I am very excited to get started on lots of new things and to meet and work with new people this year. Last month, Maddy, our Education Officer and I, had been out to meet with Mid Norfolk Conservation Volunteers, who we hope to work alongside to improve biodiversity on Marriott’s Way. We went and helped out with some coppicing at Foxley Wood and it was great to learn a new skill and to meet such a dedicated group of volunteers. We were also invited to their Christmas party and joined them on a lovely walk around North Elmham, after which we were spoilt with great food and gifts. To top off the day we took part in some Ceilidh dancing whilst a live band played. I’m really looking forward to working with and learning from this group over the next few months.
Along with the work carried out recently at Lenwade, focusing on the larger pieces of surviving railway heritage, we have been taking a closer look at the other features scattered along Marriott’s Way testifying to the significance of its namesake. As the Chief Engineer of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway, William Marriott was undeniably pivotal to the development and operation of the line. He was also, however, the holder of a vast number of patents on concrete products, evidence of which remains (for the eagle eyed) on posts up and down Marriott’s Way today.
The Norfolk Trails team, with help from Marriott’s Way Heritage Trail team, have spent four days between Lenwade and Attlebridge carrying out biodiversity and heritage conservation work.
In 2015, Norfolk Wildlife Trust undertook a biodiversity survey of Marriott’s Way and created an advisory management plan. We used this, along with advice from Norfolk County Council arboriculture and ecologists, to decide which areas of woodland to convert to the more ecologically diverse grassland and wildflower meadows. These scalloped areas, along with habitat piles made from the felled trees, are prime locations for butterflies, amongst other insects, small mammals, and wildflowers. We are hoping that over spring and summer, we will see wildflowers flourish.
Do you or anyone you know work in a school or with young people in any other capacity? To find out about our free led sessions, take a look at our brand new schools and learning section on the Marriott's Way Heritage Trail website.
Between Porters Lane car park, Lenwade and the Station Road car park, Attlebridge, we found more railway infrastructure than we have on any other 2.5km stretch of Marriott’s Way. We saw, amongst other things, gate posts with the ‘Marriott’s Reinforced Concrete’ monogram, surviving rails embedded in the ground, a telephone kiosk, and a previously undiscovered cattle platform.
The cattle platform was hidden behind dense brambles and small trees, with more greenery growing on top of it. We removed the brambles and ivy to reveal more of Marriott’s Way’s hidden and forgotten history, as shown in the photograph below.
Since October, we have been out with nurture groups from Framingham Earl and Aylsham High Schools three times, the students braving cold and wet to work on a whole range of tasks. Back in October, Framingham Earl pupils undertook clearance work at Hellesdon with the Norwich Fringe Project, stripping ivy and overgrowth from the historic platform and burning the waste material. Just before Christmas, a second group returned to Hellesdon, this time on a mission to help birds survive the winter.
The last quarter of the year is always a bit admin heavy, and since the last Newsletter a lot of my work has been focused on claiming our funds from the HLF, planning for staff time and allocation, procurement, and other fascinating things to share… but the upshot of that is that we can make more exciting things happen in 2018!