Congratulations Community Partnership Winning Highly Commended
The community partnership entered the “Old Railway Line” project for the 2018 awards and was shortlisted for the “Urban Category” of LOVE Northumberland Award 2018.
On the 12th July members of the Partnership were invited to attend the judging ceremony at Alnwick Castle Gardens with Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland where the awards were presented in the Pavilion. This event was compared by Carol Malia, BBC Look North presenter.
The aim of the project was to raise community pride in an environmental asset by improving the natural environment and reinstating the 2 mile old railway track from Rotary Way south to Newcastle Airport; encourage community and visitor use at a newly designated “Wildlife Corridor”.
The track needed significant reinstatement work enabling more community accessibility as the track had narrowed significantly overtime with water logged pot holes, over grown vegetation which had drastically reduced accessibility.
The project was made up of 6 community activities:
- November 2017 litter pick, clearing overgrowth and pruning.
- January 2018 Designing 3 interpretation panels to include heritage information on Local Mine, Explosives Depot, original Woolsington Airfield, wildlife illustrations,and maps.
- February 2018 litter pick, pruning and planting 100 trees.
- April 2018 Litter pick and pruning.
- April 2018 Replacing fencing and installation of 3 interpretation pedestals at Rotary Way south and Airport. Clearing and skimming the sides of the track and reinstating hardcore – Ward Bros
- May 2018 wild flower planting.
- BBC Newcastle featured “Garden Mania” at:bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d70c.
- Project supports entry for Northumbria in Bloom and Britain in Bloom.
Quote from the Chairman “This is truly a community award for so many volunteers from 11 local organisations, young and old contributing efforts to improve and reinstate a wild life corridor, which was the original railway line from the 1900’s”.
We are delighted to have won this year, last year we received a “Highly Commended” and this year the project built on our success from last year. None of this would have been possible without the community volunteering throughout the year with litter picking, pruning, planting trees and wild flowers for all of us to enjoy in the future years.
Thanks should be given to the Community Foundation who funded this project as part of the bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport which was the most challenging to improve and with the support and efforts of Ward Bros, who own the land, it would not have been such a success. They contributed manpower, machinery and hardcore to reinstate the damaged pathway back to the original width of the railway line”
It’s great to see more residents using this wildlife corridor for recreational purposes and as we have now secured more funding from the Community Chest to purchase wild daffodil bulbs these will be planted late September. This will complement the existing wild flowers planted this year in the areas behind the display panels and benches. Hopefully this will create a natural stopping place to take a breath and learn more about the ICI Explosives Dept, Prestwick Colliery and Woolsington Airfield.
A selection of comments from the users of the Old Railway Line on 17thFebruary 2018
- A local elderly person dog walking “This has been a brilliant idea to improve this area – Thank you to all concerned”
- 7 cyclists (male & female) from Gateshead “ We always use old railway lines for cycling and this has been a great ride so far, we are off to Stamfordam from here and then back to Gateshead”.
- Two local middle-aged walkers” We have just seen these new pedestals, never knew there was so much local history and environmental influence at our back door; they certainly complement the original ones at Callerton. The information is quirky and really interesting – never knew the Town Moor had been considered for the Airport!” “Nice to see so many young people helping out”.
Radio Newcastle’s “Garden Mania” presenter Marian Foster visits youth wildflower planting on the bridleway.
The Ponteland Community Partnership’s project to reinstate the natural habitat on the old railway line went ahead on Saturday 12th May as planned with the youth planting 200 wild flowers for the benefit of generations to come.
Community Partnership’s Aim:
To allow the local youth ownership of part of the “Old Railway Line Project” giving benefit to the community now and for future generations.
The Air Cadets, Scouts and Explorers, 20 in total, who all helped previously to plant 100 trees along this section of the bridleway all volunteered to take on this part of the project once the pathway was carefully brought back to its original condition from the early 1900’s.
Marian Foster, Radio Newcastle presenter, attended the event recording interviews and gathering information for her Sunday broadcast. Heather Forshaw explained she had grown a selection of appropriate wild flowers from Northumbrian seed to be planted in 3 selected areas, 1 of which was a wet area.
