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28 february 2024

FODP AGM 22 FEB 2024
AT MYPLACE HAROLD HILL

CHAIRMAN'S REPORT

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Tree Planting.

This past year has been a quiet but in many ways productive period for group members.   We have carried on, as we do each year, with our rolling tree planting project by putting in Oak, Willow, Rowan and Wild Cherry which have been grown on by some of the members before going in.  These have been new plantings but we have also replaced some of the trees that we had previously planted but which had been killed off by vandalism or  through Deer damage.  We have also recently planted three hybrid Elm tree’s which we acquired from  the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association via their Elms4London project.  All the trees that have been planted will be good for wildlife from birds to insects and will enhance the overall look of the reserve when fully grown.

 

Bulb Planting

Apart from the tree planting members have been busy putting in over 800 bulbs in and around the reserve ready for them to bloom this Spring.  These bulb’s, mainly Daffodils have been planted in various place’s  such as at the main entrance in Settle Road, the main car park area, at the base of the new trees and where there are information boards.  Because of the ease that this has been done we will be continuing bulb planting this year and possibly into next year as well.  

 

Hibernacula’s & Bat Boxes

The group have laid out around twenty hibernacula’s in various sites in the reserve which will provide shelter for amphibians and small mammals alike.  Some of these shelters will be easily spotted whilst others have been placed in quieter areas and will be less disturbed.  In line with providing hibernacula’s members have been busy putting up boxes to provide roosting sites for our Bat population.  These boxes will complement the ones that we had already put up in previous years and we have more to put up. 

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Bird Nesting Boxes

One of the longer term projects that we have been carrying out  is introducing nesting boxes for small birds with the nature reserve.  Since starting this project in 2020 we have now placed 100 nesting boxes around the reserve.  These boxes have and will provide safe nesting sites for species such as Blue Tits, Great Tits and Nuthatch.  This is, as I say a long term project, and more nesting boxes will be going up in the future.  Coupled with the small nesting boxes going up are the positioning of Owl boxes within the reserve.  Some years ago Owl boxes were placed around the reserve  and for a while they were being used however since they were first introduced into the reserve many have deteriorated to such an extent that they  are no longer useable.  With this in mind it is the intention of the Friend’s group to place Owl boxes in a number of sites within the reserve to help the Owl population that we have.

 

All of the above are positive steps taken by the group  and form part of their initial aims for the reserve which were first voiced when the Friends group began in 2003.  More is to follow with continuous planting and the siting of more nest boxes which will run alongside the other projects that the group have in maintaining the nature reserve.

 

Members support.

Amongst all of this we, the committee,  look forward to the ongoing support that we have received from group members who come out in all weathers to work within the reserve.  Whether it be for siting nesting boxes, painting benches, clearing ponds or litter picking members have shown their support by turning up and mucking in.

 

Gold Award

It is because of their continuous support and work that Dagnam Park was once again awarded a Gold Award in the Large Conservation Area category as set out by the London in Bloom organisation in September last year.   Dagnam Park has been fortunate to have been given a Gold Award in this category since 2016 hopefully we, as a group, can help to maintain the same level of standards set by the above organisation in retaining the award for this coming year.

 

Don Tait,

Chairman,

Friends of Dagnam Park 2024

As Don announced we were given another gold award from the  London in Bloom judges, you may not know, that Havering has won the best in bloom borough award from all of greater London’s boroughs. Havering will now go forward to the Best in Britain final. It’s good to realise Dagnams played its part in achieving this, especially in such difficult financial times.

Don has discussed all of our hard work during our 20th year of being the official Friends group of Dagnam Park nature reserve. So I’ll move onto the archaeology dig update.

We have been digging now for over 10 years, with the last 4 years concentrating on the Manor House site. So to recap on what we have discovered so far ;

 

We now have strong evidence through digging and researching the various archives, that there have been at least 3 large building complex’s going back as far as the Tudor period. The Tudor house had a moot surrounding it, similar the moat at the nearby Cockerell’s site, only  probably Dagnams was much larger, possibly the circular house pond was part of the moot, but greatly altered obviously.

The Tudor culvert discovered when digging at such a great depth in the east wing is very similar to culverts unearthed by the Friends group at Marks Hall in Coggleshall. Marks hall was demolished in 1950 same as our Dagnams, they also had multiple Manor house builds over the same period.

