Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Broom Hill Quarry

A lot of older people have mentioned the quarry that used to be where the car park is now at the end of River View. Thanks to some archive research at the Bristol Records Office by Andrew Hill, we have now found a black and white photo of the quarry from the 1950s. Sadly we did not find this picture in time for it to be included in the 'All About Snuff Mills' booklet, but there are lots of mentions of the quarry in it. You can get a copy of the booklet from the Snuff Mills cafe and various other places in Stapleton and Fishponds.

If you have old photos of the area, we'd love to see them, email them to

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tree party video

A short film that captures all the fun of our recent winter tree party. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

All about Snuff Mills

A new booklet all about the history and wildlife of Snuff Mills is now available. There is an accompanying oral history cd put together by children from Begbrook School.

You can get a copy of the booklet and cd from the Snuff Mills cafe.

Save our trees!

The government is proposing to make it easier for trees with dead branches covered by a Tree Preservation Order to be felled. These are just the sort of trees that are important for woodpeckers, fungi and insects. They are part of the web of life that makes a place like Grove Wood so special. Please take part in the Woodland Trust's campaign to stop this from happening. You will protected all trees and especially our very own special Grove Wood ones. just follow the link, it only takes a few minutes to do:

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Winter Tree Party

About 300 people brave the ice and cold to take part in the Winter Tree Party in Snuff Mills. People made festive wreaths, animal masks, musical rattlers and lanterns for the tree procession that too place just as it was getting dark. Thanks to everyone who came along and for all the volunteers and especually Ruth Worsley who made it happen. If you visit the valey between now and New Year, look our for the specially decorated trees.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winter Tree party

Come and celebrate the start of the festive season at our winter tree party on Sunday 5th December from 2-5pm by the mill. Come and see the trees that have been specially decorated for the season using sculptures made by children from all of our local schools.

They'll also be plenty to do for all ages including lantern making, mask making as well as a chance to weave a winter wreath to hang on your front door.

There will be a special children's earth walk to discover the wildlife of Snuff Mills, a historical walk where you may meet the ghost of Snuffy Jack. The highlight will be a special torchlight procession where we plan to light up the valley. There will be seasonal food and drink too.

The event will mark the publication of a new booklet and CD about Snuff Mills put together with help from children at local Begbrook Primary School with funding from the People's Millions.

The event is FREE and everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Beautiful winter

This amazing bracket fungus is growing on this tree in Grove Wood. It's just the sort of beautiful sight that would be lost from Grove Wood if the landowner had his way and removed all of the so called 'dead, dying or dangerous trees'. This picture is a really good example of why a variety of trees of different ages and in different states are so important for wildlife. Let's hope Bristol City Council hurry up and turn it in to a nature reserve soon.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Jafari fails to make a case for his Container....

This morning saw the verdict and sentence handed down in the long running saga of the Grove Wood Shipping container.
Rhino Group and Housang Jafari were in court as the two defendants in a case brought by Bristol City Council following their failure to remove the container (pictured) when an enforcement notice had been issued.

Following two days in court last week during which Jafari's Solicitior and fellow Rhino director John Mair tried to obfuscate and befuddle all around him, the judge gave an eloquent speech today explaining that the case before him was "Not complex" as the concept of "removal" was quite a simple one. Mr Jafari had been told to remove the container, he had deliberately ignored the instruction, and so was guilty. Simple as that.

During his summing up, judge David Parsons used words such as "Disingenuous" and "Spurious" then said that Rhino Group had tried to "mislead the court and the local authority". He also said that as a businessman, Mr Jafari seemed to have bought the wood without "any clear idea of what he was going to do with it". Conflicting claims of a "memorial garden" and "forestry" use had obviously carried no weight with Judge Parsons.
Mr Jafari and Rhino Group were both fined £765 each, and costs of over £8000 each were awarded against them.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Jafari and co try to sneak in containers to Grove Wood

Have a look at this! Rhino Group Ltd have applied to Bristol City Council to fell three trees in Grove Wood. Deep in their application to the Council is also an application to site two metal containers in Grove Wood, see below.

