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

Walk begins at Eastfield Road entrance

   Greetings from Chairperson Betty Haynes

There is concern regarding the water level in our ponds but I'm sorry to say there is nothing we can do to top them up. We have to rely on the weather and as you know the last three or four years have been rather hot and dry which is fine for us but not so good for the ponds. Let's hope for a wet winter. The shallow ponds are good for the heron and kingfisher, making it easier for them to see the remaining fish. There is still a lot of work to do in the reserve but winter is the ideal time to carry out maintenance when no small animals will be disturbed. Please come and join us on our work parties - third Wednesday in the month, from 1pm until 3pm, starting 18 January 2006.

We have decided not to have an Open Day in 2006 but it will be back in 2007. In the meantime we will be arranging guided walks during the year, dates and times to be determined; we will keep you informed.

Your concerns about the dog-fouling in the reserve have been noted and we have sent a letter to Basildon District Council, via our local Councillors. Terri Sargent and Stuart Allen. We have urged the Council to consider adopting a bylaw allowing selfish dog-owners to be prosecuted for failing to clean up after their pets.

Thanks again to our ranger, Mark Williams and also to Gary Dawes from Wat Tyler Country Park who often assists in the work on the reserve. Mark and Gary make a great team. Thank you, from the committee and all of our members.

Don't forget the Yuletide Ramble - Sunday, 11 December - 10am - 12 noon.
Meet at the Eastfield Road entrance.
Mulled wine and mince pies afterwards in the Village Hall!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone!


The current membership so far for 2005-06 is 70 households. Thank you to everyone who has renewed, and welcome to our 5 new members. The Society is also grateful for the many generous donations we have received. Last year's members who have not yet renewed will find a current form attached to this newsletter. Subscriptions may be sent to Weed at 44 Lower Street (tel: 01268 289577), or to Janet Bircham at 42 Crouch Street. Further information is available on the 'society' page of the web site.

   Internet  -  http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

Don't forget to look at our web-site. Weed updates the information regularly. It has photo galleries, a brief history and map of the Reserve, copies of back issues of the newsletter, and current details about the monthly work parties.

The web space is kindly provided by Noakbridge.net, and everyone is encouraged to join in the forum there. As well as having a section on the Nature Reserve Society, there are also sections on items of general interest to the local community.

   Work Parties

We meet at the Eastfield Road entrance on the third Wednesday in the month - 1pm - 3pm with Mark Williams. Please look for our notices on our new notice board and in the chemist's shop window.


Next Work Party - Wednesday, 18 January 2006.

   Mark Williams, Ranger, Basildon Countryside Services

NBNR Wildlife Highlights for 2005

During the course of my work throughout the site I endeavour to record snap shots of the wildlife found immediately around me and to undertake one brief wildlife survey each month. Though this represents just a small proportion of what's out there, as the records accumulate over the coming years, a reasonably comprehensive list of species should eventually transpire.

The list below also includes sightings reported by the Reserve's patrons, including members of the Society -


Sparrow Hawk, Kestrel, Pied Wagtail, Chiff Chaff, Dunock, Greenfinch

Peacock, Speckled Wood, Comma, Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Common Blue Butterflies

Red Tailed Bumblebee, Soldier Beetle, Diamond Bug (Family Phymatidae), Honey Bee (Apis mellifera), Large Red & Common Blue Damselflies, Common Darter, Southern & Migrant Hawker Dragonflies, Hoverflies (Syrphus vitripennis, Myathropa florae, Episyrphus balteatus, Cheilosia scutellata)

Lesser Garden Spider (Meta segmentata)

Adders, Grass Snake, Slow Worm


We are well aware of our members' objections to the dog-fouling occurring in the reserve and we would again request everyone walking dogs in the reserve to please clean up after their pet(s). Dog fouling is unsightly and can be a health hazard. Your committee has sent a letter to Terri Sargent and Stuart Allen your local councillors asking them to urge Basildon District Council to consider adopting a by-law to allow the prosecution of irresponsible pet owners.

   Items for the Newsletter

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


Sunday 4 December - Tree Dressing at Norsey Wood 2.30pm
Create a decoration to bring a tree to life. Booking essential 01268-550088

Sunday 4 December - Yuletide Ramble at the Wick 2pm - 4pm
Mulled wine and mince pies at the Park Pavilion.

