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From the Newsletters

Here are a selection of articles from the Newsletter of the Daws Heath Reserves, and from that of the Castle Point Local Group of the Trust.

You should bear in mind that many of these items were topical at the time, but have been superceded by events. However, it may be of interest to see how something (such as the Bridleways) have evolved over time.

The articles within each page are in chronological order, and are dated. Text in a smaller font is information that is no longer current and should not be acted on.

Because these are taken from printed newsletter articles, there are few illustrations. If you happen to have a photo that would help illustrate an item, then I would be happy to use it.

When you click on one of the links below, the relevant page will appear below the list. You may need to scroll down to see it.

If you print this page, then this introductory text and the list below (in this narrower column) will not print, but any report that you have selected to see will print.

Warden’s Reports (2003–2007)

Warden’s Reports (2008–2011)

Warden’s Reports (2012–2016)

The Early Management of the Wood (1993–2000)

These are articles specifically on the management of the wood.

Early Articles About the Wood (1993–2000)

These are articles on topics other than the management of the wood – including the official opening!

Bridleways (1993–1997)

Work on the Bramble Road Boundary (1995–1996)

Wildlife Monitoring and Recording (1999–2003)

Bob’s History File (1995–1997)

A compilation of articles on local history from Bob Delderfield.

Content for Article will appear here.

Recent Warden’s Reports


These items comprise the 2003–2007 contributions to the Newsletters from David Harris, the Pound Wood Warden. They are presented with the oldest ones first.

David frequently begins his articles with a review of the weather since the previous issue. These form a useful repository of how the climate has been affecting the wood.

Autumn 2003

Heath Fritillary Butterfly Success in Pound Wood

The heath fritillary butterfly population in Pound Wood continues to grow and this year we had a maximum of 43 flying on any single visit (compared with 27 last year). We are expecting a contractor to undertake some difficult tree work next winter near to the power lines to help with our management of this area.

Summer Volunteer Work

The only significant summer work in Pound Wood has been making barbecue charcoal. All trust centres now stock and sell Pound Wood charcoal. We have produced hundreds of bags to satisfy the increasing demand. If you or your friends need any, please contact David Harris. It costs about £1 per kilogram which is about the price you pay for lump wood charcoal in the supermarket and by buying ours, you are supporting the work of the Essex Wildlife Trust.

We have continued to make the usual range of other forest products such as hollow log planters, stools, bird feeders and carved oak “mushrooms”. As winter approaches we think of log fires. If you or your friends need any firewood logs please contact either of our wardens David (01268 773375) or Graeme (01621 828504) to place your orders.

I have been asked to pass on a very big thank you from the reserves staff especially Lisa Howells (soon to be Lisa Smart – congratulations!) to all of our volunteers who help to do the practical work. During this summer our Pound Wood and Little Haven volunteers have worked at Thrift Wood, Bicknacre, Grays Chalk Quarry, Lower Raypits, Lion Creek, Fobbing Marsh, Hanningfield Reservoir (for charcoal) and most recently at Maldon Wick. Much of this work has been ragwort pulling and Lisa is very grateful that we have been able to do this important work so willingly. Many of these volunteers also pulled ragwort at Lower Raypits, Lion Creek, Fobbing Marsh last year and were able to see how valuable last year’s work was as the amount of ragwort this year on those sites was much reduced. The work at Maldon Wick also included dismantling an unsafe boardwalk inherited from Maldon District Council and clearing a large pond of floating pennywort, an alien plant.

April 2005

Pound Wood in the Spring

In the last newsletter, I told you that the licence to do the winter coppicing work had not been updated correctly, and we expected this problem to be resolved soon after Christmas. Well it took until mid February, which was very frustrating for our volunteers, but despite this delay, I am pleased to be able to report that cutting in this season’s coppice plot was completed in March. By the time you read this, I expect that we will have finished all movement of the cut wood across the site and the exposed edges of the plot will be protected from unwanted intrusion by a continuous dead hedge barrier.

Essex Wildlife Trust is very fortunate to have such a dedicated team of volunteers maintaining Pound Wood and I, as volunteer warden, offer my thanks to all those that have helped with this work. We now look forward to a rather more peaceful summer season watching the light loving wildlife recolonising this coppice site as we make barbecue charcoal nearby. As the 2004–5 coppice plot is so close to the charcoal kiln we have decided to call the coppice plot ‘Charcoal Corner’

Those of you that regularly walk in Pound Wood in winter will have seen the gradual deterioration over the past 2–3 years, of the public bridleway surface where it crosses the stream near to the power line corridor. The mud and water mix has been at least a foot deep sometimes! Remedial action to solve this problem is the responsibility of Castle Point Borough Council, and we have been applying pressure to the council for at least two years to carry out repairs. I am pleased to be able to report that the repairs were undertaken by a reputable, well known local contractor on behalf of the council and the problem is now solved.

Now to the wildlife issues. We seem to have had a very unusual spring this year. Some things were early, like seeing the first ladybirds and bees in January, yet the sap seemed to be later than usual in rising (fortunately). Some blackthorn bushes which are notorious for flowering in January did not come into flower until March. How did the heath fritillary butterfly larvae cope with the recent very cold spell? Many buds, especially wild roses, seem to have been frost damaged. I wonder if you have noticed any other oddities this year.

Finally I would like to wish all readers an enjoyable peaceful spring and summer. To help the wildlife of Pound Wood to have an equally peaceful time, I would like to remind all dog walkers in Pound Wood (and our other nature reserves), to keep their dogs under strict control as requested on all the entry signs. These areas are primarily for the conservation of wildlife, and we do not expect our visitors to allow their dogs to run out of control away from the paths, chasing squirrels and frightening anything else more precious which is in the vicinity. I am sure that most readers will understand the importance of this issue and will do what they can to help.

September 2005

The most significant event for Pound Wood this summer has been the proliferation of heath fritillary butterflies. The count reached about 170 to 190 at the peak flying time and this is about a four fold increase on 2004 when there was a maximum of 46. They seem to be very reluctant to move in great numbers into new areas. Even those areas which are good for cow wheat (essential for heath fritillary butterflies) and adjacent to the power line corridor where the butterflies predominate seem to colonise very slowly. However one heath fritillary butterfly was seen at the north edge of St Michael’s Church Field. Hopefully it hopped across the road and visited Tile Wood!

As usual we have made charcoal throughout the summer but we have been unable to keep up with demand this year. Demand for our range of wood products including planters, stools and carved mushrooms has also exceeded the supply. The increased demand is probably due to the Essex Harvest TM publicity in last winter’s Essex Wildlife magazine. All the charcoal and most of the wood products on sale at all EWT visitor centres are made by us here in Daws Heath and there is a limit to what we can achieve! Well done for what we have achieved and let’s hope that other wardens and volunteers, especially those caring for sweet chestnut woodland, will be able to assist in making what appear to be very successful products.

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January 2006

Pound Wood in the Autumn

The 2005-6 winter season practical work parties in Pound Wood started in October with ride-widening on one side of the bridleway through the Smart’s End and Rowleys coppice plots. As the early autumn weather was so mild, it is noticeable that some plants which we cut back in October are already starting to grow again. Our volunteers have now just completed this season’s work under the power lines for the heath fritillary butterflies and to maintain safety clearances from the overhead wires. This includes a newly cut area at almost the eastern end of the power line corridor.

The proposed coppice plot for 2005–6 is located to the south of the bridleway opposite Smart’s End. The necessary authority to do this work has just been granted, and by the time you read this, we ought to have had several work parties cutting this plot.

Demand for firewood has been very high this season. At one time there were no less than 24 customers awaiting delivery of logs from Pound Wood so please get your orders in early to avoid a 3 to 4 week wait for your logs.

It seems to me that leaf fall is happening later every year. Despite the cold spell in late November, in Pound Wood today (3rd, December), we were cutting logs with green leaves on most of the trees. As a child I remember seeing golden autumn colours in early November and most leaves had fallen a week or two later. Even in the early 1990s, when we first acquired Pound Wood, I can recall that it was only the first Sunday work party when we worked with green leaves on the trees. Hopefully we will have a proper winter this year with cold weather, snow and enough rain for our woodland trees.

April 2006

Pound Wood in the Spring

Last time, in mid-December, I wrote to say how mild the weather had been and the effect seems to have been to cause the leaves to remain on the trees much longer than normal. Since Christmas we have had some good cold weather and I am sure the plants realise that we have had a winter season The March temperatures were much lower than average and this has caused the spring to be late. As I write this, in early April, I can see the first daffodils starting to bloom in my garden. With Bluebell Day just 3 weeks away I imagine our splendid show of bluebells will also be late this year. Never mind! At least our guides will have shown you where to find the best displays several weeks later!

Cutting on this year’s coppice plot was completed in mid March and at that time, the sap had not started to rise, unlike most seasons when the birch trees seem to ooze sap any time from mid January onwards. This plot is located to the south of the bridleway near to Smart’s End and adjoins Backacre. We have called the plot Westacre. I can just recall the last coppice management in Pound Wood in the 1960s and I believe that this plot was last cut in about 1965. Do any readers remember this happening? I would be very grateful if you could share your memories of Pound Wood in the past with me. Even better would be sight of any unpublished photographs you may have of Pound Wood and the Daws Heath and Thundersley area in general.

Last time this particular area was coppiced, the oaks should have been thinned as the crowns were touching. We have undertaken the necessary work this time to open up the woodland floor and as a result we have a small number of oak butts which we intend to mill on site to form planks and beams. Do you or your woodworking friends require any English oak beams or planks? If so, please let me know as I am currently compiling a list of customer requirements.

The demand for firewood logs this season has been very high and continued through to the end of March. Most years, the demand falls away after Christmas. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers we were able to continue to supply logs to meet the demand by cutting logs with chainsaw and splitting by hand after our firewood processing machine failed just before Christmas. The machine is now hopefully fully functional again and we will continue to use it in the summer months to help with making charcoal.

Please call me on 01268 773375 if you or your friends and neighbours use barbecue charcoal. It costs £2.75 per bag and is much better for cooking than much of the charcoal available from superstores and, of course, it doesn’t have to travel very far.

September 2006

Bluebell Day happened as usual near to the end of April but where were all the bluebells? Of course, as we had a cold spring they were late, and appeared in full glory about 2 weeks after. Our colony of heath fritillary butterflies continues to increase  and year we had a maximum of 387 albeit two weeks later than normal.

Our main summer practical work is making barbecue charcoal. We have operated the kiln more than previous years as the demand for our charcoal has been so high. All seven EWT visitor centres have stocked and sold it but some centres do not want to replenish their stock late in the season. I aim to keep a good supply at home throughout the year so please contact me on 01268 773375 if you require any more this year. Those that have helped with the night-time part of charcoal making usually have the opportunity to detect bats but an added bonus for some has been close observation of tawny owl chicks.

We still have a small number of oak butts on last year’s coppice plot (Westacre) which we intend to mill on site to form planks and beams. Do you or your woodworking friends require any English oak beams or planks? If so, please let me know as I am currently compiling a list of customer requirements. The milling will not be done until I have found a market for most of the wood as it is a very expensive operation.

Our coppice plot for the 2006-7 season is located to the east of last year’s plot and not surprisingly we will probably call it Eastacre.

December 2006

Midweek workparties have continued, and numbers attending have been increasing, with 23 last Tuesday. The Sunday workparties have begun, but with a slow start (6–8). We will do one more session on the Heath Fritillary corridor and Digby’s Dell is nearly done. The new coppice site (plot 14) has been marked out to the east of last season’s plot.

We have been producing lots of logs. The last Dormouse (2005) count yielded one nest, but the final count of 2006 is yet to be done.

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April 2007

As I write this, it is almost Bluebell Day. Unlike last year, when the spring was very late and only one flowering bluebell was seen on Bluebell Day, this year we have had some exceptionally hot and dry weather since the beginning of April and I expect the bluebell flowers may well be past their best on 29th April.

Our winter coppicing work was well supported by our able team of volunteers. Thanks to everybody that has helped. The 2006–7 coppice plot is located south of the bridleway and north of Shaw’s Dam. Those of you that visit the plot before August will notice that we still have a lot of clearing up to do. Unfortunately as the spring was early and we finished cutting quite late, we did not have time to finish the work before the bluebells and wood anemones appeared. We will therefore wait until these plants die back before carrying on.

As usual we will continue to produce our top quality barbecue charcoal throughout the summer. We can now also supply horticultural charcoal. So if you want to keep the slugs and snails away from their favourite plants in your garden or want to stop your water butt from emitting nasty smells then try some of this. I always have a stock of both types locally so please call me on 01268 773375 to arrange collection. Our prices are the same as last year: £2.75 per bag bought locally or £3 per bag if bought from EWT visitor centres.

We still have a small number of oak butts on the recent coppice plots which we intend to mill on site to form planks and beams. Do you or your woodworking friends require any English oak beams or planks? If so, please let me know as I am still compiling a list of customer requirements. The milling will not be done until I have found a market for most of the wood as it is a very expensive operation.

Autumn 2007

When I wrote the previous newsletter we were approaching Bluebell Day and some plants were being stressed by drought conditions in Pound Wood. Even the growth of bluebells was stunted this year. Needless to say that now we have had so much rain, everything is growing well again. Those that walk regularly in Pound Wood will have noticed that our volunteers have been unable to keep up with the usual path clearing as everything is growing so quickly and so tall. Sorry, but we are doing our best!

During the very dry spell there were two fires in Pound Wood. The first was very small but the second, about two weeks after Bluebell Day, resulted in dramatic local press reports. Though these fires were unfortunate, I am pleased to tell you that there is no long term damage. The fires were in leaf litter and have resulted in temporary loss of the ground flora and loss of lower leaves on the trees over an area of about ½ acre.

On a practical note, we have continued to make top quality barbecue and horticultural charcoal to meet your needs. I always have a stock of both types locally so please call me on 01268 773375 to arrange collection. Our local price is the same as last year at £2.75 per bag but you may pay £4 per bag if bought from EWT visitor centres.

The rain came at the wrong time for heath fritillary butterflies as heavy prolonged showers occurred about a week before the expected peak number. However the maximum count this year in Pound Wood was still about 200 which is good. To our surprise heath fritillary butterflies have appeared in Starvelarks Wood among suitable habitat and about 65 were seen flying there. Maybe the succession of strong easterly winds last year during the flying season blew them across the fields, St Michael’s Road and Tile Wood.

Winter will have arrived before you read the next newsletter so I can remind that we can supply firewood logs. Please call me for details.

Please note that EWT has now been awarded the internationally recognised Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) seal of approval for its management of woodlands which indicates good practice and sustainability. We ought to be displaying the little curly tree logo on all our products but we have not got the labels organised yet. Before you ask, we are not intending to have label on the end of every firewood log, however our customers may well see the logo on receipts.

A Reminder To Our Weekend Practical Volunteers

Last year we experimentally started the Little Haven Sunday work parties at 9.00am instead of 10.00am. and this was welcomed by many. To minimise confusion we have decided to start all Sunday work parties at 9.00am. Volunteers can still join at 10.00am if they wish but the opportunity is there to make an earlier start if you want to.

Winter 2007

Work parties on Tuesdays have continued throughout the summer, mainly making charcoal and maintaining paths and structures. Well done everybody that has helped! The Sunday work parties started in mid-October. Can I remind you that this year we are starting at 9.00 on Sundays. Volunteers can still join at 10.00am but the opportunity is there to make an earlier start if you want to.

The early Autumn work has been largely concerned with cutting back the regrowth under the western end of the power line corridor. Visitors will have noticed piles of straight cuttings stacked alongside the bridleway in this area. We have been moving this material for use elsewhere in Pound Wood to help protect our large badgers’ sett. Sorry for any piles which may have temporarily obstructed paths but work was hampered by wet weather on several occasions.

