Update 1 - 1st January 2014
Listed Building consent has now been granted for the repairs to the dovecote and stables and the erection of the tea rooms.
The project to restore the buildings will take many months. We will try to keep everyone informed of the schedule for the progress of works. It is anticipated that Restoration and construction work will begin in August 2014.
Before that, plants are being moved from the wall borders in the Walled Garden to save them from the building works later in the year. The borders will be re-designed as sensory borders, and replanted in the autumn/winter of 2014.
Preliminary work will start in February/March removing the self-set trees and large areas of laurel in the area set aside for the relocation of the car park. It must be noted that Cherry Laurel, so beloved by the Victorians, is highly poisonous. It cannot be shredded and used as a mulch, nor can it be burnt as it gives off poisonous fumes. It is not beneficial for wildlife either.
At the same time the self-set trees along the top of the Haha will be removed to enable repair work to be carried out. Severe damage was caused to the Haha in March 2011, when an ash tree on one side of the drive fell over, knocking down a tree on the edge of the Haha.
The hedge behind the south wall of the walled garden will be removed before the nesting season begins.
After the restoration of the walls and the installation of the Gardener’s compound a new hedge will be planted, containing Mountain Ash [Rowan], Pyracantha and Rosa Rugosa. All of these are very wildlife friendly.
Community Archaeological Project
A draft timetable for the dig has been released by AOC Archaeology.
The programme will start 25th/26th June 2014 with de-turfing and setting up. The first public event will be held on 27th June 2014. There will be workshops and community days throughout the duration of the dig, with opportunities for all to participate.
Dates and times will be publicized at a later date. The dig will finish on 13th July 2014.
Update 2 - 1st February 2014: Bats
Extensive Bat Surveys of buildings and trees have been carried out at Eastcote House Gardens during 2012 and 2013, to the Bat Conservation Trust standard. A further survey will take place in 2014 before building work begins so that a bat license can be issued.
Two species of bats were identified, common Pipistrelle and brown long-eared. [More information on bat species can be found at www.bats.org.uk ]
Roosts were found in the north and west walls of the stables.
Bats are creatures of habit and will return to roosting sites annually. Therefore, work to restore the stables will take place at a suitable time so the bats are not disturbed. The site where the roosts occurred will be incorporated into the fabric of the repair work.
The possibility of including either bat bricks or bat boxes into the new building is being explored.
There will be a Bat Walk on May 1st 2014, where more information will be available. [For more information on the bat walk please see the Diary Dates Page, or Contact Us.]
Trees and Hedges
Necessary work on trees and hedges will be undertaken before August, so that nesting birds are not disturbed.
The hedge behind the south wall of the walled garden has been removed, the cut branches have been made into a temporary ‘dead hedge’* in front of the Jubilee Orchard, to protect the Orchard from the proposed works. Once the wall has been straightened and the height raised, the gardener’s compound installed, another hedge will be planted.
The hedge will contain Rowan, Rosa Rugosa, Pyracantha. These plants will give all year round colour and provide nesting sites and berries for the birds.
The ‘Friends’ are currently removing any plants that will be in the way of the work on the garden walls and saving them in and around the gardens.
* A dead hedge is the mediaeval practice of using cuttings to make a fence. For FEHG it means reviving an old craft and saving money by not having to take the dead material off site.
Update 3 - August 1st 2014
The repair, restoration and building works at Eastcote House Gardens will be starting Monday 11th August 2014 and is due to finish March 31st 2015.
The car park will be closed to ALL vehicles from MONDAY 11TH AUGUST 2014 FOR AN INDEFINATE PERIOD. Pedestrian access to the Gardens will remain, but at times some areas will be off limits. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused, but eventually we will have a fantastic community centre for all to enjoy.
Friends of Eastcote House Gardens
The restoration and enhancement work on the River Pinn Long Meadow will be starting during the July 2014. This project is sanctioned by the Environment Agency.
The Case Study and two maps showing the 1930s changes to the river can be seen on the Long Meadow and River Pinn page.
The work will involve installing a dipping platform - area 1 on the diagram - for use by schools, as part of their Key Stage programme.
Area 2 creating a back water to improve biodiversity.
Area 3 creating another backwater using the original river bed.
Within the Restoration work at Eastcote House Gardens a boardwalk will be installed from the Sheila Liberty Bridge to the gardens. Also, Nature Trail markers will be installed in Long Meadow.
Update 4 - August 23rd 2014
The contactors Messenger Conservation Construction had a start date of 11th August 2014, completion 31st March 2015.
Although sub contractors came on site on the 11th August, apart from erecting miles of fencing and cabins nothing has happened, a very disappointing start.
Some areas of protective fencing are still to be erected, and the scaffolding around the Stables should soon be in place.
The first area of work will be excavating the foundations for the new building and behind the south wall for the Gardener’s compound. There is no information available as to when this work will start.
The completion date has now been moved to mid April 2015.
Update 5 - 7th September 2014
Weeks three & four have been as productive as weeks one & two.
There was no progress during week three.
Monday 1st September: The electricity supply was diverted from the stables to the builders site cabins.
Friday 5th September: Work commenced removing the pebbledash from the north and south walls of the stables, an area of approximately one metre high from ground level. The exposed brick work looks to be in very poor condition.
The Site manager has been at the site. The Chairman of the Friends has asked to have a meeting with the Site manger; nothing has yet been arranged.
