Last week Richard and Katie Pownall, our Conservation Research Student, showed RSPB people around some of the best local sites, and even saw a Turtle Dove.
Clair Shields – Planning Policy & Conservation Officer
The Civic Amenities Act 1967 brought in the idea of Conservation Areas in reaction to wide spread uninhibited redevelopment. Conservation Areas are designated by the local Planning Authority (outside London) because of their ‘special architectural and historic interest’ – the aim is to maintain what makes these areas special and conserve the interest into the future.
Conservation Areas are found all over the country. In the North York Moors, most of the Conservation Areas are the centres of rural villages. Not all our villages have designated Conservation Areas.
Article 4 Directions set out what changes to features need permission which elsewhere might be permitted development. These changes can seem small but the impact of lots of little changes can be the gradual and unintended loss of the village character.
Alongside the Historic Buildings Grant which helps maintain individual listed buildings, the National Park Authority operates a Conservation Area Enhancement Grant. The grant can help householders maintain the local historic character as well as maintaining the integrity of their houses.
Here are a few examples of recent Conservation Area Enhancement Grants which highlight some of the work we in the Building Conservation Team have been up to reinstating lost historic window and door details. Sometimes it’s not so obvious which are before and after – the local historic character can be quite specific.
If you have a North York Moors traditional property within one of the 38 Conservation Areas with an Article 4 Direction and you’re interested in carrying out similar work – please get in touch
Where woodland has existed for at least the last 400 years (c. 1600 AD) it provides an ‘ancient semi-natural woodland’ habitat. Around 4% of the North York Moors National Park is classed as ‘Ancient Woodland’ according to Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory. In some places woodland will have existed for much longer.
As well as the removal of woodland, particularly over the last century, there is another slower acting less visible threat to the continuation of ancient semi-natural woodland. This is where ancient woodlands have been planted up with trees such as conifers to create plantation forestry. These sites are still recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, and categorized as ‘Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites’ (PAWS). This conversion leads to a detrimental decay of the ecological value of the woodland habitat from the shading caused by evergreen conifers, the acidic modification of soils, and potentially the management of the woodland to ensure maximum timber production. As well as the gradual decline of woodland flora, mycorrhizal fungi and native tree species; historic features within the woodland and the landscape value of the ancient woodland are also at risk.
Some habitats can be created/re-created, but when Ancient Woodland is lost it’s gone for generations. However restoration can be possible if it’s not too late. PAWS restoration i.e. management to maintain/enhance the ancient semi-natural woodland habitat elements, comes in many forms and scales from the removal of non-native invasive species like Rhododendron, to the replacement of conifers with predominantly native trees. Like most things to do with woodland, restoration takes time. Partial or limited restoration is often worthwhile, and maintaining the management and value of a woodland is often more beneficial than restoring but then abandoning it. The National Park Authority is keen to work with owners of PAWS to explore what might be done to conserve this significant element of our local natural heritage.
The ‘Pecten Seam’ is part of the geological Cleveland Ironstone Formation made up of a number of ironstone seams formed one on top of the other during the Early Jurassic period (c. 199 to c. 175 million years ago). The ironstone seams are made up of shales and sideritic (iron carbonate)/chamosatic (silicate of iron) ironstone which settled at the bottom of the shallow sea across the area which now includes the North York Moors (see also Polyhalite below). The seam is called Pecten after the numerous animal fossils found within it from the Pecten genus (large scallops).
The Pecten Seam outcrops around Grosmont in Eskdale and is more important in local history for what it suggested rather than what it delivered. It was the identification of the ironstone in the ‘Pecten Seam’ during the construction of the Whitby and Pickering Railway in 1836 which led to the outbreak of ironstone mining during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the North York Moors and Cleveland Hills (see This Exploited Land of Iron Landscape Partnership Scheme). The Pecten Seam was the second ironstone seam down (second latest) and quickly turned out to be of a poor quality, so it was the ‘Main Seam’ on top (the latest) which was largely exploited by the local ironstone industry as it was higher up and so easier to access, it contained more ore, and it was thicker than the other seams making it more cost effective to mine.
On top of the main ironstone seams were further sedimentary layers of shale containing jet, alum, coal, and further ironstone all of which have been exploited at one time or another in the North York Moors.