Coppicing work started in early November. This year’s coppice plot is north of the power line corridor, almost in the north east corner of Pound Wood. This plot is unique insofar as it is the farthest coppice plot from the work party meeting point. Trailer rides to and from the site help our older members with getting there.

Once again winter is here; the evenings are cold and logs are in great demand. During the Summer we acquired a new log processing machine for use all the time on our Daws Heath nature reserves, releasing the other one for use elsewhere.

If you or your friends require firewood logs, please call either me (David Harris) on 01268 773375 or Stephen Grimshaw (our new Little Haven Warden) on 07515 329762 for details.

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Recent Warden’s Reports


These items comprise the 2008–2012 contributions to the Newsletters from David Harris, the Pound Wood Warden. They are presented with the oldest ones first.

David frequently begins his articles with a review of the weather since the previous issue. These form a useful repository of how the climate has been affecting the wood.

Winter 2008

In Pound Wood our winter season work started as usual with the work required to retain good habitat under the power lines for heath fritillary butterflies. By the time you read this, we should have started work on the coppice site for 2008–9 which is the triangle of woodland opposite the charcoal kiln.

I am pleased to report that we now bought a new firewood processing machine for use in the Daws Heath nature reserves using funds generated from Pound Wood log sales. This will allow the original machine to be used elsewhere in the county instead of spending 95% of its time in Daws Heath. Unlike the original self contained machine, the new one operates using the tractor as its power source. In mid December we are expecting delivery of another tractor which will enable us to cut, load and deliver logs more efficiently.

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Spring 2009

I am pleased to be able to tell you that this winter our volunteers have completed all the work required in Pound Wood effectively, safely and on time. The work under the power lines, which we do to sustain the colony of heath fritillary butterflies, was completed by mid November and the coppicing work opposite the charcoal kiln finished in mid March. Mid-week work party numbers have been up to the low twenties on several occasions. The trend for our weekend work parties to be progressively less well supported has continued this season. I can recall the first Sunday in February when we worked in bright sunshine and deep snow. The scene was beautiful, almost alpine! The winter work ended as usual with a volunteer thank-you barbecue at the coppice site. Now it is spring we are starting our usual regular summer activities including making charcoal. If you would like to know more about how we manage our nature reserves, please come and see us during a work party, or better still join us.

Douglas Flack

It is with great sadness that I have to report the sudden death of our volunteer Doug Flack during the last week of March. Those of you that live in the area around St Mary’s church South Benfleet may know Doug and his wife Levinia as those kind people that deliver your Essex Wildlife Trust magazines, which they have done for many years. Doug also came regularly to our practical work parties and has been with us since 1994. For some years Doug has held the record of being our oldest work party volunteer (at 81 years). During his working life Doug was a bricklayer and about 10 years ago he also worked with the Warley place volunteers to restore the brickwork in the walled garden He will be missed by many.

Summer 2009

As usual, our summer activities have been to observe the wildlife, especially Heath Fritillary butterflies, and to make charcoal. I am pleased to report a reversal in the downward trend in the maximum number of heath fritillary butterflies seen in Pound Wood since the high of summer 2006. In 2009 on 14th June, in excess of 220 were seen compared with a maximum of just 65 in 2008. A notable feature of their distribution this year is that the greatest numbers were seen in the “Furthermost” coppice plot adjacent to the power line corridor which was a carpet of cow wheat (the larval food plant). In the past these butterflies have shown a reluctance to migrate into adjacent coppice plots even when there is a good carpet of cow wheat. Many of you will have noticed that it has been a good year for butterflies in gardens. Ringlets and Painted Ladies have been more common in Pound Wood than usual but the most unexpected butterfly seen this year in Pound Wood is the White Admiral. There is thought to be a small colony in Belfairs Nature Reserve nearby and maybe some have moved to Pound Wood.

Our charcoal-making has continued this year with a break for the haymaking activities. I have a stock of all three types locally (barbecue, top-up and horticultural) so please call me on 01268 773375 to arrange collection. To remain comparable with supermarket prices we have increased our price to £3.50 per bag, still very good value for a top quality product, but you may pay up to £5 per bag if bought from EWT visitor centres.

Many visitors to Pound Wood ask me when our coppice coups were last cut. I can usually remember, but to help visitors generally, we are intending to install a compact sign at each coup giving this information along with the name we have given the plot. Look out for these in the autumn .

Winter 2009

A very significant wildlife event in Pound Wood this summer was the appearance of a second brood of Heath Fritillary butterflies. After a gap of almost two months, on the afternoon of Sunday 23rd, August I counted 20 of these in the power line corridor and the adjacent “Furthermost” coppice plot which they colonised previously.

Recent visitors to Pound Wood will have noticed the appearance of a compact sign at most coppice coupes giving details of when the plot was last coppiced along with the name we have given the plot. These are intended to supplement the nature trail guidance signs to help visitors understand the operation of a working woodland.

Our recent practical work has included extracting the cordwood from Tile Wood, starting to cut the 2009–10 coppice plot which is behind the charcoal kiln and the production of firewood. We have seen unprecedented demand for our firewood this year and we are unable to accept any more orders.

The work party programme from mid-January onwards appears in very small print on the back page of your yellow programme card. I thought it might be helpful for you to have a larger copy so you will see it repeated here in much larger print at the end of this newsletter.

Welcome to New Volunteers

I am pleased to report that over recent months our volunteer workforce has increased. I therefore welcome Terry, Mike, John, Rob, Ben, James and Daniel. It is particularly encouraging to have more of the younger members of the community involved with our practical work. Also after several years’ absence, it is good to see Ron again.

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Spring 2010

Despite the very persistent snow and cold weather this winter, we lost only one of our regular Pound Wood work parties and that was because St Michael’s Road was closed by the police as it was covered with sheet ice thus preventing access to our gate. A big thank you to all our volunteers for supporting this essential work.

Since the last newsletter, we have completed the work which we always do under the power line corridor for the benefit of the heath fritillary butterflies. It will be interesting to see how well the colony has survived the hard winter.

Cutting on the 2009–2010 coppice site, which is behind the charcoal kiln, was completed in late March. Although this seems rather late, I can remember in recent years when the spring growth on the trees has been more advanced in January than it was this March! Have you noticed how late the blackthorn and plum blossom is this year? Where are the yellow Lesser Celandine flowers that often appear in January?

By the time you read this we ought to be seeing the bluebells. Our normal summer work in Pound Wood is making charcoal.

Remember that I always have a supply at home so if you or your friends want some very good quality charcoal for your barbecue (or for horticultural purposes such as keeping the slugs and snails from eating your garden plants) then call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection.

Dennis J Nisbet

Those of you that were members of Essex Wildlife Trust during the 1980s will remember Dennis Nisbet. He was our local group chairman for many years until he moved to Shropshire in 1991. It is with sadness that I have heard from his wife Joy that Dennis died in January this year after a short illness. Dennis enjoyed rambling through the countryside and will be remembered by many as the councillor who campaigned for the formation of the Hadleigh Castle Country Park. I am sure that without Dennis’s efforts we would not be able to enjoy the Hadleigh countryside in the way that we do now.

Summer 2010

After a long cold spring, the bluebells in Pound Wood gave us a good show, albeit rather late. The heath fritillary butterflies were also very late to appear, the first sighting being on 1st June. On 24th June we hosted the annual Butterfly Conservation review meeting on Heath Fritillary butterflies. There was an opportunity to look at the work that has been done in our Daws Heath Reserves for which we received complements. There were fewer counting records than normal this year and the peak number seen was below last year, a trend followed across the other sites in the UK. However they have appeared in Tile Wood for the first time.

Congratulations to two more of our volunteers, David Sykes and Robert Williams, who have recently been trained and are now qualified tractor drivers..

During the haymaking season our normal Pound Wood work parties ceased as usual. Thanks to a dedicated smaller team, the pedestrian footbridge at the stream crossing next to the bridleway has been rebuilt, and the boardwalk on Bluebell Path is currently being rebuilt.

Gardening without chemicals has worked well for me this year. Yesterday I was looking at my vegetable and soft fruit garden and found masses of ladybirds and hover flies on the runner beans devouring the black fly and several blackbirds persistently seeking slugs and snails.

Winter 2010

After the haymaking at Little Haven was finished, our normal Tuesday Pound Wood work parties resumed. We were mostly making and bagging charcoal because many of our visitor centres had failed to order sufficient to meet their needs during the haymaking recess and I accumulated orders for about 175 bags during haymaking.

I always keep a good stock at home for the locals, which includes you, so if you need some for a Christmas barbecue, please call me on 01268 773375 to arrange collection.

I began accepting log orders in August and we started to supply logs as soon as our needs for charcoal were complete. I have a very long list of orders and cannot accept any more orders for delivered quantities, but I can usually supply by-the-bag from home if you need a small quantity, so please call me if you need some.

We have cut the vegetation back in the western end plug of the power line corridor, where the line leaves the wood to the north. We aim to maintain the ends of the corridor for safety, and to act as a wind break to prevent there being a wind tunnel through the corridor where the heath fritillary butterflies thrive. About 50% of the centre section of the power line corridor is also being cut.

Work on the 2010–11 coppice site started on 23rd November. It is to the north and adjacent to the power lines just beyond the pole gate. There are two paths skirting or cutting through this site and we will aim to operate so that one or other of the paths is always kept open during our work, though we will request that dogs are kept on leads.

Thanks to a dedicated small team, the boardwalk on Bluebell Path has been rebuilt.

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Spring 2011

Felling work on the 2010–11 coppice site, which started on 23rd, November, was completed in mid March. We have been moving the cut wood to our log processing area for several weeks and we hope to complete this soon with minimum impact on the bluebells. During this season we have welcomed many new volunteers including Peter, John, Stuart, Graham and Denise. Thank you for joining us.

Before we started working on this year’s coppice site, we cut the vegetation back in the western end plug of the power line corridor (where the line leaves the wood to the north) and about 50% of the centre section. This is a large area and it is important to finish this work before Christmas for maximum benefit to the population of heath fritillary butterflies. Thank you to everybody that helped with this work.

Our work pattern in Pound Wood has now changed to “summer” where the main activities will be to produce charcoal. As usual you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still as last year, £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres

Thanks to a dedicated small team, we are rebuilding the bridge at Codger’s Crossing which is now about 16 years old. Please observe any warning signs in this area.

Summer 2011

This year we have had an exceptionally dry spring with some very warm days. Heath fritillary butterflies were first seen flying in Pound Wood on 9th May, which is about two weeks earlier than normal. The maximum number seen flying on any single occasion was 147 on 8th June. For the first time in Pound Wood, the caterpillars were seen feeding upon plantain in the coppice plot behind the charcoal kiln. This food plant is commonly used by heath fritillary caterpillars in south west England. In our area they normally are only seen on cow wheat which is also abundant in Pound Wood.

Our work parties between finishing the coppicing and before the haymaking recess have made sufficient charcoal to meet demand. During the haymaking recess, when Stephen Grimshaw, Robert Williams and myself live very weather-dependent lives processing hay at Little Haven, a small group of volunteers have carried on working at Pound Wood on Tuesdays under the watchful eyes of Carl Short and David Sykes. They have extracted nearly all the firewood from Tile Wood and rebuilt the Codgers Crossing bridge which was about 16 years old.

As usual you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still as last year, £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Winter 2011

Visitors to the eastern side of Pound Wood will notice that we have cut back to ground level most of the vegetation under the power lines from the path crossing point towards the centre of the wood. This is part of our management of the area for heath fritillary butterflies. Several clusters of trees marked with barrier tape have been left standing in the area simply because they have grown too close to the wires for us to deal with ourselves. Please do not touch them! The electricity company contractors will, in due course, cut them for us.

Coppicing in Pound Wood started on Sunday 13th November. This season’s plot (Coupe 19, Dingley Dell) is the most south-westerly plot which will be coppiced and is located adjacent to three previously coppiced areas, Little Valley which was coppiced in 1994–5, Mac’s which was coppiced in 2002–3 and Shaw’s which was coppiced in 2003–4 (see the sketch map) The coppice trees in this plot comprise very large Sweet chestnut in the eastern part and a mixture of Hornbeam and Birch in the west. There are, as usual, many standard Oak trees well distributed all over the plot. Whilst we are actually working on the site, some of the paths may need to be closed for the safety of visitors but we will re-open them at the end of each work party. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Our log orders this year have all but exhausted our supply of wood from last year’s coppice plot. However, I can still supply the odd few bags. Thanks to help on Fridays in the autumn, we have been able to cut our logs earlier than usual and supply our customers well before they need to burn them.

In case any of you would like a barbecue at Christmas, you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

A New Bridge for Pound Wood by Carl Short (Volunteer)

A new bridge has been constructed in the area known as Codgers Crossing in Pound Wood, to replace the old one which was built in 1994 and has come to the end of its useful life. The old bridge was originally built to allow walkers to cross a small stream which can be up to two feet deep when the local water company flush out their underground reservoir which is situated at the end of Bramble Road. The name ‘Codgers Crossing’ was given to the old bridge by the group of volunteers who built it. Many of them were elderly, hence the name ‘Codgers’. In 1955, the bridge became joint first in the Essex County Council Amenity Award Scheme, for which the Trust received £100.

The new bridge is of a different design and constructed of substantially larger timber, so will last longer than the old one. Two of the volunteers who helped with the new bridge were in the group that built the old one. Most of the work was carried out with hand tools and a lot of effort. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team for their hard work in all weathers to get the job completed. I do hope that you will find the time to visit Pound Wood and see the new bridge for yourself.

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Recent Warden’s Reports


These items comprise the 2012–2016 contributions to the Newsletters from David Harris, the Pound Wood Warden. They are presented with the oldest ones first.

David frequently begins his articles with a review of the weather since the previous issue. These form a useful repository of how the climate has been affecting the wood.

Summer 2012

I cannot remember such a wet summer as we are having this year. It has influenced most aspects of our wood both wildlife and the physical work. Heath fritillary butterflies were seen in all the usual parts of Pound Wood but in much reduced numbers and on fewer occasions. The maximum count was just 49 compared with 147 in 2011. Generally all types of butterflies have found it a difficult year. Just notice the lack of butterflies on your garden buddlia. Growth of bramble has been exceptional this year and we have had difficulty in keeping all of the paths passable. Timber extraction from our coppice site has also been intermittent as the ground conditions are sometimes so wet.

We have operated the charcoal kiln just twice so far including on Bluebell Day (which was cancelled owing to wet weather, but not before we lit the kiln the previous evening!)

As usual you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Thanks to a dedicated small team, we have now completed building a new tractor access bridge in the north west of the wood.

Winter 2012

Have you been watching the BBC TV series called “Tales From the Wildwood”? It shows one man’s attempt to start restoring a neglected hillside woodland in Wales. Many of the featured items including cutting and splitting firewood logs, wood milling and charcoal making are part of our normal work in Pound Wood. Of course, the TV also showed how the trees were felled, but our volunteers would see this part of the series as a “How not to do the job safely”, as many of the procedures shown on the TV were either not good practice or dangerous. If you would like to see how our woodland work is done in real life rather than on the TV then please come and see us at a work party. We always welcome interested onlookers.

Your yellow 2012–2013 Programme Card shows work parties from mid January onward in very small print. In order that you can read it more easily, it is reproduced elsewhere in this newsletter in much larger print so please cut out that section and retain it with your programme card.

It has been a difficult autumn in Pound Wood. Log extraction from last year’s coppice site has been hampered by the wet ground. We are clearing the accumulated mud from the bridleway between the stream crossing and the charcoal kiln. Unfortunately many of the pedestrian paths have become muddy partly due to use by cyclists. We started our coppice work adjacent to last year’s site on 20th November and we intend to cut the coppice to the edge of the bridleway. We will then start the this year’s new coppice site which is located to the north west of the charcoal kiln.