Update 6 - 29th September 2014
Those who attended the Bat Walks at EHG during the last two years, will know that there are bat roosts within the west and north walls of the Stables. The two species found the common Pipistrelle and Long Eared Brown Bat. All species of bats are protected in Europe. From the start of this project Hillingdon Council has worked with English Nature to ensure the safety of the bats and their habitat. There have been several dusk to dawn surveys carried out by the Bat Trust in accordance with English Nature’s methodology.
A Bat License has now been granted by English Nature for the restoration work on the stables to proceed under supervision by a representative of the Bat trust. This will ensure that the roosts are left intact for future use by our ‘lodgers’. The Friends of Eastcote House Gardens are very pleased with this procedure to ensure the safety of these fascinating creatures.
Currently, there is scaffolding both inside and outside of the stables. Full investigations of the condition of both timbers and brickwork will be undertaken, and all remedial work needed will be carried out during the restoration. To ascertain the condition of some of the timbers is only possible when they are exposed, this can only be carried out as part of the overall works. The same applies to the Dovecote.
The trench dug behind the South wall of the Walled Garden is in preparation for the stabilizing, and raising the height of this wall, and the installation of the Gardener’s Compound. There has been a small amount of damage to the grass on the slope leading to this area, which is unavoidable. Once work is completed, the damaged areas will be rotovated and re-seeded. Land drainage will also be laid in this area, which hopefully will improve conditions underfoot during the winter wet. [Let us all hope we do not have another winter as wet as last year!]
FEHG have started to replant the L shaped border, that was cleared to ‘fight’ off the comfrey infestation. The wall borders will be replanted as soon as the work on the walls is completed. We hope to have the Walled Garden back to normal by next Spring. A thank you to you all for your understanding and for the donations given towards the new planting.
Most will know, but in case you have not received the brilliant news, London in Bloom 2014, Eastcote House Gardens received a Gold Award for the Park of Year Category and were category winners. Long Meadow received Silver Gilt and category winner for the Conservation Area Category.
Wetland plants and native bulbs were planted by volunteers led by Dragana Knezevic LBH in Long Meadow as part of the current work programme last Saturday, ready for springtime flowering.
The project for the two back waters and dipping platform is supported by the Mayor of London and Hillingdon Council.
Update 7 - 7th November 2014
The building work at Eastcote House Gardens is proceeding despite the wet weather, which is turning EHG into its usual winter quagmire.
The piling for the foundations is in place; for those of you who have never seen a piling machine this is what the monster looks like!
During the inspection of the Stables it was found that the roof was in bad shape. The work to renew the roof has already started. All areas of the roof were monitored for bat roosts before and during the work.
The match funding requested from the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens by the Heritage Lottery Fund is an equally important part of this Restoration Project. The Britain in Bloom judges acknowledged this area of achievement as remarkable, both for attaining the HLF grant and the Friends own fund raising.
With thanks to all our supporters, through the Lloyds Community Fund we raised another £1,000.
The restoration fund started in May 2011 now stands at £22,801.06 leaving another £2,198.94 to raise, to reach our commitment of £25K.
Being unable to hold any fund raising events it will take us a lot longer to raise this remaining amount. Should anyone feel able to contribute to help us reduce this outstanding total please contact the Chairman email@example.com
Update 8 - 12th December 2014
A member of the Bat Trust, inspecting the roof area at the start of works on the Stables roof.
The timber cladding is being attached to the outside. This wood will not be painted but left to weather, to give a more natural look.
The works to the walls are taking longer than expected, so the volunteers will not be able to replant the walled garden borders as early as first hoped.
The FEHG volunteers, in conjunction with LBH Park Officers, have started to clear some of the laurel on the boundary with Eastcote High Road. One laurel bush covered an area of 150sqmt.
Cherry Laurel [Prunus laurocerasus] was introduced into this country in the 1500s. It is native to Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey. It contains cyanogenic glycosides [cyanide], which can be detected if the leaves are crushed; they give off a smell of almonds. This is possibly why it is pest free!
This area will be replanted with a selection of shrubs and trees to give all year round colour.
It is planned to work along this boundary in sections, removing the laurel and replacing with a more varied planting.
Update 9 - 1st April 2015
The restoration works are over-running. A definite finish date has not been given.
The Picnic on June 6th 2015 will go ahead as planned. This is the most important date in the Eastcote calendar and many events and activities, plus numerous stalls are all booked.
The Friends are very disappointed that the Walled Garden will not be at its best, but this cannot be helped as the work on the walls is still not finished. Therefore planting cannot take place until the builders have completed their work.
FEHG are really looking forward to welcoming all our regular and new visitors to the gardens. We have missed you all during the last nine months.
Update 10 - Friday 12th June 2015
The last of the fencing, erected 11th August 2014, came down today; there are just small jobs to do around the buildings.
At last, after 10 months, we have our park back!
The delays in finishing the works to the Walled Garden - not completed until May 1st 2015 - means the volunteer gardeners have not been able to fully replant the wall borders. This work will be undertaken during the autumn/winter 2015/16.
The replanting will include climbing subjects to camouflage the steel pillars which have been used to support the walls.
Although the park was not fully open, the FEHG Community Picnic in the Park went ahead on 6th June.
The sun shone, the people came and a wonderful time was had by all. [See Events page for more photos.]
The Garden Café will be opening at the end of June.
This will be the final entry on this page, so to finish with really excellent news: the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens, with the help and support of the whole community, have now reached the HLF Match funding requirement of £25K cash. The £125K in voluntary hours to be completed by 2018 is on target.
Our thanks to you all. All that needs to happen now is for you all to visit and enjoy.