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History and conservation of Benton Quarry

History

The park is located on the site of Benton Quarry, displayed on the second edition OS map (c1897) as being in full service and on the third edition (c1919) as being disused.

As an area of landfill it is considered unfit to build on, securing it as an invaluable area of green space. The quarries were land filled and landscaped and the park has developed since 1974.

Tree cover has increased, meadow areas have developed and paths have been constructed. In 2003, Park Wardens further developed the park, creating more paths, improving the surfaces to create a haven for both wildlife and people.

Benton conservation area was designated in March 2007. The boundary is based on Victorian and Edwardian suburban development in Benton and Forest Hall, along with St.Bartholomew's Church. The area grew substantially following the arrival of the Blyth and Tyne Railway and the opening of Benton Station on 1st March 1871.

Conservation

The Park Warden is key to the development of natural flora and fauna on this site. Working alongside the Biodiversity Officer and getting local schools and community groups involved, there have been ongoing projects to introduce and manage wildflower areas throughout the park. There is also a woodland planting programme to improve the ground-flora which again the Park Warden is heavily involved with.

The creation of wildlife habitats and bird feeding areas is something that the local schools and community groups like to get involved with. Sometimes this means just retaining any standing deadwood, where it is safe to do so, other times it is through warden led activities of making bird feeders and food for over the winter months. The warden team actively promotes and educates the public about the importance of feeding birds through a diverse range of events which work alongside other organisations such as the RSPB.

Another popular activity which takes place at Benton Quarry is the annual bee surveys and bee educational walks that are led by the wardens. The results are sent on to Stirling University where the Bees Conservation Trust is based as part of their larger bee surveys.

The large field at the centre of the park is the main landscape feature, and is cut on a regular schedule. Self seeding saplings are removed to leave the area open and this is carried out by both the grounds maintenance team and the Warden.

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