Ever since the introduction of Heath Fritillary butterflies in 1998 we have cut the power line corridor section where they thrive, every year before Christmas. Scientific evidence from elsewhere suggests that it may be more beneficial to leave this cutting until February or March to give maximum protection to the over-wintering stage of their life cycle and so, this year, we intend to try this.

There is no evidence of ash dieback in Pound Wood so far. We inspected all of our ash trees to assist the Forestry Authority with their assessment, in early November. The largest of our ash trees are very old large stools along the northern boundary.

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Spring 2013

Visitors to Pound Wood will notice that areas of the wood which have been barely damp in recent winters have been awash with flowing water. Bullocks Hollow has been nearly full. In case you don’t know where this is then take a look through the trees on the opposite side of the bridleway to Digby’s Dell pond. The boardwalk along Bluebell Path is certainly needed for access this winter. Take a look over the edge of the boardwalk in the next few weeks and you should find a good show of Yellow Archangel which usually flourishes in the vicinity.

We eventually finished coppicing the plot which we started last season on the left about 200 yards from the wooden gate and we have now placed a dead hedge alongside the bridleway to prevent horse riders from entering our newly completed site. We will be extracting the wood during the summer when ground conditions permit.

We have also cut the edge of the bridleway near to the power line corridor western crossing. There are many Ash stools here and we are keeping an eye on them to see whether there is any evidence of Ash Dieback this year. If you see any evidence of Ash Dieback anywhere in Pound Wood please call me on 01268 773375

Keep a look out for the appearance of Heath Fritillary butterflies near to the power line corridor. They usually appear from the middle of May and only fly on hot calm sunny days. Please let me know when you see the first one flying.

We have constructed some barriers in the very muddy area approaching Codger’s Crossing in a attempt to restrict the speed of cyclists on the bends and hopefully improve safety. But really the problems with mud are caused by the wet weather and all visitors should wear appropriate footwear before visiting the countryside.

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Spring 2014

Pound Wood is 21!

Yes, Essex Wildlife Trust has owned and been managing Pound Wood for 21 years. I have been the warden since the start. When I worked full time we had 4 assistant wardens, Doug Beard, Mac McCarthy, Gerry Bullock and Carl Short to help. Particular thanks must be given to Carl Short who has assisted me by running the Tuesday work parties before I gave up working in 1998. Since then he has been responsible for the many fine construction projects in Pound Wood and continues to help in both Pound Wood and Little Haven reserves. During that period many have come and gone. The earliest list of volunteers is June 1993 when we had 25 named individuals. Looking at the 2014 list of volunteers which includes those for our other Daws Heath reserves we have 53 names. On the 1997 list we had 47 names of which only 13 are on our 2014 current list. Many of us will have fond memories of those that have passed away including Doug Beard, Doug Flack, Peter Butcher, Ron Perry, John Warwick and our oldest working volunteer Rob Topley who continued to be active until his mid 90s.

Those readers who have recently visited Pound Wood will have noticed that the flavour of our management this winter has been changed somewhat. In the past we have tried to cut the edges of the bridleway on a three-year rotation but this has led to some parts becoming too overgrown for maximum wildlife benefit. This year we have cut all the edges of the bridleway almost from the green gate to beyond Digby’s Dell, an edge distance of no less than 0.75 miles!

We have also created a clearing around a boggy hollow which is now a (temporary?) pond on the opposite side of the bridleway to Digby’s Dell. A pair of mallard ducks seem to have adopted this pond as theirs.

Our management of the power line corridor has also changed in an attempt to improve the habitat for Heath Fritillary butterflies which have been slowly declining. Rather than trying to manage the entire central section of the corridor we have cut three small areas in different ways to see what effect this has. We will be able to adapt what we do next year by seeing the results from this work.

Tree cutting on the 2013–14 coppice site was completed in mid-March having been granted a two-week extension so that we could finish it properly. When ground conditions permit we will extract the wood and take it to the log processing area. You will notice that the red and white tape at the edge of the site where it meets the bridleway will be replaced by a stylish natural woven barrier.

By the time you read this, the charcoal kiln should be in action again having spent the winter at Abbotts Hall Farm after a charcoal making demonstration which involved some of our volunteers at the Blackwater Wild Food Festival.

As usual you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Summer 2014

Bluebells have been seen at almost their best this year on our annual Bluebell day at the end of April. Since then the weather has been quite variable with some unseasonably strong winds as well as heavy rainstorms. The long lasting noticeable effect of the storms has been the continued erosion of the sloping sections of the bridleway. We are doing our best to keep the accumulation of washed down sand under control, but we hope to instigate a longer term solution soon. The pond on the opposite side of the bridleway to Digby’s Dell has not yet dried up and has become a boggy hollow.

Heath fritillary butterflies appeared this spring in slightly greater numbers than last year. This may be the result of our different winter management of their habitat, the weather or something else. Any helpful suggestions and comments from visitors are always welcome.

Recent work parties have cleared excessive brambles and sweet chestnut seedlings from our best bluebell areas. Excessive bramble and other vegetation has also been cleared from the stream banks downstream from the boardwalk on bluebell path.

Demand for our barbecue charcoal has outstripped the supply this summer. Unfortunately we have operated the charcoal kiln only twice this year so far, as we have had a problem with extracting the wood from the coppice site and transferring it to the processing area. However by the time you read this we should be up and running again so charcoal should be available again directly from me.

Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Winter 2014

Work started on the 2014–15 coppice site in mid-October. It is located to the south of the bridleway just before it crosses the stream. It contains many ash stools and is the plot which we intended to do two years ago but were unable to make much progress at that time owing to the ash die-back restrictions which were imposed. Pound Wood does not appear to be affected by ash die-back so far.

Those of you that have visited the eastern end of the power line corridor recently will have noticed that the area under the wires from the centre pylon to the edge of the wood has been cleared of all vegetation. This work was done for safety by contractors working for the electricity supply company. They used a mulching machine which appears to obliterate anything in its path and has produced a thick organic layer over much of the ground. On Sunday 8th February we are expecting some additional help and intend to move some of the mulch exposing the bare ground to see what effect this has on cow wheat germination as competition from other plants should be less. It certainly saved us doing a lot of work with our small machines!

Log production is well underway and I can still accommodate a few more large orders for delivery after Christmas. I can also supply small quantities in used potato sacks before Christmas. So if you require logs this winter please call me on 01268 773375 to place your order.

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Spring 2015

In recent times there has been a tendency for spring to start earlier and so a decision was made by the conservation staff about 3 years ago that felling on coppice coupes ought to be completed by the end of February instead of March. This is mainly to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Any work later than February would either be tree safety work or require to be sanctioned by the reserves manager. As we do not start the coppice felling until October, it is sometimes difficult to finish the work in time. The 2014–15 site proved to be too much for us to complete and so we decided to do just the part north of the stream which flows through the site. We hope to complete the work either next season or the following year by which time we will have coppiced all those parts of Pound Wood which we intend to coppice and we will be ready to start again.

The habitat management under the power lines for Heath Fritillary butterflies was carried out between mid-January and mid-February and comprised two distinct sections. The western section from the polegate path to the centre pylon has been selectively cut in a way to build on our success of last year. The section from the centre pylon to the eastern edge of the wood was cut for safety by the electricity board contractors using a mulcher which might be described as tracked military tank with an integral flail cutter! A woodcock took flight from here when we were looking at the results of the mulcher. We were assisted by some volunteers, from the national charityButterfly Conservation, to clear the mulch from about 80% of the area. It will be interesting to see how well the Cow-Wheat is able to colonise the bare ground created.

We have seen no evidence of Dormice in the Pound Wood boxes for many years. The 1987 storm damaged area where they are located has changed considerably since Dormice were first seen there and so we a must ask where have they gone? Dormouse survey tubes have been put in many more places in an attempt to find them.

Log sales have gone well this year and we have now exhausted our supply.

As summer approaches may I remind you that we produce charcoal in Pound Wood. It comes in three grades, the largest being for your barbecue, the next size down for topping up your barbecue (and firing model steam engines!) and the finest grade for horticultural use.

As usual you can buy our charcoal directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Summer 2015

Heath Fritillary Butterflies and Charcoal

Heath fritillary butterflies were not seen in Pound Wood until 17th June this year. This is exceptionally late compared with most years when they appear in late May. I think this could be caused by the succession of cold nights in May. However the peak number occurred on a very hot 1st, July when seven were seen. In the past when we cut back all the vegetation in sections along the power line corridor, it was easy to observe the entire width of the corridor and thus probably see all of the butterflies. With our revised management involving selective cutting, the visibility is much less maybe only two metres. I suspect that we have not seen all the butterflies and the number may indeed be greater than those counted.

Why we have seen a collapse in the population of Heath Fritillary butterflies from 386 in 2006 to the low numbers of recent years? Is it weather, changes in the site or some other effect? Those of you with butterfly-friendly gardens may recall that a few years ago small tortoiseshell butterflies were very common but now they are rarely seen. Maybe these insects are subject to population explosions followed by dramatic collapse. The problem which we have tried to address with our new management for the heath fritillaries is that the larval food plant, cow wheat, is out competed by stronger growing species such as grasses when we completely clear all the woody growth. Unlike at Little Haven where the soil under the power lines is poor and free draining sand and gravel, the soil in this area of Pound Wood is clay and fertile which will allow the competition to thrive. In 1998, when we first (re?)introduced Heath Fritillary butterflies to Pound Wood, the power line corridor was only just wider than the wires (about six metres). More recently the power company has widened this corridor to about 18 metres. Maybe this has contributed to the growth of the competing species by admitting more light. Any helpful suggestions and comments from readers and visitors are always welcome.

Demand for our barbecue charcoal has, as it did last year, outstripped the supply this summer. A retail butcher just north of Colchester sells our charcoal and the quantity he sells is increasing. I am able to deliver to him when in that area but if any readers regularly go to Boxted and are prepared to deliver bags of charcoal for me please let me know.

If you require charcoal for your barbecue or for horticultural purposes, we should be up and running again after completing the hay cutting so charcoal should be available again directly from me. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

Winter 2015

Our coppice management work started in October. The plot is located to the west of the charcoal kiln, south of the stream and meets the southern end of last season’s coppice plot. Despite being so close, the underwood tree mix is quite different. Last year’s plot contained an unusually large number of Ash stools whereas this year’s plot has the more typically predominant Hornbeam.

Dormouse monitoring tubes are located throughout Pound Wood but so far this year there has been no evidence of reappearance of this species.

On a sad note, we have recently learned of the demise of one of our past volunteers, Alf Abbott. He has lived in Daws Heath for many years and worked with us until he had health problems about 3–4 years ago. His cheery face will be missed by many Daws Heath residents.

Log orders and sales are progressing well. The order book was full by mid-October. Since then, we have only been able to put any new customers on the reserve list. However we can supply the odd potato-bag of logs to any of you in time for Christmas.

In case any of you need charcoal in the winter, I have a good supply at home. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

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Spring 2016

Our coppice management work on this season’s plot (located to the west of the charcoal kiln, south of the stream) was completed in early February. Tree cutting work continued until early March when we coppiced the trees next to the bridleway near to the power lines. As a result of this, we have now connected together all of the sections of widened rides which should allow easier migration of species. Many visitors will know that the Pound Wood bridleway is very popular with horse riders on Sunday mornings and so ride widening on Sunday mornings would have been difficult and so our recent Sunday work parties all took place in Tile Wood.

Take a look at Shaw’s Dam area and you will see that we have improved the boggy area for wildlife by creating a clearing last year and protecting whatever turns up by hedging it.

Take a look at the eastern end of the power line corridor which the electricity company cut back and pulverised with a mulching machine last season. After we cleared most of the mulch and one season’s growth it has recovered very well.

Yet more dormouse monitoring tubes have been placed throughout Pound Wood in the hope that if dormice are present we can locate them. In case you have not seen the tubes, they are simple black plastic square tubes with a thin plywood floor and end, tied onto branches.

Log production has taken a long time this year and by the time you read this we should have delivered to the last reserve customers. Despite the mild winter, several customers have run low and asked if we can supply any more this season.

As usual we will be making charcoal during the summer months. I have a good supply at home. Just call me on 01268 773375 to arrange for collection. The price is still £3.50 per bag from me, but rather more at visitor centres.

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Early Management

Christmas 1993


One-and-a-half acres around Digby’s Dell are being coppiced this winter in accordance with our contract with the Forest Authority. This area was last coppiced between 30 and 40 years ago. The majority of the underwood trees are Hornbeam and Sweet Chestnut, with a few Birch, Wild Service, Aspen, Willow, Hazel and Holly. The standards are all Oak planted about 180–200 years ago, with the expectation, no doubt, that they would be needed about now to build new fighting ships for the navy!

The Hazel, Wild Service and some Holly will be allowed to grow on to provide food and shelter for the fauna. A single tall Aspen by the pond will be left to take its chances in the wind. The Chestnut will be used for the purpose for which it was planted, posts. The Hornbeam, whose ancient uses are now fulfilled by plastics aluminium and fibre-glass, will be sold for firelogs. There is a single small beech sapling. There are two very ancient Oak coppice stools, neither of which produced any good poles; we presume that they have been shaded out by the faster-growing and more recently-planted Chestnut.

Within the area of coppice are two very large wind-blown trees. These will be left to rot down and in the meantime form habitat piles, supplemented by decaying timber from other parts of the worksite.

Spring 1994

Let there be light!

For the first time in twenty years, summer sunshine will reach the ground at Digby’s Dell in the centre of the wood. The coppicing of 1.5 acres was completed by the end of February, before the sap started to rise in the trees. Seeds which have remained dormant for almost two decades will now germinate and we are hopeful that the new growth will provide food and cover for our woodland wildlife. We will be making detailed species counts, and otherwise monitoring the regrowth of the trees to ensure a healthy traditional woodland mix. For those who are unfamiliar with the ancient techniques of coppice management, don’t be alarmed by the felling of the trees. It is rather like mowing the lawn on a larger scale; it actually stimulates regrowth. Information sheets are available.

A Hundred Hazels

In Digby’s Dell we expected to find many Hazel trees but there were only a very few alongside the brook. Foresters will be surprised that we did not coppice them in the traditional way, but allowed them to grow on in the hope that they will flower and fruit, thus providing much needed food for any remnant dormouse population. However, it was decided that this dell should support a much larger number of Hazels and about one hundred two-year old trees were planted by our volunteers. At the time of writing, all have taken and we expect 90% to survive.

Keith’s Glade

A small glade has been created by our Tuesday team of working volunteers (sometimes referred to as the grey-greenies) at the point where Wilkins Path crosses Miles Brook. When the Essex Water Company vent one of their covered reservoirs for cleaning there is a considerable flow of water here and it has always been a bit hazardous to walkers. By opening out a glade, ground flora will be encouraged to give cover to emerging amphibians. Also to assist them we have dug Peter’s Pool in the marshy area upstream of the new bridge. Gerry’s Bridge will be an impressive construction made from 40-year old Chestnut growing nearby, which were at their optimum growth for use as timber and were no longer of any benefit to wildlife.

Autumn 1994

All’s well in Digby’s Dell

Even the most sceptical will admit that the coppicing work at Digby’s Dell has brought the area back to life. The regrowth from the coppice stools is staggering, with many Chestnut trees already eight foot high at the end of the first growing season. There has been a flush of new growth from the ground plants, including common Cow Wheat, Marsh Bedstraw and Lesser Spearwort, and the new Hazel trees have almost all taken. Butterflies, dragonflies and a host of other insects have set the area buzzing. The pond itself has attracted some plantse.g. Water Starwort and animals, notably frogs, and has provided a water hole for woodland fauna and birds. We couldn’t have asked for better.

Coppice Site

This year’s site for management is to the south of Hunford Brook, on both sides of Thompsons path. It is about 1.2 acres, slightly less than in Digby’s Dell. There is a severe problem with Bramble in the area and the valley itself must be worked on first because we need to be finished before the Bluebells get underway. Unusually, there is some Ash coppice here, and a number of fallen Oaks. We intend to experiment with a contract wood chipping machine for some of the brAsh, though most will still need to be burnt.

