Future of Newcastle’s Parks, Jesmond Dene, 11th March

Because of forthcoming budget cuts Newcastle City Council is currently running a consultation exercise regarding the future of Newcastle’s parks, and one of the events will be held at the Jesmond Dene Visitor Centre. The Newcastle Parks Engagement programme started on 13th February runs through until 21st April and visits Jesmond Dene on 11th March.

Parks are a critical part of the city’s green infrastructure, and an important attraction when it comes to appealing to new visitors, new residents, businesses and students, says the programme.

But, there’s likely to be less money to fund them in the years ahead.

“Over the past seven years, our parks budget has reduced by over 90 percent,” says a statement from the council, “meaning that finding new ways of financing and running the city’s parks is essential.”

The council stresses it want to keep parks in public ownership, and that they should remain free to use.

“We have been working with the National Trust, benefitting from their experience of preserving our national heritage and parks, to help us work out a way forward,” says the council. “In particular, we have been researching the possibility of transferring the operation, delivery and maintenance of a large proportion of the city’s parks, and potentially allotments, to a new Charitable Trust.”

The council says this is a “work in progress”, and the engagement programme aims to hear YOUR views.

You can started by visiting letstalknewcastle.co.uk, and completing a short online survey. This will direct you to a more in-depth discussion at: letstalkparks.co.uk. The ‘Explore’ section of this website is due to go live on Monday, 13th March. This part of the engagement programme is being delivered in association with Newcastle University’s Open Lab.

11th March, 11am to 3pm, Jesmond Dene Visitor Centre

Ouseburn Parks Events, October to December

Sunday 14 October 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bulb Planting and Autumn Nature Trail
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and plant some bulbs to take home with you and nurture. You can also take part in our Autumn Nature Trail around the Dene and an Autumn Scavenger Hunt. There will be a £1.50 charge for the bulb planting. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 14 October 1.30 – 3.30pm
‘Minor Discoveries’ presents Autumnal Artistry
Led by Hive arts Company
Colemans Field, Jesmond Dene (in front of Pets’ Corner)
Visit our mobile workshop to create your own leaf prints and autumnal designs using some scavenged inspiration. There will be a £1 charge to cover the cost of materials.
(If wet – will be moved inside Visitor Centre)

Saturday 27th October 1pm – 3pm
Halloween Family Treasure Hunt
Free event run by Sustrans
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along for an adventure to find the treasure and dodge the ghouls. Everyone who comes in fancy dress will get a special prize. There will also be pumpkin soup for participants, if you arrive early enough!

Saturday 27 October 5.30 -8pm
Halloween Pumpkins and Walk
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along and carve a pumpkin lanterns. We will then go for an evening walk through the Dene to see what we can find. There may be eyes watching us from all sorts of places!! We’ll return to the Visitor Centre for a hot chocolate and pumpkin soup. There will be a charge of £4 per child and £1 per adult. Minimum age 5 years. Booking essential, please call the Rangers to book your place and for more information 2812082.

Monday 29 October 1 – 3 pm
Bulb Planting and Autumn Nature Trail
Heaton Park – The Pavilion
Come and plant some bulbs to take home with you and nurture. You can also take part in our Autumn Nature Trail around the Dene and an Autumn Scavenger Hunt. There will be a £1.50 charge for the bulb planting. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Tuesday 30 October 1 – 3pm
Halloween Crafts
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and join the Northumberland Wildlife Trust to make a scary pumpkin, nature mask, and a tree spirit! Also follow the spooky wildlife trail. Booking essesntial. Free for all members. Suggested donation of £2.50 per child for non-members or free if join membership today. Recommended minimum age 5 years. Phone NWT on (0191) 2846884 for more information and to book your place.

Wednesday 31 October 1 – 3pm
Animals are Afraid!
Pets’ Corner, Jesmond Dene
Pets’ Corner has been invaded by Halloween ghosts, bats and spiders. Come along to hunt for the unwanted guests and make a Halloween hat, but please don’t scare the animals! This is a drop in event. Contact the Visitor Centre for more information on (0191) 2812082

Thursday 1 November 1 – 3pm
Dream Catchers
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and join the Northumberland Wildlife Trust to make a native American Dream Catcher. Free for all members. Suggested donation of £2.50 per child for non-members or free if join membership today. Recommended minimum age 5 years. Phone NWT on (0191) 2846884 for more information and to book your place.

