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News from Leigh Woods




We all enjoyed the return of The Tour of Britain, albeit for about 2 minutes, as it passed through Leigh Woods on its way into the countryside and back again. Watching them speed-toiling up Rownham Hill and then Burwalls was exhausting!

The hot Summer brought the ever present threat of fires closer to us than was comfortable. With the woods on our doorstep the National Trust put out warnings and gave us telephone numbers to call should we see anything suspicious or any sign of a fire.  We would have been very vulnerable had a fire caught hold: luckily it didn’t happen.  Carole, the Head Ranger says:  “Leigh Woods is a National Nature Reserve  (NNR), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with four distinct areas: historic wood pasture, ancient woodland, Stokeleigh Camp (Iron-Age Hill Fort) and Burwalls Wood. Part of what makes this site so special is the 390 veteran and ancient trees. In simple terms, an ancient tree is always old. A veteran tree shows features of ancientness at a much younger age. These features are incredibly important for a range of organisms including fungi, lichens, bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), invertebrates, bats and birds. Each tree has its own ecosystem and can be host to thousands of individuals. Over the summer the rangers had a tough time dealing with many fires which are not permitted on this highly designated site. One in particular incident saw a 400+ year old oak burnt to the ground overnight.  We are now trying to raise awareness of the sensitivity of the site so that this can be avoided in the future.”


We were saddened to hear that there is a very real possibility that this railway will cease to operate following the end of the end of the 2018 season. Bristol City Council were proposing not to renew the lease on this site as they intend to use the land for alternative activities.  Following an outcry from the general public, we understand they have been given a stay of execution for one year only.  There is no security beyond the end of 2019. Bristol Society of Model Engineers is a volunteer run, charity based, organisation that has built and operated this railway over the last 45 years. Over this time, it has given countless hours of enjoyment to the wider community in and around the city of Bristol. The railway needs our support. Please help by signing the petition and encourage everyone you know who care about community organisations such as this one.  www.bristolmodelengineers.co.uk

The Suspension Bridge toll booth:  planning permission has now been granted but the final designs are still awaiting approval. The appointed contractors are Beard Construction, a local company, who were involved in the SS Great Britain project amongst other heritage projects.  During Open Doors weekend long queues built up waiting to explore under the Bridge. Rediscovered in 2002, the vaulted chambers in the Leigh Woods Abutment are an atmospheric piece of Brunelian engineering. Intrepid adventurers (over 7 years old) could don a hard hat, descend a ladder and peek through the door into Vault 4.  

We are still awaiting the Police Survey to see whether we qualify as a Speed Watch area.  We hope to hear soon.  We are looking forward to meeting our new Beat Officer, Phil Rudden.

WW1 Commemoration:  we, in Leigh Woods, are looking forward to joining with our neighbours in Long Ashton to remember the fallen from the Parish on this special Armistice Day.

Also this Autumn we are celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Consecration of St Mary’s Leigh Woods.  A service, by invitation, be will be held on the 18th October. Events to end 2018: a Quiz Night will be held on the 15th November and our annual Christmas Party on 4th December.  Please refer to The Link for more details.

Angela Probyn

Leigh Woods is close to the village of Abbots Leigh whose website is