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Below all of the Newsletters issued since our beginnings in 2004. (minus any photographs)
Friends of Dagnam Park Newsletter
May 22nd. We were requested by Thames Water to test four preselected ponds hopefully housing crested newts. Twenty water samples from each pond were collected and added to a catalyst . The samples were then picked up the following day for transportation to France, where they will be checked for crested newt DNA. Results expected in September.
Friends of Dagnam Park
Park security telephone number 07904 805 872
It only seems like yesterday that I sat down and put together the last newsletter but since that time we, as a group, have had our AGM, litter picks, additional land has been added to the park, we have suffered from fly tippers, and have noted the loss of a valued friend to not only the group but also to those that knew him. On top of this we have also said goodbye to one of the photographers who has been very active in the parkland helping to record the park as it is today as he has now emigrated to the frozen tundra of Canada, and by the time that you read this newsletter we will have a new Parks Manager (North) for the local authority. Our present one, Geoff Pepper retires, after some considerable time and retires from the post to a well earned retirement in Suffolk.
It was also proposed that a new post of Membership Secretary be put into place for the group. Alan offered to fill this post if there were no other nominations from the floor. This being the case it was agreed that Alan York would deal with all new membership enquiries.
Membership Secretary......Alan York.
Although this took place in February if anyone has not managed to do so already a fuller report of the AGM (with committee reports) can be found on the FODP website.
Parkland in the media.
Litter picks and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The work carried out by the girls in Duckwood coincided with our own litter picks that have been held so far this year and as well as the thirty black sacks of rubish that the girls collected over a period of time we have had a similar amount that has been collected by group members and disposed of by the ground maintance lads from the council. At the same time Ground Maintance have also disposed of the near 70 vehicle tyres that were collected up on the one morning from the old Wightsbridge Road (now Lower Noke Close) when we conducted a litter pick in that area. At the time it was satisfying to see the accumulated rubbish gathered in which in turn made the park a more attractive place to spend time in and a big thank you is extended to those that attended the litter picks and thanks must also be said to ground maintance (Havering council) for collecting the rubbish.
However the slapping of backs and self congratulations on making the parkland a better place to visit were soon on the downward slope as within a few weeks of clearing the vehicle tyres etc from the park some low life (I could put stronger words here but I will let you do that as you read on) felt that it was a good idea to fly tip their load of household rubbish and other matter into one of the fields that had just been put under the umbrella of the parkland. Not content of emptying their vehicle the once, they subquently returned and tipped at least twice more leaving the field awash with building material, furniture and household items as well as pallets and wood taken from their garden. It is hoped that action can be taken by the local authority on this matter as a name was found amongst the debris and the last time that I enquired about this I was informed that the parks department were passing it on to the council legal team. Let us hope that who ever did this can be traced and fined heavily for their actions.
The Red Stag that had been in the parkland from October 2013 stayed around until the middle of February this year and was no longer seen this coincided with the ending of the rut and as this years Fallow rut is fast upon us (going by my past entries in my book for the manor I note that it is around the 2nd week of October that the rut really kicks off for the fallow deer that we have in the park) one never knows if he will be back or if it was a one off appearance.
Talking of the rutting season reminds me to ask all dog owners to be careful when walking their dogs in and around the parkland as although attacks by the deer that we have within the manor on dogs or their owners is very rare it can happen (there have been reports of walkers/dog owners & dogs being attacked by the deer herd in Richmond Park this year) so I would like to ask all those that walk their dogs through the park to be careful and if one did come across any deer please keep your dog under control as much as possible.
Farewells and Goodbyes.
Another one to leave the borough, but lesser known outside those that use the manor on a regular basis is Alec Hickman. Alec and his wife Nicole have, for a few years now, been regulars to the manor as they walked their dog, Holly, and for the past year to 18 month Alec has been a regular contributor to the Dagnam Park facebook page where he has been posting some fantastic images that he has been able to capture. From mystical and ethereal sunrise's and landscapes to his wildlife images Alec has been recording the passing of time in the park and through his imagery he has given people more of an understanding of what the manor holds for those that want to see it. Both Alec and Nicole (and Holly) have now moved to Canada where no doubt Alec will be getting the camera out once he has settled and will again get some fantastic results from the land of the frozen north. Good luck Alec and Nicole and don't forget to pop back to the park when you come back to visit family and friends. To those that would like to see images that Alec has taken in the manor ask to join the "Dagnam Park (The Manor) Harold Hill Users Group" on facebook where not only you will see his images but also those that have been taken by others that contribute to the page.
