Digging Up the Future at The Barlow

Sunday 2nd, 9th, 16 May and 22nd August 2021

Updated 24/08/21

The Barlow Institute was opened in 1909, in Edgworth, for the health and well being of the local community. It was dedicated to the memory of James and Alice Barlow by their children, one of whom was Sir Thomas Barlow, Professor of Clinical Medicine at University College London and the Royal Physician to Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and George V.

One hundred years later BCV arrived

2009: Barlow Institute, paths.
2009: Barlow Institute, paths.

In 2009 we held one of our residential weekends on the site and over 48 hours cleared blocked drains, cleaned out silted up ponds and installed new drainage near the river. Although the site had huge potential for wildlife we didn’t get to go back to do any further work. The grounds contain numerous trees and wild flowers including wood sorrel, wood anemone, lesser celandine, marsh marigold, bluebell, and a range of wildlife.

Wood Sorrel
Wood Sorrel

2nd May – Down in the Hollow
Fast forward to 2021 and the Barlow Institute has been re-branded as The Barlow, and they have plans to develop and improve the site. The original 10 acre site contained an open air swimming pool and a boating lake. It’s at the site of the old boating lake that most of our new work is being done with one team there, and another team working on de-silting the pond we worked at in 2009.

The boating lake had silted up and was completely overrun by a dense patch of willow carr, this needed to be removed before the new ponds could be dug out. The new ponds will create habitat for amphibians and dragonfly when finished. Everything we took down was used to create a dead hedge along the footpath which will create temporary habitat for wildlife. The down side of dead hedges is that because the material isn’t living it decays over time, but it’ll work for now.

9th May – Ducking and Diving
Our second task at The Barlow continued the work we started the week before with the rest of the old boating lake being cleared and the duck pond also being de-silted. Paul shot a short video of the work which can found HERE.

16th May – Chopping and Chatting
A slight change to activities today. We were joined by the Barlow Legends to tidy up the hedges and prepare them for a planting session with the local kids, and also for hedge laying later in the year. So there was lots of cutting stuff down, this creates lots of brash and at one time we would have burned the waste but not having a large enough magnifying glass to light the tinder we stuck to our now preferred method of using the brash and create a dead hedge. We’ll be back later in the year to continue with more work.

22nd August 2021 – Look After the Ponds and Pennies Will Spend Themselves.
And later in the year arrived along with the Barlow’s volunteers again, this time we returned to the new pond site started on 2nd May. There had been a bit of regrowth from the dogwood but the willow was thankfully keeping a low profile. Some balsam had also popped its head above the battlements but the Barlow Legends hacked them down the week before. Most of today’s work involved opening up an access route for the digger to get into the site, although the digger itself may not be seen for sometime yet. As usual the brash was incorporated into the dead hedge along the path and at the back of the site. Speaking of things dead, Francis found some dead man’s fingers fungi. Although fairly common across the UK it’s the first time we’ve seen it on task, so thanks to Francis for pointing out those fingers. See a photo of them on the Wild Things page.

So, that’s it at the Barlow for a while, thanks to Tom for doing so much work on this project, the Barlow Legends for taking up the challenge, and the BCVers for… well, being you.

Also many thanks to Paul Allen, and the other Barlow Trustees for inviting us to work on the site. If you want to know more about The Barlow visit their website at thebarlow.co.uk.