Frenchwood Recreation Ground - Under Threat From Developers and Politicians
Ribble at Frenchwood
It may strike some as a surprise, as a relatively new Preston citizen, that I feel passionately about the Ribble and adversely so to the proposed developments the Council wishes to inflict upon it and its banks.
After researching the Preston area in general I came across the website and was informed about the "vision" for the river barrage and Riverworks housing development, and the devastating effects it would have on the River and its surroundings.
As an environmentalist and part of a family born and bred on the Ribble I wanted to get actively involved and hence accompanied the save-the-ribble crew on their quarterly ramble. The purpose of the ramble is so those already aware can appreciate this beautiful part of Preston, and introduce those who do not, to realise what a terrible thing it would be to lose this.
Opposed as I am to these developments on an environmental level, I also have a personal affinity with this particular place. My grandmother grew up on the Boulevard in the 1940’s, and much has remained unchanged there .
The ramble began at 2pm on a wonderfully sunny Sunday. Despite being on my own I was welcomed by a friendly group, half human, half dog, and after salutations, introductions and a fleeting glance of a passing Kingfisher, we set off up the Avenue parallel to the Frenchwood Recreation Ground, towards the Boulevard. Along this route, admiring the sparkling Ribble and wetlands where ducks and waders had left their prints, Terry informed us of the historical aspect of these parts: the Boulevard houses, built in the 1930’s, were built on a ancient battle ground - the site of the defining battle of the English Civil War, and across the river was ‘The Plump’, the land between the Darwen and the Ribble which had housed a Roman settlement.
We passed many other walkers and cyclists enjoying the scenary, and sighted some kids playing golf and football on the playing fields on Frenchwood Rec.
We carried on round behind the park, past a delightfully spooky and atmospheric patch where apparently two bowling greens had been and gone (now a grassy square surrounded by trees) and up a set of shaded steps towards Selbourne Street.
A lovely surprise awaited us at the top: the Frenchwood Knoll Wildlife Garden, an initiative brought about by the Preston Council Park’s Department and Friends of Avenham Park, which invited us in through wrought iron gates and down a winding path, leading through the forest filled with beech trees, elms, sycamores and horse chestnuts. A stone look-out point looked down onto the butterfly garden and further beyond the Ribble. Following the path this led us to a sunlit glen complete with a pond, a totem pole and a macrocosm of wildlife.
Dragonflies flitted about above the surface of the pond where pond skaters and river boatmen whiled away the day. Pondweed, watercress and water lilies dotted the surface.
We rested here for a while soaking up the sun, then headed back into Avenham Park – to the Old Tram Bridge where our ramble had started.
The ramble had officially finished, but there was no harm taking the time to walk a little further up the bank to the Railway Bridge. There at the Continental we bid our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Enjoyed very much by the whole party, the ramble was a perfect time to appreciate the beauty of Frenchwood Recreation Ground and its surroundings, exploring the woods, admiring the scenary and spotting the wildlife. With the proposed Riverworks Development a detrimental effect would be had on this carefully balanced ecosystem. The recreation ground, which is one of the sites for the proposed new building developments, was dotted with children and adults alike playing, relaxing, walking the dogs (and the children). Where would these people go to find similar surroundings?
With childhood obesity set to rise and some species of Bristish wildlife dwindling, a barrage and housing development would not help these issues.
Hannah C., Preston.