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Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Trust June Newsletter


Since lockdown was first announced we have been harbouring a vain hope that it might be lifted in time to resume with some of the activities on the 2020 programme, possibly June, then possibly July, now it seems more likely to be August/ September and for some people who are at greater risk, who knows when?

Your committee has sadly decided that this limbo dance is futile and we should make a decision to postpone the entire programme for one year and ask all our hosts and lecturers if they are able to arrange new dates for 2021.

No subscriptions will be payable for this year and members who have kindly paid already can be reimbursed or credited for next year.

I came across a rather appropriate article (and this is the last thing I’ll say on the Coronavirus subject as you are sure to have had enough about that). It resonates with things happening today and shows how history has a habit of repeating itself. These extracts are from an article published in ‘History Today’ entitled ‘Plague and Prejudice’ by Professor Samuel Cohn of the University of Glasgow.

Apparently in Livy’s ‘History of Rome’, during a severe epidemic in 399BC a lectisternium banquet (a form of offering to the gods) was created which was open to the masses:

Throughout the City the front gates of the houses were thrown open and all sorts of things [were] placed for general use in the open courts; all comers, whether acquaintances or strangers, were invited to share the hospitality. Men who had been enemies held friendly and sociable conversations with each other and abstained from all litigation, the manacles even were removed from prisoners during this period……To end [several subsequent] scourges, the government bequeathed largesse on the population, with extended work-free holidays.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The Wolds Gardener

John Killingbeck from Market Weighton has kindly put together some gardening thoughts to consider as you survey your rolling acres with nothing to do but nurse a gin and tonic, and he is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. The answers could make an interesting further piece from him so do get in touch. You can send any questions to: woldgardener@yorkshirewoldsheritage.org.uk

The East Yorkshire Geopark

As you already know, an application will be submitted to UNESCO to establish an East Yorkshire Geopark. The Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Trust had agreed to make a small pump priming contribution to this project (£100), that would have gone towards meeting some of the inevitable preliminary expenses of a new organisation just getting off the ground. Due to the virus outbreak the project has been on hold but there have been a few things happening under the surface that don’t need face to face meetings. So, to put you in the picture:

  1. Boundaries. At first this was to be a Wold Geopark and include the crescent of chalk from the Humber Bridge to Bempton Cliffs. This was enlarged to include associated features like the gap that the R. Derwent cut through the underlying Jurassic strata at Kirkham during the Ice Ages and the limestone of Filey Brigg. Then the eroding clay cliffs of the East Riding and the unique river mouth spit of Spurn were added because they are very interesting, and now it seems to be suggested that the glacial lake bed that formed the Plain of York (as far as the Derwent) and the Boulder clay of Holderness are to be included. So it’s now the whole of the East Riding to be a Geopark. UNESCO normally require a particular geological feature such as chalk rather than the wide mix of landscapes being suggested now, so it is likely to get reduced in size.
  2. Organisations that have agreed to be involved with the project: ERYC and the Countryside Events and Activities Programme, Humber Heritage Park Project, RSPB Bempton Cliffs Reserve, Southburn Archaeological Museum, Food for Thought Pop-up Museum Project, University of Hull, PLACE based at York St John’s University, Ryedale Vernacular Buildings Materials Research Group, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Scarborough Borough Council.
  3. Student projects: A Hull University student presented a feasibility study for a Geopark last year. This year a student will be compiling a gazetteer of sites for the Geopark. Another project has been agreed for next year.

‘Quarry to Country Park’

A lottery funded project to ‘improve physical and intellectual access to the geological, natural, industrial and social heritage’ of the former derelict chalk quarry formerly known as Little Switzerland in Hessle (now known as the Humber Bridge Country Park). The former black painted whiting mill, viewable from the north bound carriageway of the bridge will be refurbished. It was used to crush chalk from the quarry for use in a wide variety of products like paper, paint and toothpaste. Once completed it will be possible to go up four floors inside the mill as part of a ‘Chalk Walk’ heritage trail around the quarry.

Chalkshire

An initiative involving everything to do with wildlife, history and culture of the Yorkshire Wolds and largely led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. So far there have been two well supported events held at the Driffield Show Ground. As a result of contacts made at the last of these we have been promised a speaker from Yorkshire Water about our local water supplies – the history, the present situation and what is planned for the future. It could be a very interesting talk.

Springhead Pumping Station, Willerby


Yorkshire Water spent £2.6m three years ago on the Springhead water pumping station to restore it to its former glory.

The imposing Italianate style pumping station is a Grade 2 listed building which dates back to 1864. It still houses a disused  ‘Cornish’ beam pumping engine. Over the years, the building has been the subject of numerous thefts and acts of vandalism including the removal of the slate roof resulting in the roof structure needing replacement along with the rain water guttering and fall pipes, and a new slate roof.

The internal walls have been stripped back to the bare brickwork, the masonry has been re-pointed and brickwork has been replaced. New security doors and window screens have also been installed. Michael Smith, Yorkshire Water Project Manager, said: “We’re very pleased with the results and this impressive building is now water tight, protected from the elements and secure for the next 20 years.”

