News and Events

 

The Gawthorpe Oak

November 2018
This morning we successfully planted and dedicated a tree in memory of Cecil Gordon Gawthorpe.
His family descendants — Trevor and Dale, Rosie and Sylvia (nephews and nieces) came along and Mike, Phil and John attended.
Cecil Gawthorpe and his family lived in North Lynn.   He disappeared in 1928 having gone out to gather feed for the family’s chickens.   He was later discovered drowned in one of the flooded clay pits that were then a feature at Harding’s Pits.   He was 13 and is buried at the Hardwick Cemetery.

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Jane’s Oak Tree

November 2018
A new oak for Harding’s Pits will mark the eleven years of Jane Dearling’s chairmanship of the Harding’s Pits Community Association.   On the last workday of 2018 Jane relinquished the role she has filled so assiduously for so long and set her tree.   Pictured with her are Hugh Rout, webmaster and tractor driver (centre) and Rick Morrish, vice chairman and excavator of planting holes.
Rob Archer is to be the new chairman.
Thanks to Sharon Marks for the photo.  

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Annual Report and Minutes 2018

May 2018
HPCA Ltd Annual Report 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018
Another year and another threat from the council to fight.   Yet again we have been involved in the lobbying to protect Harding’s Way from being turned into an all-traffic highway to divert traffic from London Rd.   This is almost an annual event, and we remind ourselves of the County Council’s commitment to keeping it as a bus, cycle and emergency vehicle route only, a commitment we have no reason to doubt.   Nevertheless, the Borough Council still eyes the route as a solution, not only to London Rd pollution, but also to create a route to a proposed redevelopment of the riverfront, a proposal that has many hurdles to overcome before a single trowel is raised. The year has seen a rise in the number of volunteers showing not only interest in Harding’s Pits, but willing to join in the work.   Each brings skills and enthusiasms that encourage ‘old hands’, lifts the burden, refreshes the gene pool and confirms that all we’ve been doing these past years hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated.   Fresh blood is vital to any organisation.   Many, but not all by any means, of the long standing team are not in the first flush of youth, so when it all gets too much it’s good to know there will be enough new people to take up the reins. One of the reasons why we have been able to recruit new helpers is because, this year, we again participated in the Great British Clean Up.   Following on from the successful clean up last year, the Council land beyond the borders of Harding’s Pits adjacent to Harding’s Way accumulates rubbish like nails are attracted to magnets, but the Council seem not to have the resources to keep on top of the land.   So, ably assisted by the splendid and generous response of local media, a work-party was arranged and we have reaped the benefits. Alas there are always vandals and thieves who will want to unsettle the equilibrium.   The whale is frequently targeted by those who would see it go up in smoke, and others who want to see if they can draw the most graffiti.   Sign boards are regularly targeted.   It’s pitiful, dangerous, and a waste of resources.   The gate to the compound was breached so we have had to spend money on new chains and padlocks. Ulysses continues to give sterling service, thanks to the way it, and our other mechanical items, are cared for.   We remain anxious that one day Ulysses will go the way of all flesh, but we only have 9 more years left of the lease, so with luck he will keep going. T’Pits has an amazing quality to endure despite all weathers.   Last year saw weeks of blisteringly hot weather, and this past winter saw weeks of bone-chillingly cold and wet weather.   Each week litter is picked, problems discovered and resolved, and the baton of litter collection passes, often seamlessly, from one to another.   Each month for most of the year, we descend and take it to task cutting, collecting and renewing the growth.   T’Pits responds well and seems to welcome the labour, much as a fruit tree always welcomes a good thrashing in Spring.   It’s a great partnership. Which brings me lastly to the tributes are deserved to the hardy hearty band of volunteers who keep the whole thing going.   Without the reliability of committed volunteers who: keep the machines working, keep the work parties fed & watered, keep the litter down, cut, slash, rake, and go out of their way all through the year to depart from their ordinary routine to join in keeping Harding’s Pits as a much loved, much needed, maintained community resource.   To all who help us in their time and effort, thanks, thanks, and thanks, again, must be due. Jane Dearling Chairman HPCA Ltd 2nd May, 2018   Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the Harding’s Pits Community Association held on 2nd May 2018

1. Present; Hugh Rout, Sue Nulty, Rick Morrish, Phil Avery, Margaret Worledge, John Loveless, Sally Turff, Rob Archer, Mike Nobbs, Jane and Jeremy Dearling

2. Apologies for absence: None

3. Minutes of the AGM held 24th May 2017 were proposed by Margaret Worledge and seconded by Phil Avery

4. Matters arising; a. Sally had asked Carol Tupper if she wanted to be more involved by being a director on the committee, but this was declined. b. Rick Morrish hoped to approach the council for help improving the paths following a diversion across the Pits resulting in heavy wear and tear, but will try to do so during the forthcoming year. c. Mike Nobbs had bought pitchforks and rakes. d. Mike Nobbs hadn’t found a buyer for the hay turner or the old tractor box, but as these are now only scrap, it was felt they might later be used as a block from ingress by those intent upon wickedness. e. Sally Turff said she would contact the group who built the whale to seek their advice regarding its repair.

5. The Chairman’s report was proposed by Hugh Rout and seconded by Margaret Worledge

6. Treasurer’s report was proposed by Sally Turff and seconded by Mike Nobbs.   Subsequent conversation concluded that Sue Nulty would try to help progress how accounts should be presented and Rick Morrish would approach Mary Plant concerning future accounting assistance.   With caution there should just about be enough money in our funds to see us reach the end of the lease without fund-raising, however there are implications for our insurers if we want to hold a public event to fundraise.

