Category Archives: Latest News

Meet Our Team

Ian Wykes – Development Manager

“My name is Ian. I am a Development Manager at TVW, which means I work alongside our partners to help deliver projects which benefit the environment and people across the Tame Valley. Before working in conservation, I was an archaeologist – I was involved in digging up the Staffordshire hoard!”

Simon Lowe – Practical Conservation and Training Specialist Officer

“I’m Simon. I lead TVW’s practical conservation days, working with volunteers and corporate groups to carry out important conservation work, including various types of habitat management and improvement throughout the scheme area. I am also responsible for the delivery and assessment of our accredited training programmes. I love being outdoors!”

Tarik Bodasing – Water and Habitat Specialist Officer

“My name is Tarik. I take the lead on river restoration, biodiversity improvements and habitat enhancement as well as occasionally Flood Management. A large part of my role also focuses on Non-native species management. I have been with the Trust since December 2018 and reside in North Wales currently but am a born and bred South African!”

Nicola Lynes – Community and Youth Officer

“I’m Nicola, I am employed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, and have worked on the Tame Valley Wetlands project since 2016. I started as a Youth Engagement Officer, and have now taken over the organisation and delivery of education sessions at Hams Hall, as well as organising events for the local community, such as Foraging Walks and TameFest. My favourite place in the Tame Valley Wetlands is the garden at Hams Hall Environmental Centre. It’s a green oasis in the middle of lorries and warehouses!”

Emily Reilly – Volunteer

“My name is Emily and I am a volunteer at Tame Valley Wetlands, based at the Hams Hall Environmental Studies Centre. After finishing a degree in Biology at University, I am now helping the Trust with various tasks like managing the social media pages and website, and general admin work. I grew up locally in the village of Lea Marston and I’m really interested in helping to conserve and make the most of our environment!”

Renovating Lea Ford Cottage

The re-thatching of Lea Ford Cottage, a historic Tudor farm cottage, has been an important project at the Hams Hall Environmental Studies Centre.

Lea Ford Cottage is an ancient c17th Tudor farm worker’s cottage originally located near the small village of Lea Marston. Through around 10 generations, for almost three hundred years, the building remained virtually unchanged, because of its isolation. As a result of the disappearance of the road leading to the cottage from Lea Marston across the river ford, the cottage’s original site could only be accessed by walking across a field and grass track bridge over the railway line. For 36 years after the last tenants occupied Lea Ford cottage in 1938, the building was left empty and gradually deteriorated, but was still well-protected from the public in its secluded spot. You can read more about the history of the cottage here: http://www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/lea-ford-cottage/.

Lea Ford Cottage before its renovation.

However, in 1975, Birmingham Architectural Association realised the huge historical value of Lea Ford cottage. Thus, with funding by the Central Electricity Generating Board and Birmingham City Council, the cottage was carefully dismantled, moved and re-built by conservation experts from Avonscroft Museum. It is now situated on-site at the Hams Hall Environmental Studies Centre.

One of the WWT’s recent projects, funded through our National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) Landscape Partnership, has been to restore the cottage to near its original state so that it can be used by visitors for educational purposes, such as to provide an inspiring learning space for school groups. Original documents regarding the restoration propose that repairs should be carried out without compromising the historical aspects of the cottage, to retain its architectural significance. This meant it was important to use traditional techniques and materials for the restoration.

Alongside plans to render the walls with lime mortar, a major task has been to repair and replace the thatched roof of the cottage, to make the building weather-proof and ensure its longevity. This has involved a huge effort from talented thatchers who worked long hours throughout the winter to get the new thatch on the roof. As well as making sure the cottage’s historical integrity was preserved, it was important that various surveys of the building were performed to ensure there was no impact on protected species such as bats.

Combed wheat reed used to thatch the new roof.

The re-thatching began on Monday 21st January 2019, when scaffolding was put up around the cottage. Just two days later, new thatch was already being laid in place. The thatch used to build the roof, called combed wheat reed, was grown in Devon and is commonly used for thatching in various areas of the UK such as East Anglia. Combed wheat reed is a sustainable material and can be grown and harvested without requiring heavy machinery. Its name is slightly misleading – instead of being a reed, it is in fact a variety of wheat which has been cultivated and selected specifically for thatching purposes. Combed wheat reed has longer stems and smaller ears than wheat used for flour, making it the perfect thatching material.

