Historic hedge gets rework 150 years after it was planted

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A long-forgotten hawthorn hedge in South Tyneside is set to bloom again – more than 150 years after it was planted.

The 60m stretch of hedge was discovered at the West Boldon Lodge environmental education centre by learners taking a woodland management course.

It was lying parallel and adjacent to an old ditch once used, together with the hedge, to deter livestock from venturing beyond.

However, it had been overshadowed and plunged into shade for years by faster-growing aspen and poplar trees.

Researchers with Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, the charity that runs the site, found the hedge on an 1853 map online.

Work to provide light and better growing conditions has now been carried out by Groundwork staff and woodland management learners.

Course tutor Tony Cutter said: “As well as gaining some basic forestry skills and an insight into woodland management, the learners have uncovered a little piece of the borough’s agricultural heritage.

“They have all enjoyed the course, and it seems their only regret is that the course has now come to an end.

“To put its age into historical context, notable events of the same period include the laying of the foundation stone of the Houses of Parliament, in 1840, the first wagon train arriving in California in 1841, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1864.”

Andrew Watts, executive director of Groundwork in the borough, added: “This is a thrilling discovery and highlights the huge educational benefits of the courses run at West Boldon Lodge.

For more information about the centre, call 536 4873 or visit www.groundwork.org.uk