Codger’s Crossing — the longest rustic bridge in Essex?

Most visitors to Pound Wood have admired the bridge where Wilkins Path crosses Miles Brook, now christened Codger’s Crossing by the mostly retired work party. At 34' long (they’re not into metric yet!) it is claimed as the longest single-span bridge, made from local materials, in the county.

Miles Brook is hardly a raging torrent at this point, even when in use as the route for discharging the Oakwood covered reservoirs, but the bridge does enable visitors to avoid a steep and muddy slope in wet weather.

Keith’s Glade

Codger’s crossing is in this small area of new coppice which will be extended slightly in the coming season. The brAsh from this work has not been burned and has formed a delightfully dense area to the north of the path, for nesting birds and other creatures needing a secure home. This is part of the management contract agreed with the Forest Agency. Peter’s Pond in the same area was breached several times by unknown parties and the frog spawn in it was lost. It is planned as a marshy area, holding water only in the winter/spring.


Our thanks to the students of the South East Essex Sixth-Form College, ten of whom came to Pound Wood during the week 6th–10th June. During the week, they weeded Digby’s Dell of Brambles, a vital but not very rewarding job, cleared the southern boundary of invasive Sycamore and Laurel, fenced part of the northern boundary against motor-cycles and constructed SEEVIC Span, a small bridge crossing the muddy area where Hall’s Brook crosses Thompson’s Path.

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January 1995

Codgers Crossing

Our 34-foot bridge at Digby’s Dell is featured in the Winter 1994 edition ofNatural World, the house magazine of the Wildlife Trusts. With a print run of some 200,000 copies, a colour picture is really quite a scoop.

We have also entered the project into the Essex County Council’s Essex Amenity Awards Scheme, to be judged in the Spring. With coverage in two local papers,Ford News, andEssex Wildlife, this construction is our best-publicised project so far.

Rowleys Gate

In response to requests from ramblers and local people, we opened up a gap in the northern boundary of the wood (known as Rowleys gate) opposite the point where the public footpath meets our boundary. Unfortunately the owner of the neighbouring meadows does not wish the public to have access to his property at this point, and has created a barrier there on his side of the ditch. Whilst this is a disappointment, we advise you that he is within his right to deny this access and must remind you that to break through is trespass.

Winter work-parties at Little Valley

Work has started on the coppicing of about 1.2 acres (now called Little Valley) on both sides of Hunford Brook, where Shorts Cut crosses Thompsons Path. The trees are mostly Hornbeam, Ash and Birch, with Oak standards. There are also some very large Chestnut trees which are overgrown coppice in excess of 40 years old. The only low growth in the area is Bramble, Holly and Ivy, all of which could hinder regrowth unless cleared as well. At least two large storm-blown Oaks will need to be dealt with, if we get the time.

We think part of the area is home to Bluebells, though it has been hard to see them in previous years because of the Bramble. Next year’s plants were already above ground in some parts of the wood in mid-December. As with Digby’s Dell last year, consideration will be given to replanting with young trees, notably Hazel, at the end of the season.

Work parties start at10.00am on the first and third Sunday in each month until the end of March, and at 9.OOam every Tuesday. We meet at the tool-store opposite Haresland Close and new volunteers are particularly welcome. Bring warm and hardy clothes, stout footwear, tough work gloves and your own refreshments.

Power Cables

The 30,000-volt pylon line which passes through the north-east corner of the wood is the subject of an easement by Eastern Electricity. The growth under the lines must be coppiced regularly for safety reasons. We had hoped that this could be done by our volunteers a bit at a time, but the regrowth is already too far advanced for this, and for some reason there is also a reluctance by the volunteers to work under live cables! Therefore, the job will have to be done by contractors to the electricity company, presumably in 1995 or 1996.

The domestic supply lines running down the side ofBramble Road also pass through our trees. The Tree Cutting Manager from Eastern Electricity visited us at the wood recently, and stated that these were OK at present, but he would continue to monitor the position. Since then a complaint has been lodged with the Castle Point District Council that these same trees are scratching passing lorries. So action cannot be delayed for much longer.

Spring 1995

Winter work-parties in Little Valley

Some 18 volunteers every other Sunday and a further 10 every Tuesday, completed the re-coppicing of a little over an acre of Little Valley this winter. This yielded a remarkable 17 cords of cordwood, the sale of which will be used to create hardstanding for vehicles just inside the Tile Wood entrance. Hopefully, this will reduce the nuisance of car parking by volunteers in the local residential roads.

We are confident that regeneration from the existing coppice stools will prove sufficient and that, within a year or two, the effects of the work will have mellowed. There are fewer tree species in this area than in last year’s coppice area at Digby’s Dell, but then it is over 40 years since the area was last coppiced. We will monitor regeneration and replant if necessary.

Mature Sweet Chestnut trees are not normally left to grow on in a nature reserve for they are of limited value to wildlife. But we have left one enormous clump because we are told they yield the best edible Chestnuts – not only for the wildlife but for the people too! The other Chestnut timber will be used to construct a walkway over Hunford Brook within Little Valley, and for saleable produce.

Power Cables

On 10th April, Eastern Electricity commenced the replacement of the four wires along the southern edge of the wood with a single strand, insulated with PVC. The necessary clearance is being done at the same time with the branches being shredded and sprayed into the wood. The route of the 33 KV pylons through the main part of the reserve will also be coppiced this year, for safety reasons.

A Scientific Challenge to the tradition of coppicing?

A recent learned article in British Wildlife magazine was greeted with relish by the media as it questioned the adoption of the principles of coppicing for the benefit of wildlife – controversy is always good for circulation!

The professional ecologists involved are concerned with “biodiversity” – the inter-reaction of all living things. The majority of living species, and most of the UK’s most endangered ones, are very small (“smaller than a butterfly’s eye”) and spend most of their lives deep in rotting wood and other decaying plant matter. They argue that these species would do best if half the wood in a woodland was dead. Clearly coppicing, with its emphasis on regeneration of young growth and increased light for fruiting shrubs and flowering plants, is going to be counter-productive.

The Trust must consider this advice, and where appropriate adopt management policies which provide for the protection of these micro-organisms. But we do not think that the majority of our supporters will want us to manage our reserves exclusively to these ends. Thus we will continue to coppice but not in ancient woodland which hasn’t previously been coppiced, and we will extend the practice of leaving parts of some reserves unmanaged and largely undisturbed for microscopic species to proliferate. Also we shall continue to leave piles of dead wood within and around the coppiced areas for the same reasons. In Pound Wood, our plans to coppice just over an acre a year will mean that more than half the reserve will remain uncoppiced when it is necessary to start again on Digby’s Dell in the year 2009!

Autumn 1995

Essex Amenity Award Scheme

We submitted information on our bridge in Pound Wood called ‘Codger’s Crossing’ and we are pleased to advise that we were awarded joint first prize. Assistant warden Gerry Bullock master-minded the project and the submission, and has therefore been selected to receive the prize on our behalf. £100 will be added to our management fund. Well done everyone.

Only slightly less impressive is the new bridge on Short’s Cut in Little Valley. Named ‘Debbie’s Bridge’ after the most enthusiastic of our lady volunteers, Debbie Vautier, the bridge was opened in June. (There is a rumour that if any two of the men can’t manage a task between them, they ask Debbie to do it!)

The Bridge of the other St Michael

Students working with Marks & Spencer spent a day in Pound Wood in April and built a little crossing over the brook near Shaw’s Dam. Well done.

Long Term Coppice Rotation Plan

Whilst not set in stone, the Trust has approved a rotation which covers half of the wood over a period of approximately 17 years. The remainder will be managed as high forest with the exception of the border with Bramible Road and alongside the paths and rides. Details will be available to view at the Open Day.

The site of Year Three coppice is situated south-east of Henry’s Bridge and south of the pylon line. We start in November.

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January 1996

Gunpowder Plot: Last Year’s Coppice Site

On the 5th November 1995 we held our first winter Sunday coppicing workparty at a site close to Henry’s Bridge. The name, which was suggested by Bob Topley, at 87 our oldest volunteer, was chosen for obvious reasons but please see Bob Delderfield’s History File for the full story.

The tree mix is different from the other coppice sites, with virtually no Birch but a surprising number of young beech trees. Wild Service is present again. The area is close to the line of the 33,000-volt cables and, once the work is complete, we hope the diverse seed bank of shrubs and flowers from that area will spread across the bare ground.

Little Valley

Last year’s coppice site is regenerating well but with young Chestnut stools, the regrowth is less marked. We do not think it necessary to plant new trees but we are monitoring the situation carefully. We are startled by the huge number of Hornbeam seedlings which have germinated near the bridge. Hopefully we can use these as a seed bank of young trees for other places where there are less because they have been shaded out.

May 1996

A Bridge Too Long

Our Thanks go to the National Westminster Bank in Hadleigh who have come up with funds for tools and equipment to build the boardwalk (it is too long to be called a bridge) and steps on Bluebell Path in Pound Wood. The spot has been notoriously muddy for years yet, ironically, it is not even damp at present.

Gunpowder Plot: the Third Coppice Site

Most people now realise that to improve woodland for wildlife we have to restart the coppice cycle, at least in some parts of the woodland. If you want to know more of this practice, which involves clearing the smaller trees and underwood, please contact us. Most of Pound Wood was coppiced in 1947–1954 (we have aerial photos), and some parts again in 1966-1976 (we have maps). Each year we plan to coppice about 1.5 acres which means that we will only have done about half of the wood when we need to start again at the begining! Our volunteers did a good job in ‘Gunpowder Plot’ with the help of a professional contractor near the pylons. The map shows the work undertaken so far.

Autumn 1996

The winter coppice in Gunpowder Plot is regenerating well and most of the cordwood is sold.

Eastern Electricity will be coppicing beneath the power lines in November. The NatWest Boardwalk was opened in May. The Nature Trail has been re-designed and the trail guide will be reprinted alongside that for Little Haven in time for next Summer. Digby’s Dell has a fine show of Foxgloves for the first time. Almost all the new Hazel trees have survived the summer.

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January 1997

Coppicing Commences at Rowleys

Named after a benefactor, this area against the northern boundary of Pound Wood is our fourth winter work site. Now that people can see the benefits of coppicing by noting the improvement elsewhere, there are few who do not welcome the continuation of this traditional practice. But remember, the plan is only to manage up to half of the wood in this way.

September 1997

Coppicing for Winter 1997–98

The area in Pound Wood approved by the Forest Agency for this year’s coppice is the eastern side near to Codger’s Crossing. Fortunately it doesn’t straddle a main path this year which should make things easier. We will also slightly enlarge last year’s area at Rowleys.

Management of the area under the power lines has led to a remarkable profusion of Cow Wheat, which is one of the food plants of the endangered Heath Fritillary butterfly. We are planning to re-introduce this butterfly to Pound Wood next summer and will then manage these areas for them.

Work parties meet every Tuesday at 9am and on the first and third Sunday every month at 10am opposite Haresland Close.

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Spring 1999

Coppicing progress in Pound Wood

The Essex Wildlife Trust has owned Pound Wood for just over six years and about eight of the 55 acres have been coppiced to date. The map (not shown) shows the locations and dates of coppice management. Each year we give a name to the plot. This year it is called “Back Acre” because the slope was a “back-ach-er” to work on! Map Key:

You can see the position of these coupes on the maps on either the Maps page, or the Coupes page.

Area A (1993–4) Digby’s Dell

Area B (1994–5) Little Valley

Area C (1995–6) Gunpowder Plot

Area D (1996–7) Rowleys

Area E (1997–8) Topleys

Area F (1998–9) Back Acre

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Early Articles

Many of the articles in these newsletters have been moved into more specific pages. Those included here are not so specific.

Christmas 1993

Official Opening

The wood was declared open by our own Chairman, Don Hunford at a small ceremony on 6th November 1993, in the presence of the Mayor of Castle Point, Mrs E E Wood, the Chairman of the Rochford District Council, Mr Terry Fawell, and the Member of Parliament for the constituency, Dr Robert Spink, and other important guests. About 300 people attended and enjoyed a guided tour of the wood as well as light refreshments in St Michaels Hall. Our special thanks to Mrs Maureen Brazier who led the catering team, to Doug Beard who organised the parking team, to David Harris and his team of guides, and to all those members of the Castle Point and Southend & Rochford Groups who helped to ensure that we had a successful and enjoyable launch.

Car Parking

I have to inform you that the Trustees of St Michael’s Church Hall have decided that they are not prepared to allow visitors to Pound Wood to use the Church Car Park. This means that, visitors and work party members must park on the side roads in Daws Heath. Please try to minimise nuisance to local residents by parking prettily and guietly (or better still walk or cycle to the wood).

Management Plan

The Forestry Authority gave approval to our management plan on the 10th October, enabling us to claim under the Woodland Grant Scheme. This binds us to carry out coppicing and other work along the lines of the sketch plan provided with newsletter No 1.

Bluebell Day 7th May 1994

In common with many of our larger reserves, we would like to have a special day each year when people will be able to visit the wood, who are diffident about entering wild places unless they are invited, accompanied and pay an admission charge! There are a number of people throughout the County who love to come to this kind of event. We are therefore hiring St Michael’s Hall and field so we can park cars and offer light refreshments.

We are at the earliest stages of planning this event which will be promoted as a quiet family day out in the countryside; an opportunity for a picnic and a guided woodland walk. If you have any ideas or contacts please let the chairman know, and if you would like to come as a visitor or helper, please book it into your new 1994 diary.

Education and History

We are in the early stages of preparing a pack for use in schools and by other interested parties, on the fascinating history of this part of Daws Heath. We hope to have some early reports for you by the Spring newsletter.

Spring 1994

Bluebell Day 7th May

This, our third newsletter, is issued to coincide with Bluebell Day. If this is your first visit to Pound Wood, we hope that you enjoy yourself and learn a little of the conservation work of the Essex Wildlife Trust. With such an early Spring, the bluebells were already breaking into flower in mid-April, so we hope that they are not over before the day arrives ! We wish to express our thanks to all those who volunteered to help make the day a success. Pound Wood was purchased by the Essex Wildlife Trust in March 1993 and work started in October to reverse the effects of many years of neglect.

Mud and mire the worst for years

Recent years have been so dry that we have tended to forget just how muddy our countryside normally gets during the winter months. Although this may be inconvenient for urban man, we must remember that most of our wild plants and animals are well adapted to these conditions and suffer badly in times of drought. We therefore make no apology for muddy paths, but instead recommend visitors wear wellington boots.

Firelogs all sold

We are pleased to say that the ten cords of mostly hombeam coppice wood has all been sold to a log contractor for a good commercial price. This money will all go back into the fund to manage the reserve. A cord is 4ft long timber stacked 4ft high and 8ft wide. It will be removed only when the access path is dry and firm enough to allow vehicular access without damage to the woodland.

Watches for the Wood

Pensioner Jean Rowley was so moved to help the Trust to buy equipment for use by our volunteers that she gave us two antique watches which had been in her family for generations. They were auctioned at Sotheby’s on 16th December and made £580. Jean presently lives in a rest home in Westcliff and was delighted to hear of the sum raised. We have decided to call the proposed stile on the Northern Boundary of the wood “Rowley’s Gate” as a thank you gesture.

Access bows out but improves access for all

We are pleased to acknowledge the sum of £750 donated by the Access Horticultural Society, which is now wound up. This generous gift has enabled us to proceed with such projects as the bridge, for which materials have cost in excess of £100, and has funded the purchase of safety equipment, such as hard hats, for next season.


We are monitoring the parking situation carefully, for we have no wish to cause annoyance to local people. However, we are reluctant to seek planning permission for another car park in the area which might cause problems of control and misuse, and in any case would need to be constructed within the wood, thus destroying part of the wood which we are committed to protect. We ask regular visitors to vary the places in which they park in order to relieve the pressure on residents of (particularly) Haresland Close.