The word picturesque was first used in the latter half of the 18th century to describe a scene worthy of being painted. It has since come to mean traditional and maybe a bit twee, but originally it meant an image that would stir the sensibilities of every right feeling man (and woman) because of its aesthetics and sublimity. The ‘natural’ and dramatic were in fashion and to not be able to appreciate the beautiful dread inspired by a landscape or view was a poor reflection on a gentleman’s character. The North York Moors did not have the grandeur of the Lake District’s mountains or the awe of the glaciers of the Alps, but it was not without its picturesque attractions.
JMW Turner engraved Rievaulx Abbey in 1836 from sketches he made in 1812. The view contains mediaeval romantic ruins (the might of nature overwhelming the vanities of man), wild woods and Italianate steep hills, a glowering sky and rustic peasants: all highly ‘picturesque’. The ruins of Rievaulx Abbey belonged at the time to Duncombe Park, the Estate had both a ruined abbey and a ruined castle (Helmsley) with which to create its own ‘natural’ picturesque landscape for the pleasure and wonder of the Duncombe family and their friends.
Pignut (Conopodium majus)
Pignut is a member of the carrot family, along with parsnip, fennel, parsley and less ‘benign’ plants such as hemlock and giant hogweed. Like some other members of the carrot family it has an edible tuber. The small tubers have been eaten by pigs hence its most common name (another name – St Anthony’s Nut – is because St Anthony is the patron saint of many many things including swine herders), and also by people who like to forage. Obviously never ever eat anything unless you are absolutely definitely sure what it is, and don’t dig on other people’s land without their permission.
Pignut is a short plant which flowers in early summer with tiny delicate white umbels (flat topped flowers on stalks like umbrella spokes coming from a single stem) that together resemble lace. It’s a tough little thing containing both male and female parts and therefore is self-fertile relying on pollinators like hoverflies, and also moths. It is an indicator of grassland/woodland pasture and can be found on road verges and alongside hedges where fragments of old pasture and woodland survive.
A Particular Pigsty
Usually people probably wouldn’t want to go on holiday to a pigsty, however there is a particular listed building in the North York Moors that isn’t many peoples’ idea of a home for pigs. Described in the listing description as “a large dwelling for pigs” this pigsty was built in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century by John Warren Barry – a Whitby shipbuilder and ship owner who was the owner of Fyling Hall near Robin Hood’s Bay. He seems to have been inspired by the classical architecture he came across on his travels around the Mediterranean as the pigsty is built in the style of a Greek temple with timber pediments at both ends and a portico of six timber columns with Ionic capitals in its south side. It contained two small sties, and was intended to provide accommodation for two pigs, whose attendants were to be housed in a pair of neighbouring cottages. The pigs were apparently unimpressed and unappreciative of their sumptuous quarters.
In time, lacking any obvious practical use, the Pigsty fell into a poor state of repair. Luckily it was purchased by The Landmark Trust in the 1980s. The Landmark Trust aims to preserve remarkable buildings by providing them with new purpose. The pigsty has been restored, converted and extended for use as a holiday cottage. The extension is minimal which enables the principal building to remain the main focus and the conversion works have managed to maintain the original character. The Pigsty certainly adds to the diversity of the built conservation of the North York Moors.
It was apparently Mr Barry’s intention that the pigs should enjoy unrivalled views across Robin Hood’s Bay – a privilege that holiday-makers instead are fortunate to have today!
In a number of villages and dales in the North York Moors as well as an established Church building there will be a Methodist Chapel building (sometimes known as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel), and in some there also is, or was, a Primitive Methodist Chapel in close proximity. In Chop Gate the Wesleyan Chapel and the Primitive Chapel stood back to back, as if choosing to ignore each other.
Methodism had made early in-roads in the North York Moors in the 18th century where the location of the area, out on a limb, provided a home for dissenting religion. The Primitive Methodist ‘connection’ splintered off from the Methodist Church at the beginning of the 19th century when the preachers William Clowes and Hugh Bourne were dismissed from the main congregation. Primitive Methodism was so called because its converts believed it was they who were following more strictly and truly in the footsteps of original Methodism and its founder John Wesley. One particular aspect of early Primitive Methodism was the holding of open air prayer meetings encouraging evangelical conversions, as the Wesleys had done in the century before. This was at a time when the meeting of ordinary people in groups, unsanctioned by Society and Authority, were considered a danger to the status quo.
