On Sunday November 19, from 10.30 – 2.30, we will be helping the GBC Countryside Wardens as we construct the basis of a posh mansion suitable for all sorts of wintering insects and beasties in the Picnic area of the Gunpowder Mills.
This is part of our project to encourage young people to think about conservation, natural habitats and to get involved with hands on experience. Families are welcome to join us.
Once the main structure has been established, it is hoped that children at the Chilworth of E Primary School will carry on the building as part of their Forest School experience.
As a thank you to our volunteers this year, Chilworth2gether will be taking orders for Beefburgers at the start of the session, which we are providing for lunch this time. A vegetarian option will be provided on request. Meet at the Picnic area, wearing warm old clothes and stout footwear. Your own protective gloves might be useful too. All hand tools are provided by the Countryside Wardens and we are supervised by them throughout the session.
Here is a photo of the special Mill-stone biscuits made by Alison Boyce, one of our special Countryside Wardens.
We are making this photo into one of our permanent headers for the website.
These biscuits were one of the highlights of Millstone Sunday, part of Heritage weekend, and were on sale as part of the event. We were encouraging families to come and enjoy our local Scheduled Heritage site here in the village.
Alison is moving on to a new job at Merrist Wood College, but hopes to keep in touch with us all through Chilworth2gether. She is invited to speak at the Gunpowder Mills Annual Meeting, which will be held in the Village Hall in November.
The brain child of GBC Countryside Wardens, a three foot sculpture of a stag beetle has been commissioned for the Gunpowder Mills Site.
It has been paid for by Chilworth2gether who are donating it to the heritage site.
The sculpture will be sited in the picnic area, close to the “bug hotel” which is an area designed to provide nesting and hibernation places for bugs and insects. The purpose of the sculpture is to delight and encourage young visitors and the Forest School children who use the picnic site each week, to think about nature conservation and the environment.
When Guildford Borough Council Asset department announced they intended to sell off West Lodge earlier this year, Chilworth2gether, St Martha Parish Council and the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Group each wrote a letter of concern to GBC and to our local borough Councillors.
West Lodge is an historic asset, integral to the Gunpowder Mills and situated at the entrance to the site on Blacksmiths Lane. Unfortunately when the rest of the site was recognised as a scheduled ancient monument, West Lodge was not included because it was being used for temporary accommodation at the time. However, it was Listed at Grade II. Selling it off separately would sever it from the rest of the site, and would mean the Gunpowder Mills site would forever lose the only surviving building (with power, water and toilet facilities) on the site able to provide for uses in support and appropriate to the site, as identified in Guildford Borough Council’s own adopted Conservation Management Plan.
Residents may recall that two years ago, Chilworth2gether hosted a well supported public meeting, when villagers came together to suggest how the little building could be used in the future. There was clearly plenty of support for finding a new purpose for the vacant building.
With St Martha Parish Council in the lead, the three organisations have now come together and formed a working group to see whether it might be possible to offer GBC another solution to selling it off. It has already signalled to GBC its intention to provide an alternative way forward, which would give the building a new lease of life and a new purpose, with a strong emphasis on heritage, community and education.
Here we are in action in the Gunpowder Works, coppicing straggly hazel and encouraging new growth.
We meet at the weekends several times a year and spend a good morning in the fresh air, doing something really useful and helping to preserve our heritage site as a peaceful place for a quiet walk, and a haven for wildlife, including dormice.
Do feel free to join us at our next working party. Come for as long, or as short a time as you can spare – you will be welcome. Meet at the picnic area at the bottom of Vera’s path.
Countryside Wardens Nick and Alison work with the group, provide tools and even a drink. They check on safety and ensure everything we do contributes to the Management Plan for this historic site.
Paul Wingfield has sent us this short video, which is available to watch as part of the picture gallery. Alternatively, here is the Youtube link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HTdL8E4qZU where you can slect to view it
Gunpowder Mills front page – illustrated with photograph of The Swing Bridge
aerial photograph of Gunpowder Mills site from the air – copyright Andrew Norris
The Incorporating Mills
West Lodge building – used by workers to report for duty and leave any inflammable material
Incorporating Mills building
Expense Magazine building
Incorporating Mills 1885