 

Our Tudor house was demolished around the 1630s, to be replaced by a large house described by visiting diarist Samuel Pepys as being - delightful. This building was rebuilt by 1667 but what these alterations were, is yet to be unearthed.

 

During our test trench digs, we uncovered the fabled cellar, confirmed with the discovery of the cellar steps and thanks to ranger Taylors involvement, is now permanently unearthed and preserved.

 

We then attempted to measure the width and length of the cellar area, but inadvertently this helped us find, not the cellar as expected, but the Tudor culvert remains I mentioned earlier.

This whole east wing area appears to be of a domestic working area, possibly involving a washing room or a buttery/ kitchen activity. Only last week we unearthed an exterior foot path that proved the area was separated from the main block and looking at old photographs, it is, at a much lower height to the Pepys house build.

This area also uncovers large amounts of sea food shells in particular oysters and broken animal bones, glass and pottery ware.

When the cellar steps had its preserving protective wall built by contractors, they finally revealed the elusive cellar wall, so during this year we will eventually know just how large the cellar is.

In 1772 Richard Neave purchased Dagnams, he over a 3 year rebuild, demolished much of the second house, but retained the part that housed the cellar. He then had a grand Georgian style house built next to the remaining building, which stood until 1950, but sadly had to be demolished due to war damage and vandalism.

I must close by thanking the many diggers who have joined us over the years, and I can confirm as far as I’m concerned we will be digging and recording for many a year ahead.

 

Alan York,

Secretary,

Friends of Dagnam Park 2024

SECRETARY'S REPORT

28 February 2024

PROPOSED FODP LITTER PICKS 2024

 

March.                                                                                    April.

CANCELLED   16th  &  17th March.                  Litter Pick weekend   6th   &  7th  April.

Litter Pick weekend   23rd &  24th  March.                  Litter Pick weekend  27th  & 28th April.

 

May.                                                                                                 June.

Litter Pick weekend  11th  & 12th   May                    Litter Pick weekend    8th &   9th June.

Litter Pick weekend  25th  & 26th  May.                    Litter Pick weekend  29th & 30th June.

 

July.

 Litter Pick weekend   13th  & 14th July

  Litter Pick weekend   20th  & 21st  July.

                                                                                  

September.                                                                               October.

Litter Pick weekend   7th  &  8th  September.             Litter Pick weekend 5th  & 6th  October. 

Litter Pick weekend  21st & 22nd September.                  ( last litter pick of the year)

    

All dates subject to change due to weather and other circumstances.

Litter Pick 2024

19 DECEMBER 2023

COOP SPONSORSHIP

Thank you to the legendary COOP for their continued Sponsorship to FODP activities

Weblink here  

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19/12/23 - COOP - Sponsorship

18 DECEMBER 2023

CLOSURE OF OLD FODP WEBSITE

As previously announced on 17 Feb 2023,  the Old FODP Website that ran for many years has closed on 1 Dec 2023 and replaced by the current website.

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Closed Website

18/12/23 - Closure of Old Website
23/3/23 - 2023 Litter Pick Schedule

23 March 2023 - REVISED !

Make a note in your Diary !!!

FODP PROPOSED LITTER PICKS 2023

April

Litter Pick Weekend  1st & 2nd April

Litter Pick Weekend 22nd & 23rd April

May

Litter Pick Weekend  13th & 14th May

Litter Pick Weekend 27th & 28th May 

June 

Litter Pick Weekend  10th & 11th June 

Litter Pick Weekend  24th & 25th June

July

Litter Pick Weekend  8th & 9th July

Litter Pick Weekend 22nd & 23rd July

September

Litter Pick Weekend  2nd & 3rd September

Litter Pick Weekend 16th & 17th September

October

Litter Pick Weekend  7th & 8th October

LAST LITTER PICK OF THE YEAR

All dates subject to change due to weather and other circumstances.

