This was the first ‘official’ tour of Workhouse Wood led by Nick Day, but anyone who came to May’s Edible Tree Trail had already dipped into it as an added bonus just after we had passed the Sweet Chestnut tree. Then, we were grateful for the shade because that day was very hot. This time, the weather was somewhat cooler but humid.
The tour commenced with a look out towards the river and the main site of the workhouse. There is a boundary tucked down inside the foliage that has been the same since the 18th century. We then walked over to the southern entrance of the site, where Nick explained how the notice board had had to be replaced already, having been vandalised. The tour proceeded clockwise, with Nick picking up litter for the entire route.
At the north west corner of the site we lingered by the remains of the piggery. Nick explained that formerly there was a farm on this site, attached to the Workhouse. More recently, in the 1970s there had been several attacks on nurses in the hospital which is what prompted the erection of a much higher fence around the perimeter. In due course, the site became a dumping ground which is where PCEG stepped in. All the bricks lining the paths had been found on or around the common. Meanwhile 6 tons of metal, mainly the fence referred to above, have been removed from the site to make it more accessible. As more funding is secured, the area will be managed to maintain biodiversity and increase its use by the public.