New community wildlife garden opens at Wrabness rail station

Published on: Wednesday, 29 March 2023
Last updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Above: Children of Wix & Wrabness Primary School with Nigel Spencer MBE, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex, station adopter and local resident Julia Prigg and Luke Dixon of the Bee Friendly Trust. Credit: Bee Friendly Trust.

Above: Children of Wix & Wrabness Primary School with Nigel Spencer MBE, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex, station adopter and local resident Julia Prigg and Luke Dixon of the Bee Friendly Trust. Credit: Bee Friendly Trust.

Wrabness rail station is set to become a haven for local wildlife thanks to a community rail project.

The Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership have worked with local residents, station adopter volunteers, the Essex Path to Prosperity Project, Community Rail Network, the Bee Friendly Trust and Greater Anglia to create a new wildlife area next to the station.

Approximately a quarter of an acre of overgrown scrub land where the station master’s house once stood has been transformed into a wildlife and visitor-friendly garden.

It was officially opened by Julia Prigg BEM, the station adopter, on 25 March, with residents, guests and project partners in attendance.

The focus of the garden is to support and encourage wildlife and includes bug hotels, bird boxes - including two special robin boxes, a pond for frogs and a hibernaculum built for newts, lizards and toads.

Two large planters full of bee-friendly forage greet visitors at the front of the garden with a path leading to seats constructed from railway sleepers and on the stumps of ancient trees.

A third planter displays a collage of ceramic tiles created by residents of Acorn Village, a residential home for adults with learning disabilities, and there are specially commissioned artworks around the garden including metal sculptures, relief wooden carvings of bees, wooden sculptures and a large bird bath on decorated pedestal.

There is a herb bed by the entrance to the garden from which visitors, rail travellers and the community are encouraged to help themselves.

The entire area has been sown with native wildflower seeds which will establish themselves through the summer.

In addition, the Bee Friendly Trust involved 6-8 year olds at Wix & Wrabness Primary School in the project, delivering ‘pollination workshops’ and facilitating the pupils to paint posters which will be displayed around the garden. One of the posters has been chosen by the children to be on a T shirt produced to celebrate the project.

Luke Dixon, of The Bee Friendly Trust, said, “It has been exciting to work on this project with so many collaborators and create something very special from a neglected piece of wasteland.”

The creation of the garden was supported with funding from the Essex Path to Prosperity project which promotes sustainable travel to the Essex coast, Community Rail Network and Bee Friendly Trust, with the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership providing in kind support.

Terri Ryland, Essex & South Suffolk CRP Officer, said, “This has been a fantastic collaborative project and we are so excited for rail passengers and the community to come and see the wildlife garden and enjoy watching it develop over the coming months. We are very grateful to all the partners who made it possible with their generous support.”

Juliana Dempsey, on behalf of the Essex Path to Prosperity Project, said, “It is so important that we all do our bit for biodiversity and important species like bees. The Essex Climate Action Commission has an aim that by 2040, 30% of Essex will be wildlife areas. To make that happen we all need to put aside land for nature, whether you are a large farmer, a business, a school or a train station wildlife garden. This is a great partnership of Pathways to Prosperity, the Community Railway and Wrabness Primary School coming together to improve nature in Wrabness!”

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, “Wrabness station has always been a jewel in the crown on the Mayflower Line thanks to the care bestowed upon it by its volunteer station adopters and the community rail partnership over many, many years.

“The existing garden always looks immaculate and welcoming for visitors and the new wildlife garden will now take this to a whole new level, creating a haven for nature and people alike. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved in this wonderful project.”

Paul Webster, Support and development manager at Community Rail Network, said, “The project is a fabulous example of how partnership working between local groups, the Community Rail Partnership and biodiversity experts have looked beyond the station platforms to further develop the green spaces at Wrabness into both a vibrant colourful space for plants and bees together with it being a peaceful area for passengers and the local community to enjoy too. We are incredibly proud and pleased to have been able to provide a financial contribution through the Community Rail Development Fund towards this fantastic scheme.”