Sadly these last few paragraphs are a final goodbye and farewell to someone who many who may read this will not have known or have heard of but to those that did I would like to pay my own respects to a lover of the manor and everything that grew, flew, crawled, hopped and lived within its boundaries and surrounding fields. For those that grew up in the late fifties and early sixties on Harold Hill it was a time of exploring the manor and farmland around the estate and at some stage one would have come across Ernest Herbert.
Ernie, or as he was to become known by many, Herbie, was born in Bethnal Green but grew up on the Hill after he and his family moved to the estate in the early months of 1950. He attended what was then called Quarles Secondary Modern School in Tring Gardens and he once told me that he did not enjoy going to school but much preferred the open fields and woods that could be found in the area and it was in those fields & woods that he spent most of his teenage years finding out what they had to offer. After a spell of being a poacher (his words) he came to realise that it was far better to observe the wildlife through binoculars rather than a gun sight and it was in the manor that Herbie developed a love for wildlife which would later become a passion of his.
To look at Herbie in his later years it was hard at times to image that he had lived a colourful and varied life but his life was certainly that. When young he was a collector of wild bird eggs, which he later swapped for an air pistol which then led him on to become an admirer of guns in general for the rest of his life, poacher of venison and game birds, gun dealer, night watchman for scrapyard owners in Rainham (it was said that he never had trouble in any of the yards that he looked after, more so when he had his Alsatian, Satan, with him and if he did, those that broke in were more afraid of him than the dog), council worker, youth worker, historian, researcher and an author of works that have been, and are still being, used in the local library service in Havering and on the FODP website.
An avid reader Herbie had amassed a collection of books on ornithology, history, the English language and its usuage from Latin to slang, the English countryside, British wildlife etc etc the list was endless. Not only did he read them all but ask him a question and if he did not know the answer he would know that he had a book that would have it in. Over the years that I knew Herbie I found that we had more than one common interest but the one that rose above them all was a love for the manor and the history that it has risen from. It was with his help and encouragement that the book "Harold Hill & Noak Hill: a history" had the depth of research that it took to produce the book as it was he who pressed on me the importance of proper research and the need to search out and read, where possible, original documents. His insistence to search out the smallest bit of detail when conducting research stands good with me now and it is surprising where it can lead and just what it can open up for further research.
Without realising it current members of the FODP and those that walk the parkland on a daily basis owe a lot to Herbie for if it was not for his early years growing up on the Hill and his later years as a lover of the place, the manor may not exist in the form that it now takes. One of the things that Herbie did was to share his love for the manor with others and in his youth and before he lost his mobility in later years he would often take others around the parkland to show them just what the park had to offer them. It is no small matter to say that more than a few of those that now walk the fields within the parkland were introduced to it by Herbie many years ago and they now share that love of the place that he held so dear.
Friends of Dagnam Park
Park security telephone number 07904 805 872
Since the last newsletter in April the parkland has seen the coming and going of some of the most loveliest days to be had in The Manor and now, as I type and reflect back on those balmy days when the sun was at its highest, I see, once again, that it is raining and all thoughts of the past year spent tramping around the fields are but a still and distant memory. Like many who spend their time in the parkland, be it walking, fishing or just sitting in a corner of a field having some "me" time I find that having been in there "my batteries are recharged", as someone put it to me only the other week, which is why I suppose that the number of people now using the park has gone up quite a bit as they discover what the parkland has to offer, which all in all is a good thing but trying to find a quiet place to sit and enjoy the park is getting more and more difficult, but hey-ho you cannot it have both ways as we need people to be aware of the parkland and to use it fittingly.
From a wet, windy and cold start to the year the spring came and went like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, rushing in and being late on arrival.
Early morning also brought unexpected sights such as Muntjac gingerly hugging the field boundaries in the hope that no one, or thing, would spot them and if they were spotted or disturbed on their preamble they would quickly crash through the hedgerow just as quick as they had appeared.
By the 3rd week of May, Spring, or what was supposed to be Spring was leaving, as it had arrived, like an un-welcomed guest with a dose of measles, but things were looking up. With the hatching of goslings on both the Green Lake and Perch Pond and Long Tail Tits gathering insects to feed their young in nesting sites across the parkland there was plenty to observe and learn from.
By the middle of June Fallow Does had also had their young and the sound of the fawn’s gentle bleating for their mothers could be heard filling the early morning and early evening air (even as I type this out in late December this sound can still be heard occasionally as one walks through the parkland). Standing at the edge of field under the cover of an over- hanging branch of an Oak and watching deer cautiously enter a field with their young following by their side and continuously holding their heads erect so as to catch any scent that they may find that “spells” danger to them is also something that many of the park users do not have a chance of doing. They may catch a glimpse of a few deer in the distance or, if they are lucky, see a small herd run in front of them but many of the users to the park have yet to see any deer at all.