‘On Sunday, July 30th , he [William Clowes, one of two founders of the Primitive Methodist connection] conducted a camp-meeting [open air meeting] upon a depressed part of a mountain called Scarth Nick [near to Osmotherley]. About two thousand persons were supposed to be present. The Word preached was attended with much Divine power; the prayers of the people were very fervent, and many sinners were deeply impressed. Four or five persons were made happy in the love of God; one of whom, a farmer, was so overjoyed that he called upon the hills and dales, and every thing that had breath, to help him to praise God. He afterwards hastened home, and told his wife and servant what the Lord had done for his soul, and they also sought and found the salvation of God….He [Clowes] had invitations to Weathercote, and to Auterly [now Orterley] in Bilsdale [these two sites are still farmsteads], at both of which he preached with great effect, and many were brought to God. Many exciting scenes were witnessed during his missionary tour in this district, and a great awakening took place among the inhabitants, which we can not particularize’.
A History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion by John Petty, 1864.
The Primitive Methodists emphasized the role of the lay congregation rather than a clerical hierarchy and this included a sense of equality that allowed for women preachers. They valued simplicity in worship and believed that their Christianity demanded political engagement in the modern world. Primitive Methodism appealed particularly to the rural poor and the industrial immigrant labourers, to whom the promise of reward in heaven might have seemed like a longed for relief.
‘Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power:
He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more’
The Primitive Methodist Hymnal, 1889
The Primitive Methodist Church in Britain reunited with the main Methodist Church in 1932.
Polyhalite is a mineral lying deep (over 1,000 metres) under the North Sea and along the eastern edge of the National Park; it’s a type of Potash. It was formed over 260 million years ago as salts were deposited in a shallow sedimentary sea as it evaporated. Polyhalite specifically contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur; useful components in agriculture fertilizer.
Alongside the existing Cleveland Potash Mine at Boulby (ICL UK), over the next 5 years the new Woodsmith Mine (Sirius Minerals) is being constructed in the National Park to extract naturally formed polyhalite for commercial use. The new mine is expected to be operational by 2021 and whilst the development work is taking place, a whole range of compensatory and mitigation projects to enhance the natural and historic environment and to promote tourism in the wider area are being delivered. The first of these initial priority projects for this year include the upgrading of a 4km section of the Coast to Coast at Littlebeck and improvements to the Lyke Wake Walk, repairs and renovations to the Grade 1 listed Old St Stephen’s Church at Robin Hood’s Bay with The Churches Conservation Trust, and habitat restoration within Harwood Dale Forest.
Amy Thomas – North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme Manager
LEADER funding is for projects that create jobs and help businesses grow and which therefore benefit the rural economy.
Between now and September 2018 the LEADER Programme in the North York Moors, Coast and Hills area is looking to support applications for projects or activity under the following four priorities:
- Farm Productivity;
- Micro and Small Business & Farm Diversification;
- Rural Tourism; and
- Forestry Productivity.
As an important and significant economic sector in the wider North York Moors area, the Programme wants to support the agricultural sector to grow and become more profitable. Applications under this priority need to help improve your farms productivity. Examples of potential activities include:
- The purchase of equipment to improve the efficiency of use of water, energy, fertilizer, and animal feeds such as LED lighting in livestock sheds,
specialist drills and crop robotics;
- Support for businesses which process, market or develop agricultural products both on and off farm holdings, for example food and drink businesses and butchery facilities; or
- Improvements to animal health and welfare for example gait analysis systems, mobile handling systems, and electronic weight systems linked to EID (electronic identification) readers.
Micro and Small Businesses
LEADER wants to help establish, support and grow micro and small businesses in the area. Investments can be made which will help you produce more or something new, or help you access new markets or link up with other businesses in the area. All applications will need to show that the investment will directly result in increased employment opportunities and / or growth of the business. Farm diversification activities are also eligible.
Tourism is another key element of our local economy. The LEADER Programme wants to support tourism businesses to improve their offer to visitors, to be more innovative in the use of technology, and to extend the season which will increase footfall and visitor spending in the area. Visitor attractions, facilities, products and services can all be considered. To be successful your application will need to show that jobs will be created and that the economy will benefit as a result of any funding being awarded.
Our fourth priority is forestry. LEADER wants to support forestry contracting businesses or private forestry holdings requiring equipment and machinery to help produce, extract or process both timber and non-timber products. Continuing with the economic theme of the Programme, your application will need to show that LEADER funding will help create employment opportunities, and add value to the timber / forest products, as well as improve woodland management.