Using electric pumps now, Springhead pumps water from boreholes onsite to Keldgate water treatment works. Keldgate then supplies residents of Hull and East Riding with drinking water. Springhead pumping station produces 25 million litres of water every day – a third of Hull and East Riding’s daily water supply.

This is on our list of ‘to visit’ places.

Keep well and hope to see you before too long

Rod Mill

(Chairman)

The Yorkshire Wolds Gardener (June)

There is a Chinese proverb: ‘If you have only two pennies in the world – with one buy bread, with the other buy a lily’.

This is reference to the fact that as well as physical nourishment, one also needs nourishment for the spirit. And isn’t this what gardening is all about? One part of gardening can be about growing food while the other is about the aesthetic enjoyment of beautiful plants. Above all this, is the contact with the outdoors and nature, which in itself can form a major focus for the garden. This column will touch on these different aspects of gardening – offering advice and hints and answering questions. There might even be a few of you who have no garden. You haven’t been forgotten, you too can have a green indoor environment with house plants.

During this period of lockdown, I have never been more thankful for my own garden and I’m sure many of you will feel the same about yours. Life goes on in the garden as normal which provides a pleasant link with reality in these bizarre times. Summer is now well underway in East Yorkshire, following a mild if rather wet and at times stormy winter. March wasn’t a bad month – a bit chilly but often quite sunny. Spring turned out to be extraordinarily dry and sunny though some of you may have suffered the worst May frost in years, mid-month. Now, well into June, we have finally had quite a lot of rain. “Dripping June brings all into tune”, as the saying goes.

One question asked is: what vegetables can be grown now?  You can still sow cops like beetroot, lettuce, carrots and turnips. There is just about time to sow runner and French beans before the end of the month, though July will be a bit too late. There is a lot you can plant as long as the soil if friable, though you will have to buy plants ready grown from a garden centre or nursery, as it will be too late to start your own from seed now. These might include sprouts (immediate planting), cabbage for winter, kale, sprouting broccoli and leeks. Other crops you can sow now include spring cabbage, spinach beet and kale but they will not be ready for harvest until winter or next spring.

Now garden centres are open you should be able to get hold of most things easily, unlike a few weeks ago. If you have no beds in your garden ready to use, quite a lot of the plants mentioned can be grown in large pots or raised beds. But fill them with decent compost, not just garden soil unless yours is very good.

Much of your work in the garden will now revolve around watering, feeding and checking for problems like pests or extreme weather events. Vegetables in particular flourish best with plenty of nutrients and moisture, so don’t allow them to stress if you want decent yields. Liquid feeding is particularly useful for doing both at once. Needless to say, weeds will need constant attention, particularly if it is wet.

If you have a glasshouse you might already have tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and so forth on the go. It is getting a bit late now for these if you haven’t already started unless you can acquire already well grown plants from somewhere. Anything under glass needs particularly close attention to watering and feeding as well as temperature control at this time of year. Pests can also spread like wildfire in a greenhouse so keep a careful watch. Ventilate your greenhouse well even if the weather is poor.

Generally it is getting a bit late now to start your garden from scratch for this season. But you might like to think about next year. It is a good time to prepare entirely new beds and spending the summer getting rid of the weeds in preparation for planting in autumn. Plan your garden for the coming season. Take a look at it. Is the space well utilised? If you want to grow more next year – do you need so much lawn? Could the paved areas be reduced? Where are the warmest or sunniest spots? Do you have empty pots or a greenhouse full of junk that could be revitalised?

It is too late to divide and multiply ornamental herbaceous plants, or move shrubs to better places by this time of year, unless you are prepared to put them under a regime of intensive care. Hopefully you will already have set in place support for the former where needed. Water herbaceous things if necessary and you can still add bedding plants to spaces that are vacant, although choice might be reduced in garden centres by now. The extra time will give you an eye for detail and more intense interaction with your garden. You may be able to make the garden tidier. But a very tidy garden can lose its soul, not to mention its wildlife. So enjoy the natural flow of things. The garden’s wild inhabitants are part of its joys.

If you dig a new bed out of the lawn, using the buried turf as organic matter will help. Otherwise try to include plenty of organic matter like compost or manure to enrich the soil a bit. Nitrogen fixing crops like peas/beans are better placed than most to succeed on worn out soil but if you start preparations now the soil should be good for most things by autumn.  Meanwhile start a compost heap for next year. Beware of using things like sawdust or woodchips, though – either on the soil or in the compost heap. These will make matters worse by consuming the vital nitrogen. 

For ornamental plants, poor soil is usually less of a problem. Some even like it. Whatever already grows in your garden should continue to flourish. Think about propagating or using these plants more creatively.

Although a bit late by now for pruning early spring flowering shrubs, those that bloomed later in May or June can be done. But do it soon after flowering and don’t put it off too long.

If you have any particular garden questions, please submit them and I will do my best to answer.

To finish with another Chinese proverb: ‘If you want to be happy for a day – get drunk; for a year – get married; for life – become a gardener’.

John Killingbeck June 2020 

Any gardening queries can be sent to John via woldgardener@yorkshirewoldsheritage.org.uk