Monthly Archives: August 2020

Green Corridors – Hull 6 (27/08/’20).

Today’s photo. is of the west front of St. Giles’ church Marfleet, built in a neo-Geometric style in 1884 and was/is the third church built for the community of Marfleet on this or a nearby site. Close to the east of this church is a lower section of Holderness Drain, a ‘green corridor’ in east Hull. I am not as familiar with Holderness Drain as I am Barmston Drain but assume there must be sections of the Drain with public rights of way alongside and that in summer sections of the Drain bank-side are over-necessarily flailed as with Barmston Drain (s.p.b.s).

As discussed in a blog earlier this year (or maybe late last year, I should check) it is not easy to identify which public body is responsible for maintaining the banks of a river, drain or canal. In the case of Barmston and Holderness Drains it may be the Environment Agency or the local drainage board.

Holderness Drain was ‘cut’ in 1832. Unlike the earlier Barmston Drain (s.p.b.s) it flowed out directly into the Humber Estuary thus making it more efficient in exiting potential flood water from the carr-lands of the north R. Hull flood-plain. The reason why this choice was now possible was that with the opening to shipping of Humber Dock (excavated 1809) and Junction Dock (now Prince’s Dock, Marina, excavated 1829) ships could now move to and from Queen’s Dock without having to pass through the Old Dock (west bank of lower River Hull) so ebb-tide scouring was less crucial (s.p.b.s). The 1832 Holderness Drain crossed over an earlier Holderness Drain, sometimes called the ‘Holderness Upland Drain’, by a culvert in fields now to the east of North Bransholme.

(this section on Green Corridors – Hull to be concluded next time).

Green Corridors – Hull 5, (26/08/’20).

Firstly just a concluding comment on the point I made at the end of the last blog – yes, as with roadside grass verges, it may be considered right to trim back undergrowth for the first metre from the edge of the path or road, this usually done after 1st June, but why flail all the green growth from the whole drain-side. Indeed from a safety point of view a child scrambling down the steep side of  a main drain is then more likely to fall in the water than if their fall were broken by dense undergrowth. Am I the only one who thinks this so?

Yesterday’s mention of Holderness Drain invites a bit of  landscape history context. The eastern side of the R. Hull valley (the land between the River itself and the undulations of the Holderness plain) was/is wider than the level land on the west side of the River itself, thus having more land to drain. The Cistercian monks of Meaux Abbey (see photo.) were the first to dig drainage channels (although their principal purpose was to provide a transport artery to the River Hull) in the Meaux/Wawne area of the flood-plain in the 12th and 13th centuries. The drainage history of this area was complex (see J. Sheppard The Draining of the Hull Valley, (E.Y.L.H.S. reprinted 1976) the excavation of the Holderness Drain in the 1830s being one of the last major projects. The second edition of the O.S. 1” map of the 1850s shows the mouth of the Drain in open countryside well east of Hull and just west of Marfleet village, crossed by the Hull – Hedon turnpike (later Hedon Road). Now, with the expansion of the built-up area of East Hull, the Drain passes through part of Longhill and Bilton Grange estates and is crossed by Salthouse, Holderness High and Preston Roads before its outflow between Alexandra and King George Docks (developed after the Drain was dug).

(to be continued)

Green Corridors – Hull 4, (25/08/’20).

Two other important green corridors for local diversity are Barmston Drain and Holderness Drain. Both these large, man-made drainage channels have steep sides colonised by local flora and fauna, their steepness making them hostile to trampling by people and thus more eco-friendly. When first built neither impacted on the built-up area of the town but the town has expanded around them. Both Barmston and Holderness Drains were/are long distance drainage channels dug principally to carry excess water from the middle and upper R. Hull valley to the coast (Humber Estuary), this enabling the region between Woodmansey and North Frodingham to be farmed more productively.

Barmston Drain was excavated across 1799 and 1800, followed the course of the River Hull on its west side and was designed to aid the drainage of floodplain land in areas such as Watton Carrs, Arram Carrs, Leconfield ‘Low Grounds’, Figham and Cottingham Common. Initially the channel’s engineers wanted wanted an outlet directly to the Humber Estuary in the Dairycoates area west of Hull (then), but shipping interests in the town always wanted drainage channels to outlet into the River Hull so that more water would scour the ‘Old Harbour’ on ebb tides, thus the Beverley and Barmston Drain ends at at sluice under Wincolmlee which allows water to exit from the Drain to the River as ebb tides lower the River water level, but blocks the ingress to the Drain of saline water on the flow tides.

The issue I wish to raise with this blog is the summer mowing regime done on some sections of the Drain’s bank, usually wherever a tractor can access to power a mechanical flail. Thus sections of the current year’s growth is destroyed, this damaging the biodiversity of the ‘green corridor’ and possibly killing or maiming some of the wildlife of the ‘green corridor’.