Our area has inspiring landscapes, unique attractions, notable assets and resourceful people – LEADER funding can help make more of these benefits. If you have plans for your farm, your business, your community, it would be well worth having a look at what LEADER is offering.
Full details on how to apply, including the Outline Application (and a list of eligible / ineligible equipment), can be found on our website – www.moorscoastandhills.org.uk
Our website also has a lot more information on LEADER, but if you have any questions or queries, or would like to talk through a potential project or application in advance of submitting an Outline Application, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Whether by accident or design these were our top 5 posts in 2016, according to the number of views.
If you’re a land manager and you’re interested in grant to help you create, manage or improve your own woodland masterpiece – here’s a link to the national funding that’s available. Watch out for the set application windows because they’re often quite short.
As part of the renovation of The Crown Hotel in Helmsley the building was subject to a re-assessment of the development of its historic fabric by Colin Briden, an Historic Buildings Archaeologist who reported in April 2016. His report concluded…
Although partly demolished in the 18th century to bring it ‘up to date’, and extensively refurbished in the 20th century to make it look ‘olde worlde’, the building retains considerable evidence for a high-status late mediaeval timber framed house of two jettied storeys (where upper storeys project beyond the lower storey) and attics in a prominent position. The house is of an unusually large scale. Other comparable size houses in the wider area are from much later dates.
Now that the building is free from the unfortunate results of the 20th century remodelling it is possible to see it as it really is – ‘the battered remnant of late mediaeval construction work on the grand scale carried out by an unusually wealthy owner’.
In 1478 Helmsley was sold to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III; it reverted to the de Roos family on his death. The name of the subsequent hotel is suggestive of a reference to this short lived but significant royal ownership.
In its latest adaptation, the building is now a shop.
Following our work in 2014-15 (reported in early 2016), we were pleased that Historic England were able to remove one of the coastal alum working Scheduled Monuments from the Heritage at Risk register because we had fully recorded those parts of the monument which were under threat. However, four other Scheduled alum working sites remain on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register despite our efforts to record some of their most vulnerable features. So what next?
Working with Whitby Museum and specialists from Historic England, we held a seminar last spring bringing together a group of dedicated people with a strong interest or connection to the coastal alum working sites – landowners, archaeologists, academics and private researchers – to review what we know about the alum industry, to decide what we don’t understand and to look for a way forward to manage the risk to the sites under threat and ensure that we do not lose the valuable information held within them. One of the ideas emerging from the seminar was a further excavation project with an emphasis on engagement and interpretation as well as research.
Archaeological excavations take considerable planning and funds to ensure that they are carried out to a high standard and achieve objectives without causing accidental damage, so it can be a slow process getting started. We are now working towards setting up a project to investigate one of the sites which we didn’t include in the investigations in 2014-15 – the alum works at Stoupe Brow, near Ravenscar. An extensive system of reservoirs and water leats (dug channels) was revealed on the nearby Fylingdales Moor after the 2003 wildfire and we know that this water management system supplied the needs of the alum processing at Stoupe Brow, but other than that we currently know very little about this site. Historic England recently completed a topographic survey of the earthworks so we can now see how the site was laid out, but not how it operated. The site still includes its alum house (where the final processing to produce alum crystals was carried out) and there is still a general gap in knowledge when it comes to how alum houses functioned. As well as trying to discover more about the practical operations at the site the project will record the structures which are currently being gradually lost over the cliff edge. A big advantage of this particular site is that it is more accessible and less dangerous compared to some of the other coastal alum working sites – providing great opportunities for volunteers and visitors.
The first stage of the project is producing a project proposal which will outline what we want to do and how much it will cost, and this is expected by the end of this winter. The next step will be using the proposal to generate partnership support and seek funding. It is early days yet, but we hope this will develop into an exciting project – watch out for further posts as our plans progress.
Mags Waughman, Monument Management Scheme Officer
John Beech – Land Management Adviser
Currently this National Park Authority has two strategic priorities: one is to promote the North York Moors and the other is to improve the connectivity of habitats in order to benefit the biodiversity and landscape of the area, and mitigate the encroaching impacts of climate change.
