The Old Brickworks
The Old Brickworks
Groundwork West Midlands were awarded £3,340 in the 2019-20 PEBBLE grant for their habitat restoration work at the Old Brickworks Nature Reserve.
The Old Brickworks is a small nature reserve in Cannock. The surrounding area has historical links to local industry, with the site itself once used to make bricks. When production on site stopped, nature reclaimed the site, developing a site with several small ponds and woodland. (Following on from brick manufacturing the site was used by the coal board as a landfill for mining waste. Following this the site was capped and landscaped, including all waterways and ponds. Nothing on site is a result of natural succession.)
The nature reserve is now home to many amphibians including frogs, toads, smooth newts and Great Crested Newts.
The PEBBLE fund allowed Groundwork West Midlands to bring contractors onto the site to do some large-scale habitat restoration. The works mainly focussed on three ponds on site. Two of the ponds only filled during periods of heavy rainfall and the landscape around the ponds was unsuitable due to the historic uses of the site.
Groundwork and their contractors re-landscaped the areas around the ponds to provide drainage into the ponds throughout the year and not just during periods of heavy rainfall. The ponds had also become overgrown with thick woodland, which in the case of one pond led to the pond being filled with silt. The works focused on thinning the overgrown woodland around the ponds and providing more light for the pond habitat.
Photo shows the work the to landscape the areas around the ponds to improve drainage into the pond. Photo by kind permission of Groundwork West Midlands
Groundwork plan to install a pond dipping platform on one of the restored ponds and also use the re-landscaped area to establish an outdoor classroom and play area. The re-landscaped areas have been planted with a woodland seed mix, which include Wild Garlic, Bluebells, Wood Anemone and Foxglove.
In one of the areas where they undertook the woodland thinning, they have also cut a meandering path, which leads to a cleared woodland glade. Here, visitors can explore the woodland, experience the birds and butterflies the site has to offer, enjoy the isolation away from the main paths whilst still being in a sheltered area of woodland.
A further project area is linked to woodland management. The site was designed to have open rides running through pockets of woodland. These had been lost over time to scrub woodland and bramble. They were able to clear fell through one of these old rides and revive it. In a year or two it will offer sheltered flower rich habitat for insects.
Finally, Groundwork also cleared a large area, which is usually overgrown with thistles and brambles and seeded the area with a meadow mix and cornflower mix, which will provide wildflowers over the coming years and keep the thistles at bay.
Photo shows: the area cleared and seeded with a meadow mix and cornflowers. Photo by kind permission of Groundwork West Midlands