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Barr Beacon Park, Aldridge, Walsall, WS9, West Midlands
The Barr Beacon War Memorial as pictured above appears to sit on a grass mound, which conceals what used to be a cricular stone terrace which ran all around the midpoint of the memorial and included stone pillars with heavy ornate link chains. In the 1970's there was concern that the base and pillars were unstable and concrete was poured to prevent any movement, this was then banked up with soil and turfed over with hundreds of daffodill bulbs planted, by Aldridge Brownhills Urban District Council
The circular stone plinth at the very top shows evidence of the brass plate dedication by Colonel Wilkinson who gave the Beacon as parkland for local people. There was a heavy gun metal engraved map mounted on the round stone plinth which showed the visible panorama across several counties. sadly, the map, dedication plate and ornate gun metal hand rails, which slotted into the pillars, were all stolen overnight in the 1970's.
A new map has been created to sit on the stone plinth and you will find full details of the project here:
Barr Beacon is the highest point in the West Midlands set in 240 acres. It offers a stunning 360 degree panorama over Shropshire, the Black Country, Birmingham, Staffordshire and Cannock Chase, and is a popular area for walking, cycling, kite flyers, horse riding, or just a leisure day enjoying the views and perhaps an icecream. For those who spend their days in a busy office, or playing tense games of party poker, the park can offer a place of tranquillity. It is also extremely popular with families during the summer months.
Walsall's landmark Barr Beacon is one of just six sites in the country to be awarded Dark Sky Discovery Status. The announcement was made as part of the BBC 2 Stargazing LIVE series and recognises the Barr Beacon's importance in becoming the home of Astronomy in Walsall, thanks to efforts by the council's countryside services team. Dark Sky Discovery is an innovative network of national and local astronomy and open space organisations that helps people to enjoy the night sky. In October 2011, the network launched a project in England, with funding from Access to Nature – a scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, to work closely with a range of community groups to help them choose their local Dark Sky Discovery Site. Natural England’s Access to Nature programme is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. Working with astronomy, environmental and community organisations in every English region, the aim is to involve people in identifying safe, accessible ‘Dark Sky Discovery Sites’ – places in urban and rural areas where they can take part in stimulating stargazing sessions. Barr Beacon is the only urban site to be awarded the status in this round of designations. Over the last two years senior countryside ranger Morgan Bowers has been working with local astronomers, including Walsall Astronomical Society, to hold astronomy events. These have included MeteorWatch, Eclipse-Watching and talks and presentations about astronomy, and all the events have been over-subscribed. Councillor Adrian Andrew, chairman of Barr Beacon Trust and Walsall Council deputy leader, said: "Barr Beacon has always been a star in its own right and now its appeal is being recognised nationally. "Dark Sky Discovery Status is richly deserved for this important site and this week's announcement is testament to the hard work of countryside services and all of those involved in the protection, preservation and promotion of this jewel in the borough's crown. "As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid for the Raising the Barr we have been demonstrating the wide appeal of Barr Beacon and its potential for involving all communities through events such as the hugely successful Bands on the Beacon which attracted thousands of visitors. "Now that it is among the top sites for stargazers too there's even more to shout about." Morgan added: "We have a host of new astronomy events lined up for 2012 and will make this year even bigger and better than before."
December 2011, Video report showing how high tech smart water will be used to protect Barr Beacon War memorial against low life miserable metal thiefs !
Sunday 10 July 2011, Barr Beacon Park, Free event, Bands on the Beacon, will run from 1pm-5pm in Barr Beacon Park near the memorial, The free event attracted hundreds of visitors last year when it served up a musical mix of rock, blues, skiffle and Irish charm staged around the war memorial at the borough’s highest beauty spot.
December 2008, people interested in Barr Beacon Park are invited to help shape a blueprint for the future of this nature reserve.
Residents are being given the opportunity to come forward with ideas to improve the site.