Habitat connectivity features quite heavily on our Blog; that’s because it’s important to us. Habitat connectivity is the main driver for the work of the Conservation Department. It’s generally accepted that some of the most (ecologically) important habitats within our countryside have declined and fragmented over the decades and good quality habitat now tend to only exist in isolated pockets across the landscape. The first step is to conserve these remnants and then go on to establish connections, buffers, corridors, stepping stones – linking and increasing the habitat resource and therefore its sustainability into the future. These connections, buffers, corridors, stepping stones allow animals, birds, plants to move through the landscape between the habitats they need which helps populations thrive and grow (helping to mitigate the effects of climate change) – ‘stitching’ the landscape back together for wildlife.
Imagine a habitat e.g. native woodland and the biodiversity that depends on it e.g. oak, ash, birch, hazel, bluebell, wood anemone, wild garlic, great spotted woodpecker, nut hatch, wood warbler, tawny owl, ringlet butterfly, feathered thorn moth, barbastelle bat, wood mouse, not to mention the ferns, fungi, lichens, mosses, beetles and spiders etc. etc. We want to better the condition of existing native woodland habitat, to increase the extent of native woodland habitat, to create new native woodland habitat, and to ensure native woodland habitat is better connected; all to ensure a linked landscape for native woodland and the wildlife that depends on it.
So what does this mean in practical terms?
Back in 2012 we sat down with a map of the National Park and considered where we were at. As discussions developed a clear picture of where concerted effort was needed began to emerge. We knew more or less where the surviving key habitats were and we also knew where we wanted to enhance other habitats more generally e.g. the areas which had been key habitats in the past and could benefit from restoration. Key habitats such as Ancient Woodlands, species rich and semi-improved grasslands, riparian strips and coastal hinterland were used as focuses around which to plan for greater connectivity. In the North York Moors, heathland/moorland which makes up around a third of the National Park would seem a likely key habitat but as this is already well connected with large expanses stretching as far as the eye can see, it does not require the attention that more isolated habitats do in terms of habitat connectivity.
We identified the strategic corridors where our efforts would be best focused in our 2012 Management Plan. We then identified the key ecological gaps along these corridors as well as a number of essential gaps to address more widely – 132 of them in total.
What we then needed was a method of implementing our thoughts and vision. We draw polygons around the gaps to provide a framework for practical implementation. Officers are assigned individual or groups of polygons and using the original objectives for each ecological gap (e.g. restore PAWS to having Ancient Woodland characteristics, develop a mosaic of habitats, enhance species rich grassland) we develop rationales setting out what might be done on the ground and how best to do it. If we are going to carry out work and spend money in these target areas we need to establish sound reasons for doing so and to be able to justify our decisions. We start by carrying out a desk study of the habitat interest and records in that area – this includes previous habitat surveys, species information, existing and previous agri-environment agreement areas, public access, historic environment records, designations, and aerial photography. The records are important because as well as looking for opportunities we need to also consider potential constraints such as the historic environment because we don’t want to accidentally damage a valued feature by attempting to achieve the aims of Habitat Connectivity.
Once we have this background picture of a target area we need to get our boots on and get out on the ground to see what’s really there. We’re looking initially from Public Rights of Way only (unless specific permission to access the land has previously granted) – we need to assess how much of the information we have matches the real situation on the ground. A key requirement is to take good quality photographs (both of individual habitats and the wider landscape) as well as making accurate field notes, annotating our original maps and at the same time looking out for possible linkages across the landscape. As our main habitat survey information (a Phase 1 Survey) is nearly 30 years old it is not always still accurate as habitats have changed and shrunk since then. This is especially true of unimproved grasslands identified in the late 1980s where scrub, bracken and bramble succession has since encroached.
Once back in the Office with the results of the field work, we consult with specialist Officers (Rona the Senior Ecologist, Mark the Woodland Officer etc.) to agree the best way forward i.e. how to make a difference. A plan of action is developed using the following principles:
- Identify – find and assess the current condition of the key habitats.
- Protect – ensure that quality habitats are in some way ‘protected’ i.e. conserved. If there are particularly important species e.g. breeding waders, making use of a habitat e.g. rough pasture, that habitat might be enhanced but shouldn’t be transformed.
- Enhance/restore – most areas of habitat need some form of continuing care and maintenance to prevent decline or loss.
- Expand – are there any adjacent buffer areas of land that could be incorporated into the habitat?
- Create – establishing new areas of habitat nearby – this is easier for some habitats e.g. woodland than others e.g. grassland. Long term commitment is required.
