Daisy Bank Pocket Park History

These are the records of the Aston le Walls Pocket Park from the beginning; with photographs, records of meetings and awards, as kept by Sue Ball.

If you would like to add any comments, observations or even images of your own, please use our Comments page. Hope you find it interesting!

Daisy Bank Pocket Park

Aston le Walls has very few of the open air amenities which one almost expects to find in a rural community.  There is no village green, no playing field; there are no wooded areas and only a few footpaths.  Indeed all the footpaths cross arable land or intensively farmed grassland.  Despite being a small community surrounded by countryside there is nowhere in which the local people can have contact with nature.  Daisy Bank Pocket Park provides a place to enjoy the countryside and relieve some of life’s stress with some glorious views, particularly of the sunset over the Avon Dassett Hills; a refuge for wildlife from modern agriculture and the opportunity for local people to learn about and become involved in conservation and ecology in a practical way.  It also provides a safe place for children to play.

The project started in Summer 1993 when the Parish Council looked at a small area of land originally purchased by the County Council for a road straightening scheme which did not take place.  It is approximately a 500 metre strip starting at the Aston end as grass and shrub roadside verge, widening through a mixed bush and small tree area to a small field some 25 metres wide.  The land drops from this field 2 to 3 metres into a disused railway cutting and a second much longer field to a thicket and beyond is an area of building waste and scrub.  The land is also on a noticeable slope, steeper at the Aston end.

A Management group was set up with the invaluable help of Sue Paice, NCC Pocket Parks Officer, to run the park after the Parish Council had been granted a 20 year lease.

A management plan and work programme were drawn up.

Practical work to date has concentrated on providing good access including a path through the mixed bush area and steps down the railway embankment.  Whilst an enthusiastic, small number of people have carried out most of the tasks, for the laying of the path, which is of local Hornton stone, a good size band of helped and two local businesses, Twyford Seeds and West Hill Farms helped with free supply of materials and plant (a digger).

A quantity of wild daffodils bulbs and wood anemone rhizomes have also been planted by volunteers and children of the local school.  Other work completed includes tree and hedge planting.  For the tree planting day in January 1995 we had a keen turn out of about 50 villagers who came to plant native trees and record their efforts.  A local farmer ploughed the line for the hedge which was planted on the same day.

Our greatest success was the official opening in July 1994 when almost the entire village, as well as some children and their families from outside the village but who attend the school, came along to watch a ceremonial tree planting; the handing over of a bench given by the W.I.; take part in a nature quiz and enjoy ‘Christening cake’ cut during the Teddy Bear’s picnic.

We have substantial plans and have augmented our NCC, Countryside Commission, SNC, Parish Council grants of £4,500 with a Rural Action grant of £756 which is specifically for a pond construction training day.  Our pond will be about 6 x 3.6 meters.  The hole will be dug at half price by a villager with his own digger.  The B.T.C.V. will provide the trainer and we hope to lay a P.V.C. liner, fill the pond and plant it all on Sunday 14th May.  We have been promised help by many villagers.

We have also ordered 480 wild flower ‘plug plants’ from B.T.C.V. for planting later this year, probably during B.T. Environment Week.  There are 30 different plants each of 16 different species which will be split between keen gardeners in the Parish to pot up and grow on for eight weeks.

There will be more benches this year too.  We hope these will be constructed, using materials provided by the Park, by villagers.

Next year we are hoping to plant more trees and perhaps a Hazel coppice which, it has been suggested, would provide income for the Park from the production of bean sticks for sale to the public.  It would also provide etherings [flexible rods for the construction of hedges] for the laying of hedges in future years.

We have still to decide the best future for the area of builders tip at the Northern end of Daisy Bank.

Eventually we will have a circuitous path to add extra dimension and interest.

The Park over the coming years will continue to provide a teaching aid for the village school; whose staff and pupils already visit on a regular basis and who designed our logo.  When the path is finished it will provide a walker’s route from the edge of the village along the side of the Welsh Road to a safe place to rejoin the road.  It is at the moment a very dangerous route to walk.

Our hope, as Daisy Bank matures, is to provide a place of natural beauty and peace and diversity of wildlife which most of modern England can no longer sustain, of which Astonians can say ‘This is ours, we’ve made something lovely from very little and it makes us happy to spend time here’.  People already do this.  Even on a cold, dull Sunday afternoon in winter.

First flyer to villagers telling them about the Pocket Park

Daisy Bank Pocket Park
Management Plan

To develop and maintain the site as a wildlife area for use by the local community including the school.

