MELTHAM GREENWAY UPDATE

An update by Melvyn Gibson, December 2013.

 

Now that the Autumn leaf fall has been almost fully cleared from the greenway I felt that a resume of this year would bring everyone up to date with developments.  2012 - 2013 was a long winter and, although the greenway was used extensively, there was little chance of any work being carried out whilst the ground was frozen. The first major project was the cutting back of the overhanging branches which was completed by Martin George from the David Brown Tractor Club in April who used a tractor mounted flail cutter and cleared these branches to a height of 4 metres. Initially the trees were visibly mutilated but the growing leaves soon hid this and within weeks there was no remaining evidence of the ‘attack’ the trees had suffered.

Later in the year  Daryl Clegg from the tractor club cut down the vegetation at both sides of the greenway with his tractor and flail mower.  Due to the wet conditions the previous year no cutting back was possible so it had become really necessary this year.  The greenway looked really smart when he had finished the job.

 

Finally Lewis Haigh from the tractor club came along with his mini-digger and cleared out the weeds, roots and debris from the outer ring of the testing circle.  We have wanted to do this for some three years but it would have been considerably back breaking to carry out this work by hand.  The mini-digger was a huge help.  Once this was done Kirklees Council provided us with a load of bark chippings and on a nice morning in September Hazel, Paul and myself finished off the job by firstly spraying on weedkiller, laying a membrane and finally spreading the chippings. 

Without doubt we have to thank our friends in the David Brown Tractor Club for the help they give to us each year and it is our privilege to be able to host the club and its members once a year for their Annual Gala when they bring their tractors and the load car onto the greenway which was once  David Brown’s  tractor testing area.  The Tractor Club did in fact have another successful gala over a weekend in September.

The greenway itself is in excellent condition and is enjoyed by hundreds of people each week. Those of us who spend time on the path doing regular maintenance are often complimented for the work we do and how much it is appreciated.  Adrian continues to look after the garden at the Huddersfield Road end of the path.  This is a really nice entrance area which is simple, attractive and in keeping with the path.  Carol has had to stand down from looking after the barrel planters on the testing circle because of the extra workload of looking after her father’s garden. Hazel has now taken on the role. Jean continues to walk her dog along the path and pick up the litter.  It all seems to run very well indeed.  Many of you just use the path and keep your eyes open for anything untoward.  Next summer though we need some group workings to clear more of the old wire fencing which is slowly rusting and falling away from the fence posts.  Also we need a couple of sessions to cut back the Himalayan Balsam which is rapidly encroaching the hollow below the steel barriers.

 

 

 

We had a couple of instances of anti-social behaviour. The first involved some teenagers who had taken alcohol to the testing circle. They were reported after a neighbour heard bottles being smashed. The police were quickly on the scene and two teenagers were apprehended in possession of alcohol. The others discarded their cans and bottles of alcohol into the long grass as the police officers approached.  The police soon found it and it was all confiscated.

The second involved a gang, allegedly from the same family, of younger age.  They were responsible for a number of anti-social behaviour incidents, including some damage to one of the interpretation boards, and were spoken to whilst on the greenway. However the problems continued and so all the ASB activity was reported.  The police took up the matter with their parents.  Fortunately the gang has not been seen on the greenway since.

 

The Meltham Skatepark has been the outstanding success of the year. After eventually getting Planning Permission tenders were issued and the contract was won by Wheelscape Skateparks of Bristol.  Along with Kirklees Officers we decided to split the contract into two phases.  Phase A was to spend the £100k we had already been promised and put in Phase B (£50k) when we have raised the additional money. The overall design has to accommodate construction in two separate stages. The Wheelscape  designer met with the young people to finalise the design in August then in September the contractors moved onto the Broadlands Rec. site and began construction. 

By mid-October Phase A was complete and our young people have a new facility which they really like and enjoy.  Under the guidance of the youth leaders they have formed a group who will care for the skatepark.  Some parents have also become involved.  On the 10th November they organised their first ever event which attracted some 150 people and was an outstanding success.