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17/2/23 - AGM 2023

17 February 2023

FODP AGM 2023

Last night, Thursday 16th February 2023, saw the 23rd Annual General Meeting held by the Friends of Dagnam Park membership with the guest speaker being Taylor Smyth-Richards, London Borough of Havering Parks Development Officer ( North ). Taylor spoke about the nature reserve in general and went on to explain the proposal of works to be taking place within the nature reserve over the next couple of years. This would include new pathways, resurfacing the small car park and repair work to the main entrance drive leading into it, fencing, tree planting and woodland management. After Taylors presentation those present followed the usual procedures of the A. G. M. with the voting in of the committee and hearing both the Chairman’s and Secretary’s reports as well as being presented with the group’s annual accounts from the groups Treasurer. All three committee members from last year were voted back in for another year. A variety of questions came from the floor when any other business was called which ranged from the provision and use of the football pitches, the reasoning behind the estate fencing going in and gate locking and dog fouling. All questions were either answered by the Parks Development Officer or members of the committee.

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17/2/23 - AGM 2023 Secretary's Report

FODP Chairman’s Report 2023.

Since I gave my last Chairman’s report things have moved on a pace in the reserve. Long gone are the restrictions set upon us due to the covid restrictions although caution is still advised as it is still around. Gone, almost, are the many people who “found” the nature reserve for the first time during lockdown and who left copious amounts of litter behind them. The majority of those “lockdown visitors “ have now gone but for those that have carried on visiting the nature reserve they have seen what the reserve has to offer and have made many repeated returns.

 

Of late users of the reserve have seen the progress of change within the reserve from new estate fencing surrounding part of the site of the former mansion to having a dry pathway leading them down to the Dipping Pond from the stable block and main drive. The cellar steps which were discovered in November 2020 in what was once the east wing of the house, have also had a make over as such by having gabions filled with large pieces of limestone placed on the floor of the cellar and rising to ground level. The next stage concerning the steps is to landscape the ground level surrounding the top gabions with soil and to sow a mixture of wild flower seeds around them as well as placing a small notice board explaining the purpose of the steps to visitors and a new fence replacing what is there at present.

 

The above has only been possible due to the efforts put in by Taylor, the parks development officer for Havering Parks Department, in securing funding for these projects to go ahead for I would like to thank him on behalf of the members.

 

Our own tree planting programme continues which has been added to this year by shadow tree planting carried out by the parks department with standard size Oak’s, Horse chestnut, Willow and Holm Oak being put in and as of Tuesday of this week the Thames Chase Trust started on their mammoth task of planting 4,000 whips along the eastern boundary of the reserve. These whips, when mature will enhance the existing boundary line and will give more cover to nesting birds.

 

More work will be forthcoming in the next year or so with accessibility for all being at the forefront of those projects with a new path way being laid in the main field as well improvements to existing pathways and it is hoped putting down a new surface on the small car park and repairs being undertaken on the driveway leading to it. These will be the things that visitors to the reserve will see straight away once they are completed but what they will not see is the work that takes place behind these projects, the planning, meetings and fund raising, just to make them happen which is undertaken by not only the parks department but by the FODP committee and members alike.

 

What will also not be seen by many who use the nature reserve is the general maintenance that is carried out on a weekly basis by members of this group. This includes such things as repairing, where possible, the hitch and rail fencing around the car park and entrance area of the reserve as and when need, graffiti removal ( we try to do this within twenty four hours of it being reported to the group), taking care of the wooden benches that we now have dotted around the reserve, planting and caging up new trees as well as repairing / replacing the protective caging on trees that we have already planted when needed. Removing trees that we have planted and that have died and replacing them with new ones and of course litter picking which seems a never ending task.

 

Whilst the above could not have taken place without the work put in by our members who undertake such tasks in the reserve throughout the year I would also like to express my thanks to Michelle Squier. Michelle joined us on a couple of litter picks pre-lockdown and again when restrictions were eased off and along with her daughter Holly soon became a regular within the group getting stuck in whether it be with a picker or donning waders to get into a pond to help clear it out. She has also set up and leads a team of volunteers gathered from the local community under the name of Harold Hill Wombles who go out and give up their time in keeping the streets and parks on the Hill free of litter. Michelle and her group have helped us in the reserve by attending some of our organised litter picks and their time and commitment on doing so has been appreciated by all.