The site extends approximately 0.5 km along the Western side of the Aston le Walls / Lower Boddington Road commencing at the junction of this road with Blacksmiths Lane.  The Ordinance Survey Map Reference is OS Sheet 151 1:50 000 Second series SP 494 513.  The area of the site is approximately 1½ acres.

The land is owned by Northamptonshire County Council and is leased from them by Aston le Walls Parish Council.

A footpath is to be provided by the Management Team and helpers from the corner of Blacksmiths Lane and Welsh Road.  The footpath is to be 1 meter wide and 1 meter from the edge of the road.  This will lead to a suitable entry point to the site as near to the village as possible.  It is also hoped to provide an access point near to the Northernmost end of the site also onto the Welsh Road.

This footpath has to be provided as a requirement of the change of use Planning Consent granted by the District Council.

The site is bordered to the East and North by minor lanes and to the South and West by Pasture land.

The land was acquired by Northamptonshire County Council for possible road improvements.  The site is bisected by a disused railway cutting, the embankments and bridge of which are still present and will affect the development of the site.  The bridge may, at some time in the future, be removed or altered.

The Eastern half of the site is reported to have supported several mature elm trees which had to be removed due to Dutch elm disease.  The Western half of the site has been used for pasture for a number of years.


The site is long and narrow – see accompanying maps.  It also slopes away from the eastern edge steadily to the Railway and again from the Railway to the western boundary.  This gives good views across the countryside to the West and South.  The site is fairly dry with moister areas on the railway line and to the east of it.  At certain time of the year there is a small amount of water flowing along the edge of the railway cutting, crossing the site from North to South.  The soil has an approximate Ph of 7.5.

As it stands the site is a mixture of woodland and poor pastureland, bisected by the railway cutting which is used occasionally as a farm access.  The woodland consists predominantly of a number of young elm trees, at present still healthy, with undergrowth of Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Elder.  There are some mature hedges with bramble and dog rose evident.

The pasture and open areas are mostly a mixture of perennial grasses, nettles and other common herbaceous perennials, although a full evaluation has not yet been possible.  The surface of the Railway cutting has been damaged by tractors or other vehicles, but at the edges is a ditch area with standing / slightly running water which may support some semi aquatic species.  Above the cutting are patchy hedges.

Although few bird or mammal species have been recorded so far, it is felt that these will be noted as the seasons change and as the noisy and disturbing work on the site becomes less.

The greater part of Daisy Bank has not been used by the public at all in previous years and the North Western part of the site has only been used by local farmers for stock grazing.  Therefore the opening up of this site will provide a place of interest for the whole of the local community.

At the present time we have coppice and pasture land present on the site and by providing a pond, hopefully with marginal wet land, the interest and value of the site will be greatly increased.

Access to, and within, Daisy Bank needs to be provided with a path being made available from the edge of the village (Blacksmiths Lane) to the main point of entry to the site as specified in the Planning Consent issued by the District Council.  We hope the paths and accesses will be suitable for use by wheelchair users.  Crushed and rolled stone paths will be laid within the coppice areas with mown grass paths within the pasture areas.  It is planned to provide a point of access at the northern end of the site at some time in the future.

An increase in wildlife needs to be encouraged by improving their habitats.  This will be achieved by traditional management of the woodland and hedges, some clearing of nettles and brambles and introduction of new local species of trees, hedging, grassland plants, marsh and water plants.  Bird and bat boxes will be provided.

The amenity value of Daisy Bank for the Community and Education will be improved by providing a pond with dipping platform, benches at strategic viewing points, steps and handrail from pasture to railway cutting and an information board at the site entrance.

Our objectives for the whole of the site over a five year period are presented on our Task Schedule.

Daisy Bank Pocket Park Diary

May 20th 1993
The first meeting between the Northamptonshire Pocket Parks representatives and the Aston le Walls Parish Council representatives, was held at the proposed site, on May 20th 1992.

Those present were:-
Sue Paice                         Northants Pocket Parks
Ray Vessey                      Northants Highways Department
Marcus Williams           Aston le Walls Parish Council
Beryl Chinneck              Aston le Walls Parish Council

The main topics for discussion at this meeting were a) the possibilities for vehicular access, b) potential impact of the road bridge infill and c) the possibilities and issues surrounding the Parish Council gaining a lease for the land.

June 24th 1993
Sue Paice gave a presentation at the Aston le Walls Village Hall, which was aimed at explaining the principles behind establishing Pocket Parks in Northamptonshire and to assess the level of support that the locals would give to such a scheme on the proposed site in the Village.

To assist the presentation, Sue made use of a display board and several slides, showing what could be achieved under such schemes.

July 22nd 1993
A site meeting was called for by Ms Sue Paice on July 22nd 1993.  At this meeting, the site was viewed by the attending group, who managed to establish an entrance into the top meadow.