They claim that the containers are needed to carry out forestry work in the woods. Could it be a coincidence that Jafari is in Court again next week to try to overturn the Council's decision to remove his Permitted Development Rights in Grove Wood? That'll be a no then.

We are in contact with the Council on this matter and as soon as we have clarification over whether this application is legitimate, we will advise people over what they can do prevent this from happening.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Photo competition winner - plants and trees

Congratulations to Andy Wyatt who won in two categories.

Photo competition winner - landscape

Joint winner in the landscape category. Photo by Andy Wyatt

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Photo competition winner - Landscape

Joint winner in this category. Photo by Juliette Cook.

Photo competition winner - People and pets

A fabulous winning entry from Barnaby Harding.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Photo competition: Winner of best historic photo

Quarrying for pennant sandstone was still taking place in the valley in the 1950s as this photo by John Dike shows.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Boring but important part 1) - site allocations

This is the last week to respond to the Council's consultation over plans to develop on Laundry Field and Begbrook Drive Open Space, as well as many other development proposals for the area including development at Glenside, Blackberry Hill Hospital, St Matthias and Snowdon Road.

Please take part in the consultation by filling in an online survey by 29th October.

On Blackberry Hill Hospital, we are asking the Council to separate Laundry Field from the plans and designate it open space. This is because we believe Laundry Field is an important wildlife corridor and is an important area linking Fishponds with the Frome Valley. We believe it could be better used for some playing fields and allotments to serve all the new residents to the area, while maintaining some of it as open grass for everyone.

On Begbrook Drive Open Space, we are asking the Council not the develop the site because it is important woodland edge habitat which is so important for badgers, bats and birds.

You can have your say by filling in the online questionaire here:

You will need to scroll down to the Greater Fishponds section.

Boring but important part 2) - Area Green Space Plans

This is your last chance to comment on big plans for our parks and green spaces around Snuff Mills.

The Council have big ideas for the area includng creating a play area in Snuff Mills car park, concreting over part of Oldbury Court to create a MUGA - multi use games area. Snuff Mills Action Group opposes both of these ideas, but we think there are some good ideas too.

You have until 29th October to take part in the consultation. It only takes a few minutes but could help the Council make the right decision about our green spaces.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Photo competition exhibition

Over 100 people visited the exhibition of photographs entered in to the Snuff Mills photography competition at Begbrook School today. We had over 130 entries and this photo by Robert Dockeray was voted the best overall photo by people who came to the exhibition.

The judges chose photos by the following people as winners in the different categories:
Adult: Plants & Trees: Andy Wyatt
Adult: People & Pets: Barnaby Harding
Adult: Wildlife - Animals: Jessica Payne
Adult: Landscape Joint Winners: Andy Wyatt / Juliette Cook
Adult: Historial: John Dike
Congratulations to all our winners who have received a gift voucher from Jacobs and a frame for their photo.

The results of the children's competition will be revealed at Begbrook School at an assembly in a couple of weeks.

A special thank you to Nigel Ollis who judged the competition and spent ages organisng the exhibition and Jez Toogood who also judged the photos.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Revised plans for Wickham Glen cycle path

The Cycling City revealed further adjustments to the plan for a cycle ramp through Wickham Glen at the Snuff Mills AGM. This artist's impression gives a good idea of the changes. These were:
• The exit on the Blackberry Hill would be in the same style as the current exit on to Frome Terrace
• Some additional steps would be taken to ensure the exit on to Blackberry Hill is as safe as possible
• There would be no fencing along the pathway
• A woodland environment would be recreated with sensitive planting
• The damage to the rest of the path through Wickham Glen, caused by the construction work, would be repaired with a dust and stone path no wider than the existing path
• Bollards would be placed at the entrance to the new path to prevent vehicular access

Snuff Mills Action Group still has serious concerns about this scheme. these relate to:
• The safety of pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists exiting on to an accident blackspot on Blackberry Hill
• The likelihood of conflicts between cyclists and other users occurring due to speeding downhill along a smooth path
• The changes to the character of Wickham Glen; a tranquil place in a Conservation Area

However, in view of these changes, we are reviewing our objection to the planning application and will be sending a statement to the Planning Committee in time for their meeting on 20th October. If you wish to let them have your views about this revised proposal email them at: no later than noon on 19th October.