 

I would like to finish my report in the manner that I started and speak of another change albeit this time not in the reserve itself. I am pleased to say that we now have a new updated website which will run concurrently with the old one for a while until such time that we stop paying the fee for having live on the internet. The web site that we currently have on the internet has served us well and we often receive emails saying how good and informative it is from those that have used it. Unfortunately since Del’s passing we have been unable to gain access to maintain it or to add anything new on to it and therefore it has lain dormant. After much deliberation and many attempts to gain access without success it was felt that the only way around the issue was to build a new one. All the information that Del had put onto the FODP site has been saved and transferred onto the new one as well as new information having been added. Unfortunately we could not use the existing name for the new website so therefore had to change it slightly. The new website, when actively live on the internet, can be found under the title of www.thefriendsofdagnampark2022.org

Don Tait - FODP Chairman

17/2/23 - AGM 2023 Chairman's Report

FODP AGM SECRETARY REPORT 2023

2022 was of course a difficult year financially for everyone, including our Borough Council.

Consequently we had not received any council grants which we use to cover our daily running expenses, such as our tree work, web site maintenance and personal injury insurance. We couldn’t even pay Kallkwik printers to print our annual calendar. It was only down to the many, very generous members and supporters who gave donations and loans that saw us through the year. But, I am happy to report thanks to the LBH and Parks Ranger Taylor, who excelled even himself in obtaining huge grants for us. Also the return of the Friends Groups annual £1000 capital project grant, so that we have now been able to repay all our debts and will have enough to continue the annual tree planting and protection work during2023.

 

I must now thank Peter Riley and Don for their many hours of work on the creation of our new and improved FODP web site. Del Smith who sadly died in 2021 created and ran the web site. It had become so large that it became difficult to find any specific information.. So, Peter with his usual highly creative skills and flair began the massive task of reorganising the web site into a more user friendly system. The only way he advised, was to create a new web site from scratch. So with Dons help and lots of cut and paste the new site has emerged. (thefriendsofdagnampark2023.org) Del Smith’s interest in local history, influenced his inclusion of the events past and present of daily life on our housing estate and in Noak Hill. Some of this did not involve the Dagnam Park Nature reserve, so Peter will, it is hoped, be creating another, completely new web site just for that info. So lots more, again cutting and pasting! Many thanks Peter and Don.

 

An update on the archaeology dig site. Now in its 10th year of continuation. During the past two years we have been revealing, what originally was just to be a small test trench to measure the depth and size of the discovered house cellar. This has now become a very large excavation which did not contain as we wrongly assumed to be the cellar, but revealed the only remnants of the original Tudor house foundations and waste disposal culverts. ( show example of Mark Hall foundations). Over the many decades since 1950 when the Georgian building was demolished, locals on the estate had picked clean any meaningful artefacts for us to find. However where we are digging now, is so deep, that many exciting finds have emerged. For example, two Tudor gaming tokens, known as Jetons. Also numerous clay penny a smoke pipes, These pipes are even found in our housing estate gardens, yet until now, we had not found a single one anywhere, especially where we would expect to find them in the stable block and walled garden!. I must thank our dedicated team of diggers, some here tonight who brave all weathers turning up every Friday without fail. Without you it would not happen. Finally thanks again to Taylor, for the truly colossal grants he has raised. This covered the renovation of the remaining structures at the dig site, including the cellar steps, the concrete circular dipping pond, the remnant of the pathway support wall and numerous pathways and the restoration of 400 metres of estate fencing.

Alan York - FODP Secretary

17/2/23 - Welcome to New Website

17 February 2023

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             Welcome to the new and updated website

                   for The Friends of Dagnam Park

 

Since our formation in 2003 the group has used the internet to promote the nature reserve and this will be the third website to be created and used by the friends group. The first website was very basic but was being built upon when necessity meant that we had to close it and start again.

 

The task for building the second website was undertaken by our first Chairman, Del Smith, who over the years built the website up to become an informative and educational site for those that visited it. Covering all aspects of the nature reserve from wildlife to history the site, affectionally known as “ Del’s site ” among group members, grew to include history about Harold Hill as well as Noak Hill. Del added to this information by including peoples memories of growing up on the housing estate as well as their time spent in what was then a 60+ acre park.