The site comprised of an impenetrable top woodland ‘verge’ ranging from just a couple of yards wide, to approximately 7 yards wide, whereupon it opened out into the top meadow which was a mixture of various grasses, nettles and brambles, extending approximately 10 to 12 yards wide by 25 yards long, with a bank leading up to the road along its length.  At the end of the top meadow, there was a steep bank leading down to the Railway embankment, which was the location of the arched road bridge.  Beyond the Railway embankment, was the lower meadow which appeared to be mainly grasses grazed short by sheep.  This meadow was larger than the upper meadow, extending approximately 15 to 20 yards wide by 70 to 80 yards long, again with a bank leading up to the road along its length.  At the bottom of this meadow, there was a small wooded area, signifying the boundary of the site.

Towards the end of this site meeting, Sue Paice suggested that the group should appoint a Management Committee who would be charged with organising the reclamation and maintenance of the site into a functioning Pocket Park for the community.

Management Committee members ‘volunteered’ were:-
Chairman                           Mr D Wall
Secretary                           Mrs S Ball
Treasurer                           Mr D Gill
Tools & Equipment            Mr D Germany
Publicity & Artwork           Mr T Brand
Additional Members          Mr M Williams
Mrs P Markham

July 23rd 1993
An initial entrance was cut into the upper wooded area, approximately ¾ of the way along its length, from which fairly easy access into the Upper Meadow could be gained.

Cutting this entrance involved removing areas of bramble and nettles, several yards deep, which immediately resulted in the generation of large amounts of ‘green’ waste, which had to be stored.  It was therefore an obvious decision that the compost heap should be placed in this area, at least whilst the clearing of vegetation was in progress.

Upon completion of the rough clearing of this area, Terry Brand used his powered rotary mower to take all of the nettle and bramble stalks down to ground level, to assist movement in this area.

July 24th 1993
The first ‘Saturday Afternoon’ work party gathered to complete the clearing of an access into the Upper Meadow.  This involved the removal of one small tree, and sufficient low hanging branches to enable comfortable passage into the Upper Meadow.  There was also a path cut into a large Bramble patch which was obstructing access.

In addition, a broken barbed wire fence was found, complete with wooden posts, lying across the access path.  This was extracted and placed temporarily near the compost heap.

The paths around the Upper Meadow were fully discussed and marked out for future cutting.

July 25th 1993
A petrol powered strimmer was hired from Plant Tool Hire, Daventry, for use in cutting the paths.  The paths were rough cut with the strimmer, approximately 3 feet wide, following the markers laid down during the previous work party.

Whilst the cutting was in progress, the remainder of the party were gainfully employed clearing the vegetation to the compost heap and tidying up the paths with shears etc.

July 31st 1993
Following the successful rough cutting of the paths with the strimmer, Terry Brand again offered the services of his powered rotary mower, to short cut these paths to a level which would be easily maintained.

Whilst this operation was a total success, it quickly became apparent that should we decide to mow the paths on a regular basis, something more substantial than Terry’s rotary mower would have to be employed, as it was very heavy going, with a distinct risk of damage occurring to the mower.

This exercise generated a considerable pile of waste vegetation, which was placed on the compost heap, which by now had reached a height of approximately 7 feet.

September 16th 1993
The Pocket Park Committee held its first meeting in Blacksmiths Lane.

Key decisions taken at this meeting were as follows:-

  1. Work parties, where possible, would be formed on the first Saturday afternoon in each month, to carry out site activities (weather permitting) and that in order to clarify the activities of each work party, Committee meetings would be held on the preceding Wednesday or Thursday evening.
  2. There would be as few rules as possible for the Park, namely ‘No Bikes’ and to keep dogs on leads for a trial period.
  3. The initiation of a flora and fauna survey of the site in all seasons; financing and the formation of a Management Plan were also discussed.

October 2nd 1993
The work party group concentrated on 2 off prime activities during this session, namely

  1. Starting the Flora/Fauna Survey
  2. Starting to clear a path through the Upper Wooded area

Three members of the work party concentrated on the first observations for the Flora/Fauna survey.  It was agreed that this should be an ‘on-going’ process, recording the various observations throughout the various seasons.

The September findings were recorded and will be added to on subsequent visits.

The path through the wooded area was started during the session.  A considerable number of trees were removed, in addition to many overhanging branches from adjacent trees.  The removal of the trees was undertaken with some regret, but the result has opened up this area, giving access to an otherwise unusable region of the Park.

The second effect of this action is to allow more light into this area, which we hope will encourage growth of natural woodland plants.

In total, a path extending some 160 yards long has been created, terminating at the entrance to the Upper Meadow.