Update: Our final position on this matter, sent to the Councillors is appended as a comment.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Toodle loo

The new loos arrived in Snuff Mills car park this morning on the back of a large trailer - they are prefabricated apparently. So it looks like it won't be long before people will feel much happier about spending a penny in Snuff Mills. This will be in contrast to 2002 when the existing toilets were judged to be the worst public loos in the whole of Britain.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Snuff Mills Action Group General Meeting - Thursday 14th October 7-9pm - Stapleton Baptist Church, Broom Hill

Snuff Mills Action Group General Meeting - Thursday 14th October 7-9pm - Stapleton Baptist Church, Broom Hill

Please join is for our first ever Annual General Meeting. Don't worry, it won't be boring, but more of a celebration of the progress we have made to improve Snuff Mills and save Grove Wood.

Also, did you know that plans to radically change Snuff Mills, Oldbury Court and Wickham Glen have been unveiled and you can help shape these plans? These include a children's play area in Snuff Mills car park, more games areas in Oldbury Court and of course a cycle track through Wickham Glen. There are some really positive proposals too.

To help you decide what you think of these plans and whether you want to support them or object to them, we will be joined by some Council staff who will talk about these plans and answer questions:
John Knowlson will talk about plans for a children's play area in Snuff Mills car park
Alberto Palmero will talk about the improvements to toilet facilities in Snuff Mills
Nick Pates will talk about plans for a cycle track through Wickham Glen

We want to talk about the plans to develop Laundry Field and sell Begbrook Drive Open Space for development too. We hope to have an update about Laundry Field at the meeting from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Wickham Glen update

Update: The planning application has been resubmitted but it does not answer all of the objections. Watch this space as we may be asking for more objections to go in if there are no more changes to this proposal.

Councillors unanimously rejected the application for a 3m wide ramp through Wickham Glen despite recommendations from planners to approve the proposal. This follows a carefully researched campaign by Snuff Mills Action Group and concerns raised by many supporters of the group as well a local Councillors.

The Councillors have deferred a formal rejection until a future committee to allow the Cycling City team time to come up with a ramp that is not so wide and adresses the proposed dangerous exit onto Blackberry Hill properly.

Thanks to eveyone who helped by sending in statements and objections - it really makes a difference. A special thank you to Ivor Needs (pictured left with Mark Logan) who helped us research the issues over disabled access properly by joining us on a site visit with his disabled son, Matt.

We hope to work with the Cycling City team to develop a proposal that will genuinely inprove access to the Glen for everyone, but keep the Glen tranquil and special.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Owl prowl

75 people joined us last night for our second owl prowl with naturalist Chris Sperring (pictured) . Luckily we were joined by two other owl experts which meant that the event could go ahead. Chris led us through the valley as far as Halfpenny Bridge where he stopped to call the owls. A female owl reponded straight away by screeching back, so we knew we were being watched.

We then split in to three groups to see if we could find other owls. One group went up towards Begbrook School because we have had reports of owls calling up there, but not last night. Another group went through Laundry Field and Grove Wood but did not hear owls rhere. The last group went through Oldbury Court and we heard the female owl again by Laundry Lane. It was great fun walking through the woods in the dark and everyone seemed to enjoy the event.

However, we were really sad not hear the twit-twoo of a male owl and we hope our screeching female finds a new mate soon.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Jafari in Court again

UPDATE (Sept): Jafari is now due to have his two days in court on 17th and 18th November. (Bristol Magistrates Court - behind the Bus Station.)

UPDATE (Aug): Jafari appeared in Court yesterday, but the case did not proceed because John Mair could not prove he was allowed to practice as a solicitor in England (he is apparently registered in Scotland). Jafari now wants a barrister to represent him.

