Volunteer Warden’s Report: July 2019

May 3rd to July 19th 2019

The Windmill has been open to the public three times during this period. This is any ever-popular event with good attendances each time.

Tumbledown Hill was cleared in preparation for a visit by John Kuzmjak’s relatives. They were pleased to see the site and hear of the fall that John had had there some years ago.

A fire risk was identified behind the fence of Hillside Farm so the trees and bushes there have been cut back. At lot of litter was also found here and much of that was removed but some heavy items could not be carried in the litter bags.

Many of the paths from Upton Road are overgrown, although some have now been cleared. This is an on-going project.

Once again, the ventilation shaft to the underground bunker/air raid shelter had been opened up. The Friday Group assisted Council Staff in attempting to block the entrance but the following week all the “brash” had been removed and burnt. There is a plan for contractors to close off the entrance and a pathway has been cleared for a cross-country type vehicle to access the site. Stop press: the ventilation shaft has now been securely sealed in the interests of public safety. There is no longer any access to the air raid shelters on Bidston Hill.

There is a lot of regeneration of plants on the North and South Heaths after last year’s severe fires but, sadly, Heather is very slow to re-appear.

Plants are thriving in the Wild Plant areas and the plots continue to be maintained with additional plants being inserted.

During this 14 work day period, 56 personnel worked approximately 119 hours.

John Lee.

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Volunteer Warden’s Report: Early Spring 2019

February 15 to April 19, 2019

Sadly, I have to report that “American” John passed away in Arrowe Park Hospital on 13th April. He had been a stalwart member of the Friday Group for many years but retired nearly two years ago.

The “Ribbon” area of clearing has been completed, creating good sight lines from Windmill Ridge towards Liverpool. The bushes and trees cut down have been piled up to establish wildlife habitats for insects and birds and so play a part in Nature’s food chain. Near to this area, an ancient quarry has been cleared to form a wetland habitat and a frog was recently seen there. The path to Wilding Way at the edge of the “Ribbon” and the wood was becoming over-grown, so some cutting back was carried out to open it up.

Windmill Heath received much attention on 19th March when nearly 40 students from the Wirral Met. College visited Bidston Hill. Led by the Ranger, they cut down burnt bushes, unwanted Gorse and Birch saplings. A big Thank-you to them for their efforts.

At the end of March, there was the Bidston Hill Spring Clean. Five volunteers and the Ranger spent the Friday morning roaming over the Hill and picking up litter: about a dozen bags were filled and brought back to the Farm for collection.

April 6th saw the first Windmill Open Day of the year. It had been well advertised and the good weather brought over 100 visitors, including many children, to see the Mill. All the children could easily climb the ladders to the top floor but coming down presented a problem for some, but patient parents and persuasion eventually won.

Close to the Windmill, there are some large Rhododendron bushes and work has now started to cut them back. Nearer to the Farm there is an area used as a Forest School. The Group was requested to open-up the area by cutting back Brambles,                               bushes and Holly. This activity also required the replanting of several trees.

Three new people came to the Friday Group to see what it was like, Liz., Gary and Caren. They all seemed to enjoy the work and all have been invited to return.

During this period there were 11 work days, attended by 92 persons, who worked approximately 188 hours. These figures include the Wirral College students and Windmill Open Day attendances.

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Bidston Hill News – March 2019

Now that spring is here, we can start to get ready for the summer months and we are making plans for the Hill.

During the autumn and winter, much work was undertaken by our hard-working volunteers and the following is an indication of what has been done:

Some of the taller bushes and trees were removed on North Heath. This was at the Two-Bench View Point on Windmill Ridge and the aim was to increase the range of view here, particularly towards Wales. On the opposite side, looking towards Liverpool, clearing of Birch and Gorse took place and it was decided to create a cleared strip called “The Ribbon.” The ‘strip’ some 15 to 20-foot-wide from the Ridge and reaching as far as Taylors Wood, would improve the sightline and also act as a fire-break. Within this area, the wetland parts are being improved for wildlife and habitats for creatures made by piling up cut-down material. Further progress in cutting “The Ribbon” continues. The cutting down of a large patch of Gorse near the Windmill has opened up a pleasant area not accessible previously. In the wild plant meadow, more Teasel wild flowers were planted and we have an ongoing plan to develop this area.
Looking a little bit further ahead to Spring and Summer, the Friends of Bidston Hill have purchased a Bat Detector. It will be used for research and training initially but perhaps bat walks could be organised later in the Summer and early Autumn, watch this space!
John Lee – Volunteer Warden

For a full report of the Friday Group’s activities during this period  click on ‘Volunteer Wardens Reports’.