 

Starting to re-thatch!

A leggett, used to thatch the new roof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making progress…

Just over a week after the start of the thatching, noticeable progress had been made. The older layers of thatch had been removed and the new layers placed on the roof. The thatchers used special tools to build the new roof. These included a bat-shaped instrument, called a leggett, used to drive and position the thatch into the right place. Screw ties were used to provide extra support, securing the thatch where the layers were thinner. Whilst conventional long ladders were used to access the outside edges of the roof, a hanging ladder was needed to reach areas in the middle where the long ladders could not. Hanging ladders can be hooked onto the thatch itself. The old thatch was put to good use in a bonfire to keep the freezing weather conditions at bay! The thatchers worked tirelessly into the evenings, even persevering when their bonfire was extinguished by rain and snow…

The finished thatched roof!

The thatching was complete by Friday 1st February. The finished roof looked beautiful, carefully trimmed with shears to make the edges neat and tidy. The final step of the process was to put a mesh over the thatch to secure it in place and take down the scaffolding. The new roof provides an excellent level of protection and natural weather-proofing for the cottage whilst keeping its historical authenticity. The thatch is also a good insulator, so the building will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, allowing it to be enjoyed all year round. In terms of protecting our environment, combed wheat reed thatch is a sustainable material so is ideal for creating a beautiful-looking and environmentally-friendly roof! Generally, thatched roofing lasts for up to 35 years before it may need repairing. This means the renovated roof is a valuable investment for Lea Ford Cottage in the long-term. Over time, the thatch will begin to darken in colour and will blend into its surroundings, so its appearance will really fit in at the Hams Hall site.

The renovation is due to be finished by the end of March 2019.

 

The Tame Valley Wetlands Scheme – Our Achievements

The wetlands of the Tame Valley, located along a 20km stretch of the River Tame between Coleshill and Tamworth, offer a wonderful hidden landscape for people and wildlife.

The last century has seen huge impacts on the river and its floodplain due to pollution, sand and gravel extraction and fragmentation from development and transport routes.

In the past twenty years, the value of this area as a cohesive landscape has started to be recognised. In 2005, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust set up the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership and has championed action to strengthen the resilience of the area through the creation of bigger, better and more joined up habitats and by reconnecting local people with these natural assets that are so important for society.

Tame Valley Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park © C.Harris (WWT)

Since then, the Partnership has grown and strengthened. On behalf of the Partnership, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust secured £1.8 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013 to develop and deliver a landscape partnership scheme with the vision of ‘creating a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all’.

As we near the end of this funding, here are the headlines achievements from the last four years:

  • Over £2.5 million has been invested in the landscape.
  • The Trust and Partnership won the prestigious UK River Prize 2018 ‘Best Multiple Benefit Partnership Project’ category.
  • The area has been designated as Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull’s first Nature Improvement Area (NIA).
  • 23,500 volunteer hours have been donated and we’ve captured some really interesting local memories.
  • There have been over 110,000 page views of the Tame Valley Wetlands website and a Facebook total reach of nearly 450,000. We also reached an audience of 6.3 million people when we featured on BBC Countryfile!
  • 1,949 metres of hedgerow have been created or restored.

    Hedgelaying with volunteers © S.Lowe (WWT)

  • Over 2km of watercourse have been restored or enhanced, and 35 hectares of wetland habitat have been created or restored.

    River Tame re-profiling at Kingsbury Water Park © T.Haselden (WWT)

  • Nearly 300 school and youth sessions have been delivered, engaging with over 5,000 children and young people.

    Scarecrow event © R.Gries (WWT)

  • Over 240 events and training sessions have been run, with over 10,000 participants
    21 people have received a City & Guilds or Open College Network training accreditation, with a total of 3,088 guided learning hours. 40 young people have also received the John Muir Award.

    Live Willow Weaving at Lea Marston © Rita Gries (WWT)

  • 1 full-time, 18 month marketing apprenticeship has been completed, leading to the participant finding a full-time permanent job in the sector.
  • Over 6km of footpath have been improved and 74km made more accessible through the creation and promotion of 10 new circular trails.

