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November 17, 2001 - Commons Day at Cadmore End

This was an event of the Chiltern Commons Network held at Cadmore End Village Hall and consisted of a morning of talks on the Archeology of Chiltern Commons followed by a walk around Cadmore End Common highlighting archeological features, particularly the old brick kilns to be found there.

The group starts off from Cadmore End Village Hall after having dined on Pizza and sandwiches courtesy of Cadmore End Women's Institute. The landowner (whose name I can't remember) shows where we're going to walk.
One of the ruined brick kilns now completely overgrown.
The later brick kiln gradually succumbing to ivy invasion.

Thanks to John Willson and Simon Fisher of Chilterns AONB for organising the day.


November 2001 - Refurbishment of Bridleway

Much excitement was generated when it was discovered that Bucks County Council appeared to be intent on driving a road through the north end of the Common. It transpired that the works being undertaken were a refurbishment of the bridleway due the the boggy state that had developed making it extremely difficult to walk  along. Complaints had been made to the Council and they therefore decided to make some improvements. The first DCPS were aware of it was when a walk round revealed the sights shown below - so much for consultation!.

The first thing that causes concern is the deposit of bitumen-based road planings laid adjacent to Mannings - we've not seen any Starfruit there this year despite the best efforts of Plantlife, but dumping road planings next to it is not likely to improve matters!
Walking onwards we find what appears to be a beautifully rolled tarmac surface, although on closer inspection the surface is only rolled and compressed planings and is still quite loose.
However, the height is quite startling, 18" in places - not so much a bridlepath, more a causeway towering above the boggy marshes of Downley Common
At the far end, there seems to be a large expanse of car park - one expects that the white-lining crew will be next to appear complete with road signs and curbs. Joking apart, this is an open invitation to off-road vehicles to venture onto the Common. Since this was taken, signs of extra tire tracks have appeared.

A deputation from DCPS has met with Ian Burgess the Rights of Way officer who has promised to attend to most of our concerns as follows:

  • Any planings adjacent to the pond to be removed and replaced with "hoggings" - a non-bituminous based material
  • A ditch to be dug on the side furthest from the pond to persuade water to drain away from the pond.
  • The excessively elevated sections already constructed, to be landscaped as far as is possible
  • Further sections of bridleway to be at a height much closer to ground level
  • The excessive area of planings at the junction with Cookshall Lane to be removed to prevent its possible use as a car park
  • Bollards to be installed at the junction end to prevent vehicle access.

We will report on further developments as they occur.


November 2001 - Bonfire and Torchlight Procession


The bonfire starts with cuttings from the coppicing and Common maintenance programmes together with contributions from the local community. October is good time for everyone in Downley to cut those hedges and remove unwanted foliage from their gardens.
With the help of the National Trust at Hughenden Manor, the bonfire takes shape. A core of pallets is overlaid with vegetation and foliage.
The children from the local Montessori Nursery School provide the guy which is erected on top of the bonfire amid much ceremony!
The evening of November 5 starts off with a torchlight procession from the Village Hall on Commonside and winds its way past Sunnybank chapel towards the bonfire site. Combustion is assisted by the many torches being thown onto the fire. Legend has it that the bonfire has only ever needed one match to light it!
A good crowd gather round the bonfire to absorb the heat on a cold November night. The absence of fireworks enables people to concentrate on the fire. The youth of Downley prove their manhood by approaching as close as they dare to the licking flames.
Sustenance is provided by the Downley Guides. Hamburgers, hot dogs and mulled wine keep the cold at bay.
Two small boys relish the opportunity of being out and about well after their bedtime.
The fire will burn all night long providing much entertainment to those who prefer late night revels.

Our thanks to all who made the torchlight procession and bonfire night such a success this year.



August 2001 - Grasscutting on the Common

During August 2001 the Society began a programme of cutting and removing the grass from the central area of the Common. The Management Plan has proposed that approx 80% of the grass be cut and removed each year on a rotational basis in order that the nutritional content of the soil is gradually depleted. This will encourage the growth of meadow flowers and discourage the coarser grasses, bracken, brambles and nettles.

Cutting the grass can easily be achieved using the tractor and flail. The problem is, how do we remove the cuttings? Last year, we attempted to rake the cuttings manually - a whole day's work with a team of people cleared just about 10% of the area cut. Clearly this was not going to be a practicable option!

For this year we have constructed a grass collection box made of wood that fits onto the back of the flail to collect the grass as it flies out of the back. After some experimental runs, this seems to work quite well and the following pictures demonstrate it at work.


There was a video clip on the site but this takes too much room so it was removed after a short display.