We have now bid for a £50k sum of landfill tax which, if it is granted to us, will pay for Phase B of the skatepark.  We are also raising money for the floodlights.  To date we have around £8k and we have an agreement with the directors of the sports complex that they will pay the electricity bill. The skateboard group have said they will make an annual contribution from their funds.  The plan is to install three lighting columns with twin light sets on each.  The lights will be high powered LEDs which have a low power consumption and low maintenance.  At the time of writing we are awaiting a quotation from the approved contractor and we have been invited by Meltham Town Council to approach them for additional funding if it is needed.

 

At the end of what has been a busy year we have moved a long way forward. The greenway is in a very good condition with the testing circle finally looking neat and tidy.  And our village has a skatepark of which the young people are very proud.

 

An update by Melvyn Gibson - Friday 16 November 2012

Hello everyone,I just wanted to bring you up to date with recent developments on our greenway.  Firstly we have two new volunteers who are helping us with the regular maintenance.  These are Carol Coates who has agreed to look after the plants in the barrels on the testing circle.  Carol is a regular, almost daily, greenway user who walks her dog along the path. She gladly accepted this task which as you will learn is now a bigger job than in the past. The other is Paul Watts who is another regular greenway user.  Paul is helping me with the ongoing maintenance and for the past few weeks has spent his hours twice a week sweeping leaves.  Another couple of weeks and ,hopefully, we can begin to undertake other other work.  There are walls to rebuild at various places and the vegetation needs to be cut back away from the concrete and tarmac path.  It will be Spring all too soon!!

 

In the last few days we have completed the latest enhancements of the testing circle.  As you know we were forced into spreading the pile of wood chippings on the centre of the circle because the tractor club lads were unable to clear the outside ring because of the weather over the summer.  A local ladies group had plans to purchase a large planter for the centre of the circle.  However the cost was prohibitive and they abandoned their plan.  The good news is that we have purchased another three whisky barrels at a good price.  They needed a little bit of cleaning up and painting but they are now on the testing circle populated with various heathers and plants.  Two of our members,very generously, funded the cost.  (see image below).

 

 

Finally to say that I had a call from the tractor club apologising for not being able to clear the outer ring of the test circle so far this year.  I told them we fully understood their position.  However they are still intent on carrying out this task and will do it when they can and probably before the end of the year.

 

That's all for now and if I don't see you before trust you have a good Christmas.

 

An update by Melvyn Gibson - Saturday 13 October 2012.

Now that we are just past the half way point of our financial year I felt that you all ought to be brought up to date with the progress of our greenway in the last six months.  Mainly due, I must add, to the fact we have done very little together as a working group.  In fact, apart from one evening when we cut down some of the old David Brown wire netting and getting it removed, there hasn’t been any project where we could have group working.

 

As you know, we had hoped to get the outer ring of the test circle cleared so that we could lay down a membrane and cover the ring with the wood chip given to us last year. The David Brown Tractor Club promised to clear the ring with a mini-digger saving us a huge back breaking job.  However the weather has very much been against getting this job done.  When the weather did improve for a while in August the guys had a window of opportunity to get in their harvest which was far more important.  As a result clearing the outer ring is still to be started.  Better luck next year!!

 

A lot of activity has taken place over the six months, most of it good!  To begin with a number of dry stone walls above the cutting, around the lower turning circle and alongside the path from Meltham Mills have been rebuilt.  In most cases they have been down for a long number of years.  Having said that they have stood against the elements for about 150 years.  One spar on the long wooden fence had to be replaced. A huge knot in the wood caused the spar to split and some kind cretin then pulled both pieces off.  We obtained a new spar (£2.50) and repaired the fence.

