Badock’s Wood has been woodland continuously for at least 500 years. The wood has many ancient trees and a recent study by Nicola Strange concluded that “Local people today, while strolling through Badock’s Wood, are walking in a landscape bearing the traces of hundreds of years of human relations with the woodland.”
This land was gifted to the Council by Sir Stanley Badock (pronounced Bay-dock) in the 1930s for the community to use for recreation and as a public park. However, by the late 1990s it was in need of some care and attention.
The Friends of Badock’s Wood group was started by local residents who in 1997 got together to see what they could do to return the wood to the lovely place it had once been. One local resident, Salim Allibhai, then organised meetings to bring together the Friends of Badock’s Wood with representatives of other local organisations such as Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police, Avon Fire Brigade, BTCV, Southmead Development Trust.
By 2004 the first Management Plan for Badock’s Wood had been drawn up. Tragically, in June 2004 Salim died before he could see much of the plans achieved (and his work is celebrated in a small memorial to him within Badock’s Wood). The group carried on Salim’s work and vision and built on the relationships and fundraising work that he had undertaken.
In 2005 the group was formally constituted and in 2006 the group held its first formal AGM under the Chairmanship of Alan Aburrow (currently undertaking the very valuable role of group’s Archivist and keeper of historic documentation of the group).
At the 2006 AGM Alan reported that English Nature had been consulted and Badock’s Wood had been assessed for its suitability for the award of Local Nature Reserve designation. This designation was formally awarded in 2008 so this year (2018) is also the 10th Anniversary of the Local Nature Reserve of Badock’s Wood.
The group then built on earlier fundraising success gaining grants from the Lottery and more recently the City Council’s Neighbourhood Grants schemes and the European Green Capital 2015 grants.
Over a number of years three wildflower meadows were seeded, the new Northern Gateway accessible entrance, avenue of trees and mosaics were installed and opened (2011). A new wildlife pond installed by Avon Wildlife Trust which after many years is starting to achieve a balance.
New bridges were built over the “waterfall” and the River Trym allowing for a full circuit of the wood to be followed by walkers.
2015 – Bristol’s European Green Capital Year – with the grants from the Council and Green Capital fund – saw Badock’s Wood Hidden Treasures project delivered. Sculptor Andy O’Neill returned to Badock’s Wood and made us the “Willow Bank Sofa” full of hidden treasures such as the owl, hedgehogs, fungi sculptures. He then went on to make the Lake End Welcome totem, the spider and grass snake sculptures and of course our beloved (and beleaguered) Green Man. The totem includes golden oriole birds because at the time of making the sculptures these very rare visitors flew through.
In 2016 the group was awarded Bristol Green Volunteers for Nature Award which is awarded to volunteer projects that: help to make Bristol a nature-rich and wildlife-friendly city; bring people and nature together and help communities conserve and restore nature in Bristol and beyond
Of course, it is not just about the natural history of the wood. There are a lot of man-made historical features. One of the wood’s most distinctive features is the Bronze Age burial mound (Southmead Round Barrow) – a scheduled ancient monument. In 2002 the City Council commissioned Somerset artist Michael Fairfax to produce the art work and the poem inscribed on it was written by his father, John Fairfax.
Friends of Badock’s Wood hold litter picking groups, bird monitoring walks, conservation volunteer tasks, and walks and talks on a range of topics. Thanks to the hard work of the local community and the support and funding from other bodies and the seemingly inexhaustible energy of our volunteers Badock’s Wood has been transformed.
All this is definitely something for us all to celebrate and a big THANK YOU to everyone who helps keep Badock’s Wood lovely and who values this hidden haven for wildlife as much as we do.
For more information about the Friends of Badock’s Wood and to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter please visit our website: www.fobw.org.uk