By the end of the month both Fox and Deer had young to feed. The Fox, which only has one litter per year has a gestation period of 52-53 days and has dropped her litter by mid-April, dependant of course when she mated and has, generally, a litter of four or five cubs deep in its earth.
The cubs suckle up to the Vixen to take her milk and at some point, usually by the time that the cubs are four – five weeks old they will be weaned from this by having solid food, in the form of small mammals etc found by the Vixen and deposited in front of them. As they grew older the cubs can be found sunning their-selves just outside the earth and occasionally play-fighting.
One of the best sights that I was able to witness this year was of a Vixen moving her litter, one at a time, by carrying them in her mouth, from her earth where she had been disturbed to another earth two fields away from the first, a magical sight with no one else around to view the scene.
In the first week of November some of the park users received a big surprise when they came across a large animal that was to be found running with the Fallow Deer. Described by some as being ..."as big as an 'orse"...or ..."it’s the size of a large pony"...to ...." I only caught a quick sight of it but I tell you it put the wotsits up me,
The massive 'orse/pony sized animal turned out to be a lone Red Deer Stag that had wandered in from outside of the park and which was looking for a mate as it was the rutting season for this specie of deer. Surprisingly there are wild Red Deer in Essex and these can be found in Hatfield Forest as well as Epping Forest running freely. As well as running freely in the two already mentioned places Red Deer can be found in the countryside around Ongar, Brentwood, Chelmsford and the Rodings area of Essex.
Although there are no other Reds within The Manor this lone stag can, and most possibly will, mate with some of the Fallow Does which may prove interesting in the spring when the Does have their young.
Along with the unexpected Red Deer (which in some respects is a bonus) the bird life is doing well within the parkland and as I sit and type this in the third week of December Redwings have been gorging their selves on the berries from the Hawthorne bushes that abound along the main drive for the last two weeks. Feeding off of the Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Dogwood and Yew and moving onto the Holly and also the Ivy these birds stay in small flocks moving from one food source to another. You can see Redwings in most of the field boundaries within The Manor but for a better, dryer underfoot place to see them I would suggest that one should start near to the white gate posts on the drive and walk north towards Noak Hill where there is plenty of food for these birds and whilst looking out for the Redwings keep an eye out for the Fieldfares that, as a rule, accompany them.
The football pitches have been now laid, the fencing taken down and they now await marking out and the first ball to be kicked (officially) across the turf. The FODP have been informed that these pitches are for the use of under 12’s only and, according to one member of the council, they will only be used on Sunday mornings (although I think that his idea of usage and whoever plays on these pitches idea of how they will be used may differ as a team, of whatever age, has to practice somewhere during the week days for their match at the weekends).
It will also be interesting to see how long it is before a planning application goes in to the relevant LBH department for changing facilities/ toilets to accommodate the teams and their supporters as Sport England were insistent on having facilities provided in the report that was put out in June 2012 in relation to the pitches going into the parkland and at Broxhill. Anyone that is interested in reading the report can find it here.
Land mass in the parkland.
The Manor has now officially had the ex-farm land that abuts the parkland in the north and east added to it and it now has a total of 345 acres making it the largest park in Havering. The combined 202 acres that has been added to the park was once part of Manor Farm and Hill Farm respectively and was (partly) still being used for agricultural purposes up until August of this year. It now means that one can enter the park via Whitchurch Road (by the footpath) and stay in the park until one reaches the Weald Brook thus giving the park user an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the parkland as one should in its entirety without a vehicle in sight (if you do not count those who use the car park in Settle Road and the M25 that is).
However with the added land that now makes up The Manor one has to remember that the Park Security will need park users even more to contact them as soon as they see anything untoward going on. The Park Security Team have been an asset to not only our park but to all of those across Havering since their forming and they work tirelessly in making sure that our parks are kept free of trouble makers in all forms, but they cannot do this without our help so please whenever you use the park keep in mind that help is on hand when needed from the Park Security Team. You will find their telephone number near the top of this newsletter and if you load it into your mobile you will know that you have it with you at all times.
With the extra land comes another point that we, as a group, have to take into consideration and that is its management on a day to day, week by week basis. We can all participate in this by walking the fields on a regular basis and reporting any dumping of rubbish, abandoned vehicles or, as was the case in late August this year illegal raves. It has also been noted that we have had people camping out in the parkland at odd times over the past year and if anyone sees this happening then our advice is please do not approach but report it straight away to the Park Security Team for them to deal with it.