While the container has been removed, the Council want to proceed with this case because it has only been removed 'temporarily' and they want to make sure that he does not pull a fast one and stick it back there when we aren't looking!


Original Post:
Mr Housang 'chopper' Jafari, landowner of Grove Wood, will be facing more charges at Bristol Magistrates Court for the next two days.

Exactly what these proceesings are about will not be revealed until the case starts, but Bristol City Council are involved, so we suspect it has something to do with Grove Wood. Perhaps it is about the fact that he did not remove the container when instructed, although two days seem quite a long time for such a matter.

If you fancy popping along, it's in Court 7 from 10am each day. We are uncertain if 'chopper' will be there, but no doubt his sidekick, sorry 'solicitor', John Mair will be representing him.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Freshen up the Frome

Help Freshen up the Frome on Friday 24th September
Volunteers from Deloitte will be clearing litter and coppicing small areas to improve habitat for wildlife,with support from Snuff Mills Action Group.

Please come along and lend us a hand!

Meet in Snuff Mills car park at 9am. Work will continue until 4pm but finish whenever you like.

All tools and materials provided.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Benches done!

After several weekends of hard work, Mark Logan and his helpers have installed the last of the eleven benches in Snuff Mills. These have been made possible through a mixture of lottery funding and donations from people who wanted to dedicate a bench to a loved one. Thanks to everyone that helped or who donated some money so we could have more benches than we'd planned.

They seem to be very popular too!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Tackling a problem

You might remember that a kingfisher was found tangled up in fishing tackle a few months ago. Over the weekend a member of of Snuff Mills Action Group retreived these little collection of discarded >tackle between the garden and Halfpenny Bridge along with 30 foot of nylon fishing line. We love the fact that anglers can spend time in the valley catching fish. It is meant to be one of the most relaxing things to do. We just wish the few fishermen who do not retrieve their tackle or fish under trees where line could get caught up would think of the other great fisherman of the valley - the beautiful kingfisher.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Stand up for Wickham Glen

Please help us stop a 3m (that's more than 9 feet) wide cyclists' expressway from ruining Wickham Glen forever. The Council's Cycling City Team say they want to build a ramp from Wickham Glen up to Broom Hill so that cyclists can get in to town more quickly and to enable better disabled access.

These are all good things of course, but the Cycling City Team have not taken in to account the unique character of Wickham Glen. It's a really beautiful spot next to the river between Eastville Park and Snuff Mills and has a long history dating back to the Civil War. It's not like a park but more like a bit of countryside in the city and Snuff Mills Action Group is strongly against it being covered in tarmac, spoiling this unique character.

We have objected to the planning application and urge you to send in statements objecting to the scheme too. Send your statement to by noon on September 14th. Please quote: Land adjacent to Frome Terrace, Blackberry Hill,Bristol(ref:10/02839/FB) in the subject field of your email.
It will then be considered by the South and East Development Control Committee of the Council the next day. In your statement you could argue that:

1) For cyclists there is a perfectly acceptable alternative to building a cyclists expressway through Wickham Glen by using Wickham Hill instead. This is a cul de sac with very litte traffic and it leads straight down to the river - it's already there so why throw more tarmac at the area?

2) A 3m wide tarmac ramp and path will spoil the unique character of the area which is part of the Stapleton Conservation Area and a wildlife site. A much narrower path surfaced with more appropriate materials would be more in keeping

In response to suggestions by Snuff Mills Action Group to reduce the width of the path or use Wickham Hill lane the Cycling City Team claim they are also trying to improve access for disabled people. We applaud this idea but have tested the proposals with 78 year old Ivor Needs and his son, Matt, who uses a wheelchair. They tell us this proposal will not help wheelchair users because:

1) It's a long ramp that leads up to Broom Hill and it needs level resting places otherwise it is too much of a long climb
2) The ramp will come out on Broom Hill higher up than the current exit on Frome Terrace. This means there is a steeper uphill climb to reach the ramp which would be difficult for wheelchair users
3) There is no provision for crossing Broom Hill which is a notorious accident blackspot and this scheme will endanger both wheelchair users and cyclists alike

Ivor does not see the need for a really wide path either. He believes a much narrower path will maintain the beauty of the area and discourage cyclists from speeding and encourage them to respect walkers. We also believes the path should exit on to Broom Hill by Frome Terrace following the line of the current footpath as this really would help wheelchair users and result in the loss of many less trees than the current plan.

