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    Spring 2005        http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

We finished 2004 with our annual pre-Christmas Ramble and it was a great success. About 25 people came along including a group from the Brentwood Ramblers on their first visit to the reserve. There was a real Christmas-y feel about the morning as we set off with our ranger, Mark Williams leading, when he should have really been at home in bed, recovering from 'flu. However, we made our way around the reserve and a heron dropped in to see us allowing our visitors to get a quick peek at him. We continued through the reserve, Crouch Street and Lower Street and the back gardens of Kenilworth Place to Coppice Lane and the village hall for our mulled wine and mince pies. The party atmosphere was a great ending to our ramble. We hope to see everyone again on Sunday, 11 December 2005. Don't miss it! We would like to thank Terri Sargent and her committee for the use of the Village Hall twice each year at no cost to the Society. Thank you again, Terri - without your support we would not be able to host our Christmas Ramble or our Annual General Meeting in July.

One of the tasks your committee undertook recently was the removal of unwanted plants from the ponds. That will be an ongoing problem as it is very difficult to rid a pond of the American Pennywort. The group worked in the water on one of the coldest days to clear this very intrusive plant to allow the Environment Agency to come in February to remove all unwanted fish. The water was looking clear again but some idiots have put more fish in again! These ponds are not for fishing; they are there for the wildlife such as newts, dragonflies and damselflies.

We are doing a survey of the wildlife, flowers, birds, etc. seen in the nature reserve this spring. If you would like to take part please contact us at 531365 and we will provide a form. Just a few lines to fill in - easy-peasy!

On Wednesday, 23 March I happened to see a rare and probably unique species in Coppice Lane. I had to look twice just to make sure I had not made a mistake but yes, there he was, a Community Police Officer! But approach with caution, we don't want to frighten him away. If you see him, go and talk to him, he is very friendly. We are very pleased to have him in the village and he also visits the nature reserve. (Written tongue-in-cheek, we really appreciate his presence here, thanks to our Parish Council's efforts).


We now have total of 80 households currently signed up. 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. Weed's membership drive has been very successful and he hopes to target parts of Steeple View next.


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

   Mark Williams, Ranger - Coppicing at Noak Bridge Nature Reserve

This winter, with assistance of the Noak Bridge Nature Reserve Society's work party members I began coppicing the area of woodland near to Puckles Pond. Although to the casual observer this may seem a little drastic there are however, sound reasons for doing it. Not only is it beneficial for wildlife (which is our main aim), it also helps to keep alive one of the oldest forms of land management in the history of the British Isles. Throughout lowland Britain archaeological evidence shows that this form of woodland management has been in use since 4000 BC, although coppicing is commonly associated with medieval times due to the numerous surviving records from the period.

The word coppice is derived from the French word couper, meaning cut. Today we use the word coupe to define an area of woodland coppiced on a regular basis. Coppicing fell into decline by the turn of the nineteenth century due to its ever-decreasing profitability. Coppicing is undertaken in the winter season and is used to provide a regular supply of timber poles for hedge laying, fencing and a variety of traditional crafts and building projects, with less workable material becoming pulp or firewood.

To coppice involves cutting the tree trunk near to ground level. This encourages several new stems to develop from the cut base, or stool. Small divided sections (coupes) of woodland are usually coppiced in rotation with each rotation being undertaken up to 30 years apart, although a 7-15 year rotation is recommended for wildlife.

Coppicing can have considerable benefits for conservation, the resulting woodland having various stages of growth, encouraging a wide range of wildlife. This begins with an increase of light reaching the ground, stimulating the growth of flowering woodland plants in spring. In the following six to eight years a dense shrub layer forms providing excellent cover and nesting materials for many small birds and mammals.

   Work Parties

We meet at the Eastfield Road entrance on the third Wednesday in the month - 1pm - 3pm with Mark Williams. We are cutting back straggling undergrowth to improve access and coppicing some of the trees to improve growth. Please look for our notices in the chemist's shop window.

   Notice Board

We have applied for a grant to replace our vandalised notice board with a sturdy, all-metal construction.


There have been several instances of unattended dogs running in the reserve. The ranger and the dog warden are aware of this and if you see these dogs, please call Mark Williams, Ranger at 01268-562921 or Betty Haynes at 01268-531365. We must keep accurate records of these events to present to the owners.

   Sponsored Fun Walk - 22 May 2005

John Baron, our local MP is again sponsoring a Fun Walk around Barleylands to raise money for local charities. Further information may be obtained from Mrs. Ann Akinin, 125 Bramble Tye, Noak Bridge. Final details will be available during April.