To take forward any ideas the involvement of landowners/land managers is essential. In many cases for a land manager and their family the land is their living. To protect, enhance/restore, expand or create the landowner/land manager has to be willing. We’re talking about facilitating capital works like fencing to control stock, scrub control, tree/hedge planting, spreading wild flower seeds, cutting grassland, managing woodland etc. Following negotiations, the National Park Authority can provide grant assistance, use its own Volunteers and Apprentices to carry out the required tasks, or buy the necessary materials and the land manager provides the labour. Longer term requirements are met through maintenance clauses or land management payments over time.
Then once the work is organised and underway, at some point we need to be able to declare whether the gap has been addressed and the looked for key ecological connection made, or rather is on the way to being made. We do that by returning to the rationale – have we been able to achieve what was identified as being required at the beginning of the process?
Although the process takes time it is necessary in order to ensure that we achieve the best workable and sustainable linkages we can.
Over the years the National Park have had a number of grant initiatives allowing us to provide grant to support projects that help achieve National Park purposes and duties and to conserve the special qualities of the North York Moors. Some of our grant schemes tend to be targeted which means we usually approach the land manager and offer the grant (for instance, to enhance habitat connectivity), and others are open to application and awarded through a competitive process.
So at the beginning of a new financial year with a new round of grants available, it’s these schemes, the ones generally open to application, which are described below.
Our Traditional Boundary Scheme provides grant assistance (up to a maximum of £2,000 per holding per year) towards the cost of rebuilding drystone walls* and planting/restoring hedgerows. Traditional field boundaries are an important cultural element and landscape feature of the North York Moors. They also act as effective wildlife corridors. For more information – contact us.
There are lots of historic buildings in the National Park which are of great value both in terms of the landscape and cultural heritage, so we want to help ensure that as many as possible are kept in good repair. Around 3,000 buildings are specifically listed for their special architectural or historic interest. Historic Building Grants are available for repairs to Listed Buildings on the Authority’s “at risk” register. Grants are 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to a maximum of £7,500.
There are also 42 Conservation Areas in the National Park. These are areas within villages which have been designated because they are of particular historic or architectural importance. Conservation Area Enhancement Grants are available for re-instating lost architectural features such as windows and doors and using traditional roofing materials on historic buildings, within Conservation Areas. Grants will be 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to £1,500 per project.
For more information on either of these two Building Conservation grants – see here.
Our Local Distinctiveness & Tourism Fund aims to raise the profile of the North York Moors and promote its local distinctiveness. Grants are awarded to projects in the National Park area and surroundings which increase awareness of the North York Moors brand. Ideas need to utilise the area’s local distinctiveness and at the same time ensuring that any increase in visitors has no adverse impacts. For more information – see here.
We’ve also got our Community Grant offering grant of up to £3,500 (up to 70% of total project costs) to local community groups for small scale projects which meet one of the following priorities:
- environmental benefits e.g. recycling project or wildlife habitat improvements;
- cultural heritage and local history conservation e.g. restoring a village monument or archiving data;
- community facility improvements e.g. disabled access for a community building or improvements to a play area.
Projects need to show clear community benefit and value for money. This particular grant has a short application window – for 2016/17 we need to receive applications by 30 June 2016. For more information – see here.
The Community Grant is now into its fourth year. We’ve assisted a variety of functional projects over that time, one of which was the setting up of the Farndale Film Club by providing grant towards the purchase of equipment. We’re very grateful to the Club for the following report on its first year which shows just how beneficial local community projects can be with just a little grant assistance.
Farndale Village Hall Report for North York Moors National Park
Grant awarded summer 2014 for Film Club equipment and costs – £2,791.60
The Village Hall committee were very pleased to be awarded the grant to enable us to start our own community Film Club. The equipment and licences were bought in the early part of 2015, and installed by a community member with technical, IT and audio-visual expertise, and one of our trustees who is a qualified electrician and computer expert.
Our first screening was on the 1st May 2015. The film was ‘What we did on our holidays’ – a British comedy, which was a real success. We had 24 people attending, and had organised refreshments, crisps and chocolate bars. Feedback from attendees was excellent. The blackout blinds worked really well in summer to keep the hall dark. The sound system was great, and the big screen made it feel as though you really were at the cinema!
We decided to hold monthly screenings. Information about the screenings is given in our member’s community newsletter, on an email circular, and on posters inside the hall. Members are regularly asked what films they might want to see and all suggestions are welcome.