You may be interested to know that we reached a compromise with Cycling City following a meeting on site a few weeks ago. They agreed a narrower path and other changes to the scheme, but then emailed us the following week to say this was no longer acceptable because of the needs of the 'disabled community'. A few of us in Snuff Mills Action Group work with people with disabilities and we have been very offended at the way the Cycling City team seem to have cynically used the needs of disabled users to promote what is really a road - but a road that just happens to be for cyclists.

Monday, 23 August 2010

New book from Ian Llewellyn

SMAG member Ian Llewellyn (see the SMAG logo picture) has had a book about Kingfishers published by New Holland Publishers. It can be purchased from Amazon, Blackwells, Waterstones or from high street bookshops.

Here is the description from Amazon: Usually encountered as a flash of blue or orange seen from the riverbank, most people are aware of the Kingfisher, but few are familiar with the intricacies of its day-to-day life. Here its remarkable existence is celebrated through a series of stunning chapters with images depicting courtship, nesting, fishing, winter survival and other important events in the lives of Kingfishers, which are further brought to life through the eloquent accompanying text which is enlivened by personal anecdotes from the author and photographer. The book is the first in a series, and it will be followed by Peregrine Falcon and Barn Owl in March 2011.

David Chandler is based in Histon, Cambridge, and has worked for the RSPB and BirdLife International for nearly 20 years. He is now a freelance writer and ornithologist and has authored a number of titles, including the All About Bugs and All About Garden Wildlife for New Holland.

Ian Llewellyn is a professional photographer and cameraman who has worked on many documentaries for the BBC. He has been fascinated by Kingfishers for many years and spent many months studying and photographing them. He lives in Fishponds, Bristol.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

For Irene

One of Stapleton's longest residents and most committed naturalists, Irene Hockey, died recently. She was born in the area in 1921 and lived in the house she was born in for nearly all of her life. Irene was also my next door neighbour.

I wanted to put a little tribute to her on the blog because she has inspired many of the the things we have done in Snuff Mills Action Group. Irene used to tell me lots of stories about the area when I saw her and that was the inspiration behind the oral history project we are doing - sadly she died before we were able to interview her for the project.

It was also Irene who remembered the name of Grove Wood when everyone else had forgotten its name. Her husband, Hector, organised the first ever campaign to protect Grove Wood in the 1970s when he tried to stop the hospital from dumping their rubbish in the woods.

Irene loved Snuff Mills and especially Stoke Park before the motorway was built and she was one of the leading members of the original Stapleton Conservation Society and was heavily involved in the Bristol Naturalists Society too. There wasn't much about the area or wildlife that she didn't know and I know I will miss her encouragement and support.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Willow Felled

The weeping willow (see the main blog photo above) that used to grace the weir next to the Broomhill Bridge has now been removed at the request of the Environment Agency after a complaint from an unknown resident. It was blocking the flow because of the large amount of debris that was trapped beneath it. We believe this is reasonable but hope that the remaining stump will regenerate quite quickly into a more upright tree.

We assume the men who are doing the job have been hired by Mr Jafari. They are also removing the tree that almost fell onto the cafe a couple of years ago as it too was blocking the river. However it must be noted that they do not have a remit to carry out any further tree works.

We have had reports of walkers being subject to abuse by people who are working in the wood, one of whom is Mr Jafari's son. If this happens to you, please email or post something on our blog. See here for further details of these incidents.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Get off my land!

We had this report from a local person who was enjoying a walk through Grove Wood yesterday:

"Was taking a leisurely stroll along the upper path of Grove Wood this afto, with my friend Karen and Jack...thank goodness, when we were accosted by some bloke telling us this was a private footpath and we were trespassing! He said his name was John Meer? and his company owned it. Well, two Conservation Society women and Jack were no match for him, and he hurried on his way muttering about calling the Police!
What is the position with the compulsory purchase order? and do you know who John Meer is?
I am not easily scared but Karen was quite concerned for our safety! We did wonder if he may just have been a 'Patient' !"