British Spring Clean – On Friday, 29th March, we will be having our Spring Clean Event (weather permitting) in support of the Great British Spring Clean. If you have some time to spare and would like to help with litter picking all are welcome. You can pick-up your litter picker at Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm, together with a suitable refuse sack. Please wear warm clothing and a good pair of boots. We meet at 10am at the farm and hope you can make it.


Bidston Windmill – will be open to the public from 10 to 12 on the first Saturday of each month from April to September inclusive. It will also be open for National Mills Weekend on SUNDAY May 12 from 10 to 12, and, same times for Wirral Heritage open Days on September 14. Last entry is at 11:45. There is a minimum height restriction for access to the higher floors (1.06m). Children under 11 years old must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Admission is free, but donations to the Friends of Bidston Hill are welcome. The Windmill is closed during the winter, when hibernating bats are in residence.


Bidston Lighthouse – will open to the public on the first Saturday of each month from April to September from 12 noon until 4pm, so you can visit the Windmill in the morning and the Lighthouse in the afternoon. The Lighthouse will also open most Sunday afternoons from 7th April until Sunday 8th September. Please see the Bidston Lighthouse website before planning your visit.


Bidston Observatory – Renovations at the Observatory are now almost complete. Please visit our temporary website www.bidstonobservatory.org for more information on what we are up to at the moment. There is an email address there if you would like to get in touch. We plan, in the near future, to arrange more tours of the building, as that seems to be very popular but we need to find and train up a few more volunteers as we are a very small team here.
We will again be participating in the Wirral Heritage Open Days in September.


Free guided walks of Bidston Hill – Every Saturday from 11 am. Come along and enjoy the wonderful historic woodlands and monuments of Bidston Hill and Flaybrick Memorial Gardens. Walks are supported by the Friends of Bidston Hill, Friends of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens, and Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm. Over 16s only. No dogs. Please wear sensible footwear (may be muddy or slippery). No sandals please! Download poster.


Ron Williams – In memory of our dear friend Ron Williams who sadly passed away last June, we have placed a commemorative plaque on a bench at Windmill Ridge looking towards the Welsh hills. For many years, Ron played a big part in helping keep Bidston Hill and Flaybrick Cemetery suitably maintained for the local community, along with all other volunteers. In addition, every Saturday morning he would head a guided walk through Flaybrick and across Bidston Hill and was very popular with participants, some of which would regularly return time and again. From my knowledge, Ron was involved with other local volunteer groups offering his services because he enjoyed this so much. He was also the piano/keyboard player with the Northern Rhythm Swing Band, playing at local venues including Heswall Hall and Gladstone Theatre. In addition, he was a member of the Wirral Community Choir. Ron took pride in everything he did and showed a passion for getting involved locally and he will be greatly missed.

Here are a couple of photos.

                

Below is a photo of our hard-working volunteers placing some refurbished benches on the hill in January, they never let the weather get in the way of maintenance projects! We would like to welcome the appointment of our new Ranger Neil Mutch, who has already proved to be a very good influence and contributor to the good work done by our Friday Group each week.


Highlight on the Heritage Trail – Whilst some people will be aware of our Heritage Trail, from conversations during our popular Windmill openings and other events, it would seem that quite a number of visitors to the area are not or, those that are, have not, for one reason or another, completed the trail.

The Heritage Trail has been put together to allow people to explore Bidston Hill and its heritage for themselves. Follow the trail using the map and the numbered marker posts. Look out for the blue Heritage Trail markers, and the black and white QR code plaques. If you have a smartphone, you can use a QR reader app to bring up the matching Heritage Trail web page in your browser. A printed booklet about the Bidston Hill Heritage Trail is available from the Ranger’s office at Tam O’Shanter Urban Farm. For smartphone users, we also have a Geotourist version of the Bidston Hill Heritage Trail, complete with audio.

If you have not experienced the thrill of going back in time to see such things as the Mummers’ Carvings or Sun Goddess and Moon God, amongst others, then you are in for a treat and we would urge you seek out these wonderful historic gems that lie on your doorstep! Even if you have blazed the trail before, it is always worth another look!

