Tales of Washes, Wildfowl and Water

Volunteers needed

One of the projects of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership is well underway and very keen to recruit more young volunteers to help make a short, animated film all about the creation of the Ouse Washes.

The details of who is eligible and how to get involved:Rosmini animation project A5flier jpeg

The film will be all about the archaeology, landscape heritage, natural heritage and the people who created the landscape and worked in the washes; it will lead those involved to explore the landscape heritage and how the Ouse Washes were created.

The Project

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The project is being run by the Fens Museum Partnership, in conjunction with a local volunteer community group linked to the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech. The volunteers involved in the project will shape the story and direction of the film, select the topics and then put the film together, thereby gaining a great sense of ownership over the project and final product.

Once the Ouse Washes Partnership scheme has completed its work, this film will continue to be used by various organisations, for example schools, youth clubs, libraries, local history groups and community groups, providing a concise story of the Ouse Washes to many more people and allowing them to learn about its heritage.

We will also promote the film at many of our partnership events, such as the Festival Fortnight during July 2015 and 2016, and other occasions when we showcase the Ouse Washes scheme to the public.

Previous films from the Fens Museum Partnership

To give you an idea of the wonderful films that are put together using this technique, follow this link to see some films that are part of a series of short, stop-frame animation Fenland Storiesfilms entitled Fenland Stories previously produced by The Fens Museum Partnership.

Once again, on this project, the film will be produced as a packaged DVD, allowing it to be widely distributed to the scheme partners, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other organisations. It will also be uploaded to the scheme’s website, social media and our YouTube channel.

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in getting involved in the project, please get in touch with Ruth Farnan at the Fens Museum Partnership directly on:

  • 07881 924374, or
  • ruth.farnan@Norfolk.gov.uk

Or you can contact the central team for the partnership using the details on our contact page.

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Heritage Open Days of 2014 this Weekend!

Like last year, many heritage attractions are free to explore, usually for longer opening times with possible special exhibitions and access to places usually closed to the public all weekend for the Heritage Open Days! It is a special annual weekend supported by English Heritage since 1994 and you can visit the Heritage Open Days official website. This year it runs from Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th September. logos

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Ely Cathedral above the market. Source: Pete Johnstone

With open nights on Friday evening, open tours on Saturday and open houses on the Sunday, an interesting Ely Heritage Weekend is coming up! On Friday evening, you can experience Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum and Ely Museum at the unusual hours of after closing time. The Saturday has lots more things going on! Bookings for places are advisable as they are different and enjoyable guided tours around Ely, in the Courthouse, the 15th century Old Palace and the West Tower in Ely Cathedral. The Ely Museum also has a guided tour alongside many activities. On the Sunday, Ely opens its 14th and 16th century houses at 7 & 9 Silver Street, Ely’s Old Porta entrance and the 14th century chapel that are rarely opened to the public. Additionally, a tour around St Peter’s Church and riverside walk with the Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire ACRE is on. Pre-booking is essential with all of Sunday activities.

The Chatteris Library is showing photographs of how the buildings in Chatteris changed over time.

March offers around 20 events and activities this year including a trip with a local historian to learn about the town’s influential Gray family, a gentle walk on architectural details of the buildings along Station Road, a walk seeing the railway and water voles, children’s activities and a toys exhibition at March and District Museum – see The March Society website.

Heritage Open Days in Fenland poster. Source: The March Society

Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet front cover. Source: The March Society.

The Capital of the Fens – Wisbech – have many things open and to see for the weekend. A wide range of buildings are open such as Wisbech Castle, Masonic Lodges and Council Chambers, which has displays of furniture, historical styles and various artefacts to view and learn from. The other venues open from the public ranged from a theatre – the Angles Theatre – to all the National Trust properties, including the one usually closed to the public. A guided tour and apple tasting at The Orchard and the various churches and museums in Wisbech with their individual features, characters and various kinds of history exhibited through talks to demonstrations will be specially available for the public this Heritage Open Days weekend too. Of particular interest, “Vivian” the fire engine that served Wisbech in the 1930s to the 1960s is on display.

The Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet that cover the rest of Fenland for can be consulted for further information.

The Ramsey Rural Museum is open on the Sunday and there will be a great range of ways to discover Ramsay‘s heritage including a Great Fen exhibition trailer and learning about the two world wars.

St Ives opens a number of their religious and town buildings for most of the weekend, including a mosque that opens on the Sunday and exhibitions in the Corn Exchange, while Holt Island Nature Reserve is open all weekend with a basket weaving display. The flyer can be downloaded here.

In Houghton, National Trust’s Houghton Mill is free and themed Victorian with costumed actors and available toys for children to play with, and the Mill will work to produce flour.

Have a great one!

