Colliers Moss in Parr, St.Helens has been transformed from a no-go area to a thriving community woodland. With a grant of £50,000 from the Cory Environmental Trust, through the Landfill Communities Fund, a series of access improvements have been made to the 136 acre site.
Colliers Moss is a former colliery tip that had been abandoned for many years. Carl Smethurst, Project Manager at The Mersey Forest said: "When we first saw the site, the main entrances were badly overgrown and a mosaic feature buried under weeds and mud. Pitwheel Bridge – originally an iconic and prominent feature of the site - was also obscured and the site was neglected and uninviting."
Over the past year entrance ways have been given a make-over, as well as improvements made to more than a mile of footpaths to encourage greater use. In addition there has been a programme of clearing back vegetation from the paths which have been unmanaged for many years.
Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, hopes the project will help to provide a facility where local people can feel safe, be active, connect with nature and come together as a community. Colliers Moss sits at the heart of Bold Forest Park – a cluster of restored green spaces that have the potential to contribute to the economic welfare of the area whilst providing a host of social and environmental benefits.
He said: "We are extremely grateful to Cory Environmental Trust in Britain for supporting the Colliers Moss Access Project. Without support of this kind we really are in danger of losing such a great asset right next to our community."
Angela Haymonds, of Cory Environmental Trust in Britain said: "Colliers Moss is a wonderful resource and the Trustees of Cory Environmental Trust in Britain saw this project as an important opportunity to make the site feel safe and more accessible, thus encouraging the local community to actively make use of it and enjoy nature on their doorsteps."
A Family Nature Day was held in May 2016 to celebrate the completion of major works, opening it up for public enjoyment. Family activities on the day included fairy headdress-making, flower and fungi foraging, Nordic walking and a bird box quiz. Event-goers also made some refreshing and healthy drinks on the ever-popular 'smoothie bike'.
The event was also a chance for residents to give their feedback on the improvements, and to get involved in the planning of future activities at the green space. Feedback from visitors to the event was very positive with many commenting that they rarely or never used to use the site, but since the improvements many of them had become regular visitors.
A new Friends group is now getting off the ground with local residents helping to look after the site, as well as helping to develop new initiatives aimed at increasing the benefits of this green space for the area. Many of the local community are keen to resurrect the site's value as a venue for art, music and theatre.
If you would like to get involved with the Friends Group please see here.