 

Adrian Siswick has done a superb job maintaining the garden at the Huddersfield Road end of the path.  It has looked lovely and many greenway users have passed favourable comments about the garden.  Adrian, as an ongoing project, is putting in additional plants which occur naturally in the wild and to that end he has produced some spectacular displays of flowers over the summer.

Jean Walters  and others have continued to walk the greenway picking up litter and ensuring it is in good order.

We were invited to give our greenway powerpoint presentation to Meltham Town Council at an open evening in the summer. It went down very well, most councillors didn’t know all of what we had been doing over the last 5 years but they do now.  At the end we asked if they could help us with finance for maintenance and low cost enhancements of the greenway. Our sources of income, apart from putting our hands in our own pockets have almost tried up.  We have been awarded a maintenance grant of £200.00 which should keep us going for a couple of years.

In August we hosted the David Brown Tractor Club on the greenway again during their annual gala weekend.  Over the year the members have brought the load car up to full working order again and this time they wanted to do load car demonstrations on the old test track.  It was a real experience watching tractors large and small on full power with engines screaming, turbo-chargers whistling and wheels skidding pulling the load car along the path exactly as used to happen in the days when this was David Browns.

 

Last year we were given 8 loads of wood chippings which have layed on the turning circle awaiting us spreading them on the outer ring. Over that time they had started to congeal and form a hard crust. It was important that we use them and so Hazel and I have been on the turning circle spreading the chippings on top of the ones already spread for the last two Saturday mornings.  At the time of writing this report the job is about 70% complete.  We have also purchased a third half barrel which has received some tlc and is now in place filled with heathers and plants.  It is all looking a good bit better.

Lots of people have been to see Folly Dolly Falls this year. The new steps and viewing platform have been a huge asset.

 

 

We have been lucky that any anti-social behaviour on our greenway has been minor.  Branches broken, litter dropped, dog poo and horse muck deposited etc. However there was an incident on September 14th when a gang of alcohol fuelled idiots left the centre of Meltham, plastered  the telephone exchange with graffiti vandalism (as opposed to graffiti art) smashed a considerable length of Morrisons fence alongside the sloping path, tore down a small tree at the rear of the Sadeh Lok homes blocking the path and smashing about 50 lager bottles all along their route which continued down the greenway to the lower turning circle. 

 

 

This was a police matter but we got all the other representatives from the Neighbourhood Management Group working together and I can report that the perpetrators are now known to the police and will be dealt with. An excellent example of the workings of an NMG.  On the positive side we had a number of greenway users who helped to clear the glass from the path and this included 3 teenage girls who saw what was being done and stepped in to help.

 

The skatepark project is still ongoing.  We have just over £100k promised and we are looking for £150k.  There are a number of potentially large pots of money we hope to tap into but we are also still looking for funding sources.  Kirklees Council officers are now becoming involved and we have provided a number of names of local youngsters who want to help the officers with the skatepark design.  Our hope is that we can get the skatepark  constructed in the spring of 2013.

 

Finally to say that we are now approaching the time of year when the leaves fall from the trees.  It is a huge task clearing them from the path and throwing them into the undergrowth.  There will be no objections to anyone just going down there and doing this. The more the better.  It doesn’t need an organised clean up. Just take a hard brush and snow shovel and do what you can.  I’ll be doing my bit!!

 

David Brown Tractor Weekend - 17 & 18 September 2011

David Brown Tractors were made in Meltham for 52 years until the factory was closed in 1988.  There is a strong following by enthusiasts

for the brand and we have in Meltham Mills the David Brown Tractor Club Ltd. which is run by enthusiasts.  They are a great bunch and a

lot of them are good friends of our greenway and help us with some of the major tasks.

The club had asked us if during the weekend of 17th & 18th September 2011 they could bring tractors onto the 'test track' part of which

is now Meltham Greenway.  The reason was to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the 880 and 990 series tractors. 

We obtained all the necessary official clearances and assurances and for their part the tractor club were superb in both their help and 

organisation, signage and supervision, before and during the event. 

