Warden’s Blog – June 2022
28th June 2022
Well here we are, my final blog before departing after 30 years as Common’s Warden; and what a great 30 years it has been.
As the first Warden, I got to make the job up as I went along, which gave me the opportunity to make some big decisions in the way the Commons were run. When I started, the Conservators had a small direct labour force who were neither trained or equipped for what they had to deal with in the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987 and I had to make the difficult but vital switch over to using specialist contractors. This proved to be very much more cost effective, as well as being very much safer!
The Conservators as a body have changed a great deal in the intervening years, they are very much more proactive and engaged today and Members are far more knowledgable that they used to be. Certainly the management of the Commons is far more professional than before. I don’t think Dan will ever have quite the same freedom as I did in the early days but it is still a wonderful job and I wish him much happiness and success.
The Commons have changed a lot in the last 30 years, with many new clearances and glades opened up, a number of the beautiful sandstone outcrops like Edgcumbe and Happy Valley rocks re-exposed and quite a few of the old grazing ponds have been restored. The Friends of the Common have remained a very active group and their excellent maps and interpretive information panels have enhanced the visitor experience in recent years. The last few years have brought the Commons far greater footfall as lock-downs made people appreciate what is on their own doorstep. Visitor numbers are slowly returning to more normal levels but hopefully a lot more people now appreciate what a wonderful asset to the town the Commons are, and how important it is to support the Conservators in protecting them.
I will leave the Commons with mixed feelings. It is definitely the right time for me to go and for a new set of eyes to take over but I will miss not only the place but the many lovely people I meet up there. Almost all of the people I have met on the Common in the past thirty years have been in a good mood; why wouldn’t they be, they are out walking on the Common. There are not many jobs you can say that about!
The Commons are looking splendid as always, with everything in full leaf. There is a great display of Heath bedstraw in the grass below Wellington Rocks at the moment and the orchids are in full bloom near Cabbage Stalk Lane. I hope they are still showing when we are judged for Britain in Bloom in the coming weeks. It won’t be long before our Lime trees flower, making a walk through the Victoria Grove a wonderfully fragrant experience on a Summer’s evening. Download a copy of the Friends’ excellent maps from our website www.twcommons.org, or ask at CurlyVera’s coffee van, The Forum, Daily Bread or The Venture (amongst many other places holding copies of our map) for a printed copy and go and explore. It is a fascinating place and the closer you look, the more fascinating it becomes.