Walking the Dog

We have been asked about disturbance of the wildlife by dogs, both by dog owners and others. The majority of people visiting Pound Wood do so with their dogs and for the most part no harm is done. We do not insist that dogs are kept on the lead. However, it is likely that there would be a greater variety of woodland fauna if there was less dog disturbance, and it isdisturbance rather than the actual catching of wild creatures which is the major problem.

Therefore we request responsible dog owners to:

  • keep their pets away from the non-intervention area;
  • if possible, avoid walking in the woods in early morning or at dusk;
  • try to avoid the fouling of paths or, better still, clear it up;
  • if your dog is one of the few which cannot be effectively controlled without a lead, then please use one;
  • remember that not everyone likes dogs, and respect that view.


There have only been one or two motorcycles in the wood since we took over, hence the new notices. Walkers are asked to note the registration number of any bike in Tile Wood or the vehicle that bought them, and pass it on to us for appropriate action.

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Autumn 1994

Bluebell Day washed out

May 7th will be remembered as the day it rained. From 9am till we left in the evening it poured continuously. It is surprising therefore that about 250 people came along, and most of them walked (or slid) around the wood admiring the bluebells. Many of the field activities had to be cancelled, but the Tug o’ War team stuck to their task and entertained visitors. The lesson learned from this first event was that if the weather had been fine, we would have been rushed off our feet and future plans must be made accordingly. It is not to be an annual event, but we will have another public day, probably in the autumn of 1995.


Three groups of campers have so far been moved on. The first quite large group were rather “lippy” but to their credit did go within the hour and cleared up after them, leaving the rubbish in a bag. The other two groups claimed to be on a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. Both of these were respectful and left without leaving anything behind. Please tell our Assistant Wardens if you see anyone camping, vandalising or lighting fires. Please note exactly where they are as we have to go and find them.

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January 1995

Car parking

In order to relieve pressure upon neighbourhood roads when we hold work-parties, we have fenced off a small area inside the Tile Wood entrance for their vehicles. We are investigating the possibility of constructing a prepared surface so that it can be used in all weathers. It was a fairly barren area already and most of the mounds there are the result of fly-tipping during the time when the wood was in a previous ownership.

Spring 1995

Lower Wyburns Farm sold to Little Haven

The purchase of this important piece of open country situated on the northern side of Daws Heath Road and to the south of the A127 Southend Arterial Road, as the site of the new Children’s Hospice for Essex went ahead at the end of March.

Local people will recall that the site already had planning permission for a golf course, clubhouse and practice area, but a change of use has been granted by the Castle Point District Council. As a condition, the majority of the 120 acre site will be leased to the Essex Wildlife Trust to be managed as a nature reserve for the benefit of wildlife and for the quiet enjoyment of local people.

The Little Haven Project Office will be preparing drawings of the development for submission to the local authority. Detailed negotiations as to how the site will be managed will commence after Easter, although broad principles have already been agreed. A full-time warden will be appointed in due course. The Essex Wildlife Trust is researching the historic uses of the land, its botanical importance and priorities for its future management.

Thanks to Ridleys the Essex Brewer

By the time you receive this newsletter, there will be two splendid new information boards at Pound Wood, sponsored by Ridleys as part of a rolling programme to help the people of Essex to enjoy and value our wildlife heritage. In addition to the display boards, the sponsorship has also covered the cost of printing the new nature trail guide which is therefore free to local people. It will also be available to the public at our Conservation Centres.

We need your support

We are looking forward to working with Little Havens Children’s Hospice on the Lower Wyburns Farm site in Daws Heath. But taking on the management of further land in Castle Point is a major step for the Essex Wildlife Trust and will involve more administration and practical work for our volunteers. This is currently funded by our 13000 members throughout the county but more responsibility requires more support. Now it is your turn. We need you to show your support for our efforts by joining the Trust. It costs a minimum of £17 a year: just 33 pence a week.

You do not have to be an expert on anything — just care about local open spaces and the creatures which share them with us. You will receive two regular magazines - the Royal Society for Nature Conservation’s Natural World, together with Essex Wildlife, the county Trust‘s own magazine. In addition, you will receive a permit to visit the Trust’s 80 other nature reserves. We also organise monthly meetings at Runnymede Hall during the winter on subjects to interest us all.

Please come off the fence. There is no point in us preaching to third world countries about protecting their wildlife if we allow our own to be lost. Now is the time for us all to do our bit for the conservation of our environment. Fill in the form on the left of this page or obtain one of the Trust’s application forms, which contains more details, from Ann’s Minimarket in Daws Heath.

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January 1996

A Bequest for Wildlife

Our thanks go to the late Mrs Winifred Voss who spent most of her life within sight of Pound Wood. She was so pleased that the Trust bought and started to look after it that she instructed her son to send us £1100 from her estate when she passed away. The money is ring-fenced by the Trust for use on its Daws Heath reserves. Most of us spend our lives struggling to make ends meet, but at its end we have our last chance to be generous. If you would like to help the Trust with a legacy, whether for general use or directed at a specific project or locality, please contact the Chairman for a booklet.

A New Way from the Salvation Army

Come bluebell time, visitors will wish to acknowledge the good work done by the people from the Salvation Army’s Hadleigh Employment Training. Under their leader, Mark Groenenberg, they have created a diversion to bluebell path around the notorious ‘Seep’. A spring rises at the back of gardens along Bramble Road which creates a small pond by the side of the path — and at times completely across it! We expect to be able to create a boardwalk or bridge on the new path which was not possible on the old. The abandoned path will he allowed to go back to nature so the seep will become a more secluded watering place for wildlife.

Steady income from wood sales

As well as selling coppicewood in bulk, we have to generate enough money to manage the reserve from the sale of planters, stakes and logged firewood. The latter is very labour intensive but commands a much better price. Enquiries to Gerry Bullock.

Ten Guided Walks in one day

Our Autumn Tints Open Day on 7th October enjoyed better weather than the previous Bluebell Day; but only just! Rather dull and cool conditions discouraged some, no doubt, but over 150 people came along for guided tours and refreshments. Whilst a guided walk is no novelty to locals, a lot of people are diffident about walking alone in strange woods, and many come to learn more of the history and natural history of the reserve. Our next Open Day will be another Bluebell Day in 1997.

May 1996

Special Places Appeal

Eight of our nature reserves were included in a county-wide appeal for management funds. Our members responded very well, providing the bulk of the £12,000 or so received by the beginning of May. Of this, about £1,300 has been specifically allocated to the Little Haven reserve. Thank you.<

Wildlife is Going to Suffer

This time the cause is not human carelessness or greed. The problem is water, or rather lack of it. Although Spring has not been held back by drought because of the ground water accumulated over the past four months, unless we get some rain soon, trees and other plants will not be able to provide the resources for their own reproduction and growth, nor therefore the food for insects, birds and mammals.

Amphibians like frogs and newts will have a particularly bad time.

You can help the wildlife in your garden by making sure there is always water somewhere for thern (but don’t water the lawn, that will survive better without it) but in large areas of countryside like our nature reserves this is not an option. We need rain, lots of lovely rain. Enough to make it necessary for you to wear Wellington boots to enjoy a walk in the woods!

Go On, Enjoy It!

We are often asked how we manage to get so many volunteers to undertake such hard and sometimes messy work as woodland management It is no secret — we do it because we enjoy it. We also get a great deal of satisfaction out of improving the woodland for both wildlife and people. Most physical work is undertaken in the winter when the choices for outdoor activities are limited, and we have good fun with planning, interpretation, servicing tools and preparing for next year’s work (and clearing litter) during the summer. We are not exclusive though, for you can join us if you wish. Contact one of the wardens during the summer to enrol for next year’s work parties.

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January 1997

Badger Glass Threat Makes Front Page Headline

TheStandard Recorder carried a full colour picture and story on page one of its 6th December issue. The disturbing facts are that jagged broken glass has been deliberately put down a badger hole in Pound Wood. This is not the Middle Ages, or some Inner City. This is Daws Heath 1996. Please be on the look-out so we can catch this person. It is not alarmist to predict that someone who could do this to a badger could just as easily do it to you or me.

Sell-out of Firewood

Unlike last year, there was heavy demand for our logs and several potential purchasers were disappointed. If you wish to purchase cord wood (ie. in four-foot lengths) next summer, please register your interest now. Buyers must collect.

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Spring 1999

Woodland products

Whilst the woodsmen of earlier times coppiced for the products they could sell and happened to help wildlife in the process, we have stood this on its head. This year the coppice yielded 35 cords of firewood (each 128 cubic feet) and over 1000 fencing stakes all traditionally cut and sharpened by hand.

As well as using the stakes on site we have supplied our nature reserves at Langdon, Roding Valley, Blue House Farm at Fambridge and Colne Point. We can also supply firewood, Forest Steps (wooden stepping stones), garden planters (hollowed logs), woodchips and a range of posts and poles. For the first time this year we are also producing charcoal from our native hornbeam smallwood. It is cleaner, hotter and more easily lit than the imported product. Most of the production of these items has been undertaken by volunteers: would you like to help? To offer help, or to purchase woodland products, contact either of the wardens, who are both named David, on 01702 716678 or 01268 773375.

Incident Black-spot at Digby’s Dell

By cutting back all re-growth of trees and brambles around the edge of the water and by removing one third of the vegetation in the water every year, we ensure Digby’s Dell pond (the first Pound Wood site coppiced by the Essex Wildlife Trust in 1993-4) maintains its value to wildlife. This year, each of these tasks led to an incident.

Firstly Bob Delderfield slipped and fell onto a stump, injuring his leg. Fortunately he has fully recovered. Then young volunteer Benjamin Raine fell into 2 feet of muddy water, filling his waders. Wearing little more than a donkey jacket, a plastic bag and a smile, he was happy to watch others work while his clothes were dried by the fire.

Maybe the first incident in Digby’s Dell occurred during the war years, Rumour has it that two bombs landed in Pound Wood and the craters are now Digby’s Dell pond and the hollow just to the north. Can any of our older readers remember this incident or recall seeing the two hollows before the war?

Newts and frogs continue to thrive in the pond as “red leg” disease has not infected the Pound Wood population.

If you have excess frog spawn in your garden, please do not introduce it to a natural pond like that at Digby’s Dell or you could turn it into a black spot for the frog population too!

Attention Map Enthusiasts and Horse Riders

You may have seen the new 1:25,000 Ordnance SurveyExplorer maps. TheSouthend and Basildon sheet (175) unfortunately shows the newly created circular Pound Wood bridleway as incomplete and does not always follow the correct route. Horse riders should note that the route of the public bridleway in Pound Wood is the shingle path surfaced by Essex County Council, which is waymarked with blue arrows. Other paths in Pound Wood, shown as green dashed lines on the new map, are incorrect.

Disabled Path soon to start

Thanks to sponsorship from Barclays New Futures and hard work from The Deanes School, a start will be made this spring on a gravel dust path suitable for wheelchairs. It will run from the wheelchair kissing gate (installed last year) opposite Ann’s Minimarket to the entrance to Starvelarks Wood. The aim is eventually to make a circular route through the wood to return via the meadow.

Pound Wood Pong

Many visitors to Pound Wood have been greeted by a strong smell of sewage. The problem has now been investigated and our neighbours have implemented what they believe is a satisfactory solution to the problem. Our apologies for the inconvenience!

Vandalism and Abuse

When we were small boys (or girls) living in this area, the Daws Heath woods and fields were not nature reserves. Of course, we got chased by the farmer when we crossed his arable land but since the 1970s the owners did not bother about what happened there. Children are still welcome to play but we do ask them to respect our property and its wildlife. Our volunteer work force have spent far too much time undoing the work of unwelcome visitors who have, among other things, damaged internal woodbanks which have remained undisturbed for maybe 1000 years. We therefore ask you to report such unsocial behaviour. If you happen to have your camera with you, a photograph of the culprit(s) would be helpful. Please also remember that children take their lead from us. If they see adults breaking the rules, like allowing dogs to foul the reserves, we can hardly expect them to learn respect for the law, let alone the country code.

Please keep to the paths

We have provided a good network of paths in our nature reserves. To minimise disturbance, we ask visitors to keep to those shown on the published maps and information boards. When walking in our fields, please keep to the edge unless there is an obvious worn path elsewhere as we need to take a hay crop later in the year. Thank you for your co-operation.

All correspondence to: Cliff Moore, 12 Conifers, Hadleigh, Benfleet, Essex SS7 2JR

Autumn 1999

The Bodger in the Woods

Many of you will have been perplexed by the reference to a ‘bodging lathe’ in one of Cliff Moore’s Newsletter articles. To most people, the word conjures up a vision of ‘The Bodger on the Bonce’ immortalised by Flanders and Swan. However, a bodger was once an important part of the local community. Far from botching his work, as the name might suggest, he was a skilled craftsman. The bodger would usually build himself a wickerwork hut in the woods in which he would install his lathe. This lathe was driven by a treadle and a cord wrapped around the spindle. The cord would then be attached to some suitable flexible branch above his hut. By operating the treadle with his foot, the lathe spindle would be made to spin. The bodger would turn the thin coppice wood to make components for furniture and other household goods.

David Cowan has built his bodging lathe in the old traditions. He has used some existing wood (an old door frame) to make the, basic structure and has begun to turn some small items from local wood.

Expect to see the bodger in Pound Wood on our open day next year.


What were you doing at 11.20am on 11th August? I was in Pound Wood sitting on the bench by the water in Digby’s Dell to experience the changes caused by the partial eclipse of the sun. Fortunately the sky was clear. My first unusual experience was that the heat from the sun reduced to make it feel like autumn sunshine yet the shadows were short and the sun was high in the sky. As I watched the scene, I noticed what was originally a bright blue sky turn to wedgewood blue and then to grey, yet there were no clouds. Very strange!

Then everything went quiet except for many light aircraft above no doubt to ensure that their occupants had a good view of the eclipse. The birds stopped singing, the wind stopped blowing and gradually all the different greens of the leaves seemed to merge into one colour. It was not the colour so typical of foliage in evening sunlight but more like that of lettuce leaves in a supermarket display lit by fluorescent lamps. The situation was that the light spectrum was that of sunlight at noon yet the intensity fell to that of evening. It was also very strange to see short sharp shadows yet the intensity of the sunlight was so feeble. It began to feel quite cold. One of my friends reported that the outside temperature dropped to 14°C during the eclipse. I was surprised by the sensation that my eyes kept telling me it was getting darker and darker at an ever-increasing rate. Eventually at about 11.2Oam the trend was reversed and at 11.45am I emerged from Pound Wood. During the entire visit I neither saw nor heard any other person. Who knows, I may be the only person to have observed a partial eclipse in Pound Wood this century!

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Bridleways in Pound Wood

Christmas 1993

“Bridleway” Claims

We have been notified that a local resident on behalf of the British Horse Society, has made seven separate applications for bridleways through Pound Wood to be entered on to the Definitive Map of Rights of Way. If granted, horse riders would have unchallengeable rights to enter the wood at seven entrances and use virtually every path within the wood, at all times.

We believe strongly that this is contrary to all the plans which we have for the sensitive management of Pound Wood for the benefit of its wildlife. We further believe that it would attract large numbers of equestrians from other parts of South Essex. We will therefore be contesting the applications. As we have already announced, we are willing to work with reasonable equestrian interests, to allow a permissive horse ride through Pound Wood.

But, for the protection of this ancient woodland, the safety of other visitors, and the security of the whole area, we must be able to exercise control over who enters, when and on what!

Judging by the conversations we have had with local people and members of the Trust, we think that many of you will also be horrified to hear of the British Horse Society’s proposals.

We have designated a series of paths in the wood as a continuous horse path from the Tile Wood Entrance to Bramble Road. This route has been chosen because, for the most part, it has the hardiest of surfaces, it will have only a local environmental impact and disturb wildlife least, it is a useful route for riders, and it is the one which they have been using most, in the past.

