In this issue
- Chairman’s Report
- Bidston Observatory
- A new gate for Bidston Lighthouse
- Volunteer Warden’s Report
- Alan Brack BEM
- Membership renewals
I am pleased to advise that Bidston Hill continues to maintain the Green Flag status, helped by our hard-working volunteers
The mark of a quality park or green space.
Given in recognition of achieving the national
standard for parks and green spaces.
The aim of the Friends of Bidston Hill is to support the development of the Hill for the local and wider community, whilst striving to maintain the Hill’s unique character. The ‘Friends’ work in partnership with Wirral Council Parks and Countryside Service creating new ideas and projects for the benefit of the Hill and its users. Much credit for the continued green flag status should go to our Friday Group that works all year through, irrespective of what the weather is throwing at them! It is through such dedication and love for the Hill that makes it possible for us all to enjoy the benefits of this beautiful conservation area throughout the seasons.
If you are interested in joining our volunteers please let me know by email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let you have further information or, call John on 07887 665120. Or, just turn up at the Tam O’Shanter Farm café area for 10:00am any Friday morning to help with tasks on the Hill. All are welcome, just remember to wear appropriate clothing according to the weather and suitable footwear.
Now that we are on the way to summer, I thought it a good time to let you know of what we have planned for the Hill over the coming months:
Our Windmill is open to the public from 10 till 12 on the first Saturday of each month, the next opening being 6th May. The last opening will be 1st September however, due to National Mills Weekend in May, it will also be open on Sunday, 13th May, from 11 till 1pm. This is also the day of our Family Open Day when there will be lots going on, including a chance to look around inside the Lighthouse, and Windmill. Other attractions take in our Heritage Trail, consisting of some ancient rock carvings, Penny-a-day dyke and deer park, Punch & Judy, Viking Display, Guided Walks, refreshments and more.
Guided Walks of Bidston Hill carry on throughout the year every Saturday morning, meet at Tam O’Shanter Farm café area at 11.00 am. For further information have a look on our Events Calendar.
Bidston Lighthouse is open on Saturday afternoons. For more information and specific times, please visit www.bidstonlighthouse.org.uk/events
That’s about it for now, a lot going on as you can see! I do hope you can spare some time to join us and would ask that you visit our events page from time to time to see what we are up to!
Roy Caligari – Chair
Renovations continue at Bidston Observatory with the aim for restoration and refurbishments to be completed early summer 2018. General public access will be possible in September, during the Wirral Heritage Open Day on pre-booked tours. Plans for a visitor centre continue with 2019 hopefully seeing an exhibit open during the same hours as Bidston Lighthouse. We also hope this year to have a video screening during the summer months on Saturdays, twice a month, looking at the history of the building and the work undertaken within. More news soon, once building works are completed!
The gate leads from the grounds of Bidston Lighthouse onto Bidston Hill, where it joins the path from Bidston Village to Bidston Windmill, alongside Penny-a-Day Dyke, the medieval wall. It replaces a derelict gate that had been disused for decades.
We have wanted to renew the gate for a long while. The derelict gate was an eyesore, and Bidston Hill deserved better. A functioning gate would benefit visitors to the lighthouse as well as the many thousands who walk past it every year. And wouldn’t it be nice if the gate could incorporate a motif reminiscent of the flag signals that used to run the length of Bidston Hill?
Next, we had to find a local blacksmith with the right skills for the project, and then work out the details of the design. When we found local blacksmith Alex Price we knew we had our man. But before we could start work, we needed to obtain Listed Buildings Consent. You see, the wall in which the gate is located is a Grade-II listed building in its own right. The perimeter wall enclosing the site of Bidston Lighthouse and Bidston Observatory was remodelled in the 1860s by George Fosbery Lyster, Engineer-in-Chief to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, around the same time that the Observatory was built. The lower part of the wall is about a century older, probably dating back to when the Bidston Signals Station and Bidston Lighthouse were established. Apart from Listed Buildings Consent, we also had to obtain consent from everyone else who owned part of the building in question, namely Wirral Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the new owners of Bidston Observatory. We also discussed the project with the Friends of Bidston Hill. Needless to say, this process took several months, but finally the necessary consents were secured and we could give Alex the go-ahead.
Edward Clive fabricated the wooden panel.
The Friends of Bidston Hill helped out by clearing away some of the ivy which was encroaching on the wall.
During February and the first part of March there has been a Friday working party of at least 4 people for most of the six weeks. There was one week when there was snow on the ground, but still two people attended, although for a slightly shorter than usual period.
Heather Heath (beside Main Path to the bridge over Vyner Road North) received attention in February with more Gorse being cut down to reveal Heather and the odd Pine sapling.
After two weeks, the Working Party moved down off Heather Heath to the adjacent Taylor’s Wood where there were two very large and uncontrolled Rhododendron Bushes within, what should be, a Pine wood. After three Fridays, the bushes had been substantially reduced in size. A small Yew sapling was found in the midst of the ground creeping stems of one of the Rhododendron bushes. This sapling is now well clear of other plants and has its own space in which to grow.
Several beds have been prepared in the Wild Plant area for the sowing of Wild Flower Seeds. A source of supply of these seeds is now being sought.
Alan Brack has recently died at the age of 96. He lived in Claughton for many years and was a prolific writer about local matters and in 1980 wrote “The Wirral” including an interesting section about Bidston Hill. He was a very active member of the The Wirral Society for many years and supported local groups such as the Friends of Bidston Hill. Alan’s niece, Verity, has kindly agreed that we can share part of his book:
‘Bidston Hill is a perfect example of what can be achieved by tapping the veins of public spirit. Strictly speaking, it is not a real hill, just the end of a 200 foot-high ridge which runs down the Wirral Peninsula from Spital through Storeton and Oxton, but not for nothing do I hold it in high esteem. I came to know it first as a 17-year old when my family moved over the water from Liverpool and, later, it became my courting country, so I knew it in all seasons. Once, when I was preparing a radio programme for BBC Radio Merseyside, I took a tape recorder down into the woods about 3 o’clock one fine May morning and sat on a log while the machine captured a dawn chorus that made up twenty of some of the most enchanting minutes of my life’.
If this section has whetted your appetite you may care to track down the book! The ISBN is 0713413786.
Our AGM will take place on Monday, 11th June 7:30pm at the Tam O’Shanter Farm. We will review the past year and the year ahead before nominations and appointment of the new Committee. All are welcome and we will have a guest speaker to provide some interesting entertainment.
Memberships of the Friends of Bidston Hill became due for renewal on 1st January 2018. The annual fee of £5 covers a whole family for a year. If you haven’t renewed your membership, or want to join, you can collect one from the Ranger’s office at Tam O’Shanter Farm. Payment can be made by cheque, payable to Friends of Bidston Hill and sent to Tam O’Shanter Farm, or transfer, our bank details are: A/C No: 71507958. Sort Code: 40-10-26. It is important you use your name as a reference so that we can ensure we allocate your payment correctly. Alternatively, you can download the membership form from our website.