Geocachers and KWT – Be Tidy Month, 24 September
On Sunday 24 September, 1030 – 1230, The Friends of White Rock and the Geocachers are holding a litter pick and clearance as part of Keep Wales Tidy’s annual Be Tidy Month – www.keepwalestidy.cymru/betidy.
Everyone is welcome. Tools are provided, plus refreshments! Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more, or turn up on the day.
Thursday Clean and Clear
We hold Clean and Clear sessions on site most Thursdays, weather permitting, when we remove damaging vegetation from the surviving structures.
The next scheduled session is Thursday 21 September, 10 – 11. Wear appropriate footwear and clothes. Tools and gloves are available, or bring your own. The car park is the first turn off the roundabout leading to the river bridge at Landore. Email email@example.com for more information.
7 September. We had an excellent morning with Andrew, Kerry and Amanda of Natural Resources Wales. Watch this space for developments … the Site Of Special Interest will be confirmed on 17 November, at which time we will have the opportunity to work with NRW and others to access new resources.
24 August. Removing compacted vegetation (and 2.5 tons of trees) reveals more of the Mystery Building … a year ago none of this was visible.
17 August. Comparing old maps to what we can now see on the ground was as confusing as enlightening, as usual. But we made what looks like some exciting finds …
10 August. Lauren Heckler, artist in residence at Elysium Gallery and Studios, came to White Rock to see what we are doing and take some interviews (Jean, Dawn and John) and photographs. Watch this space for news on her project.
16 July. Once again we welcomed the Geocachers. Many tahnsk for the tremdous job on the canal path and litter picking.
11 May. The route from the cycle path to the footbridges was impassable two weeks ago. It has been cleared – or at least beaten down with some cutting – and Dawn and John got to the bridges fairly easily. The path along the river bank also looks as though it has been worked on, though we did not try it. Who cleared the paths? Ramblers? It looks cleared rather than vandalised.
Late April. We removed 2.5 tons of tree remains from the top of the mystery building. It was all acting vertically through the trunks and putting a lot of damaging pressure on the roof. The trunks and branches wil be used to make wildlife habitats (insulated with brash), and park furniture.
Discovering more brick surfaces near the ramp.
We are continuing to uncover the surviving structures of the Great Work House. We have made great progress in the last few weeks – there will soon be a clear view from the river for the first time in at least thirty years.
Dawn, Jean, Ralph, Rhys and John cleared one of the blocked entrances to the Great Workhouse, and half opened the next, on 21 July. It is much easier (and more satisfying) clearing the big stuff than the undergrowth. It is nigh on impossible to keep on top of that at this time of year.
Opening the view to the Great Workhouse, 12 May – a big clearance morning!
17 March – the ivy was doing real damage to the wall. Note the past tense. We met a charming gentleman today. In nearly 80 years of walking all over White Rock (and getting there by ferry) he had never seen the steps before!
10 March – Jean and John continued the assault on the wall. The destructive ivy is slowly giving in, and the steps are in the sunlight for the first time in donkey’s years.
Four months ago the wall and steps were so overgrown we didn’t even know the steps were there.
3 March – Jack and Amber from Kilvey Hill joined us to find the wall. A lot of heavy work went on, including removing big buddleia and a tree that were starting to undermine the structure.
On 22 October 2015 Dean Thomas of ITV Wales filmed at White Rock. See ITV Wales at White Rock for photos and the broadcast date.
4 October – our good friends the Geocachers joined us for a clean and clear. Lots of litter was picked, foliage hacked, and the first supermarket trolley was hauled out of the river dock! See the video …
29 September – Welsh Wildlife and the Friends cleared grass cuttings from the Spiral Tump. There is still about half to clear – watch this space for the next date!
24 September – Jeff Griffiths trained volunteers and our new friends from Skewen Historical Society in the art of dowsing. Most of us achieved results, and it was uncanny to see strangers to White Rock mapping out the foundations of the lead smelter. We have a lot to think about …
27 August – Dawn and John let sunlight into the rest of the canal path!
Invalid Displayed Gallery
The canal path is almost returned to its status of a pleasant lightly wooded walk instead of an obstacle course. One more push will finish it. As usual, clearing one area reveals problems in another. The buddleia is doing real damage to the stone work. We will work with Phil of Keep Wales Tidy to treat the stumps and halt the damage. Buddleia is an invasive species – and White Rock provides its favourite habitat.
The fire site on the river bank is now full of green growth and flowers. The gorse has not reappeared, and there are few brambles.
The wall next to the fire site which we cleared earlier this year is inevitable getting overgrown again, but the growth is nothing like as heavy as before.
The river bank path and wall has been invaded again by substantial and aggressive buddleia. We need to have a blitz.
The dock . . . roll on the grappling hooks!
Many thanks to Keep Wales Tidy, Geocachers, and Swansea Canal Society for their invaluable help with the clearance.
On 18 June Phil Davies of Keep Wales Tidy supervised Japanese Knotweed eradication. We chopped and injected with suitable knoticidal intent. When the debris has dried in the autumn Phil wil burn it. There are some bigger infestations that will need spraying in the autumn. On 20 June the National Waterfront Museum walk up Kilvey Hill found a substantial patch of knotweed near the bottom of the first path.
26 April 2015 – Geocachers Clean and Clear
We had another White Rock Clean & Clear on Sunday 26 April, 10.30 – 12.30. This one was at the request of our friends the Geocachers:
“Geocachers around the world are having a special weekend of clean up events on April 25th and 26th but so far there isn’t one in Swansea. Would you like a group of us to descend on White Rock on one of the days that weekend? Likely there would be 10-20 geocaching volunteers to add to your usual numbers.”