Trot on back to the Past this Weekend!

Heritage and Horses blog... Family shop to five minute of fame

Heritage and Horses blog… Family shop to five minute of fame – Sourced from Deborah Curtis of the Field Theatre Group

Littleport’s famous ironmongery shop – J H Adams – that had been unchanged since and restored to its 19th century state as a Heritage Lottery funded project is opening its doors again on Saturday 23 August from 10 am till 4pm.

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch!

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch! Sourced from J H Adams Heritage Centre

This Family Adams Project is a time capsule that documents the fascinating paraphernalia of the local shop and lives in Littleport and the Fens by displaying the items that were for sale to the shop ledgers used as well as the photographs and objects of the related past – including that of the horse, which played an important role back then. The J H Adams Heritage Centre of Main Street will be holding a second-hand book fair to raise its funds. Come and support it by having a browse through the fine selection of good quality books while enjoying teas and coffees with them! While there, you can see the paraphernalia, photographs and information of these beasts that tolled on the land and streets for man throughout the Fenland during the centuries. The shop was transformed into an old saddler’s shop that bustled with actors and a film crew back in April to create a community film about them.

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Film crew happily involved with the Horseman's Word

Film crew happily involved with the Horseman’s Word – sourced from Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

The Horseman’s Word is another recently finished but still continuing Heritage Lottery-Funded project ran by the Field Theatre Group, a community learning, inclusive and engagement organisation based in Littleport that combine performing arts with Fenland heritage and culture.

Under ADeC and in partnership with the Wisbech, Fenland and Ely museums, the Field Theatre Group got together film makers, researchers and experts to work on a good outcome of increased interest in the true stories about heavy horses from a previous Common Ground project that gathered and taught expression of local stories in sessions and workshops. People were invited to talk to horse experts and give in historical materials like memories and photographs in workshops. A travelling museum exhibition, an on-line archive, a history field day with a local primary school, a documentary DVD and drama workshops has been coming out of it all.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had aired an interview about this fascinating project on June 3rd last year, and the BBC took further interest in the heritage of the heavy horses lately. BBC Look East aired their filming of the Field Theatre Group’s filming on location for a production that includes/on heavy horses on the 6pm show on Tuesday 5th August this year, and the director, Deborah Curtis was interviewed by Kevin Burke about their activity and great work. The project has grew successfully from a previous one into its glamorous conclusions of being on BBC television air time, other location shoots like near Colchester earlier this month and promoting the learning, talents and skills of the local stars from Littleport.

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses – sourced by Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

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Things to see, places to go and stuff to do in the Ouse Washes this Bank Holiday weekend

local kids on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm

Local kids on a bug hunt on a wildlife-friendly farm in the Fens. Copyright: Niki Williamson/ RSPB

LogosSaturday 24th MayWisbech Craft Centre fun day including bouncy castle – check out their Facebook page for some lovely crafty items and join them at Alexandra House, Alexandra Road, Wisbech, PE13 1HQ between 12 and 4 pm.

 

The Stretham Old Engine Museum is open this Sunday 25th May and on the Bank Holiday Monday 26th May from 1.30 to 5 pm (£3 adults, £1 children), further info can be found at www.strethamoldengine.org.uk (also open Sunday 8th June & Sun 22nd June; Sunday 13th July & Sunday 27th July).

The Stretham Old Engine, although just outside of the Ouse Washes LP area, is the last survivor in the southern Fens of over 100 steam-powered pumping stations used to drain the Fens. Erected in 1831, it is also the largest and one of the most complete examples of these.

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The beautiful, still working and well-kept interior of Stretham Old Engine. Source: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186226-d213789-Reviews-Stretham_Old_Engine-Ely_Cambridgeshire_England.html

 

For events and activities at WWT Welney reserve in the Ouse Washes, check out their website and click on this week to see more detail, costs and booking requirements; but just to whet your appetite there are beginners bird watching walks (Mondays 11 -12 and Sundays 1 – 2pm) till the 31st May and Fen tales and breeding bird walks (Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays 1 – 2pm till 31st May).

Safaris at WWT Welney
At WWT Welney there is also a ‘Wetland Safari’ on Bank Holiday Monday (26th May) from 10 am till 4pm which includes guides in the bird hides, pond dipping and owl pellet dissection (pellets contain the bones that owls cough up instead of swallowing!) – What’s not to like? Normal admission charges apply and pre-booking is recommended for some of these activities.

 

 

New LEADER programme for Cambridgeshire Fens – come and have your say

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Those who live and work in the Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER area will have the strongest knowledge of challenges that need to be addressed in the local rural economy.

As such, Cambridgeshire ACRE is keen to involve local people, organisations and businesses in planning the Local Development Strategy for the 2014 – 2020 LEADER programme.