Saturday 10th November 1pm and 2.15pm
Stabiliser free and smoothie bike
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Would you child like to learn to cycle? Then book onto this hour long session which has fantastic success rates. Please take off stabilisers and pedals beforehand, but bring the pedals with you in a bag. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 24 November 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bird Feeders
Heaton Park – The Pavilion
The colder weather is here and the birds need all the help they can get. Why not come and make a bird feeder, and get some tips on easy ways to feed the birds over the winter. There is a £2 charge to cover the cost of materials. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 25 November 1.30 – 3.30pm
Bird Feeders
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
The colder weather is here and the birds need all the help they can get. Why not come and make a bird feeder, and get some tips on easy ways to feed the birds over the winter. There is a £2 charge to cover the cost of materials. Contact the Rangers for more information on 2812082.

Sunday 25 November 4pm
Be safe be seen cycle ride
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along to brighten up your bike for the dark winter nights. We will be giving away reflective gear and selling lights just before the short ride and games through the Dene. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 8 December 2pm
Jingle Bell ride and storytelling with mince pies
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come along for a Christmas story and family cycle through the Dene. The ride will include an opportunity to decorate a tree, so please bring any old Christmas decoration that you can contribute. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential. Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.

Saturday 15 December 10am – 12pm
Christmas Wreaths
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and have a go at making your own Christmas Wreath. All materials will be provided but if you have a pair of secateurs, please bring them with you. Places are limited; book early to ensure your place, 2812082 and for more information. There will be a charge of £7.50 (includes refreshments). This is an event for adults, so no under 16s.

Sunday 16 December 1 – 3.30 pm
Family Festive Fun
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
A joint event with the Volunteers, Friends of Jesmond Dene and the Rangers. Come and try your hand at making some simple Christmas decorations from natural and recycled materials. There will be a charge of £2/£1 for the decorations. There will also be Christmas Carols, light refreshments, tombolas and raffles. This is a drop in event. For more information please contact the Rangers on 2812082.

Tuesday 18 December 10 – 12pm
Christmas Wreaths
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre (next to Millfield House Café)
Come and have a go at making your own Christmas Wreath. All materials provided but if you have a pair of secateurs please bring them with you. Places are limited; book early to ensure your place, 2812082 and for more information. There will be a charge of £7.50 (includes refreshments). This is an event for adults, so no under 16s.

Saturday 26 January 1pm
New year, new bike, new you! (including Dr Bike cycle repairs)
Free event
Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre, Jesmond Dene (next to Millfield House Café)
An opportunity for the whole family to learn how to safety check a bike and start the New Year with a short ride through the Dene. Children (under 16 years) must be accompanied by an adult. Booking essential Please contact emma.cockburn@sustrans.org.uk to book this.
M Steel Cycles will be servicing bikes for free from 1pm-3pm.

Sunday 27 January 1 – 3.30pm
Past Present and Future Walk
Jesmond Dene
Explore the history of Jesmond Dene, on this guided walk in the company of volunteers who are passionate about the parks. Booking essential. For booking, meeting place and more information phone (0191) 281 2082.

Wanna be the Simon King of Jesmond Dene?

BBC TV cameras are often down in the Dene filming the abundant flora and fauna, with the resulting footage appearing on programmes such as Springwatch. If you want to be the next Simon King, wildlife film maker extraordinaire, you ought to grab this chance of a free film-making course. Jesmond Dene ranger Michael Hancock has secured a limited number of places on a professional film making course and by the end of the course – with all equipment provided – you’ll have shot two, 5-minute films starring the wildlife of Jesmond Dene.

Alternatively the films could be about Jesmond Dene’s history, or today’s volunteering efforts, or anything really. The films will be shown on a loop in the visitor centre and will also be loaded to YouTube for the world to see.

The training will cover the theory of planning a film and conducting interviews (or recording wildlife sounds) as well as the technical aspects of using cameras, and editing. Taking place over ten days – on weekends – the courses will start in mid-October and will be hosted in the visitor centre. 8-10 places are up for grabs. The training will be conducted by Duffel Films of Heaton.