We now have regular work parties on Thursday morning, 10 – 12 weather permitting. There is a notice for each one on the web site. We have amazed ourselves with how much can be done in a short time by determined people. We have just received a grant for insurance and tools from Keep Wales Tidy, and our Wren Landfill Trust grant application is in for a much larger clearance in the winter. Recently we tackled the dock and uncovered some fascinating architecture.
Obviously we are limited on what can be done during the summer, but we have been round the site again with The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and identified areas that can be tackled. We are particularly concerned to stop any further damage to structures by buddleia and other pests. We will also tackle the Japanese Knotweed with help from Keep Wales Tidy, and we expect Himalayan Balsam to arrive this year.
11 January 2015 – Clean and Clear
A fantastic day! The amount cleared by White Rock along the river bank, by Swansea Canal Society in the Smith Canal, and by all the litter pickers is stupendous. The pictures tell more than words . . .
A lot of work has gone on over the summer and early autumn. Funding bids are being completed for Wren Landfill (site clearance and paths) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (interpretation, research, and community involvement). Following a meeting on site with Cadw on 10 October we are also looking into the possibility of an Ancient Monument Grant.
We are making good progress with preparing the next funding bid. The main target will be restoring the White Rock site to its status as an Industrial Heritage Park. The two photos below, taken from the mound in the 1990s and July 2014, show what we once had and what we can look forward to (horses optional).
White Rock 1997 and 2014
Invalid Displayed GalleryHere are two more photos, this time the south of the White Rock site with the exit of the Smith Canal. Most of these structures still exist – even the remains of the wooden footbridge are there – but they are very difficult to get to. If you are game for some path clearing email firstname.lastname@example.org and dig out your bramble-proof clothes.
Japanese Knotweed has established an infestation on the south side of the ramp, half way along. There are plants on the top and the side of the ramp. We will have to deal with them in the next phase of the project. If we win the funding a large part of the money will go to professionals who can clear the site sympathetically and prepare it for ongoing maintenance. There is a need for White Rock volunteers to help with planning and executing the clearance. We have prepared a plan of the site broken up into a grid, enabling us to survey and define requirements for each square.
The ramp is not the original stone structure, but slag and other waste bull-dozed into shape in the 1990s clearance. Hopefully this means the knotweed will be easier to eradicate, but as we all know ‘easier’ is a relative term. There is also knotweed beside the cycle path, north of the footbridge from the road which goes over the path.
Japanese Knotweed: The Silent Nuisance by Mike Hedges, AM for Swansea East – ClickOnWales, the Institute for Welsh Affairs online news analysis magazine, 25 July 2014.
We are making progress with a funding bid to restore White Rock to what it is – an Industrial Heritage Park. Watch this space …
After a frustrating summer and autumn we are now talking to the council’s staff with direct responsibility for maintenance of the White Rock site. This team cuts the grass paths and preserves the meadows between them, among other tasks.
We still have to obtain Scheduled Monument Consent for each phase of the work and carry out risk assessments, ecological surveys and structural surveys. Not to mention arranging for equipment and vehicles, and the trained personnel to operate them, to be on site at the time as the White Rock volunteers …
The first target for clearance is the river bank from the car park to the dock. This is a lovely walk, spoiled only by the fact that unless you are on stilts the river itself is hidden by trees and bushes. Re-opening the view will be a major boon to the site. It will be appreciated by walkers, visitors to the Hafod side of the river, Swansea Community Boat Trust passengers, and by industrial archaeologists researching the various curious structures and tunnels dotting the quay.
Franklin Cardy movies
These movies were placed on YouTube in 2012. Scenes from the lower Swansea Valley were filmed in 1963 in colour showing the industrial dereliction being assessed by the Lower Swansea Valley Project at that time.
White Rock since the 1990s
The White Rock site, designated an Industrial Heritage Park, was cleared in the 1990s but has since been allowed to deteriorate. Vegetation now restricts access to several parts of the site, and obstructs the view from others. The White Rock project is working with Swansea Council and CADW to restore the site to its 1990s state.
CADW last surveyed White Rock in 2004, when it was found to be in a ‘worsened condition’. CADW will carry out another survey in the near future.
Scheduled Monument Consent is required for any clearance and other work on the White Rock site.
SMC is required to carry out any work on the site including placing QR posts and dog bins, with only minor exceptions. This includes work on the river bed, even removing the supermarket trolley in the dock! At our level SMC takes a maximum of 13 weeks.
Undergrowth, bushes and trees can be cleared to ground level without SMC, but not between 1 March and 1 September (bird nesting) and roots may not be removed. Clearance around buildings this may not be done before the structural survey, and in some cases may not be possible without endangering the buildings. Tree roots may be holding some of them up. The gorse on the river bank may have been planted as an edge restraint, so can be trimmed but not removed.
A survey of access routes and SMC permission will be required for vehicle access during clearance. The council is already cutting paths through the grass, leaving attractive meadowland between.
To start the SMC process CADW requires (with help from CADW, Swansea Council and Copperopolis):
- Site map – map of the overburden, what has been excavated from service trenches etc, what has already been disturbed and what is sensitive.
- Underground surveys – pipes, cable etc. This will involve talking to all the service providers, with the council taking the lead.
- QR posts – plan, dimensions, information to be displayed, photos of post locations and the posts themselves. JA will visit the site with Louise and a sample post.
- Posts, picnic benches and other ‘wooden’ articles may have to be made of recycled plastic (cf the boardwalk in Oxwich Burrows) to remove fire risk (and temptation).
We are working with the Copperopolis project to have their structural engineer carry out a preliminary survey. The council Ecology Officer will also do a survey,