On both Saturday and Sunday morning the very last tractor built in Meltham, now preserved, brought the load car onto the test track.

The load car is a dynamic test rig which was used to calibrate the draw bar horse power of the tractor.  The first picture shows the

tractor and load car coming up the greenway in pouring rain.  The load car being back on 'home ground' after an absence of 23 years.

During the afternoon of both days there was a tractor road run from the club HQ around the local villages finally ending on the 'test

track'.  In all there were 30 tractors on our greenway on Saturday and around 40 tractors on Sunday.  Lots of visitors from around the

world and many greenway users were there to enjoy the event.  Not suprisingly there were many ex-employees who delighted in the

nostalgia.  Two other pictures show the tractors on the turning and testing circles.

It would be nice to think we could have another similar event in a few years time.

 

An update by Melvyn Gibson -October 2011.

The Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney and his agent John Travis joined the Friends of Meltham Greenway on a morning 

working party on August 8th 2011.  Both Jason and John are users of Meltham Greenway since they live locally and enjoy the walk along the path.  During his summer break, Jason wanted to meet with a number of voluntary groups in his constituency and work with them.  It seems that the Meltham Greenway Team were his first choice and we were delighted when we were asked if he could join us.

During his time spent with us he undertook the spreading of bark chippings on the testing circle, cutting back vegetation and litter

picking. 

Below are a couple of pictures.  One showing the team at work spreading the chippings and the second, family album, picture at

the end of the spreading session. 

 

An update from Mel Gibson 16 December 2010

As we approach the end of 2010 I think it is worthwhile looking back at what has been achieved and of the more recent developments.  
1. After numerous problems which we successfully overcame the first two interpretation boards were installed on the greenway in July.  These have been a fantastic success.  Everyone thinks they are superb in showing the history of this old railway path.  The other two interpretation boards are still in the process of creation.  
2. The garden at the Huddersfield Road end of the greenway became grossly overgrown.  The garden has since been cleared by our own members and we have planted another 150 daffodil bulbs, some white bluebell bulbs and another 2 Hebe bushes.   3. In November we had 3 working sessions clearing the centre of the testing circle,  laying anti-growth membrane and spreading bark chippings.  We also installed two half barrels which have been filled with winter plants and some bulbs in readiness for next Spring.  The group are indebted to Kirklees Council Rangers who provided 5 trailer loads of bark chippings for free, to Kirklees Council for the two oak half barrels and to Hampsons Garden World who provided 2 x 100 metre rolls of membrane for just £50.00.  (Normal price would have been over £200.00) Hopefully we will continue with this circle next spring.  Comments from the public so far have been excellent saying it is a huge improvement on the mess it was.  
4. We have had some extremely generous contributions to our funds as the result of me giving powerpoint presentations about the history and development of our greenway to various groups around Meltham. Fantastic support from Meltham Probus Club, Helme Ladies Group, Meltham Lions and individuals amounting to almost £600.00.  
5. Finally, and saving the best until last, we have won the two grants of money we applied for which will be used to fully fund the design, consultation and planning process for the BMX Track in the Robert Ashton Memorial Park. We learned last week about the grant from the Crossroads Project in Meltham and just a couple of hours before I wrote this message did I learn about the other grant from Kirklees Stronger & Safer Communities.  It is great news and to learn of it just before Christmas seems to make our achievement just that bit sweeter.  Straight after the celebrations the BMX Team will need to get this project underway. The way ahead is that we provide fully approved and costed plans to Meltham Town Council who have to agree to the BMX  track being constructed.  They were certainly in favour of the rough draft we submitted earlier this year.  Once that hurdle is overcome we need to get more funding for the construction which will amount to circa £10k. Quite a challenge!!  
Jean Walters and I continue to keep the greenway clean and maintained.  Jean does the litter and I sweep the path which this autumn has been quite a task because of the combination of the leaves, the rain and the snow.  If anyone else wants to help with this we would both be most grateful.  
May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your help and support for the Meltham Greenway over the past year. We have created a superb facility for the people of Meltham and beyond who appreciate all that we do and I look forward to working with you all again next year.   Have a lovely Christmas!! Melvyn

INTERPRETATION BOARDS FOR MELTHAM GREENWAY

Meltham Greenway has now the first two interpretation boards in place which depict both the railway heritage and the tractor testing history on this now popular path for people.