*** Sunday 11 December 2005 - Noak Bridge Nature Reserve Yuletide Ramble - 10am -12pm

Meet at Eastfield Road entrance. Mince pies and mulled wine at the Village Hall afterwards.

Saturday 17 December - Santa's Grotto at Wat Tyler - 11am - 3 pm
£4.00 per child. Booking essential 01268-550088.

Merry Christmas!
and a
Happy New Year!


A Brief History

In the 7th century a monk from Devon went to Germany to preach the word of God and used the triangular shape of a fir tree to explain the Holy Trinity. Those converted to Christianity began to revere the fir as God's Tree as they had previously revered the oak. By the 12th century it was being hung upside down from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity. It is believed that the first decorated tree was in Latvia in 1510 and early in the 16th century Martin Luther was said to have decorated a tree with candles to demonstrate to his children the spectacle of the stars twinkling through the trees in the forest.

In the mid 16th century Christmas markets were set up in German towns so that people could buy gifts, food etc., and bakers cooked shaped gingerbread and made wax ornaments as souvenirs of the markets, which were then taken home and hung on the Christmas tree. The best record there is, is of a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601, who describes a tree decorated with "wafers and golden sugar twists (Barley sugar) and paper flowers of all colours". The food items were symbols of Plenty and the flowers originally only red and white, for Knowledge and Innocence, respectively.

Tinsel was invented in Germany circa 1610. Real silver was used at that time and machines were made that pulled the silver into wafer thin strips. These were durable but readily tarnished with candlelight so attempts were made to mix lead and tin together. However this was heavy and broke easily so was impractical, thus silver was used for tinsel until the mid 20th century.

The first Christmas trees came to England with the Georgian kings from Germany. German merchants living in England decorated their homes with a Christmas tree, but the German monarchs were not popular with the general public so the fashions at court were not copied. Some homes did have a tree at this time which was probably due to the influence of their German neighbours. The decorations were of tinsel, silver wire ornaments, candles and small beads all of which would have been made in Germany and Eastern Europe. The custom was to have several small trees on the table, one for each member of the family, with the gifts for each person under their tree.

When in 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shown with their children standing beside a decorated Christmas tree the custom immediately became popular, not only in the UK but with the fashionable American East Coast Society.

Decorations were still mostly of the homemade variety. Young ladies spent hours quilling snowflakes and stars, stitching small fabric pouches for secret gifts and making paper baskets which contained sugared almonds. Small bead decorations, silver tinsel and beautiful angels for the top of the tree were still obtained from Germany. Candles were often placed in wooden hoops for safety.

As the custom began to spread, the German Christmas tree was heading for mass destruction, as it became fashionable to lop off the tip of a large tree to bring into the house, thus preventing the tree from further growth, so statutes were made to prevent people from having more than one tree.

Electric lights for trees appeared in the USA in 1882 followed 10 years later by metal hooks for attaching ornaments.

Artificial trees were made in Germany in the 1880's of goose feathers which were quite popular, but then in America the Addis Brush Co. made the first brush trees using the same machinery which produced their toilet brushes !! These were more practical as they held heavier ornaments than the feather ones.

By late Victorian times Christmas trees were a great status symbol; the taller the tree the greater the affluence of the family displaying it, but following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 the nation went into mourning and large flamboyant trees disappeared until the fashion for them was reintroduced in the 1930's.

During World War II, it was forbidden to cut down trees for decoration, and people preferred to keep their precious ornaments safely boxed in case of air raid damage, so home made decorations were used on tiny trees which were easily transferred to the shelter if an air raid warning was heard. However, large trees were erected in public places in an attempt to boost morale.

The mid Sixties saw another change. Silver aluminium trees were imported from America. Later the artificial spruce appeared and it was possible to have a 14 foot tree in the living room without a single needle on the floor. Very popular with the housewife. The tree could also be sprayed with a pine scent to give it an authentic aroma.

Real trees have once again become a favourite, with various species available. To have a real or nearly - real artificial one is a matter of personal choice, but each year seems to bring its "must have" fashion. I understand the trendy tree this Christmas is a BLACK one!

Merry Christmas and enjoy your tree whatever its pedigree.

Researched and edited by Joan Fynn


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last updated - 16 August 2015
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news0512/index.html