We have marked the route with prominent blue paint marks on trees for the time being. Parts of the ride are likely to be very muddy in wet weather, but they have always been so. The proprietors of Ragwood Stables are co-operating with the Trust on this project and have agreed to create a soft and quite durable surface on the ride by using cleaned stable waste in the form of wood shavings. This surface is experimental at present, but it has been used successfully elsewhere and we are satisfied that the shavings will have no detrimental effect on the woodland ecosystem. At worst, it could blow away in dry conditions. The entry and exit point for their vehicle is from the Tile Wood Entrance.

In all cases the Horse Ride has an almost parallel footpath, so there should be no need for pedestrians to use the ride unless they choose to.

We have listened to many opinions as to where the ride should meet Bramble Road. On balance, we believe that the obvious and traditional entrance at Peter’s Gate should be so designated.

There is a gate design which claims to ensure horses can enter but motor-cycles can’t. However, these structures are quite bulky and can be expensive to install and maintain, and we would prefer not to go to this trouble for the time being. But we will monitor the situation carefully.

The Trust is aware that (where horses are concerned) we cannot please all of the people, all of the time. We just hope most reasonable people, without a vested interest, will see that we are doing our best to reach an acceptable compromise! A permissive ride through the nature reserve will strengthen our hand when dealing with the County Council’s forthcoming deliberations over new Rights of Way.

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Spring 1994

Horses, Bridleways and Muddy Paths

Thank you to all of you who wrote to the Essex County Council about the applications to create so many legal bridleways through the wood. We believe all received a full reply explaining the legal position and the Trust has taken advice as to how we should now proceed. However, we are pleased to report that we have since been able to open lines of communication with the British Horse Society and other equestrian associations, as well as with officers of the county council. We hope that you will permit us not to comment further upon these matters at the present time, for we do not wish to anticipate where these conversations will lead us.

One immediate positive outcome will be welcomed by all. The Horse Owners and Riders of South East Essex group have promised to make a proper crossing point for the horseride over Hunford Brook. The work will be done at their expense, with the use of suitable machines and materials, once the wood has dried out sufficiently. We wish to thank Henry Smith of that group for this generous offer.

Autumn 1994

Horses in Pound Wood

Horse riders using Pound Wood have respected our requests and have largely kept to the designated horse-ride. Thank you. However, I regret that negotiations with the British Horse Society and other equestrian interests have been unable to find an acceptable compromise, and the organisation is pressing ahead with claims for legal bridleways through Pound Wood along the following routes:

  • Route 3 between Tile Wood entrance and the waterworks exit on the NW corner. (Carter’s ride and extinct path near Megan’s path)
  • Route 5 between a point on that path andBramble Road near Hatch Farm (Boundary path)
  • Route 6 between Peter’s Gate and Boundary path (Bluebell Path)
  • Route 7 between Macs gate and Boundary path (Cliff’s ride and Cowan’s path)
  • Route 8 between Tile Wood entrance and Cliff’s path (Bank path)
  • Route 9 between South gate and Bank path (un-named)
  • Route 10 between South gate and Mac’s gate (Holly path)
  • Route not numbered between Peter’s gate and Cliff’s ride (Un-named).

This will require the opening of all entrances to horse traffic (Tile Wood entrance, South gate, Mac’s gate, Peter’s gate, Waterworks stile, and that between Thatch Farm and 221 Bramble Road).

We do not find this acceptable and are taking the necessary steps to counter the claim, including the appointment of a solicitor to act on our behalf.

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January 1995

Permissive Horseride

We would like to thank Henry Smith and the Horse Owners and Riders of South Essex for constructing, at their own expense, a culvert and bridge over Hunford Brook. In common with other steams in the wood, Hunford Brook rarely has more than a trickle of water but, where they cross well used paths, they create a very muddy and unsightly hazard. The association has also offered help in improving other parts of this ride, and we are grateful for their co-operation.

There is no further news about the claimed bridleways.

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Spring 1995


We have been advised by Essex County Council of yet another (the eighth) claim by the British Horse Society for bridleways through Pound Wood. This is currently being considered but there is much evidence to indicate that it will be unsuccessful. Our defence against the claim is being prepared by a solicitor.

We continue to welcome responsible equestrians to Pound Wood to tour the designated path between the Tile Wood entrance and Macs gate on Bramble Rd.

Autumn 1995

Circular Legal Bridleway declared in Pound Wood

Readers of this newsletter will be aware that the British Horse Society is claiming eight Bridleways through Pound Wood. We have prepared a 14,000 word defence against these claims because we have evidence to prove the claims invalid. However, we have never been against horse riders using the paths within the wood which we have designated with blue markers.

The Countryside Commission, who made a timely and very significant grant towards the purchase of Pound Wood in 1993, recently indicated that they would like us to allow our permissive horseride and two other paths to become full legal bridieways. These other paths are ‘Edwins Path’, parallel with church field (but inside the wood, on our side of the earth bank), and ‘Holly Path’ parallel with Bramble Road (also within the wood, on our side of the earth bank).

There are no good conservation reasons why we should not comply with this request from our benefactors. A formal offer to this effect has therefore been made to the Essex County Council, and accepted by them. They are now duty bound to create an all-weather surfaced bridlepath all along the designated route, and provide suitable furniture at the entrances — Tile Wood Entrance, Southgate and Macs Gate.

This action does not in any way diminish the strength of our case against the other claimed routes, in fact the contrary is likely to be the case.

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January 1996


We have been advised by the Essex County Council that in the early part of 1996 Council members will decide on the applications made on behalf of the British Horse Society. There is an appeals procedure thereafter which will probably take many more months.

In the meantime, the Council are hoping to gather enough hardcore to start making up the declared bridleway in the spring.

May 1996

Bridleway Claims in Pound Wood Fail

The Essex County Council have refused the multiplicity of applications made by the British Horse Society for bridleways through our nature reserve because ‘ … the ways are not of such a character that user thereof at Common Law could lead to an inference of dedication as highways and because, if this not be so, the evidence supplied is insufficient to prove or reasonably allege that the ways are bridleways and not all of them are defined on the ground or alternatively accurately plotted.’

It would be inappropriate for us to comment on this decision as the BHS have the right to appeal. However, we have been informed by ‘Ways Through Essex’ that funds are now available to make up the horse paths which wehave offered through Pound Wood, and which will thereafter be declared legal bridleways. Work should proceed in May or June. There will inevitably be some noise and disturbance but for the most part access will be through the entrance in St Michael’s Road so residents should not be unduly affected.

Autumn 1996

Pound Wood Bridleway

The British Horse Society has appealed against the decision not to grant them eight new bridleways through the wood. The agreed horse ride is to be created by Henry Smith and paid for by the Essex County Council, but we do not have a starting date.

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January 1997

At Last, Our Bridleway!

The Essex County Council contract to make up the horse ride in Pound Wood was completed in mid December by local contractor and horse breeder, Henry Smith. Early reaction is favourable, even from those who don’t ride horses. Phases 2 and 3 should start early in the New Year. Despite this, the British Horse Society are still pursuing their claims for eight bridleways in the wood; their Appeal was nearly an inch thick!

September 1997


Agreements have been signed with Essex County Council for them to complete work on Pound Wood’s bridleway near the edge of Church Field and parallel to Bramble Road. This will create a circular route for equestrians. All surfacing work will commence this autumn.

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The Bramble Road Boundary

Autumn 1995

Major Work Necessary on the Bramble Road Boundary

We have been advised by the local authority that we must trim back all the trees on our southern boundary, at least 1 metre back from the road surface, to a height of 5 metres. This is to clear the road for legitimate vehicle use.

We cannot use volunteer labour for this purpose as it would involve working off the ground, under power cables, and felling onto the road. It will be a costly exercise and unfortunately Eastern Electricity were not able to help. The worry is that the job will need to be done again in another four or five years.

With the exception of one or two standard oaks (which need trimming) all the trees are hombeam coppice which should have been cut regularly over the last 40 years, but haven’t. The alternative is to have the whole fence line re-coppiced professionally, after which our volunteers can keep the re-growth down to a manageable height, on a regular basis. Naturally this will cost more initially but a lot less in the long run.

We have decided on this latter course of action, and we must therefore advise you that this work will be undertaken in the early autumn. It may be necessary to coppice the first six metres of the wood in order to create a safe felling line. This is bound to be disruptive and unsightly for a short while, but our contractors will be tidying up as they proceed.

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January 1996

Bramble Road Boundary: First Stages Completed

The trimming work along Bramble Rd is now complete and volunteers have been working to tidy up the boundary. It was time for the grey-greenies (the nick-name for our Tuesday team of mostly retired volunteers) to exercise their minds and hands to the job of creating a temporary barrier to keep out unwanted vehicles and the like. Vertical poles had been left on the hornbeam stools to provide posts for the fence without having to dig too many holes. The first task is to ensure that the trimmed-back trees do not grow up again to interfere with the traffic or the electricity cables. The next task is then to form a hedge from these trees. They were ring-barked to ensure regrowth comes from the stool (not the tip of the pole) and the poles were used to support horizontals. Brash (small branches from the tops of felled trees) was then woven into the structure following the traditional art of dead-hedging. They were delighted to receive an accolade from a neighbour for a job well done.

By the time you read this newsletter we hope to have visited the site again to convert the remaining brash to woodchips. In the spring we will plant hazel, hawthorn, holly and honeysuckle to fill the gaps but also to provide flowers and pollen, seed and berries in their due season. But the main strength of the barrier will be the young saplings from the hornbeam stools which will be worked into a live-hedge.

It took just eight working days for our contractor and his assistant to coppice the hombeam trees growing on the earthbank at the southern edge of Pound Wood. The many fine standard oaks were expertly limbed to ensure free movement for road vehicles. Thanks to Patrick Atterbury for a very professional job and to our neighbours who were so patient and understanding.

Not everyone can accept that in order to conserve a wood, one sometimes has to cut down trees, so it is quite surprising that we had only two complaints. As a result of our subsequent explanation, one of the people decided to join the Trust, but the other did not give a complete address for a response. We do try to keep everyone informed but we invite you to make this easier for us by enrolling as a member.

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Wildlife and Recording

Christmas 1993


Some of you will be aware that there was a National Dormouse Week in November. One of the few experts on this little-studied small mammal, Dr Pat Morris, visited Pound Wood prior to giving a public lecture on the subject in Brentwood. We have a positive sighting of a Dormouse earlier in the summer and we were hoping that Dr Morris would confirm that we have a viable breeding population.

It therefore came as a nasty shock to discover that, in his opinion, the wood had been abandoned for too long for it to support the Dormouse; in fact he expressed surprise there were any there at all! The species depends on the hazelnut crop (and there wasn’t one), young trees to move about in (and those in Pound Wood are mostly elderly) and thick ground cover to hibernate in (and most of the wood has very little growing under the trees and is heavily “dogged”)

He said that it would be at least eight years after the coppicing work we are now undertaking, before the right sort of habitat began reappearing, and he didn’t expect our Dormouse population to survive that long. There are just two places where it could hold out: the wind-blown area in the South East of the wood which we have already designated a “non-intervention area” and the regularly coppiced area under the electricity pylons.

We are undertaking a scientific study in those two areas next summer, and we all hope that the expert is proven wrong, and that dormice survive here.


We still need willing people to volunteer to do recording of flora and fauna. If you have this specialist knowledge, please come forward and volunteer. John Rostron is your contact man, on 0268 757984.

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Spring 1994

Dormice awakening?

In early May the Dormouse should awake for its short but busy season of activity. If there is a viable population still in Pound Wood, they should enjoy improved conditions in 1994. Volunteers from the Trust purchased and installed 40 day-nesting boxes in the denser parts of the wood where conditions are still suitable for these little creatures, which are thought to be on the edge of extinction in South East England. We hope that the public will not seek them out or disturb them, but if you do see a wooden box with the entry hole on the trunk side, it has not been put up back-to-front! Remember, it is illegal to disturb dormice and our monitoring staff have been granted special licences to carry out this work. Let us hope that our autumn newsletter can carry good news about dormice.

Muntjac sighting in Pound Wood

On 13th February, Sarah Pileher, one of the young volunteers at Pound Wood, was assisting Don Hunford install the Dormouse boxes when she caught a fleeting glance of a strange animal. “Unfortunately, I did not see it myself,” said Don, “but from her description, it could only have been a muntjac.” Subsequently, we understand, a neighbour has seen the small deer crossing her meadow to the wood. As far as we are aware, these are the first sightings of this species south of the A127.

The deer was introduced from China and escaped from the grounds of Woburn Abbey at the turn of the century and they have been spreading ever since. They do not live in herds but stay in small family groups. It has a characteristic rounded back and is about the size of a large dog. Only the bucks have the little (7cm) backward pointing antlers which fall off in June. It is coloured between brown and dark grey, and when disturbed raises its tail revealing a bright, white flash on the underside. It likes thick cover, especially bramble, which is also its main food plant. Whilst generally secretive, it has been known to enter gardens and even unfastened sheds in search of food and shelter in the winter. If you see one, please telephone John Rostron on 0268 757984.

Newts and Tadpoles at Digby’s Dell Pond

Almost before the winter work parties ceased, our volunteers were rewarded for their efforts in deepening Digby’s Pond, by the appearance of mating frogs and smooth newts. Although it is likely that some spawn was introduced from outside the wood by well-meaning visitors, at least some was locally produced! Over the next few weeks it will be interesting to see which plants are the first to colonise, provided of course those same well-meaning people don’t introduce alien species from their garden ponds.

Autumn 1994

Records from Pound Wood

Species Records

We created a first species list for Pound Wood. We hope that this is not yet complete, and invite any visitors to inform us of what they have found. In particular, we welcome all sightings of mammals other than Squirrels and foxes. The area of the wood where the species was seen (using path names or compartment label) is particularly useful. If you are knowledgeable about any particular species, you are especially invited to help with this task. We have maps of the wood showing the various compartments used for both management and recording. Please ring John Rostron on 0268 757984 if you would like one.

Dormouse Hopes

Forty specially prepared Dormouse nesting boxes are concealed in Pound Wood both as an aid to their survival and as a means to establish the levels of the population. Certain of our members are authorised by English Nature to examine the boxes for signs of this scarce little mouse. Examination has shown a healthy population of Blue Tits! However, two of the boxes do contain the nests of mammals.

Unfortunately the residents were not at home when we called and so we do not have a positive identification, for the nest of the more common Woodmouse is not dissimilar. Let us just hope that there is an extant population. We will be examining these nests for dormice hair in the winter. We trust that it was not significant that whilst the examination was taking place a rather contented Tawny Owl was hooting in a nearby tree!

It will take a few years’ more management to significantly improve the habitat for them. The new hazel trees may come into fruit by 1997.

For the record, we understand that a recent national survey using hazel nut shells (which the Dormouse opens in a recognizable way) shows that it exists in only 295 sites in theUK, mostly in the southern counties.

January 1995


We are delighted to report that a small population of dormice lives on in Pound Wood. Last Autumn, 40 nesting boxes were sited in the more remote parts of the wood. Although usually hibernating close to the ground in old tree trunks land roots, they build nests to rear their young in the trees. Setting up a family home is a difficulty which humans share with most other creatures, so the provision of detached residences in desirable locations should prove irresistible to them. It is an indicator of the modest size of the surviving population that only two boxes were being used by dormice. Though the last check by our authorised personnel was on November 6th, we did find an active Dormouse in residence. Such a late sighting was surely a further indicator of the very mild autumn.

Whilst making our rounds, we met up with 13 woodmice in 8 nesting boxes. If we were able to open the lid without shaking the box too much, the little creatures would just appear in the entrance for a nervous sniff round, but occasionally they were sufficiently disturbed to bolt off. Some other boxes had been used by blue tits during the summer.