Selection of quotes from the youth:
- I think it is good to help the community
- It’s nice to give back to the community
- It’s rewarding and you appreciate it more
- This is part of my community work needed for my “Chief Scouts Platinum Award”
- We need to partake in 2 community events for our “Participation in Public Event” Award
- It’s hard work but worthwhile
Quotes from the bridleway users:
- Cyclist – This is a great facility
- Runner – Much better now the path has been improved
- Walker – It’s good to see the young so committed
The chairman Alma Dunigan said “Last December the old railway track was given Wildlife Corridor status through the Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan a 32 planning policies document – the idea has come from this and the success of the previous environmental project. Callerton Lane to Rotary Way is already a well used stretch of the Bridleway and the Community Partnership wanted to encourage more recreational use including the health benefits for the last part of the Bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport”
“When planning – our first task had been to assess what work was needed to encourage the community and visitors to use this local amenity. It was decided that more trees needed to be planted in areas very exposed to the elements and to talk with the land owner about possible work on the pathway and involve one of our keenest supporters about planting appropriate wild flowers. We had already been advised by the local Wildlife Group that we needed to provide additional habitat to the existing environment such as wild flowers creating seeds and berries to support insects, birds and small mammals throughout the year giving them cover to feed and breed.”
Many thanks should be given to:
- Ward Bros the owner of the land, who donated all the manpower, materials and equipment to make these improvements for dog walkers, horse riders, joggers and cyclists – to name a few.
- All the wild flowers were grown from locally sourced seed by local resident Heather Forshaw, who is part of Friends of Ponteland Park and without her commitment and enthusiasm with the planting the event would not have been so successful.
- The Community Partnership is delighted with the level of commitment and volunteer support today and we are pleased that some of these young people can use this experience to attain credit and qualifications – we are all winners.
The final stage of this project is for the installation of 4 perch benches positioned at the 3 educational pedestals, this will happen later this month and maybe in the autumn we can think about planting bulbs.
Community volunteers get off to a flying start for 2018 after the success of 2017
What happened during a very successful 2017:
- Bridleway “Callerton Lane – Rotary Way” given a revamp with additional trees, wild flowers and the installation of 2 educational interpretation pedestals.
- Receiving the Northumberland Highly Commended “Love Award”
- Supporting the Town Council with its entry to the RHS “Britain in Bloom” who were awarded with silver gilt for the small town category & “Northumbria in Bloom” gold.
- Tidying up the first part of the bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport.
Community Partnership’s Old Railway Line Project
Second Stage of the Project starting off 2018
On a beautiful spring morning, wet and boggy under foot, the second stage of our most recent project took place, organised by the Community Partnership and the support of the Countryside Officer on Saturday 17th February 2018 focusing on the next stretch of the bridleway from Rotary Way towards the Airport.
What was the reason for this Project?
After the overwhelming response from last year’s bridleway project the community requested that all of this “Old Railway Line” should have the same attention; they value this community asset and want to encourage more residents to enjoy this facility by improving the experience and raising the awareness of its heritage for generations to come. Since last year the Neighbourhood Plan has secured this bridleway as a wildlife corridor, this gives it extra protection for the future.
What was the “Old Railway Line Project?
After a safety training groups of volunteers set out to give a little love and attention by planting 100 trees (Hazel, Hawthorn, Ash and Rowan) litter picking and hand pruning along the Bridleway. This work will allow extra cover to help the wildlife secure food in the form of seeds and berries and cover for nesting later in the spring and years to come. Over the years a lot of the natural habitat has been eroded away leaving areas that suffer from exposure giving the wildlife limited cover when searching for food.
Northumberland County Council has supplied the trees and later in the year will install perch benches to be positioned alongside the 3 Educational Interpretation Pedestals which show local heritage along the route towards the Airport. These pedestals complement the 2 already positioned at Callerton Lane and Rotary Way.