7. Issues with HPCA being a limited company arising from Memorandum of agreement and Articles of Association.

8. In order to sell the necessary changes to HPCA practice to volunteers, it was agreed that a social event would go ahead at Russet House by way of thanking them for all their hard work and commitment throughout the year.   Jane Dearling would seek clarification from Russet House about food and drink, and if necessary subsidise the event personally if the committee felt it wasn’t a good use of HPCA funds.   Russet House has been chosen because the Live and Let Live is no longer appropriate to meet there, that following recent events that have increased our numbers it hasn’t the space to accommodate us, and that Russet House have offered us use of their facilities on favourable terms.

9. Election of officers.   Jane Dearling gave notice that she would cease to be a director and committee member at the day after the last work party November 2018, and that the committee have till then to seek a replacement chairman prepared to take on all the tasks she fulfils currently.   All other officers being willing to stand for re-election were reappointed en-block. 10. Close of business

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Wild Flower Meadow

September 2018
Late summer is one of the busiest times for the Harding’s Pits Fensibles — the noble band of volunteers who toil to maintain the community green space.   The wildflower meadow which has flourished since the spring has to be cut, and the vegetation raked up and carted away. Unfortunately wildflowers don’t look after themselves.   If they are allowed to wilt and die down and then rot, the resulting mulch will become a solid mass which will add unwanted fertility to the soil — wildflowers do not prosper if the soil is too rich. Regular cutting through the year would be easier, but that would destroy the habitat for the rich variety of wildlife that shares to Pits with human life and if the flower seeds were not allowed to ripen and shed into the soil the quantity of plants would diminish in the following year. So, the experts tell us, we can give the meadow a haircut early in the year before the annual explosion of cowslips after which it must be left to grow, and it does until September.   To be honest over the years we haven’t carried out management as assiduously as we should have done, hence a lot of brute weeds, nettles especially, which of course is an indication of fertility. That’s the growth in the rear of the picture, behind Ulysses, the tractor and his trailer and some of the Fensibles, Sally Turff, Rob Archer, Hugh Rout and Dave Marks.   Part of the meadow having been previously cut by Mike Nobbs using an Allen Scythe and allowed to wilt and dry a bit, Rob, Dave and Hugh prepare to load supervised by Sally.   Big heave, another huge pile goes into the trailer.      

A pitchfork can be dangerous, Dave Marks finds a Health and Safety solution on one of the Pits’ wild crab apple trees.

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Full turnout to spring-clean Harding’s Way

March 2018

Harding’s Way and the surrounding area was thoroughly cleared of rubbish on Saturday (24th March) as the Harding’s Pits Community Association (HPCA) did a re-run of the ‘Great British Spring Clean’ clear-up, which had been cancelled by snow.   Waiting until the first day of spring proved the answer and no less than 23 volunteers came along and collected thirty great sacks of cans, bottles, packets and other various unsavoury items.

“This just goes to show what can be accomplished when a large group all work together,” says Jane Dearling, the association’s chairman.   “I am delighted that so many answered the call — and even more delighted to meet people who appreciate Harding’s Pits and want to help maintain it.   It is, after all, our Doorstep Green, the property of those who live in South Lynn and the Friars and all Linnets from other areas of the town who come here to enjoy it.”

The whole area is very well used, especially by the children who walk through the natural green space on their way to and from school.   HPCA volunteers carry out regular litter picking rotas every week of the year on The Pits but with the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ annual clean up the association thought it was time to improve the whole environment.

“Street Scene, the borough’s department which clears up all kinds of mess and does an amazing job eliminating graffiti, supplied litter sticks, hi-vis vests and gloves,” says Jane, “the HPCA pop-up canteen served hot drinks, and the morning closed with a convivial snack lunch of home-made soup and rolls.

“It is very satisfying to see all neat and clean and tidy.   We aim to make the work as enjoyable as possible, as we do with our regular monthly workdays.   Even the rain kept off — and we were obviously doing a good job because one of the many toads which inhabit the green, came to inspect.”

Several of the volunteers plan to join the regular work parties and anyone who cares to join in will be more than welcome.

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Ulysses

May 2017

Seated on his plane at Dubrovnik Airport, HPCA secretary Mike Nobbs glanced out of the window and there, trundling towards him across the airport apron was Ulysses, the Pits’ mighty workhorse.

Not Ulysses as we all know and love him — but a gleaming, polished Ulysses, resplendent in a coat of ochre paint.   Had Mike pre-loaded with rather too much Raki for the journey home?   Had Ulysses come to haunt him for abandoning his post at the Pits’ workshop for a hedonistic summer trip?   Was this a reminder of grass to be cut, brambles hacked back?

As the pilot announced take-off Mike took another look, just to be certain, and there sure enough was a Ulysses.   But this one had a more public role, towing the trailer of suitcases from departure lounge to aircraft hold.

Croatia is a country where a Ulysses is properly regarded — maintained in smart livery, contributing to aeronautical efficiency and a tribute to the tourist trade.

Mike cares devoutly for the Pits’ Ulysses.   Ensures he has all he needs to operate smoothly in all the tasks he has to perform and never over-works him.   Wraps him up securely against rain and tempest.   Guards him well, with theft-proof paint on the perimeter fences of his compound and heavy locks and chains at the entry points.

Now vigilance is going to have to be redoubled, lest Croatian thieves should seek him out.

Only Mike and co-pilot Hugh are allowed to drive Ulysses, who celebrated his 60th birthday last year — but he can be viewed on the last Saturday of the month at one of the HPCA workdays.   All are welcome to join in the rest of the work — and then enjoy a convivial lunch.

Some may even be allowed to sit on Ulysses… forest

ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER GREAT OUSE