Over the last two weeks a very hardy bunch of Nature’s Gym volunteers have been working at Beckenham Place Park to continue with their project of creating dead hedges. These hedges not only make use of cut bramble and sycamore, but they can also make great wildlife habitats for a number of insects. We were careful not to use any established dead wood piles because there were probably already habitats in their own right.
The earliest record of a hedge in England dates from 547 AD. This first recorded hedge was in fact a dead hedge. This ‘dead hedge’ was constructed from cut branches, woven between stakes pushed into the ground (just like we do today). This type of ‘dead hedge’ would gradually have been colonised by live shrubs to form a hedge as we know it today.
A dead hedge is a barrier made from cut branches and foliage. They are very useful habitats because they provide shelter for small animals and birds. They also provide a suitable habitats for saprophytic fungi to grow They are very easy to create and there are a number of variations of how they can be done, but the outcome can still look fantastic. Our approach is to create two staggered lines of vertically driven stakes – and then to fill the space between these two lines with horizontally placed cut material – the long bits of material can be weaved in between the steaks (see above).
Over time the material in the hedge breaks down and sinks, so there are always more cuttings to add. This is probably the only maintenance that you will have to do, so they are very simple to construct and maintain. If you have any examples of your own ‘dead hedge’ work, please feel free to email them to us and we can feature them here! Be sure to remember to tell us where you put them!
So the votes are in for the People’s Millions and huge congratulations to London Play and Assembly SE8 who won with Old Hands at Mud Pies. They have won £43,232 to help reduce social isolation among older people in Lewisham by involving them in a vibrant outdoor play project.
The ‘Old Hands at Mud Pies’ project is based on a simple truth: children and older people enjoy being around each other. Children’s energy and enthusiasm can be infectious and brings out the playful side in everyone. Older people have a lifetime’s experience to share and often as parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents, can quickly connect with children. However, some older people become isolated as their families move away and perhaps fear of crime, ill health or loss of confidence prevents them from forming new connections within their community. Meanwhile, in a borough with the highest proportion of single parents in London, many Deptford youngsters are missing the influence of older people in their lives.
This is an ideal setting in which to involve older people at a level they are comfortable with, be it planting and digging and building, or sharing childhood stories and games with young people. The sessions will make older people feel valued, energised and connected and give them a space to contribute their ideas and skills in an environment where their participation makes a difference.
However, all was not lost for Shed Heaven who won the People’s Millions Bonus Award and therefore also won £50,000 towards their project. Shed Heaven, in Grove Park, Lewisham, will pass on to local young and inexperienced people real woodworking and practical skills. And Shed Heaven will mentor and teach newcomers how to run community music workshops, radio plays, etc.
The new facilities will be used to deliver activities open to all age groups to allow for shared learning between generations.
This is fantastic news for everyone involved. Massive congratulations to everyone that put the time and effort in to writing these bids. You should all be very proud of yourselves. Both projects are going to make a huge difference to the people of Lewisham.
With thanks to Jan Piggott and Steve Grindlay for the following information.
It is well known that Ernest Shackleton passed his schooldays in Sydenham, as commemorated by the Blue Plaque on the large house on Westwood Hill next to St Bartholomew’s Church, now called ‘St David’s’, but originally ‘Aberdeen House’.
He was the son of Dr Henry Shackleton, who settled in Sydenham as a General Practitioner, who was also a Classics graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and originally a small landed proprietor, of Kilkea House, CountyKildare in Ireland. He practised homeopathy. Ernest was the second child, and had eight sisters who attended Sydenham High School, and a brother. In the back garden Dr. Shackleton had a famous rose garden, and the young Ernest built a switch-back railway from the drawing-room window right across the lawn; he also liked to play on the roof of the house. He explored the radius of a day’s journey on his bicycle all around Sydenham. On his return from the Antarctic, his sisters would later decorate the house with pennants.