Whilst examining the dormice boxes, our volunteers put up a woodcock. This is an apt description, for when disturbed a woodcock seems to leap into the air before flying off right through the densest part of the wood. The woodcock should be common in this area, being a wader which prefers woods and meadows. However, because it nests on the ground, it is one of the species which has suffered most from the intensive use of open spaces for dog walking. The fact that one was found in Pound Wood is testament to the effectiveness of the “non-intervention areas” we have created. Our thanks to dog walkers for keeping their pets away from them.

Badgers (Don Hunford)

Badgers are not uncommon in S.E. Essex and there are many setts which have survived, indeed thrived, in our urban environment. Every time I give a talk, there will be someone who is delighted to tell me of Brock’s nocturnal visits to their gardens. Indeed, local setts appear on TV almost every time there is a feature on urban wildlife! Our Pound Wood badgers show signs of re-inhabiting a long abandoned outpost sett not far from a fairly well-used path within the wood. Another reason, please, for visitors and their dogs to stay outside the non-intervention areas.


Another first, at any rate for me, was two male pheasants seen on December 16th, near to the church field. There are few woods in Essex which have not been used at some time for shooting, and the captive rearing of pheasants is commonplace. As far as I am aware, this has not been so here and it will be interesting to see what sort of “natural” levels of population emerge (assuming that some females fly in too!). Certainly our wood ants will provide them with enough food!

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January 1996


We began to record the wildlife of Pound Wood before we took possession of the reserve. As you might expect, most records from our visitors are of birds and flowers. However, the wood does support a good range of other animals and plants.

There are twenty-seven species of birds recorded in Pound Wood. This may not seem very many, but recording birds in a wood is much more difficult than doing it in open country like estuaries. We have not recorded breeding birds separately, although many of those seen in the summer are undoubtedly breeding. These include Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Although we have heard many Cuckoos, confirmation of breeding is much more difficult.

Birds of Prey include Tawny Owls which are to be heard in the evenings and night, and more recently the odd Sparrowhawk.

Sparrowhawks have been making a good recovery from their decline in the sixties, but Essex has been one of the last counties to be re-colonised. Woods like Pound Wood are ideal Sparrowhawk country and we do hope to see them breeding before too long.

Some other species of note include: our British Woodpeckers, the Great Spotted, Lesser Spotted and Green; the two other tree climbing species: the Treecreeper and Nuthatch; three tits — Great, Blue and Long-Tailed; three thrushes — Blackbird, Mistle and Song; the Wren and Wood Pigeon. All are undoubtedly breeding, since they are to be seen and heard throughout the summer, as are the Crow, Jay and Magpie.

Plants are easier to see and, though we have fewer plant recorders, we have more records. So far, we have 146 species of vascular plant recorded, including some 20 species of tree and shrub (with just one conifer — the yew); three ferns and a number of more scrubby plants (such as roses, brooms and brambles). Most of these are to be found in flower in the spring, when there is more light on the ground.

Pound Wood has a thriving population of one of Britains most local trees, the Wild Service — widely found in the wood, especially away from the edges. In our coppicing work, we deliberately preserve these, allowing them to grow on in the newly coppiced areas. They are commonly found as an under-storey shrub on the continent, but in Britain are really confined to the south-east, especially in the woods of the Rochford Hundred, including Thundersley, and in the Weald of Kent.

Another tree with a restricted distribution is the Woodland or Midland Hawthorn. This is hardly ever found outside ancient woodlands and is a good indication that Pound Wood has been there for some centuries at least


Regular readers will know that we have a small population of dormice in Pound Wood. Hopefully, they are elsewhere in South East Essex but we have not seen any confirmed reports.

In the densest parts of die non-intervention areas, dormice breeding boxes are hidden. Of the 34 boxes examined this year, six had definitely been used by them, with a further two probables.

The most successful boxes were in holly. Could this be the reason they survived in Pound Wood? After all, we have an awful lot of holly. Do they use it because the prickles discourage owls, or humans? Unfortunately, the last issue of Essex Wildlife Magazine erroneously indicated that dormice use these boxes for hibernation. The Dormouse hibernates at ground level, usually in holes around the roots of trees.That is why it is so important that visitors and dogs do not enter these restricted areas.

It is vital that the population be allowed to expand out of this confined area but it will he a year or two yet before the work we did at Digby’s Dell will bear fruit. Watch this space.

First Foxglove

A single foxglove came to flower in Digby’s Dell last summer, but there are quite a few infant plants so we are hopeful of a good show there in 1996. Won’t it be lovely when the wood is again able to support the full range of woodland flowers — which it will, providing no-one digs them up!

May 1996


There are around a hundred species of flowers and grasses in the wood. Most of these are common and widespread, but some are much more restricted and are, like the Woodland Hawthorn and the Service Tree, confined to ancient woodlands. The most notable of these is the Hairy Woodrush, but others include the Wood Anemone, Pendulous Sedge, Wood Spurge, Yellow Archangel, Common Cow-Wheat, Wood Melick and Wood Millet (two grasses). Another rather local species also found in damp patches in the wood is the Bristle Scirpus Rush, a rather nondescript and easily overlooked plant.

There are some 17 species of fungi recorded so far, including many common (and edible) species. Be warned however. Do not go picking mushrooms in the wood for two reasons. One is that this is a nature reserve, and we ought to let the other animals have them. The other is that, unless you really know your fungi, you may end up with more than you bargained for! Some of the more garish are perfectly edible, and some of the most inviting will make you ill! So far, we have not recorded the real killers, but there are several that will make you unwell.

The insects of Pound Wood have had very few records. We only have fifteen recorded to date. Most of these are the conspicuous species such as butterflies, but we do have records of two damselflies and two dragonflies. These have colonised the pond in Digby’s Dell since it was cleared in our first season there in 1993–94, so we are very pleased to see them.

Another Muntjac Sighting

A puzzled motorist rang us earlier in the year because he couldn’t believe there could be deer in St Michaels Road, Thundersley. But these small deer are in our Daws Heath reserves. The Muntjac is a native of China but has been spreading across England since escaping from captivity earlier this century.

If you see one, please report it to one of our wardens.

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January 1997

Dormice Hang in There

Despite expert warnings that the previously unmanaged Pound Wood was not a good habitat for the threatened Dormouse, a few pairs raised families there again this year. Do hang on please Mr Dormouse, our new hazel trees will soon be big enough to supply your favourite food.

September 1997

Monitoring and Recording

When taking on a new nature reserve it is always interesting to log new sightings of different species, be they plants, insects, mammals or birds. In fact compiling a comprehensive database of species present is an important part of the management of a nature reserve.

By monitoring the success of certain species it is possible to gauge the effectiveness of work on the reserve. For example, next year’s population of meadow brown butterflies should increase because we purposefully left tall grass margins in the meadows during haymaking.

The regular censusing of nesting birds, when collated with information from other recorders, countrywide, helps to paint a national picture of different bird populations. This in turn provides valuable information on population change and has revealed, for example, that birds such as the skylark and the song thrush are in decline over most of the county.

Plans to survey and monitor birds, butterflies and plants at the nearby Little Haven reserve are being drawn up and already early recording has unearthed some interesting finds including ancient woodland plants such as Wood Spurge, Wood Anemone and Wood Sorell. One particularly exciting discovery was that of several plants of the Broad-leaved Helleborine, a rather unassuming member of the orchid family.

Almost 20 species of butterfly have been recorded at Little Haven, including Brown Argus and Marbled White. Finger meadow with its abundant nectar plants such as Marsh Thistle, Lesser Stitchwort and Black Knapweed has been the most productive area on the reserve for butterflies.

50 species of moth were recorded one warm July night and notable birds include a visiting Hobby. Watch this space for more news of discoveries and of Daws Heath wildlife.

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Spring 1999

Recent wildlife sightings on the Daws Heath Reserves

The presence of a Weasel indicates a healthy small mammal population. Meadow Pipit and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker have been seen recently, and the first swallow was spotted on April 10th.

The Woodcock is a wading bird which nests in woodland so it ought to be common in Castle Point, but isn’t, probably because all the woods are constantly in use by dogs; a good reason to ask dog walkers (who are otherwise most welcome) to keep their pets under control. Several of these shy birds have been seen over the winter months.

Fifteen new moth species, including one rarity, were recorded in a single session by local experts.

If you see anything new, please contact the wardens.

Rare butterfly for Pound Wood

One of Britain‘s rarest butterflies, the Heath Fritillary, was introduced into Pound Wood in the summer of 1998. Certain parts of the wood were thought to be particularly suitable as this species feeds on common cow-wheat which, though nationally rare, grows prolifically in the recently coppiced areas. Adult butterflies from two different thriving colonies at Hockley Woods and Thrift Wood were freed in Pound Wood. We expect to see the offspring flying in late May to early June.

Butterflies spring into life

We have all four species of butterfly which hibernate over winter and emerge to lay eggs in the spring. Whilst some are on the wing in mid-January, it is usually March or April before we see most of the Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Brimstone and Comma butterflies. All are seeking a nectar source and somewhere to lay their eggs. Red Admirals occasionally over-winter but the main influx of these insects arrives later in the year from southern Europe. If you want more early butterflies in your garden, you must ensure there are some Nettles in a sunny position and grow plants like Aubrietia which flower early and are rich in nectar. If you plant hedge mustard or lady’s smock, you may even attract Orange-tip butterflies.

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Spring 2000 (Biodiversity Special)

Botanical Diversity in our Woodland Nature Reserves

We claim that coppicing enhances biodiversity in our woodlands being a renewal of the ancient management system. Compared with the pace of modern change the few hundred years of coppice management may seem to take us back to ancient times. But for many thousands of years before that, our forests managed themselves without any help from coppicing. So how can we claim to be supporting a natural biodiversity?

If you could travel back through time and visit the primaeval wildwood you might be surprised to find it was not just mile after mile of unbroken tree cover. There would be open glades with much of the flora we now associate with coppice. Occasional storms like the one we experienced in 1987 would have brought down groups of very old trees letting in the light. As regeneration started, a whole spectrum of animal life would take advantage of the new food resources. As the new tree seedlings started to struggle upward they would be attacked by an army of insects. Voles and mice would join in. Hares and Roe Deer could browse at a higher level. Finally Red Deer are able to reach the leaves of those saplings which had managed to escape the shorter browsers. All this time, nature’s own bulldozers the Wild Boar would be searching for acorns and Beech mast even though Squirrels and Jays were busy hiding them. Grasses and herbs, taking advantage of the light, would attract the grazers. Thus the glade would persist over a long period.

Our coppice areas also give opportunities for ground flora but in the absence of deer and boar the return of tree cover is much faster. We have found ourselves occupying the role of these browsers and rooters in our sustained efforts to keep clear areas under the cables in Pound Wood. This work is designed to aid the establishment of the Heath Fritillary butterfly. What other species of plants and animals may find this mini-glade to their advantage? We must watch this space.

The flora of the woodland floor vary in their tolerance of shade. Most seem to respond with vigour to the temporary removal of shade by coppicing. Many complete their growth and flowering early each season before the shade becomes too dense. Wood Anemone and Woodsorrel are followed by our speciality the Bluebell. Primroses and Celandines like spots which catch the early season sunshine. Later in the season we can find Yellow archangel and Cow-wheat, the food plant of the fritillary caterpillars.

The dominant plants of the woodlands must of course be the trees. Traditional for Essex coppice woodlands were Hornbeam, used for fuel and some farm implements, and standard Oak, used for construction work. The introduced Sweet or Spanish Chestnut now occupies large areas of coppice as its timber is easy to split and resistant to rot. Birch is quick to colonise bare ground, after a fire for example. Ash also has efficient seed dispersal and will quickly carpet any open area with rapidly growing seedlings.

Alder is a specialist, coping with soil where nitrates are leached away by moving water. Unlike other trees the Alder can make its own nitrates from the air.

Less common trees to look for as you walk our woodland reserves are the Wild Service Tree and Alder Buckthorn, the foodplant of the Brimstone butterfly. As winter comes and the leaves fall there is still green in the wood — the Holly and the Ivy.

The Sparrowhawk

The Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) is one of the most widespread and abundant birds of prey in Britain. It is also one of the smallest, the male being about the same size as a jackdaw, the female being somewhat larger. Seen well, the striking plumage of the adult bird can be fully appreciated. The male is blue-grey above with contrasting rust-red flanks. Below it is buff in colour with broad horizontal barring. However its secretive behaviour makes the bird difficult to observe. It spends time at rest in dense cover in scrub or woodland. This is unlike the much more conspicuous Kestrel which is often seen perched in open country on fence posts, telegraph poles or small trees.

Having said this, Sparrowhawks can be seen on most days over Little Haven or Pound Wood by the birdwatcher willing to put in a little time and effort. On calm sunny days they can be seen soaring, enabling the observer to note the bird’s broad wings, long tail and characteristic flap, flap glide flight. You are just as likely to see one at home, dashing through gardens and over fences with amazing speed and manoeuvrability in pursuit of their prey, other birds.

Sparrowhawks usually eat small species such as Starlings, House Sparrows or Tits but they will also take Jays, Jackdaws and even Wood Pigeons. These are sometimes hunted in suburban gardens where they are ambushed at bird tables, shrubs or trees. A marauding Sparrowhawk will panic any flock of small birds, causing them to flee into dense cover in order to escape. Mammals such as Voles and small Rabbits are occasionally taken but this is mainly in early spring when bird prey is scarcest (Newton 1986). Prey items are often taken to a favourite place to be plucked. This is usually a log or a tree stump and is known as a plucking post.

The sparrowhawk nests in woodland and tall scrub, pairs sometimes nesting in the same areas in different years. A new nest is built each year, sometimes over an old Squirrel dray or Wood Pigeon nest. It is usually placed in the lower canopy of the tree and consists of twigs and small branches collected by both the male and the female. 3–5 eggs are laid usually in May and incubated for around five weeks by the female. When they hatch, the young are nidicolous which literally means nest-dwelling. In other words the chicks live in the nest until they are ready to fledge and are totally dependant on their parents for food and shelter. It is during this time as with all birds that the parents have to guard their offspring against predators. Interestingly the main predator of Sparrowhawk chicks is the Tawny Owl.

After about four weeks the immature birds leave the nest but remain in the vicinity for about the same period of time. During this time they are still fed and protected by their parents and they learn flying and hunting skills essential for their future survival. When the young birds disperse from the nesting area they must become fully independent (Newton 1986).

The breeding success and ultimately the survival of all birds depends on a combination of factors such as weather conditions, predation and availability of food. The sparrowhawk is no exception to this and populations rise and fall accordingly. Over the last 60 years the sparrowhawk has experienced dramatic changes in its fortunes. As long ago as 1797 the Sparrowhawk was described by the naturalist and artist Thomas Bewick as very numerous. Even up to the 1950’s the bird was described as very common and widespread. However by 1966 only two pairs could be found breeding in Essex (Dennis 1996).

The reason for this drastic decline in the bird’s numbers was the introduction and subsequent widespread use of organochlorine pesticides. By the late 1940’s DDT was being used, killing insects with great effect on a variety of crops. Organochlorines are extremely persistent chemicals and build up in the bodies of birds. The Sparrowhawk is a bird predator and top of its food chain. After a period of time it therefore accumulates high levels of these chemicals in its own body. This caused eggshell thinning and breakages and ultimately a reduction in breeding success (Gibbonset al 1993). To compound this problem other organochlorines, known as cyclodienes and more toxic than DDT, were in use from the mid 1950’s. Aldrin, dieldrin and heptachlor were used as seed dressings on cereals and to combat such pests as cabbage root fly and wire worms. Unlike DDT these pesticides caused large-scale direct mortality of wildlife, especially of seed eating birds and their predators. Unfortunately Sparrowhawks were no exception and many birds died from eating contaminated finches and pigeons (Newton 1986). Following a series of voluntary bans on cyclodienes in the 1960’s their application was much reduced. Remarkably DDT remained in use, albeit at lower levels, and even up to the early 1980’s it was still being recommended to farmers!