Members of the Barr Beacon Trust helping to put together a restoration project for the reserve.
The package of improvements will be funded from external sources.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, chairman of the Trust, said it is important for people to have their say on the plans and added it is hoped the Barr Beacon War Memorial will be at the centre of the restoration scheme.
Councillor Andrew said: "As well as attempting to secure funding for the memorial itself, we also want to restore the historic flagpole ( presently removed for restoration) and complete the replacement for the railings around the Joseph Scott plantation which dates from 1799.
"In addition to all this work we want to make the newly-declared Barr Beacon Local Nature Reserve site even more welcoming for visitors.
"To this end we will be consulting with as many groups, organisations and individuals as possible to seek their views on what other improvements they would like to see."
Cllr Andrew added the plans would bring much-needed improvements to Barr Beacon.
To have your say on improvements to Barr Beacon email email@example.com or write to Walsall Countryside Services, Top Hanger, Aldridge Airport, Bosty Lane, Aldridge, WS9 0QQ.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Walsall Councils cabinet member for regeneration, confirmed in September 2008 that the plan to build a visitors centre on Barr Beacon has been abandoned following the failure of the funding bid (see more info below). Councillor Adrian Andrew, who is also Chairman of the Barr Beacon Trust said " The application has been withdrawn because the Black Country was unsuccessful in the bid for the Peoples Millions to create the Black Country Urban Park. As a trust working with the council and other partners we remain committed to improving Barr Beacon.
Did you know ?....
May 17, 2008 Work at the Barr Beacon Nature Reserve has been completed and includes wooden bollards to protect the car park and a new gate.
It comes after Walsall Council’s Countryside Services, working in partnership with The Rotary Club of Aldridge and The Barr Beacon Trust who own the beauty spot, identified the need for a defined car parking area that would improve access to the site.
The route leading across the memorial side of Barr Beacon has also been resurfaced, costing just under £5,000 and making it easier for motorists to access the site.
Diana West, senior countryside ranger for Walsall Countryside Services, said: “We’re very pleased with the improvements and we anticipate the site’s visitors will be too.
“Having a designated parking area will help us to preserve the environment of the reserve and guarantees enough space to welcome visitors who travel in by car.”
As part of the project, the War Memorial will also be cleaned, a new nature trail leaflet will be produced and picnic facilities improved.
On the 02 February 2007, Walsall Council published the following information, calling on people to let them know what they would like to see from a new visitor centre at Barr Beacon.
"Whether a café to rest those weary feet and enjoy a reviving cuppa or a viewing platform to survey the stunning panorama of the Black Country and beyond, why not let us know. Proposals for the visitor centre are being drawn up as part of the ‘Green Bridge’ project - part of an ambitious wider project between the four Black Country councils to connect and transform green spaces and public open spaces. The Black Country has submitted a bid for £50 million to BIG lottery, entitled 'A Million People: Black Country as Urban Park'. If successful , it will go forward to public TV vote later on this year.
Council chiefs have also laid on a free programme of events around February half-term week for people who want to get involved in the multi-million pound scheme. Councillor Adrian Andrew, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for people to have their say on a project which will help continue the revitalisation of our borough. “Barr Beacon needs a visitor centre and we want to get Walsall people’s views on what it should look like, where on the landmark it should be located and what facilities it should offer. “As part of the wider the ‘Black Country as an Urban Park’ project, the ‘green bridge’ would create a fabulous leisure amenity for residents of Walsall and Sandwell, bringing more jobs and investment to the Black Country.”
Walsall Council and Sandwell Council working together to create a 12-mile link connecting the heart of Walsall and the Arboretum with Dartmouth Park and the town centre of West Bromwich. The whole project comprises the ‘Green Bridge’, restoration of Dudley’s Seven Sisters mine and revitalisation of canals in Wolverhampton - three major environmental projects shared between four councils.