New Picture (17) We want people who might benefit from this funding to join us to explore the opportunity further and to contribute ideas to shape our bid, so that it reflects what the local rural economy really needs. To this end we are holding three workshops in June:

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Project part-funded by the Fens Adventurers LEADER programme

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Project part-funded by the Fens Adventurers LEADER programme

For those involved in farming, micro enterprise or small business:
Tuesday 3 June 2014, 3.30pm – 6.00pm
Lakeside Lodge, Fen Road, Pidley, Huntingdon, PE28 3DF

For those involved in tourism, cultural and heritage activities:
Tuesday 10 June 2014, 5.30pm – 8.00pm
Oliver Cromwell Hotel, High Street, March, PE15 9LH

For those involved in rural services and village renewal:
Tuesday 17 June 2014, 3.30pm – 6.00pm
E-Space North, 181 Wisbech Road, Littleport, CB6 1RA

To book a place at one or more of these workshops download the full Invitation below and follow the link to the booking form:

Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER Invitation

Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER Workshop Programme

 

To find out more about the previous, very successful Fens Adventurers LEADER programme, see: http://www.cambsacre.org.uk/fensadventurers/. A total of 66, all very different projects were part-financed with LEADER funding in the previous period which ended in December 2013 ; see http://www.cambsacre.org.uk/fensadventurers/projects.php for some case studies.

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Nearly £1m granted to OWLP scheme!

LogosYes! It is in the bag!

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has just announced that the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme will indeed receive £905,100 of HLF funding!

Since the partnership’s stage 2 bid in November 2013, the three files of paperwork we handed in have been assessed by the HLF’s regional team. Following this, the HLF’s East of England’s Regional Committee convened late last week to make the final, very positive, decision.

The Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, Robyn Llewellynn said:

“What really impressed us about this project was the clear vision for celebrating the Ouse Washes. From working with people who live and visit the area, to developing innovative schemes to help wildlife thrive and flourish, our funding will connect the Fen stories of the past with opportunities for the future.”

Following the excellent news we have just received, we are now ready to start the partnership’s delivery phase, which will run until March 2017.

Watch this space: we will shortly get much more information out as to what is going to happen in your area and how you can get involved in our learning, access, conservation, engagement, volunteering, events and training programme.

We hope to see you soon at one of the many project activities and events we have lined up for you, to discover, protect and celebrate the unique Ouse Washes heritage.

See here the press release we sent out this week: Press Release_Ouse Washes LP_1 million from HLF (or download it from our Resources section).

Bill Blake Heritage Documentation All Rights Reserved

The Ouse Washes LP landscape; Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation, All Rights Reserved

Other Landscape Partnership schemes in East Anglia

Heritage Lottery Fund

Including the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP), there are currently four Landscape Partnership schemes in the East of England. They are:

  • Managing a Masterpiece (Stour Valley; completed : summer 2013)
  • Touching the Tide (Suffolk Coast; started delivery phase this spring)
  • Breaking New Ground (The Brecks; in development phase)
  • Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership

As there are synergies with what the OWLP scheme is trying to achieve, I thought it would be interesting to show what else is happening in the region. Over the last few months the central OWLP team has also been in regular contact with staff at the Breaking New Ground and Touching the Tide schemes, who have been very helpful with information exchange.

Each of the landscape Partnerships are very different in the type of landscapes it focuses on, ranging from the coastal landscape of the Touching the Tide, the dry scrubland of the Brecks, to the flood plain and Fenlands of the Ouse Washes, area. The Managing a Masterpiece manages the landscape as fabulously painted by John Constable who painted the old building and waterways of this landscapes. All have had a different story to tell; with the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund each of the landscapes are brought back to life, with the involvement and help of the local communities and business.

Map of the existing Landscape Partnership schemes within East Anglia:

Map of existing Landscape Partnership in East Anglia

Map of existing Landscape Partnership in East Anglia

The Brecks

Breaking New Ground covers 1000 square kilometres in the Brecks, in the heart of East Anglia.

The climate here is semi-continental, which means that the weather is colder than the UK average during winter and hotter in summer. The Brecks can also experience extreme changes in temperature throughout the year with the possibility of frost during almost any month, which in conjunction with the low rainfall in East Anglia makes it the driest part of the UK.

The Brecks have nutrient poor soil however it is a good habitat for rabbits and there are ancient Pingos, formed at the end of the last Ice Age; these are not common across the UK as most have been built on or removed. The resulting Pingo ponds are home to some unique species of wildlife, many of which are rare and some of the beetles have survived here since the last Ice Age.