Shackleton loyally kept up a friendship with the manager of the bookstore at Sydenham railway station, Charles Lethbridge, and wrote to him during his first Antarctic expedition (with Scott on the Discovery) on 20 September 1902. In his early days Ernest and his sisters belonged to the Band of Hope, a children’s Temperance Society group, who regularly sang songs about the evils of alcohol outside the Sydenham pubs. From ‘Aberdeen House’, starting at the age of thirteen in 1887, for three years he walked over the hill to and from Dulwich College. At the College he ‘did very little work’ according to a contemporary, ‘and if there was a scrap he was usually in it’. His form positions, usually low, very likely indicate impatient boredom; however, the single high results in Mathematics and English that he gained twice, reveal his exceptional intelligence.
Dr. Shackleton reluctantly let him join the mercantile marine after his sixteenth birthday in 1890; later, he was to say that for all the good points of Dulwich, his first year at sea was a better school: he had the leisure to read for hours on end, and memorised long passages of poetry; he was saved from the sea (pulled out by his hair) and experienced a hurricane. Returning to the Great Hall of the College to present the prizes as the man of the hour in July 1909, after the return of his Nimrod expedition, he declared that he had never been so near to the prizes as he had been today. The Dulwich boys used to call him ‘Mick’, ‘Mike’ or ‘Micky’, as he retained traces of an Irish brogue.
Significant further details of local interest about Shackleton’s youth was given by Hugh Robert Mill in his Life of Shackleton (1923):
‘The story of these days would not be complete without a paragraph of secret history, the revelation of which is no longer an indiscretion. Mike was addicted to playing truant from school, and we may assume that he was versed in the art of plausible excuses both at school and at home. He was the leader of a sworn band, other members of which were Arthur Griffiths (‘Griff’ for short), Ned Sleep and Chris Kay. With such names they could not help playing at the hunt for hidden treasure on desolate islands, the chosen haunt being a strip of private wood adjoining the railway. Many a long day they spent there, cowering in a hollow under the root of a great tree, speaking in whispers, for might not the next lair hide the lurking shapes of Ben Gunn, Black Dog, old Pew, and even Long John Silver himself? – in that wood in those days time and space, fact and fiction were a continuum of romance. All things there were held in common by the four, and the properties in the drama that was being lived included a revolver with cartridges, an air-gun, a flute, a concertina, and the hull of a large model boat, the rigging and altering of which gave rise to lengthy discussions and very unsatisfactory results. Food was stored up also, for missing school meant doing without dinner, and there was a box of the cheapest cigarettes on the market, which Mike smoked with the best of them, and once when cash was available a bottle of cooking sherry was smuggled in for a grand carouse. This Mike would not touch, and the others long regretted their rashness. All the talk was of adventure, and many a rousing tale of the sea did Mike read aloud to his comrades, all of whom resolved to be sailors; and remarkable as it may appear, all four grew up to follow the sea’.
Mill’s source for all this seems to be from Shackleton himself, who was his friend, as the passage contains many details only found in his book, but confirmation that the strip of private wood was what is now the Reserve with the pond on Silverdale comes from a book of reminiscences written by ‘Griff’ himself, called Surrendered: Some Naval War Secrets, published in 1918, in which he states that ‘the safest haunt’ of their truancies, selected by Shackleton himself, was ‘a deep hollow in the Silverdale Woods, where the thick undergrowth obscured all vestige of trespassers. Books on ships and sails found their way into the lair. Sails and flags were stretched taut to the spars of the model ship. Arguments and reference to nautical works occupied weeks and weeks before the little model passed muster. An old wooden box was installed in the hollow to act as a table, where the model was secured for close inspection – and it became the imaginary vessel of their travels’.
The lads, Griff wrote, decided to run away to sea, and set off to London in quest of a ship, but the mate smiled at them and said they were too young. Later they were ‘not deserted by the growing call of the sea, and one by one exchanged school caps for the smart badge and buttons of sea service’. The ‘cheery lads’ all worked in full rigged ships. Shackleton left in the HoughtonTower, a ship of the White Star Line, for Valparaiso in 1890. The three others eventually became officers in ocean liners.