    Finger post on the B’ham & Fazeley Canal © D.Jones (WWT)

  • A new brand and website has been established; a variety of new interpretation and films have been created; and a new ‘Gateway to the Tame Valley Wetlands’ visitor centre at Kingsbury Water Park has been created, with over 75,000 visitors.

    New interpretation at Kingsbury Water Park Visitor Centre © C.Harris (WWT)

But, that isn’t all!..

The grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled us to deliver great outcomes for wildlife, people and heritage. It has also made us stronger as a partnership, with 24 organisations all working together towards our new shared 2030 vision.

‘Looking into the future’ (Farm wildlife event) © Rita Gries (WWT)

We have been working hard to make our presence in the area sustainable and a team of 5 members of staff plus our fantastic volunteers, hosted by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, will continue into 2019 and beyond.

Now, more than ever, partnership working at a landscape-scale is vital if we are to protect our wildlife and heritage, turn threats into opportunities, and build on the exciting momentum that we’ve created over the last few years.

A huge thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, our other funders, partners, volunteers, the delivery team and the local community for making the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme such a success!

To find out more about our work over the last four years, watch our documentary film below!

Water & Habitats Specialist Officer (Tame Valley Wetlands)

An exciting opportunity has arisen to be part of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Team!

Role: Water & Habitats Specialist Officer

Contract: Full-time post (Fixed term until 31st March 2020 with possible extension)

Salary: Grade 2b (£19,380 – £26,520)

Closing date: Sunday 4th November 2018

Job ref: WHSO-Oct18

Interview date: Friday 15th November 2018

Based at: Hams Hall Environmental Centre, B46 1GA, with travel across the Tame Valley Wetlands and wider catchment

Can you help us make water better for wildlife? We are looking for an outstanding individual who has strong project management and engagement skills.

The post will deliver a range of grant funded projects on rivers, canals and wetlands across the Tame Valley Wetlands and wider Warwickshire. Utilising techniques such as biological controls for non-native invasive species, natural flood management and the re-naturalisation of rivers the post holder will work with a range of partners and landowners to restore the ecological condition of wetlands, control invasive species, reduce flooding and help to create a more resilient landscape. Projects will aim to work at a landscape scale, helping to create bigger, better, more joined up areas for the benefits of key species like otter and water voles.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is the lead partner of the Tame Valley Wetlands Partnership with over 20 partners, including local, regional and national bodies such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Parish, Borough and County Councils, the RSPB and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The Partnership is working towards the vision that ‘by 2030, the Tame Valley Wetlands will be a high quality, well-known and valued landscape, rich in wildlife, beauty and culture for all to enjoy’.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is a unique and hidden landscape vital for people and wildlife. Located between Birmingham and Tamworth in North Warwickshire and south-east Staffordshire, it includes 29 kilometres of the River Tame, important tributaries and the canal corridor, as well as over 1,000 hectares of wetland habitat. In 2017, the area was designated as a Nature Improvement Area; the first in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull.

Between 2014 and 2018 the Partnership has delivered a £2.5 million Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Partnership is now working towards an exciting sustainable future, continuing to act as an important collective voice and an active delivery agent, linking organisations and local communities together through a core delivery team in order to deliver its exciting 2030 vision.

For more information, to download the application pack and to apply, please visit: www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/jobs/water-habitats-officer

Tame Fish (Part 2)

Here’s another dreamy, relaxing video of fish on the River Tame.

In 2016, Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership led a project to recreate a back channel and reinstate an island feature at Tameside LNR, Tamworth, Staffordshire.

The back channel was created to serve as a fish refuge for small fish and fry, giving them a place that they could shelter, feed and grow within the dynamic River Tame environment.  Within the first summer, instream vegetation grew within the channel, offering ideal habitat for our target fish.

Two years on and the banks have established wonderful riparian plants, suitable for water vole should they return and the in channel vegetation is both submerged and emergent, which is great shelter for fish.

Our film evidences that minnow, gudgeon and fish fry are present within the refuge.  A job well done for securing an essential environment to support natural recruitment of freshwater fish in our big river systems.