Brecks Landscape Source: www.brecks.org

Brecks Landscape Source: http://www.brecks.org

In the 1660s, the area experienced huge sandstorms what with the area being largely made up of sandy soils. As a result, sand dunes were formed on Lakenheath Warren in the 1660s. These were spread over a thousand acres and the sand was blown as far as Santon Downham and partially buried villages and blocked the Little Ouse River. Extensive planting of trees in the area has stopped sandstorms occurring. The last mobile sand dune system can be seen at Wangford Warren Nature Reserve.

The Brecks has the potential to support over 300 tourist-related business, however it is one of East Anglia’s hidden gems: it is obscured by trees, resulting in rail and car travellers passing by, generally not knowing what lies behind the line of trees en route to more well-know areas such as the Norfolk Coast and the Broads. The area behind the trees, nevertheless, is a world of forest adventure; miles of tracks and paths forming a great attraction with an amazing fun world of history for everyone to get involved in.

In late July 2013 The Brecks Partnership and Greater Anglia put an image of The Brecks on the side of a train travelling between Cambridge and Norwich, as this is the line which passes through the Brecks. The aim was to promote the area to a wider audience and the train will be running until the end of July 2014 promoting the Brecks along the way.

Train with the The Brecks logo  Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinkplunger/9730654292/

Train with the The Brecks logo. Would this also be an idea for Ouse Washes LP area, another hidden gem in the region – what do you think?
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sinkplunger/9730654292/

 

Touching the Tide

The Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership scheme is within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB area and is situated along the Suffolk Coast between Covehithe and Felixstowe.

The development phase was completed in November 2012 and funding was given to go forward with the delivery phase. The Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership has received £900k to support the 3 year project which started in spring 2013 and is due to end in spring 2016.

The scheme intents to invest in skills, businesses and the environment. The project money will be used to restore and conserve heritage assets which make the coast special, for example the Martello Towers as well as the shingle beaches which contribute to the sense of wildness that people value in the character of the landscape. The funding will also be used to work with local communities to inspire them to share stories of the area’s history to younger members of the community, as well as helping to conserve the local heritage by working with art projects and archaeological digs. All these projects encourage the local community to work together and to feel proud of their heritage. By the end of the 3 year project the aim is to have made a real difference to people’s understanding of this very dynamic coastline, so they can help in shaping its future.

Managing a Masterpiece

The Managing a Masterpiece Landscape Partnership scheme focused on the Stour Valley; it started in 2010 and ended in summer 2013. Their Vision is for a landscape cared for and celebrated by the local community, having been provided with knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to manage and enjoy it. The area has inspired generations of artists such as John Constable because of it natural beauty and historic structures, riverside trees, rich heritage of meadows and the field boundaries.

managing a masterpiece

The objectives for Managing a Masterpiece were:

  • Understanding the historic evolution of the landscape and the way traditional land management has shaped it;
  • Conserving or restoring the manmade and natural features that create the historic character of the landscape;
  • Celebrating the cultural associations and activities of the landscape area;
  • Encouraging more people to access, learn about, become involved in and make decisions about their landscape heritage;
  • Improving understanding of local craft and other skills by providing training opportunities.

There were 7 overarching projects (each with further projects within) which formed the Managing a Masterpiece Landscape Partnership scheme, all of which explored different parts of the landscape and which focused on:  Landscape lessons; Historic Landscape Study; Building History; Slimy Posts and Brickwork; Hidden History; Stripping Back the Layers; and Medieval Masterpieces. Each of the projects were carried out by local communities: the more they contributed the more they appreciated its value and wanted to continue their involvement with the local heritage after funding stopped.

During the years of the Landscape Partnership over 3,500 volunteer working days were completed throughout all of the projects, half of which were carried out during several archaeological projects.

Landscape of Managing a Masterpieces Source; http://www.managingamasterpiece.org/

Landscape of Managing a Masterpieces Source; http://www.managingamasterpiece.org/

 

Legacy of the Landscape Partnership schemes in the region

All of the above Landscape Partnerships schemes are aimed at involving people in their local heritage and landscape and providing access to the area so that more people are able to enjoy the environment in which they live, while at the same time giving the project volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills. The Landscape Partnership schemes do not finish once the funding stops as it is hoped that after 3 years of funding people are more knowledgeable and inspired about the area and will continue to look after the environment in which they live.

At the Ouse Washes Conference at the beginning of September there were some inspiring comments showing that people want to continue the project work after the end of the 3 years of HLF support. One person commented “My enthusiasm has grown after today. Think about branding of the scheme and of a sustainable legacy” with another saying, “Overall an exciting project- Wish it was longer than 3 years”. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme certainly aims to get more people interested, excited and proud of their local heritage and support people in looking after the Ouse Washes into the future once the 3 year project is finished.

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