We have had a wide range so far of films, including comedies, a western and recent films like Gravity and The Imitation Game. We have held eight general monthly film nights for members, which have had 142 individual attendances.
We also held a screening of a new independent film ‘Addicted to Sheep’ in October. This was a licensed film and we were able to publicise and promote the screening, and charge for attendance. We decided to charge £3.00, really just to cover the costs of the film (£150). We also sold ice creams, snacks and drinks. Overall at this film, we had 60 people attending, and contributed over £100 towards our 1st year costs. Everyone who came said they had had a really good evening.
The Farndale Kids Club is also taking advantage of the equipment, and so far have shown three films – ‘Paddington’ in June; ‘Hotel Transylvania’ at a Halloween party in October, and ‘Elf’ in December. The children had a brilliant time. At these films we had overall attendance of 71. The children made themselves comfortable on rugs and cushions on the floor, and had ice creams and snacks.
So overall, we have held three films for the Kids Club, eight films for the usual members club, and held an ‘open’ screening. Overall attendance of the 12 films has been 273.
In the summer, we made another grant application to the Two Ridings Community Foundation – Grassroots Fund towards funding for some more comfortable seating, and were pleased to have the grant agreed in September. We have since purchased 30 new upholstered and padded chairs for use at the film club, and so far members have been very pleased with them. They are a big improvement on the old plastic chairs we had.
Since we started, we have covered the overall equipment and first year’s costs of the Film Club – largely through your grant, also the income from our recycling Bags Collection, from members’ donations, and through snacks and soft drinks donations at the screenings.
All the people who have so far come to the Farndale Film Club and Kids Film Club have been very positive about having a local venue where they can see films. Comments have been made about how good it is not to have to travel miles to see films, and also how nice it is to spend time with neighbours and friends in a different arena. For some of us, it is the only time we have been to a cinema in many years! Thank you again for your generous grant, it is much appreciated by all.
Gill Aconley, Committee Member, Farndale Village Hall
James Thurtell, Chairman, Farndale Village Hall
*And talking of film, our Agri-Environment Team spent a few hours recently learning the basics of drystone walling in order to better understand this traditional craft. Here’s what happened…
John Beech – Land Management Adviser
As mentioned previously one of our core conservation objectives is improving ‘habitat connectivity’ – ensuring that wildlife has the opportunity to travel within habitats and between habitats in order to help populations thrive into the future.
The National Park Authority itself owns very little of the land within the North York Moors; good relations with people who own and manage the land are crucial to be able to roll out connectivity.
One of the first acts in any connectivity scheme is to make contact with the land owner/manager (although we don’t always know who they are so this can take some time) and put any project ideas to them. After negotiations and if they are in agreement, the next stage is to work through the inevitable paperwork (it isn’t too convoluted) which sets out the process steps and secures the scheme in place. Once the agreement between ourselves and the land owner/manager is signed – the scheme can begin – materials ordered, labour organised and work carried out.
Creating these habitat networks for wildlife needn’t take up large tracts of land. Planting new hedges or creating rough grassland buffer strips are key elements of connectivity and can be installed at relatively little cost. Agreeing to leave awkward field corners out of cultivation, planting selected areas with trees or fencing out wet boggy grassland to avoid poaching of the ground, can all be beneficial to the enhancement of connectivity.
For example – a connectivity scheme with a landowner near Cowbar, along the coastal hinterland, is delivering excellent long term results for biodiversity. A large expanse of arable land now has a wildlife superhighway running through it – a new hedgerow – linking the clifftop back to existing roadside hedgerows. Whilst weeding the new hedgerow last summer we came across a nest of a Harvest Mouse. The North York Moors is known to be close to the northern most limit of UK distribution for this little creature. The arrival of the Harvest Mouse demonstrates the value of movement between linked habitats; and the new hedge, providing shelter and food, will help enable the wider area to support a higher population in the future.
Connectivity efforts continue and I’ll keep you posted.
Roy McGhie – Conservation Project Assistant
I’ve taken over the role of Conservation Project Assistant from Kirsty who left the National Park Authority earlier this year for pastures new.