October 7th 1993
Pocket Park meeting held at in Butler’s Close and was attended by Ms Sue Paice.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. Planning permission for the Pocket Park would not be granted until the committee had agreed that they would arrange to construct a 1m wide footpath, 1m from the edge of the road, running from the corner of Blacksmiths Lane to the entrance of the Park.  This was agreed.
  2. Some effort needed to be made in the compilation of a Management Plan for the Park, to assist the submissions for funding to the Parish Council and the County Council.
  3. It was agreed that the local school should be approached about involving the children in a competition for designing a logo and thinking of a name for the Pocket Park.

November 3rd 1993
Pocket Park meeting held at in Main Street and was attended by Mr Martin Mason.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. A detailed ‘tools required’ list and approximate costs was compiled.  This was needed to assist the compilation of the Management Plan and the financial submissions to the Parish Council.
  2. Mr Martin expressed the school’s support for the Pocket Park, stating that it was hoped that various areas of the National Curriculum could be covered with projects in the Park.
  3. It was agreed that transportation should be arranged (David Germany’s flatbed) to pick up the bark shredder from Aldwinkle Pocket Part, ready for use at the next work party, which would be on November 5th.

November 5th 1993
A trip to Aldwinkle, to pick up the bark shredder was arranged with the use of David Germany’s flatbed. 

Half of the work party concentrated on clearing the tree roots which were still left from the previous session’s woodland path clearing exercise, whilst the other half worked on getting the bark shredder working to its full potential.

Unfortunately, the effects of the bark shredder were less impressive than hoped for, with only about 3 to 4 lbs [1.3 to 1.8kg] of bark chippings generated after 1 hour’s hectic operation.  It was obvious that the shredder was simply not man enough for the job in hand, so operations with it were stopped and the object was promptly stored around David Gill’s garden, until the next Pocket Park on the list came to use it.

With a considerable pile of vegetation to dispose of, the decision to dump the entire pile over the side of the old railway bridge onto the cutting below to be burnt at the next work party was taken.

With all of the tree roots now pulled up, the whole work party (which included Sue Paice) were mobilised into this task, which went on well after sunset.  Once dumped onto the cutting, the pile had to be stored to one side to enable access through the cutting by tractors, which regularly use the area.

December 2nd 1993
Pocket Park meeting held at Hill View.
Key topics discussed were:-

  1. The financial statement was agreed and the Treasurer (David Gill) committed to completing the budget proposal, to be included in the draft Management Plan, to be presented to the Parish Council at their meeting on the 9th December.
  2. Judging of the schools entries for the Pocket Park logo designs and name was undertaken.  There was a very good response from the children, from which the name ‘DAISY BANK’ was chosen and a combination of 2 designs was adopted for the logo.  Terry Brand stated that he would draw up the logo based upon these designs.  In order to thank the children for their participation, it was agreed that £5 book tokens should be presented to the 3 chosen entries, with a box of Smarties for everyone else.

December 4th 1993
Three main tasks were undertaken by the work party this month:-

  1. Burning of the waste vegetation which was ‘stored’ in the railway cutting during the previous work party.  This was very successful, with the whole pile being completely eliminated, without causing any accidents by ‘smoke screening’ the adjacent road.
  2. Clearing back the vegetation from the area which will encompass the approach path to the entrance to the Pocket Park.  The copious waster material generated by this operation was also disposed of by burning on the existing bonfire in the railway cutting.
  3. The decision to construct the woodland path by digging approximately 6 inches [15 centimetres] by 40 inches [1m] wide, then lining this with plastic sheeting and covering with crushed stone and rolling flat, had been taken.  As an experimental exercise, 2 members of the work party decided to plot their progress by undertaking this task manually, with spades and shovels.  After approximately 1½ hours, they had recorded a distance of 17 paces.  Reluctantly, the other members of the work party/committee agreed that the entire operation could be undertaken by hand, saving the considerable expense of hiring a mini digger to do the task.

January 6th 1994
Meeting held in Blacksmiths Lane.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. The Financial and Management Plan was presented to the Parish Council and was generally agreed on principle.
  2. The issue surrounding the cutting of the paths in the Park continues.  This revolves around whether it is cost effective to purchase a mower which is capable to do the job, with the problems of security, maintenance, consumable costs, operator, insurance etc., or whether it is better to contract out the task, with the perpetual issue of financing this ‘for ever’.
  3. Terry Brand revealed a display board which he prepared.  This board is to be place at the entrance of the Park.  Terry was thanked for his efforts and it was agreed that the board should be erected once the woodland and approach paths have been completed.