John Mair is apparently the 'solicitor' for Housang 'chopper' Jafari, the landowner of Grove Wood. We think this is proof that the Council should hurry up and Compulsory Purchase Grove Wood as he clearly is not welcoming to visitors to this proposed nature reserve.

If you have any similar expeiences, please let us know so we can gather more evidence of such behaviour

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New benches for Snuff Mills

Our team of volunteers began installing the new benches in Snuff Mills today. The project is being led by Snuff Mills superhero Mark Logan who is really chuffed with how the new benches look.

Eleven benches will eventually be installed, some of them in quieter places so you can have a peaceful sit down. Each bench has been sponsored by different people and groups in the local community, usually in memory of a loved one, with match funding from The People's Millions. The second picture shows Keith and Sandra Ingham by the bench they sponsored. Keep an eye out for more benches as we put them in over the next few weeks.

Pathway resurfacing

UPDATE: The pathway resurfacing was completed today (Sat 7th August). It took a little longer than expected, but we hope that it now means that anyone that wants to can at least enjoy a circular walk to Halfpenny Bridge and back.

PREVIOUSLY: The contractor has been working to resurface the upper and lower paths in Snuff Mills all week. The area that floods close to Halfpenny Bridge has been resurfaced with a porous material in an attempt to stop this. The lower path by the river is now also now resurfaced with tarmac.

This People's Millions funded project has been done to make at least some of the valley more accessible to wheelchair users and other people with mobility problems. Work will continue to resurface the upper path and the stretch from the mill to where the paths split. In a few days it will not be possible to access the valley from Snuff Mills for a day or so. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope that you will agree the end result will be worth it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Houshang Jafari convicted of endangering an aircraft

Update 3rd August: Mr Jafari has been sentenced to 1 year in prison for this offence.
7th July: The landowner of Grove Wood (Mr Jafari) made the front page of the Evening Post and some national & even international newspapers after appearing in court charged with endangering a helicopter. He has since been found guilty by jury and will be sentenced on August 3rd. While this matter is not directly linked to Grove Wood, we think it will be of interest.

 07/07/2010 09/07/2010 13/07/2010 03/08/2010

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Grove Wood container gone

After what seems like an eternity, Mr Jafari finally did the decent thing and removed the shipping container that has been a blot on the landscape in Grove Wood today at 3.45pm. Luckily a member of the group was there to record this wonderful moment.

I guess Mr Jafari couldn't face yet another humiliation in the Courts as the issue was due to go to court in August.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Wickham Glen Cycling Proposals

A planning application has been submitted by Cycling City for a new cyling ramp to be installed through the woods in Wickham Glen and onto Blackberry Hill/Broom Hill.
The application is only for the Ramp Only but forms part of the larger scheme (which doesnt need planning approval as its deemed as improvements/repairs to existing) which will continue the new cycle path through Eastville Park all the way to Blackberry Hill/Broom Hill and then eventually Stoke Park.
The planning application is for a new 3m wide cycle route to but cut through the existing woodland that is surfaced in tarmac and has timber post and rail fencing either side.
In order to do this trees will have to be removed and substantial earthworks undertaken. A replanting scheme will then be undertaken.

The documents can be seen by folowing the following weblink:
No provison has been made to prevent or even make more difficult motobike access. The route is designed to conform to national cycle route standards.

It appears that due to Bristol being a cylcling city that this is the norm.
Should we accept that instead of asking cyclist to use the road from Wickham bridge up to Blackberry Hill we have to accept that woodland has to be destroyed and repalced with 3m wide cycle lanes.
We accept that the footpath is in need of repair and that access is not suitable for cycles/wheelchairs and motorbikes but do we have to tarmac everywhere to enable unfettered access to those that choose to ride bikes and not walk along public footpaths?
You can also contact the ofiicer responsible for submitting the proposals at or his colleague who will be able to explain the proposals to you.
We would like to gage the opinion of our members so the group can respond to this application so please comment on what you think.