I have had a fairly diverse career so far. I am a qualified primary teacher, have worked in business and manufacturing, and have spent more time studying than I care to think about! I have always had a passion for the natural environment, and volunteered whenever and wherever I could. A recent move to North Yorkshire enabled me to retrain in this sector, and now I find myself working for the National Park Authority, which is a dream come true. I love being able to meet the people who manage the land in the National Park, helping them to conserve and enhance the North York Moors in a way that is beneficial to both people and the environment. So far I’ve been largely concentrating on turning Traditional Boundary Scheme (TBS) applications into agreements to help restore boundaries that are so important to the landscape character of the North York Moors.
Amidst my TBS efforts, a couple of weeks ago John (Land Management Adviser) and I attended the annual Farm Liaison Officers conference hosted by the South Downs National Park. This event is an opportunity for agri-environment staff from all 15 of the UK’s National Parks to meet and discuss common issues and difficulties that we face, as well as to find areas of best practice which we can take back to our own National Parks. Whilst the job titles differ from Park to Park it was clear that what we all shared was a passion for working with land managers to achieve mutually beneficial conservation goals.
The first full day was filled with site visits – even if the specific habitats and species we saw were sometimes different to those in the North York Moors, the issues around land management and competing pressures are similar to those we face here.
The first day started with a visit to Bignor Farm near Pulborough. Here, Tom Tupper, a local landowner, introduced us to the chalk grasslands, known as downlands, that make up much of the iconic character of the South Downs. During World War II the South Downs lost about 80% of its grassy downlands, partly to intensive agriculture for food production, and partly to military training. Today, only about 4% of the South Downs remain as chalk downland.
Tom also took us to Bignor Roman Villa, which has been in his family’s stewardship since it was re-discovered over 200 years ago. The site is renowned for having some of the best Roman mosaics in the country, both in terms of detail and preservation. Our stop at the villa allowed us to discuss the intricacies of preserving monuments alongside the public (and often financial) requirement for interpretation and access. There are similar issues at Cawthorn Camps, a Roman site on the North York Moors.
We visited Peppering Farm on the Norfolk Estate. The Estate is currently in a Higher Level Stewardship agri-environment agreement, but carries out more conservation work than it receives money towards, for instance in regards to reversing the decline of the Grey Partridge. This highlighted the ongoing issues that arise from trying to balance landscape enhancement with the need for productive practical agriculture. We also saw a restored dew pond. Dew ponds have been dated as far back as Neolithic times, and are a source of much debate as to how they traditionally filled up with water. Landscape archaeology suggests they were used for watering cattle and were lined with clay to hold the water. As we saw, they are always a popular haven for wildlife. There are number of such ponds in and around the North York Moors.
We also visited Pepperscombe on the Wiston Estate. Here we were introduced to the Steyning Downland Scheme which aims to reconnect people, particularly children, with the countryside around them. The Scheme partly came about because of increased visitor pressure on the South Downs Way, which runs through many farms and fields, as well as mountain biking and dog walking issues. Today there are Trustees and a steering group to represent the needs of the local community, which has seen a designated area created for bikers, the establishment of a team of local volunteers to monitor the plant life, and the opportunity for school children to enjoy creative educational days out on site.
Cattle are used to graze the scrub. The photo below shows the effect just a small number
of cattle can have. The area on the left in the foreground was grazed by just six Dexter cattle for only 3 weeks. The area on the right in the background is a new area of scrub the cattle have just moved in to. The difference is remarkable. Dexter cattle are the smallest of all European cattle breeds, and can be particularly suited to conservation grazing with public access because the animals are less intimidating to members of public than larger breeds.
On the second day, we were back in doors talking through shared subjects such as funding opportunities under Rural Development Programmes and transition from the current national agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship) to the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. Overall the conference proved to be very informative, and I think we all took away knowledge that will help us with our work with land managers to enhance the qualities of each of our wonderful National Parks.
Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant
The Traditional Boundary Scheme (TBS) is now into its third year, helping to restore hedges and drystone walls across the North York Moors landscape throughout the seasons.
Winter snow tends to put a stop to all TBS work, as the conditions make it difficult for moving heavy stones, and hedge plants aren’t going to appreciate being planted out.
Spring means the leaves break out along the restored hedges. In a few years time birds will be searching out nest sites amongst the thorny branches, and the bees collecting the nectar and pollen from the blooming hedgerow flowers.
Summer sees derelict walls disappear beneath the fast-growing grasses and bracken, whilst the hedges and trees form a luscious, green network across the landscape. This is a great time to be getting on with dry stone walling, while the weather is fine and the ground is dry.
The new application period for TBS grant is now open. Please have a look at our website.