   OPEN DAY!    Sunday 19 June 2005.    12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Phil Eckett will be there again with his Owl Wise exhibit along with all your favourite crafts and information stalls. Pond-dipping, of course and a great raffle. See you there!

   ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING.   Thursday, 7 July 2005

7:30pm in Noak Bridge Village Hall - Wine and cheese!

   Items for the Newsletter

If you have something you would like to put in this newsletter please call Janet Bircham at 01268-526344.


Wednesday 13 April - Spring into Fun at Norsey Wood  £2.00 per child
10am - 12 noon for 6-8 year olds. 1pm - 3pm for 9-12 year olds
Booking essential. 01277-655761.

Sunday 24 April - Norsey Wood Bluebell Walk  2pm - 3pm

Sunday 22 May - Mill Meadows Spring Fayre  12 noon - 4pm
Entrance off Southend Road, Billericay.

Sunday 12 June - Tree Identification at Nevendon  2pm - 4pm
Booking essential. 01277-624553

Sunday 19 June - OPEN DAY at Noak Bridge Nature Reserve  12pm - 4pm

Thursday 30 June - Teddy Bears Picnic at Wat Tyler  10am - 2pm
Fun for preschoolers and mums! Free taxi service from Pitsea Railway Station
Free of charge - just bring a packed lunch!

  The Tulip  

The cultivation of the tulip was started about one thousand years ago. The word tulip is thought to be a corruption of the Turkish word for a turban. It grew wild in Persia and The Great Mogul Baber counted 33 different species near Kabul. According to Persian legend the first tulips sprang from the blood shed by a lover and the tulip was a symbol of avowed love. Artists drew and painted it and poets spoke about it so often that when it first appeared in Europe it was seen as an emblem of the Ottoman Empire.

In Vienna, Clusius (1526-1609) a botanist who contributed to the establishment of modern botany, received seeds and bulbs sent to him from the ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire and not being sure what to do with them, planted them in a heap. When they matured he gave a hundred bulbs to his grocer who also didn't know what to do with them. However, he did not bury but fried them and ate them with oil and vinegar. Certain varieties are still eaten in some parts of the world and in Japan flour is made from them. The Dutch have also eaten the bulbs when no other food was available.

Tulip bulbs, brought back from Turkey by Venetian merchants, began to be bought by the wealthy. In 1577 Clusius sent some bulbs to England, but they did not catch on at that time. At the beginning of the 17th century, the French became interested in them and in 1610 fashionable ladies wore them as corsages.

It was early in the 17th century that the price of the bulbs started to increase on a daily basis with the fever spreading across Europe and within a few years the Dutch were seized by tulip mania, where a small bed of tulips was valued at 15,000-20,000 francs. The bulbs became a form of currency (they were not interested in the flowers) and their price quoted like stocks and shares as the value changed day to day. Many frequented the market and speculated in tulip shares. It is believed the word bourse (stock exchange) derives from that period, because those who speculated held their meetings in the house of the noble family Van Bourse.

During the period 1634-1637 people abandoned jobs, businesses, wives, homes and lovers to become tulip growers. A Dutchman paid thirty-six bushels of wheat, seventy-two of rice, four oxen, twelve sheep, eight pigs, two barrels of wine and four of beer, two tons of butter, a thousand pounds of cheese, a bed, clothes and a silver cup, a total value of 2,500 Dutch florins, for one bulb of the variety Vice-Roi. Another gave twelve acres of land and a third gave a new carriage and twelve horses. People became fanatical. A man who had paid for a bulb its weight in gold, on hearing that a cobbler also had one of the same variety, bought it for 15,000 florin and in front of the cobbler crushed it under his foot to ensure he had the only one of its kind. To add insult to injury he then informed the poor man that he would have been willing to pay ten times as much for the bulb, whereupon the cobbler was so depressed he hanged himself.

In the beginning most bulbs were sent to market from where they were grown by monks in Flanders, but soon it was enough to simply produce a piece of paper acknowledging ownership of a bulb to sell it at a higher price. The number of bulbs on the market was then about 10 million. Then on April 27 1637, a decree was issued declaring that the purchase and sale of tulip bulbs was to be transacted in the same way as any other business. Speculation ceased and many people were ruined and prices fell to reasonable proportions.
Tulips continued to be prized in Turkey and an eighteenth century manuscript notes that Sheik Mohammed Lalizare, official tulip grower to Ahmed (1703-1730) counted 1,323 varieties and tulip festivals were held annually. A century later an entry in a diary recorded that they had become popular with shopkeepers and workmen in England and that many varieties were grown.

Tulips are still popular and we enjoy many different varieties, some quite exotic, in our gardens today.

Thank you, Joan Fynn

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last updated - 16 August 2015
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