Railway Fields – ” a lifetime of interest”

Recently our most venerable & respected local conservationist, David Bevan, spoke at Stroud Green Library about Railway Fields, its history, humans who helped make it what it is, and the wild plants and animals who live there. Highlights –
David said ‘Railway Fields can present a lifetime of interest. It’s the most wonderful resource’. Did you know –
The railway opened 1868, so now 150 years old
• Forerunner of David Bevan (Conservation Manager) was David Hope (well named!)
• David Bevan arrived 1989; David Perry also involved (so many Davids…)
• The Council had a community centre there in 1980, building was burnt down
• 1985 Mural of steam engine on wall, later got replaced by doctor’s surgery!

• Railways and their edges are a route for plants & animals to get about
• Ditto the New River which runs along one side of RF
• So Railway Fields is an ecological corridor
• The True Service Tree seeded itself into the hedge
• Originally RF was a coal yard, some chalk also stored
• Speckled wood butterfly feeds not on nectar but honeydew!
• The pond was dug in 1987, white liner protects black liner
• Pond a success – 7 kinds of dragonfly
• Top of food chain at pond is the heron

• The original gate was covered in white bryony
• No one knows where it came from
• Jan Wilson raised money for the wrought iron gate
• It was made by Heather Burrell (of later Olympic Park fame)
• Heather walked the site with David
• And incorporated plants & animals of site into the design
• These include a strange geranium discovered by David Bevan’s father
• And field maple tree, butterfly, fox, Haringey knotweed etc
• Haringey knotweed new to science, discovered by David 1987
• It’s also known as Railway Knotweed
• It only flowered once, in 1987 cos it’s got shaded by trees
• It dies back when frost come
• It is the only extant plant of its kind in England
• Stinking Iris or Gladden is a garden escape in London
• It also grows on the Parkland Walk
• Goldenrod had disappeared from London, appeared suddenly at RF (still there)
• The birches in front of the cabin planted 1981
• Guernsey fleabane used to grow near cabin
• Blackberries important to success of David’s summer programme for kids!
• 100 kinds of caterpillars feed on the hawthorn!
• Nest boxes need sterilisation to avoid harmful invertebrates getting in
• Rosebay willowherb supports the elephant hawk moth caterpillar
• David bred and reared moths and butterflies at RF
• The emperor moth used live there

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