Current traffic trial restrictions made permanent
The Royal Parks has decided to make the current traffic trial restrictions in Richmond Park permanent.
For the last two years, three traffic restrictions have been trialled in Richmond Park, using moveable barriers. This decision by The Royal Parks means that those temporary barriers will, over the winter, be replaced by wooden barriers/gates and signage.
The three restrictions in Richmond Park are:
- the road between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross is closed permanently to vehicle traffic;
- the road between Robin Hood Car Park and Broomfield Hill Car Park is closed permanently to vehicle traffic; and
- at weekends and public holidays, the road between Richmond Gate and Roehampton Gate is closed permanently to vehicle traffic.
The restrictions can be seen on this map:
In the trial’s consultation these closures received strong support.
The Friends’ charitable objectives are to “conserve and protect the peace and tranquility of the Park” and to “limit the adverse effects of activities that damage its attributes” and therefore we have always been in favour of reducing through traffic, especially in this National Nature Reserve. We are therefore pleased that the restrictions are being implemented on a permanent basis.
We support pedestrian priority in Richmond Park. So we consider it particularly important that there are improvements in the conditions for pedestrians crossing the ring road. We have continued to press The Royal Parks for improvements to the existing ‘raised-table’ crossings and the introduction of additional crossings. We understand that improvements and additional crossings are planned. We will monitor the effectiveness of these changes. We will give you more details when available.
(c) Nigel Jackman
Along Beverley Brook or at the Pen Ponds you may see a snow-white heron-like bird with a long slender neck, black bill and legs and yellow feet. Once upon a time the species was absent from this country, but in more recent decades it first appeared as a summer visitor and then, instead of migrating south as far as Africa for the winter, it adapted to our milder winters and some are present all year. Half the size of a grey heron, the little egret stalks streams and pond edges for its prey of fish, amphibians and aquatic insects. The first Park sighting was not until 2001, but now they are seen frequently. At times their numbers seem almost inexplicably to increase, as in mid-October this year when fifteen were present together at Pen Ponds. One day, we hope, they may even breed in the Park.
A reminder – please do not take fungi, conkers or chestnuts
(c) Nigel Jackman
Please remember that the Park is very special for wildlife and the removal of autumn fruits and seeds is illegal and detrimental to the Park’s wildlife. Conkers and chestnuts form an essential part of deer diet, without which they would not be able to build up the fat reserves needed for the cold winter months.
Fascinating and engaging! Our Let’s Discover history event
Over 50 children took part in our half-term history trail last week. Friends’ volunteer guides, led by Monique Sarkany, explained how the Park came to exist, and the connections between what they were seeing and the people who once lived here, helped by Monique’s engaging model of the Park.
Children were particularly fascinated by handling stone axes that are around 100,000 years old. Other highlights included using replicas to cut and scrape leather and our calligraphy station. Everyone also enjoyed Poets’ Corner coming to life when they found poems to share.
We are very grateful for the support of the Hearsum family who brought out unique objects from their collection, as well as the Museum of Richmond who took part and the Guildford Museum, who let us borrow the stone axes.
It was a beautiful sunny morning enjoyed by all in the peace and beauty of Pembroke Lodge Gardens.
Kingston and Ham Gates
The Royal Parks has received planning permission for the conversion of the existing Kingston Gate toilets and the currently closed Ham Gate toilets to catering kiosks with toilets. In each case the existing toilet block will be converted so that approximately one half of the floorspace will be occupied by the kiosk and one half by the toilet facilities. For Ham Gate that means a single, unisex, accessible cubicle.
The kiosks are currently expected to open in Spring 2023. The Friends are pleased to see the return of a toilet at Ham Gate although we have expressed concerns about the possibility of increased litter and the reduction in the sense of a natural park that such developments can bring.
An abundance of acorns
(c) Nigel Jackman
Despite the long drought the Park’s Oaks have produced a super abundance of acorns, marking it out as what is termed a “mast year”. In some parts of the Park the ground is blanketed in acorns, and over the past few weeks a walk amongst the oak trees has been accompanied by the constant ‘plopping’ sound of the falling crop. By contrast, far fewer acorns are produced between mast years.
Although something of mystery it is generally believed that these fluctuations affect the population levels of animals that rely on acorns for food, so that in a mast year enough seeds survive intact until the spring to start their lives as saplings. Jays burying acorns and forgetting where they stored them will aid this process. Another theory is that the regular production of large crops would weaken the trees, and so they conserve and regenerate their resources over a cycle of say three to five years. A dry and warm spring to allow for successful flowering accompanied by good pollination is also a contributor to a mast year.
Another mystery is how the Oaks (and other masting tree species) have mast years at the same time. To be effective, the trees must synchronise both the quantity and timing of nut or acorn production in any given year. Researchers have put forward numerous possible explanations, but the uncertainty remains.
Simon Richards to speak at the Kew Mutual Improvement Society in February
Simon Richards, until earlier this year the Park Manager of Richmond Park, will be speaking on 20 February 2023 as part of the Kew Mutual Improvement Society lectures. Simon’s lecture will include a brief history of Richmond Park since enclosure in 1637, including the ecology of the site and areas of horticultural interest. Simon will explore the importance of the historic deer herds and the increasing challenges facing by a fragile environment in the face of pressure from humans, pests and diseases and a changing climate.