Green Corridors – Hull 3 (24/08/’20).

It is not just the disused rail lines that create an opportunity for a green corridor but also rail lines still in use. The best example in Hull is the ‘high-level’ created by the Hull-Barnsley Railway in the 1870s. This line looping around the northern edge of the town (then) was built on a man-made embankment to avoid the necessity for frequent level crossings. As the sides of the embankment are steep this has allowed Nature to take hold and flourish, this also helped by the need for the bottom of the embankment to be well fenced for security reasons. Although avoiding the necessity for level crossings the embanked line needed many bridges when crossing roads, river and drains. The embanked section started in the Gipsyville area before the bridged crossings of Boothferry and Anlaby Roads, then turning north-east to the bridged crossing of Spring Bank West and Perth Street West and arcing round eastwards over the bridged crossings of Chanterlands Avenue, Newland Avenue, Beverley Road and Barmston Drain. The rail bridge over the River Hull in the Sculcoates/Stoneferry areas is difficult to see clearly as it is in an industrial area but was built in the same arched-style as the famous Tyne Bridge. In east Hull there is/was a bridged crossing of Cleveland Street, Holderness Road and Holderness Drain but at Marfleet Lane the line is crossed by a flyover, this before a bridged crossing of Hedon Road, thus giving access to King George Dock (originally to Alexandra Dock).

The photo. above shows a section of Barmston Drain just north of Clough Road and alongside the municipal allotments site. The Beverley and Barmston Drain is another ‘green corridor’, not only through the town but also through the mostly arable farmed land to the north of Hull, east of Beverley and northwards along the R. Hull floodplain south of North Frodingham.

(to be continued)

Green corridors – Hull 2. (21/08/’20).

The plaque above, on a wall beside the pavement at the west end of Spring Bank, shows an elderly woman holding the hand of a child, both presumably just off the train for a day beside the sea at Hornsea. Both the rural lines to Withernsea and Hornsea diverted from the Victoria Dock Railway at separate points in east Hull (see later) and passengers could get on the train at Paragon Station or any town station before the diversion. The steam train puts the time portrayed as the early 1950s, while the British Rail sign reminds of bygone times and, perhaps, those to come! The graffiti only examples the mindlessness of such behaviour.

As previously stated the Withernsea/Hornsea lines are now green corridors through the town (s.p.b.). For most of the right-of-way the hard surface is divided between the maroon-coloured cycle track and the asphalt grey footpath. Hull Council is currently engaged in having physical changes made to encourage more cycle use – bus lanes with times extended and green surfaced cycleways as part of the bus lanes and a better maintenance plan for existing cycleways. Apparently a council team of six workpeople have been allocated to cycleways, this I learned from earwigging a conversation between two of the team and two residents litter picking at the west end of the green corridor, they discussing the important matter of how far back from the path the weed/grass cutting should go. A long way back, appeals to those prioritising tidiness, maximum of three feet back appeals to those who prioritise biodiversity.

At this point a recent episode – while walking with dog along a section of the Hull-Hornsea line a cyclist complained that I was allowing the dog to wander back and forth over the cycleway, given that he made his point in a very abusive way I verbally fought back, but on reflection have to admit that he had a point, although it pains to admit it.

(to be continued).

Green corridors – Hull, (19/08/’20)

One current project is to compile an illustrated paper/presentation on the route of the once Hull – Hornsea rail-line through the city of Hull and the countryside and villages of Holderness. Through much of the route in the City the line has been converted to a cycleway and footpath and to each side as much has been retained of the shrubs, undergrowth and now mature trees. It is thus one of Hull’s ‘green corridors’ and the photo. above shows that sections are maintained and valued by local volunteers, mostly by litter picking.

The concept of a ‘green corridor’ is vital to nature conservation, as much in the countryside as in urban areas. Green corridors allow wildlife to move along linear distances this helping in the search for food and suitable mates. In arable farming regions such as East Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire over the last two generations so many hedgerows have been ‘grubbed-up’ (destroyed), or so reduced by mechanical flailing to their barest minimum, that they no longer sustain wildlife and although plantations of woodland may still exist green corridors that once linked them have been lost so the plantation becomes mystically devoid of ground-living animals and short-distance flying birds.

Of course in towns green corridors are more likely to be interrupted by roads where back-in-the-day level crossings existed or where modern roads, often serving relatively new housing estates, cross the line. This is true of Hull as whereas initially the Victoria Dock Railway and later the Hull – Barnsley Railway ‘high-level’ track both skirted the edge of the then town to the north the routes are now, as a result of urban expansion, in the town.

After the ‘Beeching cuts’ the issue of what use to make of now disused rail lines, particularly once the track and sleepers had been removed, was relevant. A senior lecturer at Hull University back in the 1960s, Dr. Jay Appleton, wrote a number of papers recommending their adoption as public rights of way.

(to be continued)