Parts of Lydiard Park are going to be closed to the public over the next few months as major work gets underway on the ?5.2 million lottery backed project to restore the park to its former glory.
Immediate work includes excavation of Lydiard?s lost lakes and building a new dam to retain the water. Project organisers apologise for the inconvenience to regular users and ask for people to stay out of the clearly marked danger zones whilst heavy equipment is on site.
The image below illustrates where the work will take place. Find out more at the Heritage Open Days further down the page, and read how the thousands of trees in the park are going to be managed.
All about trees
The restoration of Lydiard?s ornamental parkland and gardens with backing from Swindon industry and a ?3.1 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund will produce a jewel in Swindon.
Project leader Sarah Finch-Crisp describes in detail how this restoration will involve important woodland works to reinstate the lost lake, and the planting of thousands of new trees.
Visitors to the park in recent months may have noticed a number of trees in the woodlands, which have a red dot painted on them (top photo). Please do not be alarmed! As our notices describe, we are proposing to fell, thin or coppice these trees as part of a carefully planned and managed restoration and woodland management programme.
During September work will start on restoring about four acres of scrub and young conifer plantation to ornamental lake, open parkland and reed beds for wildlife. This will involve the coppicing or felling of several hundred trees of all sizes, including nearly 50 large trees, mainly sycamores and squirrel-damaged maples.
Apart from reinstating historic features such as the lake, the reasons for felling are various, including where they pose a danger to the public or are damaging buildings and historic structures (second photo). We will also be thinning trees to favour the best trees (silviculture) which will provide a mix of long-lived traditional, ornamental, historic and native trees, based on Lydiard?s historic records and species which best fit the site. Thinning works are also to protect or maintain wildlife habitats, to improve light and a sense of security along paths, to reduce the spread of disease and to allow regeneration and replanting of dead, dying or damaged trees. (3rd photo)
These works will be more than compensated for by the planting of over 400 parkland trees in the wider park and 11,000 trees in two new native woodlands within the park. Over the following five years, we also plan to bring over 30 acres of the woodland back into traditional active management, by selective thinning, coppicing, hedge-laying and replanting gaps. This management is essential to favour long-lived species, like oak and beech in place of short-lived but faster growing shrubs like elder; and also to remove diseased elms and alders. (4th picture).
Without this management, Lydiard would lose almost all of its ancient trees within fifty years, and have no middle-aged trees to replace them. We aim to avoid ever having to completely clear and replant woodland by replacing a few trees each year.
Lydiard?s oldest trees are some of the most beautiful and best loved, and a key feature of the park landscape and history is the survival of these veteran ornamental trees. They are mainly horse chestnuts from the mid 18th and early 19th Centuries, but also include over-mature beech, lime, one walnut, a yew in the churchyard and a Cedar of Lebanon. These trees have especial value in the landscape, for wildlife (including fungi, bats, birds and insects) as well as being beautiful evidence of historic planting. These trees are to be conserved to their maximum safe useful life, if necessary by reducing their crowns and diverting public paths.
In respect of the memorial tree area which is obviously a matter of great sensitivity to many people; this area will be cared for and kept tidy with the intention that the young plantings will, over time, grow into mature and attractive ornamental woodland consistent with the improvements in the rest of the park.
However we are aware that some trees may have been informally planted around the parkland as memorials, and we would be very grateful for any information regarding these.
The tree works at Lydiard Park are supported by The Great Western Community Forest and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, both of whom have been involved in the wider project development works. However the project team are very keen and happy to discuss and share tree works information with anyone who is interested in finding out more about the plans or has any queries or concerns.
Mail queries to: SFinchCrisp@swindon.gov.uk