the interpretation part of the Our Green Space project in Burgh-by-Sands.
The Burgh Archive is an exceptional educational resource for any local school.
Pupils at Burgh-by-Sands Primary School can learn about the soldiers who marched through the village every day from the railway station to the rifle ranges as part of their biennial topic on the Second World War. Old pictures of village buildings (some of which are hard to recognise now, even though children might walk past them every day) could form the basis of a village walk or classroom activity for pupils.
- Creation of Heritage Walks
The Tourism and Heritage Group had been running local “Wellie” walks for families for a few years. Stemming from this they wanted to produce leaflets covering a few local walks around the village which would allow lone walkers or families with young children to take safe ‘known’ walks and have a better knowledge of the area –
“Walks where you no longer turned down a lonnin and didn’t know where you were going to end up!” (Volunteer Wellie walk leader)
- Celebrating Our Heritage
It has taken years of work by the community to secure the purchase of the land, design and implement ground works and protect their local heritage features. In June 2011, the community celebrated their achievements with a long weekend of events. A huge and very well attended “Party on the Green” fully utilised the diversity of the green space with a cricket match, cheer leading, pond dipping and children’s activities, music, feasting, theatre and dance.
- Ongoing Objectives and Legacy
- Set up an effective long term management system for the green space. Register the Land as a Village Green so that it is protected in perpetuity.
- To develop safe access across the village green for children and pedestrians.
- The community wants to hold an annual traditional sports day on the green as well as regular cricket matches.
- To hold an annual summer festival uniting the community and involving local people and produce including fruits from the community orchard.
- Utilise the space as an outdoor classroom both for the school children and informal learning.
- Re visit their community led plan with the village green development at its heart. Develop a new plan which will include the surrounding villages and include wider community benefits for all – such as a sustainable energy plan, tourism, a village website and a strong partnership between key stakeholder groups.