January 8th 1994
The major task embarked on by the work party, was the continued digging of the woodland path.  Upon completion of the day, the path stretched approximately 90 yards, with a further 70 yards to go, but with the sun setting and 7 broken backs in the group, work was stopped.

Some rubbish clearing was also embarked upon during this session.  Whilst this was being carried out, a bag containing various Army objects was discovered.  Part of this consignment was a number of rounds of ‘blanks’.  The police were called to clear these away and kindly offered the remaining contents to Mrs Germany who originally found the package.  She declined the offer.

February 3rd 1994
Meeting held in Blacksmiths Lane and attended by Ms Annie Allen (School Rep).

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. Application to the B.T.C.V. is being handled by the Parish Council, although they had contacted Darrel Wall on some issues.  Training of powered machinery operators is necessary for insurance cover.
  2. The signing of the lease by the Parish Council has been delayed for clarification of certain points in the document.  This should be resolved by the next Pocket Park meeting.
  3. Ms Annie Allen reported that the Junior age school children had been down to the Park and had noted various signs of wildlife activity.  It was agreed that this type of information should be included in the Survey and to assist this, a copy of the wildlife reporting package was handed over for use by the school.

February 5th 1994
The work parties single minded task this session was to complete the digging of the woodland path.  Despite the ground being heavy this was completed, much to everyone’s relief.

March 10th 1994
Pocket Park meeting held in Butler’s Close and was attended by Ms Sue Paice.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. David Gill reported that a load of 20 tons of crushed stones (1” to dust), for the woodland path, would be delivered at the Pocket Park site during the morning of Saturday 12th March.  David had organised payment for the load through a Parish Council cheque, but the exact location for dropping the load needed further discussion.  It was decided that we would try to drop the load on the grass verge, on top of plastic sheeting, near to the main entrance to the Park.
  2. It was decided that the Park should have an official opening during late May.  Various suggestions were discussed, but it was agreed that this topic should be included as an agenda item for the next Pocket Park meeting, having given the Committee members time to reflect on possible formats and contents.
  3. Sue Paice mentioned that a representative from the group was requested to attend the Northamptonshire 50th Pocket Park ‘evening’.  Darrel Wall will be sent an invitation as representative, to be held on the 24th May.

March 12th 1994
At 10.30 am, the 20 ton load of crushed stone for the Woodland Path arrived.  Upon first sight, the idea of tipping the load onto plastic sheeting was dropped.  The sheer size of the load made this impractical.  With committee members posted in both directions on Welsh Road, the traffic was halted while the lorry manoeuvred into a position where it could deposit the stone onto the verge, near to the Park entrance.  Approximately half of the stone was unloaded here, whereupon it became apparent that the remainder required another location, as it was already encroaching onto the Welsh Road.  This second location was at the junction of Blacksmiths Lane and Welsh Road.

During the remainder of the morning, 4 volunteers moved and laid approximately 8 tons of the stone into the path, which was first lined with a horticultural membrane, designed to suppress weeds whilst allowing water passage.  This membrane was acquired by the Secretary’s husband, courtesy of Twyford Seeds.

During the afternoon session, we had our largest ever turnout, with 13 people ‘chipping in’.  This was extremely encouraging, as some of these helpers were new to the Park and the Village.

A special thanks goes to Gordon Phipps, who not only turned up to help, but was also in command of a tractor, which was in constant use, ferrying the stone from the dump sites to the path laying areas.  Gordon also committed himself and his tractor to digging the approach path, ready for the next work session during April.

With everyone’s assistance and strong backs, the entire path was laid complete during the day, with no surplus stones left over.

Many thanks to all those involved in this exercise.      

The Useful Digger

April 7th 1994
Pocket Park Meeting held in Main Street

  1. The Secretary reported that she had attended the latest Parish Council meeting, where it was decided that the Parish would include the grass mowing for the Park into the existing grass cutting contract for the village.  The contract will include: Summer Meadow         1 cut (£30) Spring Meadow 5 cuts (£25/cut), Paths                           5 cuts (£10/cut)
  2. The lease for the Pocket Park land has been signed by the Parish Council and returned to Northants County Council Legal Department for final processing.
  3. There were some more decisions around activities for the Pocket Park Opening Day: Nature Theme Treasure Hunt, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Barbeque, Tree Planting Ceremony, Free Prize Draw, Refreshments

April 9th 1994
Terry Brand, Tim Ball and Darrel Wall formed a ‘mini’ work party to remove the fence from the upper portion of the lower ‘Spring’ Meadow.

This work was conducted to improve access into this meadow and for its future use in the Opening Day activities.  This action has now prevented any ‘stray’ livestock from inadvertently being introduced onto this portion of the Pocket Park.

