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Autumn 2004        http://www.nbnrs.org.uk



Basildon Council Countryside Services Events


Kite Festival at Wick Country Park

10:00am - 4:00pm (booking essential (01277-624553)

Sunday, 19 September

Norsey Wood Open Day

12 noon - 4:00pm

Sunday, 3 October

Yuletide Ramble!

Noak Bridge Nature Reserve

Sunday, 12 December

10:00am - 12:00pm

Mulled Wine and Mince Pies at the Village Hall

   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

Over the winter months work in the reserve fell behind schedule, mainly due to the fact that we had no ranger. Now we have welcomed Mark Williams to Noak Bridge as our new ranger, joining us officially on 21 June. He must have been eager to join us as he was there at our Open Day on Sunday, 20 June ready to work with us. This gave him a great opportunity to get to know the reserve and committee and to meet many people from Noak Bridge. It was a great day, enjoyed by all who came.

Having walked around the reserve doing a survey on butterflies there seems to be a shortage of Brimstone butterflies this year. I wonder if this is nationwide or just in this part of Essex? Lots of white, blue and orange tip varieties but no yellow. Next year, if any of our members are interested we could undertake a field study on butterflies and dragonflies. Let us know, and we will organise something.

We have to report to our members the vandalism we have been subjected to in the reserve. Our notice board has been totally destroyed and we are trying to get it replaced as soon as possible. Saplings are still being cut down by certain youths calling themselves "fishermen". However, fishing will not be possible for much longer as the Environmental Agency will be removing all the fish.

Finally, just a reminder of our Christmas Ramble on Sunday, 12 December at 10:00am. The walk will end at the Village Hall at 12:00pm with mince pies and mulled wine.


We now have total of 54 households currently signed up, including the Noak Bridge Primary School. Membership subscriptions for 2004/2005 are now due. Subscriptions may be given to Weed at 44 Lower Street or to Janet Bircham at 42 Crouch Street.

For information please contact Weed on our website or by telephone at 289577.


Don't forget to look at our web-site. Weed updates the information regularly -

   Open Day Report   (Sunday, 20 June 2004, 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm)

A sharp shower greeted our first visitors but the weather improved and our visitors and members enjoyed a very happy and successful Open day. Our star attraction - "Owl Wise" was very popular and informative. There were many species of owls exhibited and several baby ones which could be handled by adults and children. Norsey Wood and Mill Meadows societies came along and Basildon Parks and Gardens. Peter Hooper brought country tools, Joyce and Ken Dower their gypsy flowers and wood-carvings, Jean Wilcox from Chelmsford RSPB had lots of information leaflets and beautiful gifts. We had a great Raffle thanks to our generous donors - please see the list at the end of this newsletter.

   Annual General Meeting   (Thursday, 8 July 2004, Village Hall 8:00pm)

Betty Haynes was pleased to welcome 16 members and guests to our Annual General Meeting. She was pleased to introduce our newly-appointed ranger, Mark Williams who joined Basildon Council Countryside Services in June. We have been without a ranger since January so there have been no major projects in the reserve this year. Society members continued to assist Countryside Services with general maintenance with work parties continuing with the help of staff from Wat Tyler Country Park. Water safety signs at several of the ponds were replaced after vandals removed them. The entrance gates to the reserve were damaged by vandals and just recently our notice board at the entrance was completely destroyed. Betty is working with Basildon Council Countryside Services on a new design and we hope to have the notice board restored as soon as possible. Some of the fish have been removed from the first pond and removal of the remaining fish in all the ponds will be completed in September/October. Betty was pleased with the attendance at our very successful and enjoyable Open Day in June. She concluded her report with sincere thanks to all members of the committee for their dedication and support during the year. Special thanks to Joan and Peter Fynn for producing a new three-fold brochure to replace our previous information sheet.

Treasurer's Report - Ralph Chapman

Ralph presented his financial statement, indicating the Society's healthy bank balance of £571.21 which included £200 from memberships and donations and £66 from Open Days.

Election of Officers and Committee

The officers and committee stood down, as required by our Constitution and Betty Haynes asked for nominations from the floor for the various posts. There were no volunteers and the following were elected (again!):

Chair:Betty Haynes - proposed by Joan Fynn, seconded by Tony Youé
Vice-chair: Tony Youé - proposed by Weed, seconded by Janet Bircham
Treasurer: Ralph Chapman - proposed by Lesley Zanco, seconded by Renee Pryke
Secretary: Janet Bircham - proposed by Betty Haynes, seconded by Jean Youé
Membership Sec: Weed - proposed by Ralph Chapman, seconded by Peter Fynn
Committee Members: Joan Fynn, Peter Fynn - proposed by Tony Youé, seconded by Weed

   Basildon Council Countryside Services - Mark Williams, Ranger

At the AGM, Mark reported that he had made a thorough survey of the reserve (assisted by Betty Haynes) in the few weeks he has been with us and is quite impressed with the varied habitats contained in our few acres. It is too soon for him to have any definite plans for the future but he expressed his concern about the path through the meadow which is now proving to be too difficult for wheel-chair use as the plastic-based framework has not settled in as it was supposed to. He will be making enquiries as to how to overcome this problem. Meanwhile, routine trimming will be done in September/October and any other work, as necessary.