One fascinating element of this truancy is how closely their activities appear to have been a boyish rehearsal for the real drama when Shackleton was marooned on the ice during the Endurance expedition after the ship sank, with music (instead of the flute and concertina of Silverdale Woods) from Hussey’s banjo, now preserved in the National Maritime Museum; when it was suggested to discard the banjo on account of its weight, Shackleton insisted it must be kept, as ‘vital mental medicine’ for the group. The men on the ice took part in smoking and feasts from dwindling stores; they had with them an arsenal, and books; they discussed sails and other nautical matters, and talked about literature.
Footnote: Steve Grindlay has cleverly established the ages and addresses of the other boys, so that we can imagine them covertly converging on the Silverdale Woods on school days: Arthur ‘Griff’ Griffith (not Griffiths), born in Sydenham on 12 July 1873, lived at Elmcroft, 15 Recreation Road, on the corner of Silverdale, from 1881 to 1890, on the other side of the road from the Reserve, but not many paces away; he was not a pupil at Dulwich College. Ned Sleap (not ‘Sleep’), born at Belvedere in Kent, on 1 July 1870, also lived in Silverdale, at Birch Tor, from 1881-2, and then at ‘Homestead’, Recreation Road, (either no. 1 or 2) from 1884 to 1891. They then moved to Longton Grove; he was at Dulwich College for four terms only, from September 1884. Chris (actually Christol) Kay, the son of a General Practitioner, was born 17 September 1871. He was at Dulwich College for only one year, in 1880-1. The Kays lived at 48, Crystal Palace Park Road, from 1880 until about 1885 and then moved to ‘Darley House’, Venner Road, where Dr. Kay had his surgery, until 1891. In the late 1890s the address of ‘Darley House’ was changed to 14 Sydenham Road; later the house was the Midland Bank, then the HSBC, and is now Pedder Estate Agent. Steve surmises that they probably all met when they attended the small preparatory school, Fir Lodge, which was on the corner of Jews Walk and Kirkdale, though the records have not survived. Shackleton, conspicuously the youngest, was said to be the leader.
Competing with Shed Heaven in the People’s Millions in the London region is London Play and Assembly SE8. It is fantastic that both of Wednesday’s finalists are in Lewisham and both are very worth finalists!
Old Hands at Mud Pies, aims to build confidence, social networks and reduce isolation among older people in Deptford by engaging them in weekly community activities. The project will bring young and old generations together at Assembly SE8, Old Tidemill School for community cooking, gardening, community building and other creative’s activities. The intergenerational project will involve children and older people to play, eat and design at Depfords unique and wild space in the heart of Deptford.
Voting lines are open 9am-midnight on Wednesday 27 November
Watch us on ITV local news 6-6.30pm on the same day
GPCG is one of six London candidates in the People’s Millions 2013 competition where we have a chance to win £50,000 for our Shed Heaven project. The vote takes place on 21 November 2013 and you can vote up to 10 times!
The number will be available at People’s Millions and in the Daily Mirror as well as ITV Regional and early evening news on the day. For more information you can visit their Facebook page or the Ringway Centre.
Go on be an Angel and vote for Shed Heaven on 27th November 2013!
“With the support of the charity London Play we have submitted a project proposal titled, ‘Old Hands and Mud Pies’. The project is focused on engaging older people with volunteering opportunities and the chance to get involved with local activities and events in Deptford. The project will be centred at the Old Tidemill School and aims to engage people in learning and sharing skills as well as participating in fun and creative workshops and events. We are hosting an event at the school on November 16th do demonstrate some of the many fun things we do at the school and in the garden. We will be cooking up a tasty lunch, baking cakes and running activities. We have a new Treehouse to unveil and be tested out by local children as well as Forest School activities and creative art workshops. There will be chance to meet and chat to lot’s of other local people who are involved in the garden and the event will hopefully attract new people to come along to.
Your involvement in the event will be greatly appreciated and if successful, the funding we receive will help run regular events and activities for keen volunteers and local people for the whole of the coming year.”
November 16th 12pm – 4pm, at Old Tidemill School Wildlife Garden, Frankham Street, Deptford, SE8 4RN.