May 5th 1994
Pocket Park meeting was held at Welsh Road, Aston le Walls, and attended by Mr Shamus Crowe and Mr Jerry Davis.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. It was reported that the Countryside Commission and Northants County Council have agreed to their ¼ share each of the Pocket Park grant application.  This together with the agreed ¼ share from the Parish Council, makes ¾ of the ‘pie’ now in place.  The only remaining portion which has to be agreed, is the South Northants District Council’s ¼ share.  The SNDC finance meeting will be held on June 6th, so we will have to wait until then before we are able to start spending funds on major projects, such as Approach path laying, steps and bridge construction down the railway embankment etc., which really have to be completed prior to the Opening Day to ensure safe access to the relevant areas of the Park.
  2. It was reported that the Pocket Park committee has been requested to put a stall into the next Aston le Walls Church Fete, to be held on the 25th June, in the grounds of ‘The Old Rectory’.  Darrel Wall will man the stall, but contributions from all will be needed to compile the information and materials for the event.  This will be looked on as an opportunity to inform the villagers of our current progress, plans for the future, how much it is costing, etc.
  3. Mrs Jobbins from NCC Highways Department was contacted by the Parish Council to inspect the condition of the ‘crash barriers’ adjacent to the railway bridge.  The total collapse of the existing barriers has given rise to some concern that there is a relatively low risk to the users of the Park, from the remote possibility of a vehicle crashing through this area and into the Park itself (although there has not been any instances of such an occurrence to anyone’s knowledge).  Mrs Jobbins has agreed that this barrier should be replaced and that the NCC Highways Department will fund it (although no date or deadline was given).  Temporary ‘barriers’ have been erected on the site.

The Parish Council are now in possession of the completed 20 year lease for this land, on the understanding that it is used as a Pocket Park site.

May 12th 1994
Darrel Wall attended a Parish Council meeting, where he gave an update of the activities and progress of the group.

During the meeting, the Parish Council kindly agreed that if the Pocket Park would order the required crushed stone for the approach path (10 tons), then they would pay the bill, independently from the grant approval.  The Pocket Park group still had approximately £40 left from the previous year’s budget, leaving around £40 for the Parish Council to pay.

May 14th 1994
Marcus Williams and Gordon Phipps (with the assistance of a tractor), have dug the approach path to the Pocket Park opening.

Many thanks go to Gordon in particular for his efforts and use of the tractor, without which the job would have been much harder.

May 24th 1994
Darrel Wall and Marcus Williams attended the Northamptonshire’s 50th Pocket Park evening at John Dryden House, Northampton.  It was a very pleasant occasion, with both red and white wine available, along with nibbles.

June 3rd 199410 tons of crushed stone were delivered on the corner of Blacksmiths Lane/Welsh Road junction, for laying of the Approach Path.

A work party of varying numbers gathered during the late afternoon and evening to work on this, and the path was completed before sunset.

Thanks go to all concerned on yet another splendid effort.

The crushed stone path now extends its fully planned length, from the corner of Blacksmiths Lane to the entrance of the Top Meadow.

June 9th 1994
Pocket Park meeting held in Blacksmiths Lane, Aston le Walls.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. The stand for the Church fete has now been organised, with all the information and materials to be displayed, delegated to the various members.  A meeting will be held on the Thursday evening at The Bungalow, to compile the material and deal with any last minute problems.
  2. The materials required for the construction of the steps, handrails and bridge down the railway embankment, will be calculated on Saturday 11th June and ordered for delivery and construction during the following weekend.
  3. The activities for the Opening Day were again discussed and progress in this area has been made.
  4. The District Council have approved our grant application, so that is now all 4 segments of the financial pie in place.  We can now go and spend on the materials and tools that were planned for in our Management Plan.
Step & bridge construction June 1994 to access disused railway and Lower Meadow from Upper Meadow
Completed steps & bridge

June 18th 1994
The Work party session completed the construction of the steps and bridge down the railway embankment.  Some  more work is needed to complete the handrails, but this is only minor activity compared to what had been accomplished this weekend.

Thanks to all concerned for your efforts, it looks a splendid job and is a credit to the Park.

June 23rd 1994
A meeting was held in Blacksmiths Lane, to finalise the preparation of materials for the Church Fete.

Everything is coming together well, with plans, schedules, leaflets, photographs etc. all being presented on a 7ft by 3 ft display board and the Treasure Hunt is being pulled together by Terry Brand and Sue Ball.

We should be ready in time!

June 25th 1994
The Church Fete was held today.  All of the planned material for the Pocket Park display came together well and a good time was had by all.