 

 

The River Tame as you have never seen it before

Tame Valley Wetlands is excited to share with you the first of a few short videos filmed underwater in our fabulous rivers.

We have been working with Jack Perks who has perfected the art of underwater filming and we are truly thrilled with the results.

Our first clip was filmed on 25th September 2018 at three points within the River Tame at Kingsbury where we carried out river restoration work in 2014.

The River Tame was once dead to life.  Decades of work to improve water quality and improve river habitat are helping the river recover to its former glory, with grayling being caught by anglers in recent years.  The film shows different age classes of fish and certainly points to a productive fishery, supporting natural recruitment.

The short film is both fascinating to watch the behaviour of fish but also is very relaxing.

Dive in and watch the video.  Look out for the pike!

New Job Opportunity with the Tame Valley Wetlands – Tame Valley Wetlands NIA Development Manager

Do you want to lead development of the Tame Valley Wetlands Nature Improvement Area (NIA) for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership? Are you keen to apply your skills in landscape-scale conservation, partnership work and securing resources, and want to take up a unique opportunity?

The Living Landscape vision is a key element in Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s new strategic plan, incorporating the Lawton principles of ‘Bigger, Better, More and Joined Up’. Tame Valley Wetlands is the Trust’s first landscape scale conservation scheme in Warwickshire, is designated a Nature Improvement Area (NIA) by the Local Nature Partnership, and is included in the developing wider vision for a National Park across the West Midlands.

We are seeking someone with the passion and knowledge to work on landscape scale habitat and species conservation to make this happen. The Development Manager will lead on the next phase for the Tame Valley Wetlands NIA, following a highly successful 4 year NHLF and partner funded scheme 2014-2018 and previous development since 2005. You will develop Tame Valley Wetlands NIA as a destination for people and wildlife, and raise awareness of the increasing value to wildlife of this landscape area, whilst continuing our core work of habitat restoration and volunteer engagement and training.

A core part of your role will be to think creatively and work together with partners, identifying opportunities to develop and sustain our work. You will work to encourage delivery by partners and stakeholders across the landscape area. You will develop sustainable engagement of people, encouraging local ownership and long term management of habitats.

We welcome applicants from all sectors of the community.

Salary: Grade £28,560 – £34,680
This is a FIXED TERM appointment initially for 2 years, with the possibility of extension subject to securing further funding.

Location: Hams Hall Environmental Centre, Coleshill, North Warwickshire B46 1GA.

Closing date for completed applications: 8.30am on Monday 8th October 2018.

Interviews: Thursday 18th October 2018 at Hams Hall Environmental Centre.

To download the application pack and to apply, please visit Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s website here:  www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/TameValleyDevelopmentManager

Balsam meets its match at Church Pool Covert!

Tameforce volunteers have installed 80m2 of pre planted coir pallets to transform a forgotten stream in Church Pool Covert at our Hams Hall office.

We have worked with volunteer groups this year, to clear Himalayan balsam from the wooded site where the invasive plant has dominated the area.  We have then reinstated native species to improve biodiversity value and help prevent soil loss in flood events.  This is part of our ‘Balsam meets its match’ project funded by Banister Charitable Trust where we are working with our partners to improve a number of sites with the Tame Valley Wetlands.

Yesterday, our Tameforce volunteers prepared a 400m2 area ready for grass seeding using species which are happy in shaded and wetland environments.

We then installed 80m2 of preplanted coir pallets along a 20m length of stream.  The coir pallets 2m x 1m in size and are like a planted rug.  The pallet is made from coconut fibre which will degrade over time, giving the plants the chance to establish the root system in the bank while also providing some erosion protection of the soil, preventing the soil being washed away in the winter into the river system, which degrades water quality.

Take a look at these awesome before and after photographs.

 

 

 

Telling the Tale of the Tame

We commissioned ‘History Needs You’ to create some enchanting films sharing your memories, photos and knowledge to help us Tell the Tale of the Tame.

After months of work gathering your precious memoirs, History Needs You have created three wonderful films which shines a light on the Tame Valley, allowing you to scratch the surface and delve deeper into what makes this area special.

Sit back and enjoy these three films with more to follow soon.