|A Brief History to Gazen Salts Nature Reserve|
|Design l had made for the Volunteers which we all now wear as pin badges on the days that we are volunteering in the reserve..|
|A Brief History to Gazen Salts Nature Reserve|
|Gazen Salts owes its name to the leaseholder of the ‘Saltings’ John Gason who was once a 17th century resident of Sandwich, Kent. In 1970, the Town Council of Sandwich selected the 15 acres of wildland comprising abandoned allotments, drab grazing fields, a disused builder’s yard and rubbish tip. It then designated it to be a nature reserve within the town itself.|
A local naturalist and wildlife artist Dennis Harle [see gallery below] was asked to lay out the actual Reserve’s design and act as a consultant and adviser to all the organisations involved with the project. Mr Harle was the first appointed warden of the Reserve and actively kept that post until May 1985.
During that construction period, the Reserve witnessed the bulk of the creation present today regarding the trees of the woodland, the waterways and ponds and original pathways. In 2004 Gallows Field was added to the reserve grounds.
Once known as the execution spot for the town of Sandwich, where villains and witches were hung, burned, drowned or dunked in the Guestling stream and or buried alive till 1790.
The victims’ bodies were then displayed to act as a deterrent to ‘no gooders’ visiting the town of Sandwich. Gallows Field is on the roadway, leaving the town itself, leading to Canterbury Gate, which once was one of the main entrances to Sandwich.
The Guestling stream joins the Delf, one of the main waterways in Sandwich. Many of the streams in the town were present to help monks drain the lands when used for farming and to prevent flooding to the crops. After the 1457 raid by the French, many of the streams were widened and deepened and used as an additional line of defence and fortification.
The lake and the waterways in the Reserve are sustained by a sluice gate connected to the River Stour. The waters further feed and play host to a diverse range of wildlife, including species such as sticklebacks, pond skaters, diving beetles, frogs and toads, newts, kingfishers, moorhens, bats, rats, shrews, weasels, stoats, foxes, hedgehogs, moles, water voles, grass snakes, mallard, tufted, pochard and shoveler ducks, warblers, woodpeckers, blackcaps, sparrowhawks, grey squirrels, parakeets and others including many butterfly species too.
The woodlands are also home to flora species, such as primroses, celandine, dog rose, oak, ash, wild cherry, elm, field maple, wild privet, marsh marigold marshmallow, meadowsweet, blackbush, yellow iris and many other exciting plants of interest.
Today Gazen Salts is controlled and managed by a voluntary board of directors, trustees and an apprentice warden and supported by volunteers.
A tidal surge in 2013 caused extensive damage and extensive flooding to the Reserve. Additionally salt waters corroded many of the trees causing the loss of up to 450 of them. Gazen Salts Nature Reserve finally reopened 18th June 2018 after it was completely closed down in 2013.
More money was found and awarded to the Reserve to aid in the cleanup and resurrection of Gazen Salts which had fallen into a state of disrepair following the serious floodings and mismanagement of funds by previous wardens. The official renovations began in January 2021, and once they had finished, the volunteer programme was created and launched in May 2021. I joined the programme in late June that year and have been an active volunteer since.
This series is about what l do on the days l work there. The main design gallery at the top of this post is a design l had created and made up into Pin Badges, which l then gifted the rest of the team in preparation for our first Open Day on the 27th of November.
We had 100 people turn up and raised £375, which wasn’t bad for a very wet and dismal Saturday!
The Reserve is never short of work, chores or tasks. It is a job that could keep volunteers busy from 8 in the morning to 8 at night seven days a week – but we don’t do those hours. It involves clearing brush, pollarding trees, chipping pathways, cleaning pondlife, trimming, cutting back, sawing, and burning brush. The list is endless.
|These photos from 1973 show the reserve at its creation. Dennis Harle and Mike Briggs are planting trees, standing roughly where the bird feeders are now, near the lake. Note the Richborough cooling towers in the background.|
Gazen Salts Nature Reserve Facebook page
|Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is about my time and stories of my work with this project. |
Hopefully, you enjoyed this introduction, and I’ll see you next episode. Thanks for reading.
Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Sandwich, Kent, England, UK
|Part 2 – A Brief History to Gazen Salts Nature Reserve – Next Episode|