Ridgeway Farm Art Project Update 21.08.19

Ridgeway Farm Art Project Update 21.08.19
Following the first Walk n Talk on Sunday 11thAugust and subsequent site visits, the project is now taking form.
Meeting outside the Ridgeway Farm Academy at 11am we headed up through the houses to Upper Ox Hill where the path leads spiralling around to the top (and has been nicknamed Snail Hill) wild flowers are starting to come through but mostly chick weed is dominant. The views are amazing from there – looking across to Liddington across the centre of Swindon; to Purton and up to the Cotswolds possibly as far as the top of Birdlip Hill.
Public Open Space to North West of Ridgeway Farm looking towards the railway line

There is a footpath on the other side of the B4553 road that leads back to Purton but is not clearly accessible at the moment and has new saplings densely planted up to the development boundary.

Looking back towards the development from the railway arch
Public footpath to Purton

We crossed over to the public open spaces to the north where once you have negotiated the steps a path leads toward the railway bridge and footpath to the River Ray – a delightful surprise for me that this is so easy to access from the development.  Further on you can reach the old canal.  The attenuation ponds in front of the railway already have reeds and grasses to attract wildlife and new saplings have been planted to the western boundary.  There is another public footpath from Purton direction that links to the path going under the railway.  This particular area was really interesting to me as a potential site for the community orchard – it is a bit space currently being mown and slopes to the east with protection from prevailing west winds.

The large public open space to the east of the path is a hill side that has another attenuation pond at the base and is bordered by the railway line fencing.  It has recently been cut for hay and there is a gently worn path across the top leading to the east end of the development which I explored recently and found another lovely pond, stream and ditch and newly planted large trees around the border of the development.  The space was deserted when I was there on a glorious sunny day.
Although only two households came along to discuss the project and explore the development plenty of good ideas were put forward including;

  • ·     A community orchard would be a great addition to the site – especially as a way of getting people together to use the public open spaces in a positive way and would help encourage more wildlife and ecology.
  • ·     The art work could take the form of a seat/way-markers on a nature trail/an entrance sculpture to welcome you to the development but more people should be consulted about this.
  • ·     The top of Upper Ox Hill is a great place for a seat with a shelter.
  • ·     Yes – bat box making workshops would be welcome.
  • ·     Marking the site of the round houses and/or iron age burial site is important – more investigation into this archaeology report is needed and one resident is interested in doing this.
  • ·     An after school parent and child wildlife Wonder session would be welcome.
  • ·     Getting together as a community was welcomed as it is a big development that only has the school to tie residents together and not everyone has children or uses the school.

Other suggestions including how to help make the public open spaces user friendly were made:

  • ·     A leaflet drop should happen to engage residents in the project – MC to investigate
  • ·     Improved  disabled access on site would help to make the spaces more accessible – there are a lot of steps that are difficult to negotiate if you are with young children/push chairs/wheelchair user/less able bodied
  • ·     Zebra crossing at Upper Ox Hill and through the main road across the estate would make it safer for children to use the POS and access the community orchard in the future.

At the moment the project is heading in the following directions;
Develop an accessible nature trail through parts of the public open spaces across the development recorded by residents /children via art workshops with MC and Wildlife Wonder workshops and presented in a fold-out hand illustrated map for each household.
Creating a community orchard with potential for a community gathering/celebration area incorporating seating or a free standing sculpture.
Bat box making workshops for the community to attend and make their own boxes – some to put in mature trees on site and some for residents to attach to their own homes.  A bat walk is planned for the autumn.
The next project event is a workshop at Ridgeway Farm Academy on Wednesday 25thSeptember with Iain Green of Wildlife Wonder.  We will be working with year 5 pupils on the school playground and hopefully exploring the larger off-school site gathering information about the wildlife on your doorstep and getting art work for the map.
Other after school workshops for parents with their children are planned as is a cubs/scouts workshop.  If you would like to be involved please contact me and get on the mailing list for further information email me

              @melissacole001 #ridgewayfarmart


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