Each pedestal shows our local heritage, how the area depended on the existence of the railway and the surrounding natural environment.
- One pedestal of the area where the ICI Explosives Depot was located,
- Another shows the historical Prestwick Colliery daily life,
- The furthest pedestal shows the original Woolsington Airfield.
Where did the funding and support come from?
- The project was supported by the land owner – Ward Bros.
- The Community Partnership has been able to access the funding required for the educational pedestals from the Community Foundation – Local Environment Action Fund.
- Project Supported by Northumberland County Council Countryside Officer who have supplied 100 trees.
Who were the volunteers?
35 volunteers representing U3a, Friends of Ponteland Park, Town Councils – Footpath Users Group, Ponteland Community Partnership, Ponteland Greenbelt Group, Ponteland Lions, residents, 733 (Newcastle Airport) Air Cadets, Scouts and Scout Explorers.
Air Cadet will be able to use this activity towards their “PIPE Participation in Public Events.” and Explorer Scouts can use the volunteering for their “Duke of Edinburgh Award.”
A selection of comments from the users of the bridleway on the morning of 17th February
A local person dog walking “This has been a brilliant idea to improve this area – Thank you to all concerned”
7 cyclists from Gateshead “ We always use old railway lines for cycling and this has been a great ride so far, we are off to Stamfordam from here and then back to Gateshead.
Two local walkers” We have just seen these new pedestals, never knew there was so much local history and environmental influence at our back door; they certainly complement the original ones at Callerton. The information is quirky and really interesting – never knew the Town Moor had been considered for the Airport!” “Nice to see so many young people helping out”
What is the final stage of the Project and when is this likely to happen?
By the end of March the side skimming of the pathway and hard core reinstatement work will be undertaken by Ward Bros and around early April 3 perch benches, given by Northumberland County Council, will be installed at the side of the educational pedestals. Once completed wild flowers will be planted later this spring.
Our future Plans?
The Community Partnership hopes to add on another small project to this for those in a health recovery programmes. Walkers will be able to see the number of steps undertaken between each of the pedestals, hopefully with enough funding this will start from Callerton Lane through towards the Airport at each of the 5 pedestals on route. A perch bench will also be positioned, for a rest – if required, at each of the pedestals.
Wanted – Volunteers for tree planting
On Saturday the 17th February we aim to plant 100 trees, small whips, along the Old Railway Line from Rotary Way towards the Airport.
Over the decades this stretch of the Bridleway, being the Old Railway Line, has suffered from its exposure to the elements and many of the original trees and shrubs have just disappeared.
- To reinstate trees to encourage a wind break and habitat for the existing wildlife giving them suitable conditions for nesting, feeding on berries and insects whilst increasing their safety from predators.
- To encourage more of the community and visitors to use, enjoy and understand the heritage of the rural setting of the Bridleway. (Wildlife Corridor)
At a future date this year, date to be confirmed, and once the trees have been planted wild flowers will also be added to this area – all part of sustaining and encouraging more wildlife.
If you are interested in giving up a couple of hours to join other like minded volunteers please register your interest on www.pontelandcommunitypartnership.co.uk and use the Contact page to register.
Once you have registered you will be sent more information about the event and we have your contact details if for any reason there are changes to the schedule we will be able to get in touch with you straight away.
Any volunteer under the age of 18 should bring an adult with them please.
The community partnership is currently busy organising the following event on the “Old Railway Line” from Rotary Way towards the Airport – scheduled to take place in February 2018.
The Community Partnership also has a number of possible projects for the future which has been identified through the 5 year long neighbourhood plan process of community consultations. The steering group has kindly supported us to take over with the community aspirations which were part of the neighbourhood plan.
Old Railway Line, Rotary Way towards the Airport.
On the 4th November 22 volunteers started the revamp of the “old railway line” Bridleway from Rotary Way towards the airport. This is a section not as well used by local residents and the plan is to improve the rest of the bridleway, now a Wildlife Corridor bringing it up to the same standard as the previous route from Callerton Lane. Read more