Newsletter - October 2018

Annual Public Meeting

will be held in CONFORD VILLAGE HALL at 8pm on Wednesday 7th November

Annual Reports followed by a talk by Andy Thomas, Conservation Officer with The Wild Trout Trust
The Wey has a stable population of the native Brown Trout, which also in some ways unique—what is the lifecycle of this fish and what does it have to put up with in the modern river environment?

Refreshments will be available in the interval.
ALL WELCOME


From the Riverbed - editorial roundup

October sees an updated version of the website for the Trust. It has been a few years since we last revised the shape of the site, and as well as the rather dated look, it did not respond well to visitors using smartphones or tablets to see the information. You’ll find it at http://riverweytrust.org.uk

We’ve taken the opportunity to increase the scope of the pages, covering some of our project work, and providing information and educational resources. Links to the RWT twitter account are there to access quick updates and information, and we have added an Instagram account to share some views and images of our river.
There is still work to do to finalise some of the pages, so the site is always going to be ‘in progress’. Please let us know if you would like to see something on the site, or have input – email contact at website@riverweytrust.org.uk

We have a new Trustee, nominated by Bramshott & Liphook Parish Council, Jeanette Kirby: Jeanette is an enthusiast for countryside and habitat issues and will provide additional strength to the RWT in these areas. Barbara Easton, previously that Council’s representative, stays on as a Trustee.

GreenConstruct’s planning application for the land by Liphook’s Radford Bridge should have reached the Planning Department by now: it’s over 4 years since we first approached the selling agents so it’s been a long haul for the RWT, and we await the result with anticipation. Here, as a reminder, is our take on the opportunities presented by the Trust’s being gifted the land, as part of a planning agreement if permission is given for GreenConstruct’s houses near the road.


Himalayan balsam (cabi)

The Himalalien

HIMALAYAN BALSAM
Our regular volunteers will be well aware of the joys of bashing balsam, but could and end to this labour intensive form of “control” be in sight?
CABI (the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) has been working on a biological control for Himalayan balsam since 2006, with the focus on rust as the biocontrol – a form of control that enables relatively inaccessible plant populations to be treated. The reason for the length of time taken over the project is twofold – firstly, the risk of any effective control spreading to attack other plants, especially relatives in the Impatiens family , such as Busy Lizzies (Himalayan balsam is Impatiens glandulifera) and secondly to find the control that is most effective for this plant.

The plant is the tallest annual species in Europe, at around 2.5m or more than 8 feet high, and a single plant can produce up to 2500 seeds, which can survive for up to 2 years: when the seed-pods pop, they can fly as much as 6m, so that where plants have colonised close to flowing water the seeds can get swept downstream (with more to follow if the land later floods). A dense stand will exclude light and so suppress other, native plant growth: the ground underneath may become bare and this affects invertebrate communities and mycorrhiza, as well as leaving it more prone to erosion.

The Wangat valley (no Balsam in sight!) Himalayan balsam – true to its name – comes from the lower southern slopes of the Himalayas: the Himalayan range is 1500 miles long and runs from Pakistan to the eastern states of India. Given this distance, it is not surprising that there are significant genetic variations in the balsam plants found over this distance, and a basic task has been to try and track down the source of at least most of the UK’s imports of the plant. This is important because the rust ‘enemies’ that are evident in the Himalayan environment have been found to have co-evolved with the balsam and have become highly specific to its different strains: there had been problems with CABI’s release tests (commenced 2014) with poor overwintering and only weak attacks, meaning smaller and therefore less potent rust pustules evident on the plants.

The primary source of our plants in southern England is now shown to be the Wangat Valley in Kashmir (balsam “population type E”) – not the safest or easiest of places to collect samples of either plant or its control from, but this has now been achieved so that laboratory trials are under way with release trials planned for next summer.
In the meantime, we carry on bashing!


THE SOUTHERN WEY’S MISSING MILLS

Nothing visible now remains of the old Pitfold Mill other than a one or two small areas of water beside Critchmere Lane: once an isolated settlement to west of Shottermill, it is now part of ‘Greater Haslemere’, and has all been built over. WHAT REMAINED IN THE MID-1980S: HOUSING FACING CRITCHMERE LANE ON LEFT, ABOVE THE MILL DAM, AND THE SMALL TAILSTREAM EMERGING BELOW THE DAM The location exploited the tributary stream which flows southwards from the Nutcombe Valley running down from Hindhead, in a similar way as did Shotter-mill just upstream (taking in the Springhead stream running out of Marley Common as well as the ‘main’ stream from Blackdown) and, a little bit further up, Sickle Mill (which also collected both the main stream and Shottermill’s Weysprings stream and the one running down from Hindhead Common): the amount of power available from the Nutcombe stream would have been pretty limited—although reliable. REBORN AS THE SAWMILL (PROBABLY SIMILAR VIEWPOINT TO PHOTO, ABOVE)Until early 1988 parts of the foundations could be seen, as well as the springs which supplied the washing water. In February 1988 work began on a housing development on the site.

The mill was owned by the Simmons family. It was first referred to in 1801 when it was insured together with Sickle and New Mills (another ‘lost mill’, and next to the site of the Haslemere sewage treatment works). It was described as brick, timber, and tiled. When it was insured a year later the paper-maker was John Howard. Sale particulars in 1832 refer to a 17ft waterwheel, engine gear, running tackle, vats and chests complete. It was closed as paper mill in 1870 and used for dressing leather. Later a saw mill was erected on the site by Stanley Underwood, and subsequently occupied by Homewoods, who still manufacture fencing locally.