For anyone who does not know the “new area” I would gladly meet up with them to walk them around to show just where the parkland stretches too now…just let me know if anyone is interested in doing this.
I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Friends of Dagnam Park
LITTER PICK 27th & 28th APRIL
Park security telephone number 07904 805 872
Another bird to look out for, to spot where they are nesting that is, is the Ring Necked Parakeet, which can be seen and heard flying and settling in the trees around the parkland. Many have taken over vacant nesting sites in trees and can be found high up in the boughs like the one below.
Also, if you have the time, try to catch a glimpse for the Goldcrests that one can now find in Hatters Wood and also in the Kitchen Field. These are Europe’s smallest bird and seem to flit from branch to branch very quickly but having spotted them myself I can say that they are worth standing around looking up in the branches for.
Having started their rut in October the Fallow bucks have settled back down now and have returned to their grazing routines again but for a few months from October and leading up to the Christmas season, the deep penetrating bellow given out by the mature bucks could be heard breaking the stillness of the early morning air. This sound would soon be followed up by the hard resonating sound of antler clashing against antler as the bucks fought over the right of them being able to mate with the does and to be in charge of the herd.
I was extremely fortunate to witness such a clash take place in October last year when two equal sized bucks squared up to each other. For once I was able to have a clear view of this happening as it took place in an open field and for forty-five minutes I was totally captivated with what was taking place before me. First of all there came the deep bellow from the buck that was already standing in the field with a group of grazing does suddenly their, and my, attention was drawn to the tree line when out of it came the contending buck. Head held high, it moved quickly across the field to only pause in pace long enough to lower its head in preparation for the clash, which was set to come.
With the does scattering the rut had begun. With antlers locked the bucks pushed against each other for sometime with each not wanting to give ground. Around them, the field, in places, had settled back down and the does appeared to take no notice of the bucks fighting each other but immediately near to them the area had cleared and with every rush forward by one of the bucks a bit more space was cleared. Apart from stopping twice, when both bucks were wheezing and breathing heavily and were drawing in deep gulps of air in a hope to quickly recover, the rut continued until the winner chased the contender off the field.
Now, as I type, all has settled back to the norm (if there is such a thing in the Manor) and many of the does will be carrying young, which will be born in June. One can only hope that they are left alone from being chased by dog’s etc.
Whilst on the subject of the deer I would like to ask all those that use the parkland to report any gunshots that they hear coming from within the park boundaries or for that matter anything untoward happening in the park to the Park Security Team so that they can investigate them. Their telephone number is 07904 805 872. When telephoning either the parks team or the police about anything please tell them what you are witnessing, where you are at that time and where the incident that you are reporting is taking place in a clear and calm manner as it all helps.
Noak Hill entrance to the park.
Rogue Dogs and their owners
Over the past few months I have been hearing of (and seeing for myself) owners of large dogs letting their animals loose as they arrive in the park. Whilst many on the whole have well trained and obidient dogs there is a very small minority who frequent the area that think that it is ok for their animal to chase the deer and at times get into fights with more docile pets. One of the reports that have come back is of an owner who is letting his pair of dogs, a Belgium Alsatian and a Rottweiler, to not only chase the deer (and working as a pair the dogs tend to try to separate one or two from the herd), but is also not concerned if they go after other dogs as well, one dog walker is now not returning to the park as his dog was attacked by one of these dogs. (the owner of the two dogs has been reported to Parks Security about his behaviour to other park users).
Fights between dogs are fairly rare within the park, although the odd snap and snarl between dogs does happen now and again but this latest news is a tad unsettling. More so when you hear of one dog owner having to pay upwards of a thousand pounds for treatment to their dog who had been attacked when it was within the park. If anyone does see this type of behaviour from irresponsible owners please make a note of time and date and what you saw and report it either to myself, so that I can make other park users aware, or to the park security team so that they can look into it.
Litter picks for the year.
The next litter pick that has been arranged by group members is to be held on the weekend of 27th and 28th April (next weekend) and as usual volunteers are asked to meet up in the car park near the Settle Road entrance for 9.15 with a start time of 9.30. Area (s) to be cleared of rubbish will be agreed upon on the morning. Please remember because of the wet conditions that we have been having it is advisable to wear appropriate footwear….hope to see some new faces there.
Cattle in the Parkland?
Friends of Dagnam Park Newsletter
25th September 2006
Firstly, Don't forget
next Sunday 1st October we meet in the car park at 2.30pm for our fungus
foray, Tony Boniface, the leading Essex specialist will guide us round
and hopefully find fungi galore.
and Glow Worms
On Friday 21st July 14 members set off in the dark to see Glow-worms in Laindon and we did. We all had good views of several females, the first I've ever seen so well worth while.