The Friends of Meltham Greenway was formed a couple of years ago with the aim of enhancing the path and this is the latest venture by the group.

The cost will be covered by a grant from the Meltham Hall Fund and from the group's own funds with as much work as possible being done by the members, friends and local companies.

The interpretation panels have been created by secretary Mel Gibson who, on the Railway Heritage panel, has traced the history from the building of the railway through the years of operation to the closure and finally the dismantling of Meltham Station.  After the railway track closed part of the track bed was used by David Brown Tractors as their test track.  The David Brown Tractors panel describes the history of tractor manufacture from 1936 to the closure in 1988 and shows many of the range of tractors produced by the company.  The central portion of the panel shows pictures of the actual tractor testing taking place on what are the concrete sections of what is now Meltham Greenway.  Excellent support through photographs and information has been given by the Examiner, the David Brown Tractor Club members and the authors Robert Anderson and Colin Holwell.

The design and artwork of the panels was done by Mel's future daughter in law Charlotte Booth who took the task as a challenge since she has not done anything like this kind of work before.

A local Meltham man Chris Woodhead, director of Ellm Creative of Horbury Bridge, manufactured the panels which were then provided to Allsops of Honley who designed and built the bespoke display boards.  The finished results are superb which should be a fine enhancement for Meltham Greenway and may well invoke many memories from older meltham Residents when they see this recent history depicted in pictures.  So too should all age groups benefit by learning a little of Meltham's industrial and railway past.

Text by Melvyn Gibson 3 July 2010




Photographs by Hazel Gibson -February 2009

In May 2009 our Greenway will have been open for one year.  Ironically, on 21 May 1949, exactly 60 years ago the last passenger train left Meltham station. 

When Meltham Greenway was first conceived the thoughts were of a suitable flat route for both leisure and commuting use.  In fact it has become a peaceful, tree lined haven and provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Walkers can have a mud free ramble, the elderly can walk without the need to climb hills and children can learn to ride their bikes away from traffic.  This is a safe route, in more ways than one, and hundreds of people use our greenway every week.  After the blizzards of 2 February the greenway became a winter wonderland and many came to enjoy the experience of deep snow, bright sunshine and clear blue skies.

 

After the success of getting Near Lane fully refurbished, the ‘Friends of Meltham Greenway’ have also secured two new litter bins from Kirklees Council which have been placed at the bottom of Near Lane and at the Huddersfield Road end of the Greenway. 

The ‘Friends’ have also secured a grant from Meltham Town Council via the Meltham Hall Fund in order to provide seating at various points along the greenway path and four interpretation boards.  One of these is intended to depict the railway heritage.  The David Brown Tractor Club Ltd have promised to create one which will show the railway track bed being used for tractor testing etc.  The West  Yorkshire Geology Trust are keen to produce a board which will show the special geological features of Folly Dolly Falls and the ‘Friends’ hope to create one which will depict the flora and fauna found on the greenway.

 

A future project will be to create a shrubbery around the large turning circle complete with a central feature.  (Ideas from the public for this will be welcomed).  The ‘Friends’ also intend to brighten up the greenway next spring with flowers – snowdrops, daffodils etc.

Another group, Sustrans Rangers are doing a sterling job in ensuring the greenway is kept on first class condition.  Picking up litter, cutting back vegetation, sweeping the path and more recently, rebuilding of some of the dry stone walls.  A Sustrans official went away really impressed after his recent first visit to Meltham Greenway.

Text by Melvyn Gibson - March 2009

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