The Community Open Day was planned to give everyone the opportunity to visit the recently completed Willow Works and to meet the groups that have been involved in helping with the funding and those that will be using the building for future projects.
Groundwork was responsible for organising and hosting the day. Groundwork staff were justifiably proud of their achievement in completing the final stage of the Willow Works renovation project.
Aided by the Willow Works Community Group the day was packed with entertainment and refreshments for all the family including a bouncy castle and free barbeque. Groundwork Creswell, Ashfield and Mansfield and Crestra Ltd (an Environmental Regeneration Charity) had representatives to answer questions about their role in the completion of Phase 2 of the Willow Works. Groundwork took over the final completion of the Willow Works in return for ownership of the building and will be responsible for managing it in the foreseeable future. Representatives were there to promote the use of the building for meetings, conferences and events.
TVLP Trent Vale Landscape Partnership (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) also had a display of projects it had been involved in. These include renovation work along the area of the Trent between Newark and Stockwith . TVLP has played a major part in sourcing funds to complete the Willow Works after the Environment Agency was unable to proceed because of Government spending cuts in 2010.
Another major player attraction within the community is the Beckingham Marshes project by the RSPB and The Environment Agency. Representatives attended to answer any questions visitors may have regarding their progress to date and to give information on the wildlife it plans to attract.
Of course our very own Beckingham Cum Saundby History Group was involved on the day, with a display of photographs and information covering the topics of the Willow Works – which included details on the Aldous and Gale families who ran their successful willow products business. A section was also dedicated to the Shipyard and windmill. The group now has its own room with space to keep their ever growing collection of artefacts and files etc.
In addition to the main groups that are involved in the Willow Works Carole Beavis of Wildworks displayed a number of creations from its workshops which are offered to schools, youth groups and community groups. Wildworks also provides art workshops, outdoor learning and materials for its classes. On the open day Carole invited people to try their hand at willow sculptures.
More refreshments were kindly provided by The Friendship Group and ice creams were on sale by BumbleVee which is based in Beckingham. Within the landscaped area around the Willow Works were picnic tables to enable people to enjoy the good weather (albeit slightly breezy). The day was very successful and attracted over 350 visitors.
Digital Photography Course
One major intended use of the Willow Works is for educational courses. This event, following closely after the official opening, was the very first educational course at the building and it is hoped it will be the first of very many indeed.
The course was funded by TVLP but organised by the RSPB and village history group. The tutor was Ben Hall whose photographs can often be seen in the RSPB Birds magazine. Limited to fifteen places course participants needed to have a digital camera but know nothing about depth of field, apertures or other technical matters. Ben first showed a number of his landscape photographs explaining how to ensure the image draws the eye to the intended subject. It is just a matter of anchor points, lines and proportions. All very obvious really when an expert explains it in the comfort of the Willow Works. Then came the practical bit on the RSPB reserve. Here we have plenty of opportunity for open spaces but the landscape itself is not quite as inspiring as some of the mountain, moorland and seascapes which Ben had shown us earlier.
All the theory was not quite as easy to put into practice as it seemed earlier. Nevertheless, it was clear that a little care in choosing the right place from which to take the photograph can make all the difference between a very forgettable image and one which attracts the viewer’s attention.
Yes, even the power stations with their cooling towers sending pillars of water vapour up to meet the clouds can make excellent subjects. The afternoon was devoted to macro photography – this was the wildlife bit. Camera settings for this explained again and we set to work on a number of insects which had been collected earlier from the reserve and around the Willow Works. Some of the moths were fairly co-operative. The handsome Devil’s Coach Horse Staphylinus olens was not at all co-operative, preferring to scurry rapidly into the darkness below the log.
The woolly bear caterpillar, snails and handsome Leopard Slug Limax maximus were easier subjects and some very respectable images of these were produced. A very small ladybird was also found and the digital image enabled it to be identified as Tytthaspis 16-punctata – the Sixteen-spot Ladybird.
Unlike most ladybirds, its background colour is creamy-white and it is an inhabitant of meadowland. This is the first record of it on the RSPB reserve. All the images have been collected and the best ones will be used in an exhibition at the end of the TVLP project. Some will be printed and form part of the wall displays in the Willow Works. Worthwhile? Definitely! We now know what some of the buttons and dials on the cameras do and know how to take a humble holiday snapshot that is worth looking at. We look forward to the next course.
The web team would like to express their gratitude to Andy Wickham and Chris du Feu for the images and text provided for this page.
Coppicing of Willow Plantation November 2018 and January 2019…
In November 2018 a coppicing session was held at Beckingham Old Willow Works willow plantation by members from The East Midlands Group of Flowers from the Farm. This is a not for profit, multi award winning, cooperative of British cut flower growers founded in 2011.
They, together with a few members of Beckingham History Group, all armed with loppers and secateurs spent a very wet, cold and misty morning coppicing a large area of the plantation. The willow was to be used by Flowers from the Farm at a training session to make Christmas wreaths and hearts held at the Willow Works in December 2018, which was available for booking by anyone interested.
In January 2019 another coppicing event took place well attended by members of the RSPB, Willow Works Community Group, Flowers from the Farm Group and Beckingham History Group. The wet and cold weather did not seem to deter anyone, the job being carried out with enthusiasm. Refreshment of home-made soup and bread, plum loaf and cheese, along with tea and coffee was provided by the History Group and much appreciated by all.
Several different types of willow with attractive coloured stems are grown in the plantation and it has many uses including creating environmentally friendly floral tributes for funerals, and hearts and stars for summer weddings. Those attending were invited to take some for their own use if they wished. On both occasions much of the surplus was later collected by Yorkshire Wildlife Park to be fed to their giraffes and rhinoceroses.
We apologise for the poor quality photographs mainly due to the poor weather. If anyone has any better ones of either event they would like added please let us know. Thank you.