The stand was manned mainly by Marcus Williams and Darrel Wall, who found that the Treasure Hunt, whilst being very popular and raising £21 for the Church funds, was a full time job for the 2 of them, leaving very little time to actually discuss Pocket Park matters with anyone who was interested.

The suggestion box was a completely hollow shell at the end of proceedings and the Volunteer list contained 2 names.

June 30th 1994
Pocket Park meeting held in Butler’s Close, Aston le Walls.

Key topics discussed were:-

  1. A resolution was proposed and agreed that no individual (member of the Daisy Bank Pocket Park Group) should spend more than £25 for anything without the full agreement of the Committee.  This is designed to cover incidental material expenses e.g. nails, wood preserve etc.
  2. A lot of discussion around the arrangements of the Opening Day took place.  Terry Brand will produce posters and invitation leaflets, with details of events and times.  Invitations to be delivered door to door by local school children.  Sue Ball will arrange for the BBQ and various prizes for the events, as well as prepare the Nature Trail with Marcus Williams.  David Gill will arrange for the BBQ food, rolls and charcoal.  Della and David Germany will make a large cake with accompanying Teddy Bears for the TB picnic.  The Church Fete stand, raffle and nature trail will be manned by Darrel Wall.  Various other jobs were shared amongst the Committee.
  3. Legal Position: Sue Ball reported that during a recent conversation with a member of the NCC Legal Department, we have been advised that there is no reason why we should not continue to use the lower meadow, because they had not received any correspondence from any third party, disputing the tenancy of the land.  The committee agreed that we should continue with the plans to make use of the lower meadow for the Open Day.

July 2nd 1994
The Work party completed the crushed stone infill of the embankment steps, and created another short path in the area of the ‘tree planting’ site.  This path has now created a small island bed, currently of nettles, but the plan is to keep this area cut short to allow the grass to get established, plant wild daffodils and start to suppress the nettles.  The specific area for the tree planting itself (decided on a beech tree) was also cleared

July 9th 1994
Arranged with G Taylor to ‘flail’ the Lower Meadow.  The mowed area left many regions of tall grass, with paths running between them and a larger open area in the middle of the meadow.

The problem was that the grass was so high, that there are now large amounts of hay lying in the open areas, making it very difficult to walk through.  The weather is quite warm and windy at present, so the grass/hay is drying rapidly.

The decision has been made that the hay will all have to be raked up and removed, ready for a second, lower cut, just prior to the Opening Day, to make the area more acceptable for walking on.

July 9th 1994
An initial small group of volunteers went down to the Lower Meadow to determine the magnitude of the task that lay ahead of us, in raking up this area prior to the end of the week.

We soon discovered that it was quite straightforward to rake up the hay into isolated stacks, giving Constable an idyllic setting, but the real task lay in removing it, as loading it onto wheelbarrows and transporting to the area under the road bridge was a slow, hard process in the hot conditions that were present.

July 13th 1994
A meeting was held in Blacksmiths Lane, to discuss the final arrangements for the Opening Day.  Everything appears to be coming together well.  We just need to get the Lower Meadow into shape now, prior to the weekend.

July 14th 1994
A major turnout from the group went down to the Lower Meadow this evening and started the process of raking up the rest of the area.  Dellas Germany had a wonderful, wonderful idea of how to transport the ever growing number of hay stacks from the Meadow.  A large plastic sheet was spread out on the ground, and the stacks moved onto this.  With a stack of approx. 8 foot round by 15 foot long in place, 4 to 6 people were able to pull the entire load off to the dumping site, which initially was underneath the road bridge, but soon a second site had to be found, which was at the bottom of the meadow.  This idea of Dellas saved us several hours of clearing work.  WELL DONE DELLAS!

July 15th 1994
G Taylor was again asked to come down and take a second cut of the meadow, as well as cut the upper meadow paths down and wider.

Upon completion, the whole area looked much better and everyone felt more confident that at least the Meadows would be in good condition for the day.

A big thank you goes to everyone for all the effort that went into the preparation over the last couple of weeks.

July 16th 1994


After much last minute preparation and panic, it was time to start the proceedings.  Mrs North expertly planted the beech tree in the Upper Woodland area, John Callum took several photographs of the proceedings, Carol Williams representing the Aston le Walls W.I. kindly donated a bench for the Park (many thanks), Sue Paice supported the day with a Northamptonshire Pocket Parks display, the nature trail was very popular as was the free raffle, the cake and drinks stall was very busy once an announcement was made confirming that it was free and the BBQ was also popular, despite the 50p price tag for a burger (bargain).

The highlight of the day however, was the children’s Teddy Bears’ picnic, with the Germany’s brilliant cake being the central attraction.