As a result of the reduction in the use of organochlorines the Sparrowhawk has gradually recovered and by the time of the British Trust for Ornithology survey (1988–91) the species was considered to have fully recovered. Sparrowhawks are not long lived birds, the oldest ringed individual recovered in Britain was 11 years old. Some birds are still illegally shot, trapped or poisoned but reports of birds being killed in this way are thankfully declining. However the numbers of birds killed on the roads and by colliding against glass windows has increased. Despite this the Sparrowhawk has once again become a common bird in Essex and numbers are currently as high as they have been at any time in the last 100 years. Let’s hope that the drastic decline in recent decades of many of our once common farmland birds such as the Skylark and the Song Thrush is not mirrored in the future population trend of the sparrowhawk.


Dennis M.K. 1996.Tetrad Atlas to the Breeding Birds of Essex. The Essex Birdwatching Society.

Gibbons D.W., Reid J.B., and Chapman R.A. 1993.The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991. Poyser, London.

Newton I. 1986.The Sparrowhawk. Poyser, London.

Rare Butterfly in Pound Wood

One of Britain’s rarest butterflies, the Heath Fritillary, was introduced into Pound Wood in the summer of 1998. Certain parts of the wood were thought to be particularly suitable as this species feeds on Common Cow-wheat which, though nationally rare, grows prolifically in the recently coppiced areas. Adult butterflies from two different thriving colonies at Hockley Woods and Thrift Wood were released into Pound Wood. We expect to see the offspring flying in late May to early June.

The Secret life of Wood Ants

The Red Wood Ant, common on both reserves, is found throughout most of Europe where its presence is declining due to habitat destruction. In the United Kingdom it is most commonly found in southern England where it follows the pattern of coppicing. They build a nest of twigs and plant material which acts as a solarium, trapping heat to incubate larvae that are found within a mass of chambers below the ground. Established nests may contain up to half a million workers. The Red Wood Ant’s diet typically consists of honeydew that is tended from aphids, insect prey and seeds. Each nest has a separate territory including several foraging trails leading to favourite trees. These areas are fiercely defended against ants of different colonies.

A Lepidopterist in February

Although it is still only winter and the conditions can change very quickly from mild conditions to some severe night frosts, it is the milder conditions that can give the woodland wanderer a chance to observe some of the rather delicate winter and early spring species of moths that appear at this time of the season.

During daylight hours male Palebrindledbeauty (Apocheime pilosaha) can often been sitting on tree trunks and fences. The larva of this species feed on a variety of trees and shrubs from April to June. The Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) is quite common in all woodlands in Essex and is another very variable moth found just after dark sitting on twigs waiting for the wingless females to emerge. Their caterpillars feed on Hornbeam and birch during the spring.

One of the most interesting little moths to be found at this time of the year is the Spring Usher (Agriopis leucophaearia), a species that heralds the first signs of spring. The larva are generally some shade of green and feed on oak shoots just as the buds are opening, The females of all of these three species are wingless and look like a mixture of small spiders but of course they only have six legs. They can be found by shaking them from the dead leaves which hang on many oak trees during the winter months. The loveliest of all the Geometrid moths during the early spring is the Oak Beauty (Biston strataria), a very striking creature with a magnificent ornamental pattern on the forewings — usually sits on tree trunks at about head height — and is quite difficult to see against the background of bark. The larvae, which look like short stunted twigs, feed on oak during May and June. The male of this species often fly into a bright light on milder evenings. All of these species overwinter as a pupa, usually at the base of the tree where their caterpillars fed during the early weeks of Spring and all can be found in all of our local woodlands.

Note of interest

Today (22/2/2000) I saw my first butterfly of the year. It was quite a surprise, for nectaring from crocus in bright sunshine was a Red Admiral. It returned again later in the afternoon and was enjoying the flowers ofViburnum. It was quite a large specimen so I am almost certain it was a butterfly that had overwintered and not a migrant, as these early visitors are usually on the smaller size

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Autumn 2003

Heath Fritillary Butterfly Success in Pound Wood

The Heath Fritillary butterfly population in Pound Wood continues to grow and this year we had a maximum of 43 flying on any single visit (compared with 27 last year). We are expecting a contractor to undertake some difficult tree work next winter near to the power lines to help with our management of this area.

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Bob Delderfield’s History File

Memories of Old Daws Heath (Autumn 1995)

The request in the last newsletter for the memories of long term residents brought an almost immediate response from Mrs Doris Staines née Scudder. She has spent most of her life in Thundersley, including the first 18 years in Daws Heath where she was born in 1908. The Scudders were associated with Daws Heath from the very early 19th century and her grandmother was a servant at Bramble Hall in the 1860s.

Doris remembers the old Daws Heath with great affection, recalling the rural simplicity of the place: “no buses, no paths, no gas or electricity. You chopped your wood for the fire and used paraffin lamps”. The children of the area roamed the fields and woods regarding the latter as public property — in fact, Doris was staggered in later years to discover that woods had owners. Pound and other woods were considered by the very few people then living in the area as the source for beansticks, peasticks and kindling. “Our mothers would hurl a bushell basket at us” and it was expected that the child would fill the basket with faggots. It was also common and regarded as perfectly normal for locals to set snares in the woods for rabbits. In those days before the welfare state if you couldn’t work you didn’t eat, so rabbits would be caught and then either eaten, sold, or perhaps swapped for potatoes.

Editor’s Note: Uncontrolled cutting by today’s large local population would decimate the wood in a few weeks, but some sticks are still surplus at coppice time - come and collect them on work-party Sundays.

Although Doris recalls her childhood in Daws Heath with pleasure, she has no illusions about the behaviour of children in those far off days – “children have always been little horrors” – and she has a number of tales of childhood mischief including herself ‘scrumping’ at the age of seven. As we all know, Pound Wood produces wonderful chestnuts which Doris and her friends also enjoyed. They would pick them up and sell them if they could get away with it. Occasionally they failed and were discovered in their crime; Doris well remembers receiving the carpet beater across her behind for one such misdemeanour. Then there were the activities in and around the Daws Heath Pond which stood at the very top of Western Road on the west side. Dashing into the pond the children would claw up the silty sludge from the bottom and perpetrate minor acts of vandalism with it. Doris finds amusement in our modern idea that every wood and road has a proper name because in her youth much cruder references were, usually made. Bramble Road was known as ‘along the top and down the end’. St Michael’s Road was the ‘old back road’. Starvelarks Wood was ‘the coppice’ and the stream in Pound Wood which we now dignify as Hunford Brook was simply ‘the ditch’. St Michael’s field, before the church was built, gloried in a more agricultural and ancient field name, Stoney Crop Field, which in Doris’s childhood produced crops such as swedes, tumips and wheat.

Wyburns Farm was casually reduced in size and status by many of the locals who would look from Daws Heath Road across its fields towards Rayleigh and refer to it as the ‘40 Acres’. Doris also recalls it being known as ‘Grinsteads’ after the farmer of that time. If Doris and her friends fancied going to Rayleigh they would not follow the path which winds through Starvelarks but just cut across 40 Acres. As they went they might grab the odd ear of corn, rubbing and hand winnowing it in order to eat its sweet centre. The field beside the Daws Heath Road often had cows or sheep on it and Great Wyburns stood at the east end of that field at the junction of Daws Heath Road and Western Road (photographs in Teny Babbington’s book nos. 178 and 179). Here it was customary to take your can and purchase fresh milk from the farmhouse door.

Another farm providing milk was Hareslands which once stood at the far end of Haresland Close. From here a daughter of the farmer would set out on a bicycle precariously balancing a can of milk on each side of the handlebars to sell milk from door to door.

Represented above are just a few memories of old Daws Heath from Doris Staines to whom I am most grateful for her time and patience. She has plenty more tales to tell and I hope to include some of them in a future newsletter.

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January 1996

The 1995–96 Pound Wood coppicing season began on November 5th and it therefore seemed appropriate that the new site should be called ‘Gunpowder Plot’ recalling that well known event which took place 390 years ago. However, there are also other connections between the Daws Heath Woods and the plotters of 1605.

Coppicing, as we all know, is an ancient art of woodland management and involves the planned and regular cutting of the underwood, which in the case of Pound Wood is dominated by Hombeam. Apart from the obvious local uses of underwood such as fencing, the main commercial value to the wood’s owners was in untiing it into charcoal. It is quite likely that in the middle ages charcoal from Pound and Tile Woods went up the Thames by barge to feed the iron smelting industry in Kent and the outskirts of London but from the 16th to 19th centuries, Thundersley charcoal played a significant part in the gunpowder industry of West Essex at Waltham Abbey and the Lea Valley.

At one period a six-wheeled wagon with five horses collected 200 sacks of charcoal weekly from Thundersley, taking them on the turnpike roads to the factory via Rayleigh, Billericay and Romford. Apparently, the charcoal of the Thundersley area was especially suitable for the manufacture of gunpowder. According to die Rev. Maley, Rector of Thundersley in hisThe Ancient Parish of Thundersley: It caused Thundersley to play a part in the Gunpowder Plot,for the charcoal was takenfrom Thundersley to the Gunpowder Factory at Lea Bridge, the first factory for making gunpowder in all England. This factory provided the powder for the plotters in Eastwood [should be Eastbury] House, Barking, only a few miles away, and shipped by Guy Fawkes in small barges plying up and down.

Essex has an additional link with the Gunpowder Plot because it was William Parker, Lord Monteagle of Great Hallingbury Hall, who received the somewhat cryptic letter which uncovered the plot. His response led to the failure of the scheme and the capture of the plotters. For this he was given a handsome pension of £700 a year.

A not totally unrelated incident, on a local and more domestic scale, occurred in about 1920 when Doris Staines, our entertaining informant about old Daws Heath, was only 12. ‘Woodside’, the substantial house which stands on the corner of St Mchael’s Road, was then occupied by the six Mitchell sisters who were regarded by the locals as ‘old maids’. With the coming of November 5th, several local children were building a bonfire on the little triangle of grass which still sits at the junction of St Michael’s Road and Bramble Road. When the easily available wood produced only a measly pile, Doris’s two elder brothers, knowing of the Mitchell’s woodstore behind the coach-house, removed 100 faggots (bundles of small wood for domestic use in wood-burning stoves and ovens) from said premises without the knowledge of the owners. When the now very large bonfire was lit and was burning merrily, the Mitchell sisters could be seen at the upstairs windows thoroughly enjoying the blaze, completely unaware of their contribution to its success. The next day Mr Rolph, the Mitchell’s groom and gardener, going to fetch wood, discovered the large space where the faggots should have been. On this occasion the police were called in and Doris remembers: “This time there was trouble. The bobby came after us. But it was a smashing fire!”

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Earlier Threats to Pound Wood (May 1996)

Discussions and arguments over ‘development’, ‘Green Belt’, ‘change of use of land’ and ‘open spaces’ have been commonplace since the Trust was founded in 1959 but the battle to prevent urban and industrial takeover of sites such as Pound Wood goes back further than many might imagine.

During the 1920s the Rochford Rural District Council, which then included Thundersley and Hadleigh, was active in proposing many development schemes. By 1929 it had been decided that Pound Wood, Tile Wood and West Wood were all ripe for residential development, subject, of course, to purchase from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who owned all three woods. The west end of Pound Wood was to become an estate with eight dwellings per acre and the cast end would be slightly more crowded at ten per acre. The south end of Tile Wood and the bulk of Tylerset Farm would also be given over to ten houses per acre. The 80 acres of West Wood were to he subjected to a housing estate of 640 dwellings. Somebody certainly had it in for the woods!

It is true that the country peace of Daws Heath has been disturbed by small housing development and a huge increase in road traffic in the last 30 years but if all the plans of the late twenties had come to fruition there would now probably he no sign of Daws Heath’s rural heritage.

One feature of the proposed road system at Daws Heath was to have been the loss of the double bend in St Michael’s Road, the new line would have followed the footpath in St Michael’s Field along Pound Wood’s western boundary. Rows of shops on either side of Bramble Road between St Michael’s Road and River’s Corner were also among the proposals.

Like so many local town planning schemes of the 1920s and 30s, these developments were never realised, but this was not the end of the threats to Pound and other woods. During the 1930s the new Benflect Urban District Council attempted to purchase Pound Wood from the Ecclesiastical Comissioners for £2000 in order to build an estate at initially twelve, later two houses per acre. However the vendors wanted £100 per acre and, much to our retrospective delight, the dispute over land value was never resolved and nothing came of these plans. The Church Commissioners, as they are now known, have received much criticism in recent times but it would seem that we owe much to these faceless landlords.

One far-sighted supporter of local open spaces was Mr Harold Tutt, Headmaster of Hadleigh School 1917–52, Councillor, JP, and highly respected ornithologist. At a Council meeting in May 1938 he made an important and prophetic speech moving that a resolution offering £45 an acre for Pound Wood and parts of West Wood be rescinded and that these woods should remain on the planning map as proposed open spaces. The Southend Standard reported. Mr Tutt said that people came to live in the area because of the amenities of the countryside and the healthiness of the air “… We could see the time fifty years hence when Benfleet, Rayleigh, Pitsea and Southend would sweep over the whole area just as they had seen development sweep over the Metropolitan area in the last 20 or 30 years …” Sadly Mr Tutt’s motion was defeated but how pleased he would have been to know that Pound Wood has now been preserved by the Wildlife Trust.

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Jack Whalley, Woodsman (September 1997)

From time to time we volunteers have found ourselves involved in what can only he described as the traditional woodland crafts. We have made, with varying success, barriers, gates, cut firewood and experimented with rustic furniture as well as trying our hands at the more contemporary craft of making planters.

Led by enthusiast such as Gerry Bullock we have had to rediscover appropriate techniques since there are few traditional exponents around to pass on these skills.

However, it is not as long as many of us might think since the last of the traditional woodsmen were plying their trade. One such was Jack Whalley who was still active in Tile Wood as recently as 1964 and I am indebted to Mike Astor of Rochford who worked with Jack in the late fifties and early sixties for his reminiscences of this interesting character.

Jack was a woodsman well before the first world war, and during that terrible conflict he carried on working at home because, as a woodsman, his job was regarded officially as a reserved occupation. It is interesting to remind ourselves of the continued importance of wood in the war effort when men were still relying on horses for heavy transport duties. So Jack spent his whole life earning his living among the woodlands of S.E. Essex. He was a remarkable man in many ways and regarded by Mike Astor as the last of the traditional woodsmen. Working in the local woods – including Belfairs Nature reserve, Pound and Tile Woods, Jack, then in his eighties, was still coppicing in 1964. Little wood was wasted as Jack and his employees made split and round chestnut stakes, rustic furniture, rustic trellis work, beanpoles, peasticks and, of course, logs for firewood.

The method of business was also traditional. Jack paid the owner or lesee of a wood a sum of money giving him the right to cut an agreed acreage of underwood. He then had to turn the cut wood into a profit in order to make a living. On the occasions when Jack had difficulty paying the Council for his rights in Belfairs Nature Reserve, the shortfall would be made up by providing stakes for the Council’s use.

Thus in the middle of the twentieth century Jack Walley was plying a trade that did not differ enormously from that of his medieval forbears. But the day of chainsaws and plastic was already beginning to have a devastating effect on woodsmen. As Mike Astor puts it, The bottom fell out of the market’ just as Jack was nearing the end of his working life.

Jack Walley was an independent man who learned his craft and stuck to it throughout his life. He was an outdoors man who had little time for the niceties of personal hygiene. He always wore old army shirts with no collars which he seemed to wear until they fell off exhausted. If he had been working in the pouring rain he would invariably light a fire and steam himself dry. None of this appeared to weaken his constitution but after retirement he was eventually admitted to Nazareth House and tradition has it that when forced to take a bath poor Jack died within a week.

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