And Now The Beauty Spots Saga
The Council's response was a simple acknowledgement on the 24th May, we waited another couple of weeks and on the 11th June we wrote again asking for a reply to our first letter and threatening court action. On the 16th June we received another holding letter and on the 3rd of July a letter arrived claiming that the clear up was complete.
I returned to the wood on the 9th July to inspect the results of the clear up and was appalled to find that the wood was in the same condition as when I first visited it in early May. A cursory attempt had been made at clearing the vegetation between the boundary fence and the public highway, this seems to have been done mechanically and the large amount of refuse amongst the vegetation was left there in a shredded condition. It looked worse in fact because rubbish which was once partly concealed by vegetation was now clearly visible. Beyond the boundary fence no litter or fly tipping had been cleared whatsoever, a pile of old tyres still in situ and an old armchair was in the same position albeit now partially burned. I wrote immediately to the council pointing out that their clear up attempt was a hopeless failure and I informed them I would be visiting the Magistrates Court the following week for preliminary discussions.
Having heard nothing from the Council by the 17th July we wrote giving formal notice that we would be in court applying for a litter abatement order on the 24th. Still nothing was heard from the Council so on 24th July we went to court and obtained a summons against Havering Council to appear for the first hearing on the 24th August. On the 9th August a letter arrived regretting that we had gone to court and informing us that they had done another clear up.
Off I go to the woods again this time accompanied by Dennis Cook and one of the newly elected Councillors, Dennis Bull. You will not be surprised to know that there had only been a minor improvement. Cllr Bull also agreed it was not of an acceptable standard.
On the 17th August I wrote
for the fifth time suggesting that it was not good enough and if a senior
officer were to meet prior to the court case we may be able to avoid
the legal action. On the eve of the case they made contact and agreed
to meet on site, with hours to go I asked the court to set a new date
to allow time for discussions. A new date for the hearing was set for
1. Before the end of this
year work will be undertaken to cut back the vegetation two metres into
the wood all along the boundary of both Leamington and Stratton Roads.
A day before the hearing at the Magistrates Court I finally withdrew the case and the council agreed to pay our costs.
Some thanks are due to two people not already mentioned, firstly Phil Butler for bringing to my attention the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and secondly to Peter Jones for attending court with me and his general support and encouragement. Peter is currently pursuing his own battle with the council on the rubbish in Sage Wood which runs down from Dagnam Park Drive, across Wickford Drive then Swindon Lane and on into Central Park.
On a separate but connected issue, in August I pointed out verbally that our next case would be the small area of woodland on the junction of Whitchurch Rd and Dagnam Park Drive, to their credit the council took that on board and cleared a large amount of rubbish, they have also agreed to keep it clear by litter picking it 18 times per year.
We shall see.
We still have a problem or two, hence :-
See below copy of an Email sent to Pete Williams, the boss of Havering's Countryside Management Services on 24th September 2006. He has not yet had time to reply.
I bet you love getting emails from me. Best Wishes Del
The salient points from Pete's reply today
The contractor is replacing the restrictors
and they are currently on order.
It would be useful if we could organise an indoor meeting soon, if enough members are present at the fungus foray we can try to fix a date then.
Finally something of special interest to Harold Hill residents
Many of those reading this
would have had their gas cut off in early February. The shut down affected
about 2,500 people at the Dagnam Park end of the estate and was spread
over several days.On the 3rd of
February you would have received a letter
from National Grid (formerly Transco).
Well I waited and I waited
and two weeks ago I contacted Robert Goode (Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org)
at Powergen and asked where was my cheque, He said he would look into
it and he did and he came back and said that they still had not had
the lists from National Grid and that he had ascertained that I could
contact National Grid direct for a payment. I said I wouldn't do that.
There were thousands of other people involved many elderly and many
on low incomes and many were probably unaware of their entitlement and
I was interested in all of us getting the payment. Well he took that
onboard, and ignored it by applying to National Grid for a one off payment
on my behalf. I have since had a letter from National Grid informing
me that my cheque is in the post.
I am not sure how compensation is calculated because I have seen two different methods quoted, in any case the amount due to us is two days at £30 per day. This payment should be made to you by cheque and not simply deducted from your bill. I will be interested to hear of any other experiences on this matter good or bad.
National Grid Customer Support 01604 816303 9-5 mon-fri only
You should be able to find the telephone number of your own gas supplier from the top of any recent bill. Del Smith