Narroways Junction Millennium Green is in Bristol.
History of the Green Edit
- In 1184 King, Henry ll decreed “....that no penalties should be imposed on the monks of St.James Benedictine Priory for assarts at Ashley.......” (i.e.they were encouraged to grub up trees and bushes for agriculture in the area)
- In 1813 Landowner, Jane Smyth wrote “..a person of the name of Thos.Woolford a Butcher in Bristol has enclosed a piece of waste ground in the lane leading from Baptist Mill to the Glass Mill which has much contracted a driving way from a field of mine called Netherways Hill inasmuch as to prevent a loaded waggon with corn or hay to be taken through...”
- In 1891 Engineer, Charles Richardson wrote “After passing through Narroways Hill cutting, the line crosses the ‘Boiling Wells’ valley on a 50ft embankment, over a flat, swampy ground, which, on trial, I found to be made up of lias slip-clay, washed down there by the brook....This ground evidently could not carry a heavy embankment....I therefore, as a precautionary measure, had a wide trench cut down ten feet deep, under the toe of each slope, and the red marl from the adjoining Narroways Hill cutting then run into these trenches and the lower ten feet of the embankment to form a foundation...”
- In 1922 Writer, Arthur Salmon wrote “When the train emerges from the Montpelier tunnel, it runs first through a deep cutting and then along an embankment, once a yellowish earth colour, have for many years been thick with grass, and boys, in spite of all prohibitions, love to scramble about them. Sometimes in Summer the grass is fired, and the green crumbles away before a low red flame that eats it...for a long time after, unless rain soon comes, there are great black patches; but the grass grows better for it in the end”
- In 1997 The Bristol Evening Post editorial said “Bristol folk really do care about their environment. That was proved at St.Werburghs, where they campaigned to save open land at Narroways Junction from possible development. Now the city council is to buy it-with money raised locally. The area is to become an official nature reserve-a green oasis that will be valued for generations to come.”
Millennium Feature Edit
The bench designed by sculptor Julian Warren was installed on the hill in early April 2002. A team of 20 or so people turned up to help and it looks like it has always belonged up there. It incorporates themes of the railway track and local wildlife.
Other Features Edit
Nature & Wildlife Edit
When the railways were built in St.Werburghs in the last century they left ugly scars & mounds in a wildlife rich countryside as can be seen in Lavar’s picture of Bristol in the 1880s. Over a hundred years of city expansion combined with the restorative powers of nature have turned the tables - now Narroways Junction is a natural sanctuary abutted by dense housing on all sides.
The present day ecology has arisen from a complex combination of climate, soil, the vegetation existing when the railways were built and the way the land has been managed since, from grass burning in the steam train era, temporary allotments and orchards, a laissez-faire allowing of scrub & ash/sycamore wood to develop to deliberate tree planting and habitat management of recent years.
Railway land has its own charming associations of plants and animals due to the ease with which introduced plant species could spread along these green corridors - Rosebay Willowherb and Goldenrod are just two such opportunists. The cuttings where the soil was scraped back to the marl bedrock slowly developed a community of slow growing, lime loving plants characteristic of chalk downlands such as Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious & Bird’s Foot Trefoil. These grasslands with their wonderful butterfly populations (Common Blue, Small Copper and Marbled White amongst others) and healthy numbers of Slow Worms and Common Lizards are a rich & interesting habitat.
There are rarer species too -a great swath of the scarce Corky Fruited Water Dropwort in the field near St.Werburghs church, Chicory, Field Garlic & Round-Leaved Cranesbill and unusual moths such as Sitochroa Verticalis & the Six-Belted Clearwing.
Narroways is also important for wildlife because of the range of habitats. There are dense thickets of bramble and suckering fruit trees, patches of tall vegetation, often on the fertile site of abandoned allotments and a nicely developing woodland - mainly Ash, revealing a continuity with more ancient woods when this area became known as Ashley Vale. There are also a few ponds dotted around on neighbouring land which help to sustain a rich amphibian life - toads, frogs and newt species.
Bird and animal life has found Narroways a congenial place to hang out. Kestrels and Sparrowhawks are not infrequently hunting, Jays screeching in the thickets, charms of Goldfinches on Teasels and parties of Long-Tailed Tits amongst the Hawthorn. Foxes, once common are still fighting to recover from the mange that decimated them ten years ago but Grey Squirrels & Hedgehogs have a presence and Badgers have been known to visit. In July Pipistrelle Bats take over the evening shift when the Swifts retire and other species of bats are present too. Many species, especially insects, remain to be discovered.