Friday, 16 July 2010

New plans for Snuff Mills, Oldbury Court and Wickham Glen

The Council have just published their Area Greenspace Plan for the open spaces in our area. As well as including plans to sell of several open spaces for development, see post below, it includes lots of ideas for improving our parks and greenspaces.

For Snuff Mills and Quarry Field (by Ham Lane) they propose:
1) To repair the historic buildings and walls, improve access and provide facilties for the community as whole.
2) Reinforce the wildlife value.
3) Provide a new, enclosed childrens play area in natural materials adjacent to the car park.
4) Continue to improve paths
5) Continue to improve formal planting beds.
6) Improve appearance of car park.
7) Manage and maintain Ham Lane [Quarry Field] to keep it as it is and improve the footpath link between the two spaces.
They say that these are ideas and options and they cannot afford to do all of these suggestions.

For Oldbury Court they propose:
1) New visitors centre, staff accommodation, shared use pavilion and cafe.
2) Redesign main car park.
3) New entrance gates and signage. A large entrance feature is suggested.This could
be of a modern design or replicate what might have been there originally.
4) Open up of the entrance off Goffenton Drive
5) Creation of a secondary parking area
6) Creation of a new formal area with seating
7) Introduction of a wheels park or Multi-Use-Games-Area for young people
8) Restore the original landscape design. This would involve the removal of some trees planted since the Estate was originally laid out and may give rise to concerns regarding the loss of natural habitats.
9) Reinforce wildlife interest. Within the framework of trees it may be possible to carry out low level planting of native perennials to add to the wildlife
value of the Estate.
10) Repair of riverside path
11) Repair of walls and bridges
12) Signs from Fishponds Road
13) Review sporting use and the creation of a new cricket square
14) Signs and information throughout the estate.
Once again they say these are ideas and options and they cannot afford to do all of these suggestions.

Finally for Wickham Glen they propose to maintain the green route along
the valley and improve connections and to reinforce the wildlife
value by
1) Creating an attractive and improved path through the site
2) Appropriate scrub clearance to increase the range of natural habitats

These plans are now out for consultation. While Snuff Mills Action Group will be responding, and we support many of these proposals (but not all of them), you can have your say. Take part in the online consultation here:

View the plan for yourself here:

New developments proposed for the area

The Council have just published their site allocations for our area. This highlights land that they regard as suitable for development. Several of the proposals affect the areas that are of concern to Snuff Mills Action Group.

Laundry Field and Blackberry Hill Hospital are alloacted for housing and business uses, although there seem to be some concessions to preserve greenspace. We will be preparing a full and detailed response to this allocation of land to ensure that the assurances we have received from the owners of the land, the Homes and Communities Agency, are noted. Otherwise a developer could be rubbing their hands at all that greenfield land ripe for development with the possibility of no less than 470 dwellings there.

Also of concern are plans to develop Begbrook Drive open space next to Begbrook School. This area of land is proposed for either housing or a travellers' site. We would be concerned about the impact of any development here on the wildlife and amenity of the valley below it and will be sending some detailed feedback, whether it means they will build 24 homes or provide 12 gypsy pitches.

Also on the list is Glenside Campus, just above precious Grove Wood. Development here could provide 341 dwellings. The site is registered as a Historic Landscape as well as in a Conservation Area and a Wildlife Network Site. We would be concerned about the impact of development on Grove Wood and the wider area. Would there need to be new sewers in the woods that would result in lots of trees being chopped down that would basically destroy the woods, especially after we have fought so hard to save it?

As if all that wasn't enough, they also propose to build 85 dwelling on Snowdon Road open space off Small Lane. This is slightly outside our area of interest, but it adds to the greenspaces that make Stapleton so unique.

And we haven't even mentioned the plans for 213 dwellings on the St Matthias campus in Fishponds close to Oldbury Court.