Mrs North judged the oldest, smallest and best dressed Teddies from entries of a very high standard.

Overall, we estimated that there were in the region of 200 people who attended and believe that they had a good time, thanks also to the weather that held up well.

At the end of it all, the committee and helpers were shattered, so we had our own party down there in the evening, kept the BBQ going, consumed lots of beer and wine, played boule and went home in the dark and continued on in ‘The Bungalow’.  GREAT!

Having got this out of the way, we all agreed that we needed a month free of Pocket Park activities.

Opening Day16th July 1994

The School sent a lovely Thank You card

August 21st 1994
The Pocket Park Committee and partners met at Farthinghoe nature reserve and spent the morning walking around, gaining ideas for the Aston le Walls project.  Whilst this reserve has a part time paid worker who can devote time to mow the paths etc., we did come away with lots of potential concepts for our own patch.

The party then regrouped in the village pub, where we had Sunday lunch.

September 1st 1994
A meeting was held in Blacksmiths Lane; the main topics discussed were as follows:-

  1. The Treasurer reported that we had spent approximately £220 to date, mainly on materials for the bridge and step,It was noted that our grant runs from 21st June 1994 and that the monies have to be spent within a three year period.  It therefore becomes apparent that the group needs to target an expenditure of approximately £1300 per year.s.
  2. It was agreed to purchase about £100 worth of spring flowering bulbs (split this year between wood anemones and daffodils) and that these would be sourced from the BTCV, ensuring they are correct native species and their ‘lawful’ origins.
  3. Around 360 trees (mainly for hedging), were ordered from the County Council, which, if allocated, will be given to the project free of charge.  These would be used for hedging down the full length of the Lower Meadow, filling in gaps in our existing hedges and establishing new tree planting sites.
  4. Extensive discussions were made around the ideas for the Lower Meadow, following our trip to Farthinghoe Nature Reserve, which inspired a number of good ideas.  After allowing everyone a good chance to air their opinions, it was agreed that we should present our own plans for the area at the next meeting and agree on major features and their location, once and for all.

September 4th 1994
Work party session concentrated on making an entrance into the Lower Meadow woodland area, which appears to have been used as a general dumping site for a number of years.  Having made the first few yards, it is clear that we have a lot of work to do in this area, but there are some good features that can be utilised, namely high banks for steps, leading onto a further small Meadow/Shrub area, that we had previously not seen.  It is apparent that when the entire site is open, it will extend approximately 500 metres in length.

The small brook at the base of the railway embankment has also been cleared out, allowing the water to flow again, rather than looking like a silted up ditch.

September 29th 1994

September 29th 1994
A meeting was held in Welsh Road; the main topics discussed were as follows:-

  1. The Treasurer reported that he had ordered 250 wood anemones and 250 daffodils from the BTCV.  They are due for delivery in about 2 weeks and the local school children are going to be involved with the planting. It was agreed that the anemones would be split into 5 groups of 50 bulbs that the children could plant in the Upper Wooded area.  The exact sites for these would be identified and cleared during our next work party session. The daffodils would be planted during the following work party session by the Committee members.
  2. It was reported that our entry into Esso Footpaths competition had been compiled and delivered.  Thanks to all those involved in pulling this package together.
  3. Four plans for the Lower Meadow were presented and their individual features discussed at length. The committee then agreed on a rough plan for this area, including a pond towards the bottom of the Meadow, a Picnic/Recreation area, wooded areas, seats etc. Whilst this plan raises other issues for the group, such as the large increase in the grass mowing requirements, at least we do now have a plan to work towards, rather than continually talking about the ‘possibilities’ all the time.
  4. The rotten crash barriers on the road bridge have been replaced with a substantial concrete version by the NCC Highways Department.  This is a big improvement and eliminates future criticisms on safety in this area.

October 1st 1994
The Work party session this month covered the bridge at the base of the railway embankment with chicken wire to help prevent slipping on the wet wooden planks.  Also continued to clear out the path through the Lower Meadow wooded area.  Several discussions took place around the exact siting / size and shape for the pond.

October 8th 1994
A small group went down this week to burn the trees and waste that had been removed to date from the Lower Meadow wooded area.  This was successfully completed, along with digging a small experimental ‘bore hole’, to establish the soil type and depth of the water table, in the region of the proposed site for the pond.

Tree Planting Day January 1995
Display Board
David & Tim planting the Jubilee Oak Summer 2002
Views of pond 11 September 2005
Clearing the pond 16 April 2006
Forest School Session Sept/Oct 2009

And here is the current Pocket Park management Group Schedule of work (as of 2020)

Bramble patch by the Swings before clearance
Bramble patch after clearance