People are set to get the chance to vote for the pioneering project in a televised final later in 2007.
Barr Beacon was established by a Declaration of Trust on 30 October 1918 which was subject of this 2007 pdf report
In January 2006 the Black Country Consortium submitted an application for £48m to the Big Lottery, which includes plans to improve Barr beacon. 2006 pdf report
Plans in 2005 to re-instate Barr Beacon as a visitor site which local residents and the wider community can enjoy. 2005 pdf report
read the background information and survey, regarding proposals for Barr Beacon Park and Pinfold Lane Quarry published in July 2007 up pdf proposal & survey
The main route of the 'Green Bridge' runs through the Walsall Arboretum to meet Rushall Canal. It then follows the canal until it meets the borough boundary with Sandwell, close to Moat Bridge and the Tame Valley Canal. A longer and more challenging route takes in the Barr Beacon and Great Barr village."
Free desk top screen saver picture of Barr Beacon war memorial:
On February 22nd 2005 Councillor Adrian Andrew was the new `champion’ for Barr Beacon and Doe Bank Park and pledged to work to make improvements to both sites for the community. Barr Beacon and Doe Bank Park represent a large area of open space and green belt within Pheasey Park Farm Ward, and Barr Beacon is a major regional beauty spot. Councillor Andrew and his ward colleagues have welcomed the installation of barriers on Barr Beacon to prevent vehicles being able to drive on to the site at night. Immediate short term goals are to clean up the monument and carry out general maintenance such as weeding, pruning and painting, install new refuse bins and install a new flagpole with flag. A major priority is to establish a Barr Beacon Restoration Group to bring together interested people and to identify funding that the group can bid for to invest in Barr Beacon. Andrew said “Medium to long term, the children’s play area on Barr Beacon needs improvements and we need to increase the educational use of Barr Beacon. Many local people have also suggested to me that a tea shop and educational facility on Barr Beacon would be welcomed, clearly one that is in keeping with the environment. This would encourage the public to use Barr Beacon and reclaim the area from the undesirable element in the community. This is clearly something that needs consultation through the restoration group.” For Doe Bank Park, Councillor Andrew, says that the park has had some improvements over the last few years but there is still so much potential. He would like to see investment in the building that houses the changing facilities and young people working with the local community to achieve a skate park near to the BMX track. The parking at the park also needs some improvements. He added: “I look forward to working more closely with the council officers who do a very good job in these areas on a very small budget, what is key is that Barr Beacon and Doe Bank Park are not treated in isolation to each other. I would welcome suggestions and involvement from local people and I would appreciate any old photographs or stories of both Barr Beacon and Doe Bank Park.” People can send these to Councillor Adrian Andrew at Walsall Council, Darwall Street. Please mark envelopes for Councillor Andrew’s attention.
In November 2002 areas of Barr Beacon's rare wildlife habitat were restored to its former glory by recreating expanses of heathland. The project was part of Walsall Council's Countryside Services' continuing aim to reintroduce the swathes of purple flowering heather that once stretched from Sutton Park to Cannock Chase. Nature Conservation Officer Dave Haslam described how the work would be carried out. "It may seem drastic, but we will have to use an excavator to scrape away dense areas of turf. We will then scatter heather seed brought from heathland at Brownhills and Pelsall. The heather seed can germinate by itself on the bare earth. If we didn't remove the turf, heather would struggle to grow. Over the years we've experimented with a variety of ways to grow heather on countryside sites that were once heathland. We've found that turf stripping is the quickest and most effective method of helping to restore heathland." "In a few years time, visitors will not only be able to see purple patches of flowering heather, but also a variety of other insects, butterflies and birds which rely on the heather for their survival," The work had the full backing of the Government's Department for Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which funded the project through its Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Next time you visit Barr Beacon, take some pictures, and email Aldridge website, we would love to publish and acknowledge your snap shots !
© Copyright Alan Neath. 2005 - All Rights Reserved
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