Tel: 0191 2812082

michael.hancock@newcastle.gov.uk

SCHEDULE

Introductory Weekend (2 days)
• Introduction to documentary film material
• Camera operation; automatic and manual settings
• Shots, sequences and composition
• Logging shots
• Directing and interview techniques
• Sound recording
• Basic introduction to editing with Final Cut

Pre-Production Weekend (2 days)
• Devising, and sharing ideas – considering a brief
• Scripting ideas
• Shot lists
• Equipment, logistics
• Scheduling
• Testing ideas

Filming (2 days filming carried out within a two-week period by each group)
• Filming of shots
• Recording sound
• Interviews where appropriate

Edit weekend (2 days) – rough edit
• Capturing and digitising footage
• Offline editing; construction of film on the timeline

Edit – finishing off (1 day)
• Sound balance (correcting levels)
• Colour grade (matching shots with each other and balancing colours)
• Adding credits and logos to the film
• Exporting finished film files for online platforms and DVDs

Job cuts will impact on Jesmond Dene. 2500 signatures needed to make Newcastle City Council reconsider

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Newcastle City Council propose to reduce the Countryside Ranger team from 8 to 4. We have created an e-petition on the council website asking the council to reconsider this proposal.

The wording of the Friends of Jesmond Dene petition is:

We the undersigned petition the council to reconsider the proposal to cut the number of Countryside Rangers from 8 to 4 and to keep the number of staff unchanged.

If approved, this proposal would have a serious impact on the countryside and wildlife around Newcastle. There will also be a reduction in the number of events organised for members of the public, both adults and children.

With fewer Countryside Rangers, and a reduction in the work done by groups of volunteers under the supervision of the Rangers, the Newcastle Parks are likely to enter a period of slow but inevitable decline, with inadequate management of their varied habitats and less positive management for its wildlife. There is also likely to be both an increase in littering and vandalism and a delay in dealing with these problems when they occur.

The health and well-being of the people of Newcastle will be adversely affected by this proposal.

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If you agree with these sentiments, please sign the petition.

The steps are:

1 Register, supplying name, address, email address and a password (8 or more characters including at least one digit).

2 Wait for an activation email and click on a link in the email to activate your account (you may have to wait a few hours for the email).

3 Log in with your name and password and sign the petition.

2,500 signatures are required for the Council to reconsider, and all objections must be lodged by 14th February. Please pass on this petition to friends, family and colleagues who are also interested in the future of Jesmond Dene.

LILIAN LOVELOCK
On behalf of The Friends of Jesmond Dene Committee

New visitor centre & Ouseburn bridge officially opened today

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The recently completed visitor centre at Jesmond Dene, designed by local architects Mosedale Gillatt, was officially opened today. A plaque unveiling was carried out by Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North-East.

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Eco-friendly features of the elegant new building include a sedum roof, a rainwater-collection tank supplying water to the toilets, a super-efficient heating system and a recycling area. Sensitive use of materials, such as Siberian larch – which weathers to a bleached grey – and the understated character of the building combine to create a pleasing harmony with the natural surroundings.

The glass-fronted building provides information and displays about the history and natural history of Jesmond Dene. Incorporating the existing buildings of Millfield House, the site includes a classroom, a new café, outdoor terraced seating area, and improved disabled access.

The visitor ventre, footbridge and buildings in Pets’ Corner have been shortlisted for the RICS renaissance awards in the following two categories, Tourism and Leisure and Regeneration under the title Contemporary Structures in Ouseburn Parks. The winner will be announced in mid-April.

The visitor centre, and the rest of the Ouseburn Parks project, was majority-funded by a National Lottery Fund grant.

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Also officially opened today was the new Ouseburn bridge, a steel pedestrian bridge across the Ouseburn, passing underneath (and at 90 degrees to) the existing Armstrong Bridge.

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Pets’ corner opened in time for half term week and thousands of visitors have seen the new collection of animals.

Jesmond dene children's play area plans

A new children’s play area near Millfield House will be completed by Easter.

Other improvements taking place now include landscaping around the ruin of Adam’s Camera. This has now been cleared of trees and is visible from Heaton Road. A curvy path will be installed to give access to the scenic ruin.

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All these developments would have no doubt been welcomed by Sir William and Lady Armstrong, who in 1883 gave more than 80 acres of Jesmond Dene to the people of Newcastle in perpetuity. The Armstrongs had lived in the dene since their marriage in 1835 and built themselves a house there.

As the years went by, the Armstrongs acquired more and more land in the dene and landscaped it to reflect their ideal of a wild rural setting.

More Jesmond Dene pix here.

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Jesmond Dene spring nearly sprung

Ouseburn Parks Visitor Centre opens for Christmas activities

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There have been a number of craft-based events at the new Ouseburn Parks visitor centre, connected to Milfield House, including a session for adults making Christmas wreathes and a session for younger visitors making yuletide table decorations and other items.

The new visitor centre has walls adorned with pictorial panels describing the history and wildlife of Jesmond Dene.

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More winter pix at base of here.