He was asked about the new road plans affecting the A127 and their possible impact on the reserve. He will make the necessary enquiries and keep us informed. However, our reserve is an official local nature reserve, so that will have to be taken into consideration before any of our acreage can be annexed. He urged members to contact him (at Wat Tyler Country Park) on matters they are concerned about and he looking forward to working with us. You may also contact Betty Haynes at 531365 and she will pass on messages.

   Work Parties

Meetings are continuing on the third Wednesday in the month - 1pm - 3pm with Mark Williams. Please look for our notices in the chemist's shop.

   Basildon Festival - 17/18 July 2004

The committee took our display board and materials to the festival, setting up in the Wat Tyler Country Park marquee. The weather was rather wet on the Saturday, but Sunday brought out the crowds and we enjoyed meeting the visitors, many of whom did not know about our reserve and were impressed with our collection of photographs.

   Walk in Noak Bridge Nature Reserve with the Billericay Society - 28 July 2004

Betty Haynes and Norman Turner led twenty-four Billericay Society members on the annual walk through Noak Bridge on a perfect summer evening. Our visitors thoroughly enjoyed the outing and were impressed with the reserve and the village and wondered why they had not discovered it sooner.

   Nature Reserve Sign

You may have noticed that our reserve sign has disappeared from the Wash Road/Eastfield Road junction. A new light fixture is to be provided by the Council in a couple of weeks and our sign will be attached to it again.



  Some More Tree Folklore  


This tree was widely seen as one that brings good luck to the owner and prosperity to the land where it stands. The 'Glastonbury Thorn' is a type of Hawthorn found in England and in some parts of Palestine. The tree is said to have been brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea. Wherever he travelled spreading the word of God, he carried a staff which he had acquired in Palestine. Legend tells that he visited the Isle of Avalon in Somerset, which at one time was surrounded by water. Tired from travelling he sat down to rest on "Weary-all Hill" now called "Worral Hill". Joseph stuck the staff into the ground, where it took root and a tree grew. A church was erected on the spot, now the site of 'Glastonbury Abbey'. The tree was seen as sacred and was reputed to only blossom on Christmas Day. The flowers were highly prized and at one time exported around the world. It is believed that this Hawthorn had two trunks, but one was cut down. The perpetrator was revenged according to legend by having one of his eyes taken out by the thorns, in the process. Cuttings are said to have been taken around Britain which still flower at Christmas. Although Hawthorn trees can still be found in the abbey these are said to be cuttings of the tree as it believed to have been cut down during the English Civil War. The flowering of the Hawthorn tree is a sure sign that winter is over and Spring is underway, hence the tree has been viewed as an indicator of changes in the seasons or a weather omen. In many parts of England it is known simply as "May" as this is the month that it flowers. The Hawthorn in ancient mythology was created from lightning. Germans traditionally used wood of the Hawthorn in funeral pyres as it was thought to assist the souls of the dead in ascension.


Hazel was used to decorate the hair with individual twigs or by making a "Wishing Cap". This custom was followed in many countries. If a person made a wish whilst wearing such a cap the wish would be fulfilled. The seeds of the Hazel tree, Hazel nuts, were also believed to possess mystical powers and could be used in divining. The nut was believed to be at its most powerful on Halloween night, which was also called 'Nutcrack Night' in England. Lovers were recommended to use this to gain foresight into the relationship.

'Two Hazel nuts I threw into the flame,
And to each nut I gave a sweetheart's name.
This, with the loudest bounce me sore amazed,
That, with a flame of brightest colour blazed.
As blazed the nut, so may thy passion grow,
For 'twas thy nut that did so brightly glow.'


Passing a young child through the branches of this tree was traditionally thought to encourage good health and a long life for the child. According to Alsatian folklore, placing branches of the Maple in a house would ensure protection against bats who would then not dare enter. It would also ensure that any nesting storks were safe against disturbance or even the chicks being killed whilst still in their shells.


The Welsh have traditionally considered the Rowan to be a sacred tree. It was planted in churchyards to protect and act as a warning to negative forces and evil spirits. Coffins were rested under a Rowan tree on the way to the funeral rather than left in the open where they were vulnerable to approaches by these forces and evil spirits. The mystic properties of the Rowan tree were feared by witches.


Since ancient times the Yew has been viewed as a protector of the dead, and as an evergreen it represents everlasting life and is widely planted in graveyards across Europe. The people even believed that the removal or cutting down of the tree would result in misfortune and dire consequences. Like the Oak, the Yew has a particular part to play in the history of Great Britain as its wood was used to make longbows used by archers to end the supremacy of the knight in the middle ages and to secure victories over the French.

The more observant of you will have noticed that trees from H-Y have been included here (A-E were in the last Newsletter) but the Oak has been omitted. This is not an oversight; it is because it has so many myths and legends credited to it. I hope therefore to tell some of these next time  -  Joan Fynn.


   Summerhill Garden Centre - Flower Arrangement

   Campanile Hotel - Room for 1 night

   Prince of Wales Pub - Meal for Two

   Playtopia - Free Entry for a family (4 of these!)

   Halfords -Multifunctional Tool

   ASDA - Princess Sindy Doll

   Joan and Peter Fynn - 2 camping chairs

Many thanks to our generous donors!

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last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0409/index.html