 


Volunteers – We are looking for volunteers to join our Friends Group to help with the maintenance of Bidston Hill. If you have some time to spare on a Friday morning between 10 and 12 at the Tam O’Shanter Café and you would be most welcome to join us. There is no commitment to attend every week, as volunteers are free to come and go as they please. We are a friendly lot and the work we do is very rewarding. If you would like further information before taking the plunge just call John on 07887 665120 and he will tell you all you need to know. Please wear sensible clothing and footwear.


AGM – This will take place on Wednesday, 29th May at 7pm. This year the owners of the Observatory have kindly advised they will be pleased to host the meeting in this iconic building. All are welcome and this could provide a good opportunity to gather an insight into the proposed plans for the future use of this Grade II listed building.


Membership – If you would like to become a member of the Friends of Bidston Hill we would be delighted to welcome you aboard! There is a very low joining fee of only £5.00 per family.

If you haven’t renewed your membership for the current year (the renewal date is 1st January each year), it’s not too late to do it now!

Here is a link to our membership form.


That’s all for now however, we are always open to suggestions and would love to hear from you if you feel you have a contribution to make for the benefit of Bidston Hill. Our email address is info@bidstonhill.org.uk.

We hope you will enjoy use of the Hill over the summer months and look forward to seeing you.

Roy Caligari
Chair

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Membership renewals

Memberships of the Friends of Bidston Hill became due for renewal on the 1st of January. Membership costs five pounds per family per year, and entitles you to our regular newsletter and invitations to special events.

If you haven’t yet renewed your membership for 2019 (or want to join), you can download the membership form here.

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Volunteer Warden’s Report: Winter 2018-19

Friday Group

December 2018 saw the continuation of clearing Birch and Gorse from around the two-bench Viewpoint on Windmill Ridge (North Heath). Looking toward Liverpool, it was decided to create a cleared strip of called “The Ribbon.” Clearing a strip some 15 to 20-foot-wide from the Ridge and reaching as far as Taylors Wood, would improve the sightline and also act as a fire-break. Within this cleared area, the wetland parts are being improved for wildlife and habitats for creatures made by piling up cut-down material. Further progress in cutting “The Ribbon” was made in January this year.

Looking a little bit further ahead to Spring and Summer, the Friends of Bidston Hill have purchased a Bat Detector. It will be used for research and training initially but perhaps bat walks could be organised later in the Summer and early Autumn, watch this space!

During the milder weather last December, some more Teasel wild flowers were planted in the wild plant area.

As February commenced, Bidston Hill was covered in snow and very picturesque it looked. It did not, however, deter the Friday Group and all personnel, lead by the Ranger, cut down a large patch of Gorse by the Windmill.

During this period, work was done on 9 Fridays, by 28 volunteers who spent 52 hours on Bidston Hill.

John Lee

4th February, 2019.

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Volunteer Warden’s Report: November 2018

During October and November, effort has been made to remove some of the taller bushes and trees on North Heath. This was at the Two-Bench View Point on Windmill Ridge and the aim was to increase the range of view here, particularly towards Wales.  Cutting vegetation is this area had its challenges as some of the trees removed were growing on the steep slope that falls away from the Penny-A-Day Dyke pathway.

Despite the fires on South Heath, several pockets of Heather were found to have survived. These areas were noticed on the “Heather Heath” between the Main (Windmill) Path and Rock Path, the plants were, however, being smothered by Gorse so this has been cut down. The Heathers are now “kissing the daylight” again. Tall Gorse plants have been noticed growing alongside paths at the edge of Taylors Wood. These plants are now being removed to allow more light into the woodland floor and perhaps prevent fires spreading into the wood next year.

On South Heath, some of the Pine trees which apparently survived the fires are now showing brown die-back. The true cause is unknown, but it is possible that the plants may have been damaged by smoke generated from the burning Gorse during the Summer fires.

During this period, 48 hours work has been spent on Bidston Hill by 7 volunteers lead by Ranger Neil Mutch.

John Lee

26th November 2018.

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Volunteer Warden’s Report – October 2018

During April and May, the Group were active in cutting down Birch and Gorse on South Heath to open up Heather growing areas. Wirral Council purchased some “Tree Poppers,” a device to lever out trees from their roots. These levers were very effective in removing Birch saplings but didn’t work on Gorse bushes; the roots of these are too extensive underground. The first Bidston Hill Open Day was held in May, in very good weather and was a great success, many people coming to the Windmill, Observatory, Punch and Judy (at the Farm) and a Viking display (also at the Farm).