If all of these plans happen, we could see the loss of three areas of greenspace and 1048 new dwellings in the area. Snuff Mills Action Group will only comment on these proposals with regard to their impact on the greenspaces of the area, but you can have your say because the proposals are now out for consultation. Have your say here:

You can view the full site allocations document here:

Path works about to start

The paths in Snuff Mills will be restored during the week of 26th July. The work is being done by contractors Greentrees through Bristol City Council who have all worked hard to ensure the paths can be made to the highest possible standard with the money available.

Not all of Snuff Mills will be accessible during the week of the work.

On Monday 26th July it will not be possible to cross Halfpenny Bridge to get to Oldbury Court because the path that gets flooded next to the bridge will be being fixed - If you want to get to Oldbury Court from Snuff Mills on Monday 26th July you will need to walk through Grove Wood on the other side of the river.

The upper and lower paths will be surfaced between Tuesday - Thursday and it should be possible to enjoy the valley but you won't be able to use the path that is being surfaced - It might be an idea to keep your dog on a lead while this work is taking place.

On Friday 30th July the footpath from the Mill to where the two paths split will be surfaced. It will not be possible to get to the valley from the Mill on that day. If you want to get in to the valley from the car park on Friday 30th July you can either visit Grove Wood on the opposite side of the valley or walk up in to Quarry Field and along the top of the valley by Ham Lane. We hope to have signs to guide you.

New benches for Snuff Mills - coming soon!

The new benches for Snuff Mills are in the final stages of making their way to the valley. They have been made specially for us by a company in Scotland, so it is taking a little longer than we had hoped for them to arrive.

A total of 11 new metal benches will be installed between the park entrance and Halfpenny Bridge thanks to the People's Millions lottery money and the kind sponsorship of many local people. Every single bench will be dedicated to someone who loved or loves the area.

The benches will be installed in more interesting places than the current ones so that visitors to the valley can sit in quieter spots not just next to paths. They will be installed by Snuff Mills Action Group volunteers with help from Bristol City Council. Because of this, it may take a little while for all of them to be installed.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Himalayan balsam pulling

This rather beautiful looking plant is called Himalayan Balsam. While it might look good it is a very invasive plant that grows like a triffid and it is choking up our riverbanks making them less good for wildlife. There is a lot of it along the River Frome in Snuff Mills and on the other side of the river from Oldbury Court.

We've organised a special event to pull up this weed from along the river bank on Sunday 18th July from 2-4pm. Meet in the garden and bring gloves if you have them.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Mutt strut video

A short film of the mutt strut and dog show by Richard Pring.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mutt strut and dog show

Over thirty dogs, their owners and friends joined in Snuff Mills Action Group's first ever sponsored mutt strut and fun dog show yesterday (Sat 26th June). The images show Onyx - winner of best mutt (top left), the sponsored walk going through the valley (top right), one of the classes in the dog show (middle), Florence winning Queen of the Valley (bottom left) and the three winners of best sit (bottom right). Congratulations to all the winning dogs Bailey (King of the Valley), Florence (Queen of the Valley), Archie (Senior Citizen), Fenris (Baby of the Valley), Nettie (Best Posh Dog), Florence (Best Sighthound), Onyx (Best Mutt), Casper (Waggiest Tail), Sheila (Most Adorable Eyes), George and Bob (Most Amazing Ears), Rose and Fenris (Best Pack) as well as the winners of best six legs and longest sit. Luckily Gerry Watkins, the Judge, did not go home with Tikka, although she voted it the dog she would most like to take home.

The event should raise about £800 when all of the sponsor money comes in and this will be shared between Snuff Mills Action Group, Bristol Dogs Home and Dog Action Welfare Group Bristol. A special thanks must go the the RSPCA for coming and offering to microchip dogs and for Dog Action Welfare Group for judging the dog show as well as Chris and all of the other members of Snuff Mills Action Group who made the event happen.

It was really great to see so many different dogs and so many people in the valley enjoying themselves. It's just about sums up what Snuff Mills is all about. We all enjoyed it so much, we are already planning next year's event!