 

Unfortunately Del died in 2021 and the FODP website that he had set up and ran for the group prior to his move to Scotland in 2011 became dormant as no one could gain access to it to keep it active which brings us to now with yet another re-incarnation of our website ( you will still be able to view the website set up by Del – friendsofdagnampark.org.uk - until December 2023 online after which it will it no longer be available ).

 

You will find the same information about the nature reserve on this updated website as you would have done on the previous one as well as a new blog feature which it is hoped will be updated on a regular basis.

 

Navigation on this new version should, it is hoped, be easier for users however at present the site is not fully compatible with being viewed on a mobile phone as this is still being worked upon and should be fully useable on mobile phones soon. Each section found in the menu at the top of the page will be added to over time meaning that there will be more to see on the site be it in the way of images or text as well as up to date news of what is happening within the reserve.

 Don Tait

(Chairman of Friends of Dagnam Park)

Our site was designed  for Visitors to enjoy the best multimedia experience possible . For that reason we recommend that it is viewed on a PC/Laptop/Tablet 

(ie a large a screen as possible).

09/23 - Access to Reserve by Car Restrictions

September 2022

IMPORTANT - LOCAL COUNCIL IMPLEMENT STRICT ''SCHOOL RUN'' ACCESS MEASURES

Visitors to the nature reserve should be aware that Havering Council run a School Street Scheme whereby motorised traffic is restricted from travelling along Settle Road ( which leads straight into the entrance to the reserve ) between the hours of 8 am and 9 am and between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm whilst the school day is operating. Anyone entering Settle Road to go to the nature reserve during the above hours without a permit allowing exemption to do so will face an automatic £ 130.00 fine ( there are camera’s fixed at the entrance to Settle Road at the junction with Dagnam Park Drive to record vehicles entering etc and the use of ANPR is used to enforce the penalty. The Havering School Street Scheme is enforced during school term dates with the cameras operating during the morning and afternoon school runs. If someone has arrived in the reserve prior to the times of restricted access as stated above and wants to leave the reserve ( and consequently the school street area ) during those times they are allowed to do so during the camera operational times.

Here is a link to Havering Borough Council web page ''Havering School Street Scheme'' for those wanting more detail.

01/21 - The Manor and Lockdown Update

The Manor and Lockdown - Update - January 2021

 

A message from our secretary Alan York.

 

Dear Friends of Dagnam Park 2020 has been without any doubt a year of mixed emotions, mainly of course due to the awful corona virus. However for the nature reserve, last year saw unprecedented numbers of visitors. People near and far have sought solace and peace of mind, in the wonders of nature and history that is in abundance in our 345 acres. That everyone can enjoy without spending a single penny.

During the year the LBH applied for and were awarded a £70.000 grant from the Violia Trust. They either spent or ear marked the money for tree replacements and repair, pond bank repairs, path improvements and tools for the FODP working parties.

The archaeological dig continued, now in its 6th year. Most excitingly we now know the location of the house cellar. Also the wall garden has been landscaped with old tree stumps so arranged for communal groups to sit and deer watch.

Our annual general meeting for mid February 2021 will have to postponed until we get clearance from government regarding mass assemblies. So keep an eye on our website site and social media for updates. Thanks to all for your continued support and more importantly, do keep safe.

Regards Alan York FODP Secretary

The Manor and Lockdown -

Update 13 July 2020

During the “lock down” period visitor numbers increased in the reserve as people who had been staying at home started to use the Manor when undertaking their daily exercise. As the restrictions on movement eased it allowed even more people to get out and about and visitor numbers rose to an all time high level. However what also rose was the amount of litter that the FODP had to contend with on a daily basis.

Where once they would fill a couple of black sacks a week before the “lock down” period they suddenly found that this rose to an unacceptable amount with 86 black sacks filled in a 16 day period. It has now abated somewhat but still some visitors are leaving an unwarranted amount of litter behind them once they have left the nature reserve. If anyone is going to the reserve please pick up and take your litter/rubbish home with you and dispose of it safely, more so if the rubbish bins are already full and cannot take any more. Please do not leave carrier bags which contain rubbish next to the bins as animals will rip into them overnight in an attempt to get to any food matter which has been placed in the bags and consequently the contents of the bags will be spread across a wider area. Remember that where you sat to have your picnic was in a clean area free of litter before you arrived…please leave the reserve litter free for others to enjoy it as much as you did.             Don Tait

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