Sadly, in June, one of our stalwart supporters, Ron Williams, passed away after a short illness, we all attended his funeral at St. John’s in Frankby. Ron helped to create the Wild Flower Meadow which has been a success this year despite the lack of rain during the Summer. Wild flowers have been grown from seed and then transplanted into the Meadow, this plot flowered, and has been much visited by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.

This year Britain has had a very hot Summer and wild fires have been much in the national news. Unfortunately, Bidston Hill has not been spared and palls of smoke have frequently been seen over the Hill as Gorse, Heather and Birch burnt on both South and North Heaths. Plants are starting to regenerate but it will be sometime before we know how much damage there has been to the Heathers.

In August we welcomed a new part-time Ranger for Bidston Hill, Neil Mutch, and we all wish him good luck in his new role.

In August and September, Rhododendron bushes in Taylors Wood were severely cut back to open-up the woodland floor. Additionally, the Two-Bench view point on Windmill Ridge path has been improved by the cutting back of tall vegetation. One of the benches here will be dedicated to Ron Williams.

John Lee

9th October 2018.

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Poems by Terry Briscoe

Our good friend Terry Briscoe has contributed much over the years with his voluntary work in the maintenance of Bidston Hill and surrounding areas, he is a valued and respected member of the local community. Those who know him will be endeared by his kindness towards others and his refreshing sense of humour.

What you may not know is that Terry is a bit of an author and has written a series of around 300 short poems about Wirral history, people and places, which stir a range of emotions. Quite where Terry acquires his inspiration I do not know however, his work envelops many of our senses including happiness, sadness, and everything in between.

Attached is the front cover and contents of two of Terry’s booklets entitled: Local Rhythmic History and Monatery Gains. If you wish to purchase one or both, Terry has provided his mobile number 07928 140921, they are priced at £1.50 each.

Roy Caligari

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Volunteer Warden’s Report: April-June 2018

In order to reduce fires, Birch and Gorse were cut down in April on a part of South
Heath. The Heather was revealed and looked very attractive for a short while until,
at the beginning of the current heat wave, this area was blackened by fire.

An Open Day was held in May and, blessed with sunny weather, it was successful in
publicising Bidston Hill; The Windmill, Observatory, Lighthouse and Farm receiving
many visitors.

Using the new “Tree Poppers”, in May a large number of young Birch saplings were
dug up from the edge of Taylor’s Wood, not far from the car park. These lever-type
implements were found to be very effective and more purchases of them are being
considered.

At the beginning of June, we learnt of the sad news that one of the Friday Group
members, Ron Williams, had passed away in hospital after a short illness. He will be
sadly missed but most of the members of FOBH attended his funeral on 28 th June.
Terry, the “Bidston Bard”, read out a poem which he had written about Ron and this
was well received by the very large congregation at St. John’s Church (Frankby)
celebrating Ron’s active life.

Park Wood’s Rhododendrons are becoming overgrown and a start has been made
to cut them back, particularly away from the main path through the wood.
Progress has also been made in the planting out of Wild Flowers in the Wild area
adjacent to the car park. Many plants have been grown from seed and are now
planted out in a sunny part of this area. It is hoped that they will self-seed and be a
haven for bees and insects. A pathway round the site has been prepared and
covered with wood chippings. Plants which were overgrowing the car park have
been trimmed back.

The current heat wave has inevitably brought with it fire and by the end of June the
Fire Brigade had to spend day and night on the Hill to try and keep fires under
control. North Heath has been particularly badly hit with many seats of fire all the
way from the Windmill to the Observatory.

During the 17 work days of this period, 63 personnel worked for 163 hours. It should
be noted that these figures include the extra time spent holding the Open Day.

John Lee

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Ron Williams

Our dear friend Ron Williams passed away last week after a short illness. For many years, Ron played a big part in helping keep Bidston Hill and Flaybrick Cemetery suitably maintained for the local community, along with all other volunteers. In addition, every Saturday morning he would head a guided walk through Flaybrick and across Bidston Hill and was very popular with participants, some of which would regularly return time and again. From my knowledge, I think Ron was involved with other local volunteer groups offering his services because he enjoyed this so much. Ron was also the piano/keyboard player with the Northern Rhythm Swing Band, playing at local venues including Heswall Hall and Gladstone Theatre. In addition, he was a member of the Wirral Community Choir. Ron took pride in everything he did and showed a passion for getting involved locally and he will be greatly missed. Ron’s funeral service will take place on Thursday, 28th June, at St John the Divine Church, Frankby at 12:30pm, then on to Landican Crematorium for 1:30.

Roy Caligari

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