The Long Eaton & Sawley Archive  
Home > Welcome > West Park

The original establishment of a major open space for the enjoyment of the people of Long Eaton began in 1905 when 17 acres of land was bought for the sum of 2,650. The land was drained and laid out under the supervision of the surveyor, thus providing the nucleus of what we now know as West Park.

The entrance to the original park, first known as the "King's Ground", was rather inconveniently placed in Princess Street and in 1912 a further 8 acres of land was purchased from the Earl of Harrington taking the eastern boundary up to the Erewash Canal. In 1913 a footbridge was opened giving access from Broad Street to the, newly named, West Park. By 1915 an agreement had been reached which provided a further entrance from Leopold Street.

A further extension to the park was considered in the 1920s which, on reaching maturity in 1928 added an extra 37 acres and placed the western boundary on Wilsthorpe Road. In 1932 a pair of wrought iron gates, purchased from Aston Hall at Aston-On-Trent, were subsequently erected at the Wilsthorpe Road entrance. They still provide the imposing western entrance today.

1949 saw the purchase of another 65 acres of land to the south of the park including the Spinney known as Fox Covert, so increasing the area of the park to its present total of 127 acres.
Tree Trail
Over the last few years, a "Tree Trail" has been incorporated into the park for the pleasure of visitors. This mile long trail will take approximately 1 hour to complete...

Copper Beech Introduced from Europe pre-1700, it originates from Switzerland and legend has it that the red leaved tree sprang up where five brothers were murdered.
Atlas Cedar Native to the Atlas Mountains in Algeria and Morocco. It was introduced to Britain in 1841.
London Plane A hybrid tree coming from the Oriental and the American Planes arising around 1650 in S. Europe. First planted in England about 1680 in Surrey.
Oriental Plane Native to Crete and the Balkan Mountains. Originates since ancient times. Its introduction to Britain is lost in early records.
Norway Maple Introduced to Britain around 1680, this particular purple leaved species appeared in 1870.
Crack Willow Native to England spreading north to Perthshire. Commonly found across Europe to West Siberia and Persia.
Red Oak Native to E. Canada and N.E. USA. The largest and most common of the American Oaks in Britain. Introduced in 1724.
Purple-Leaved Plum A common small tree grown in town gardens and parks. This tree is an offshoot from the green leaved variety discovered sometime before 1880.
Locust Tree (The False Acacia) Native to the Appalachian Mountains. Introduced to S. England in 1636, but is uncommon in N. Scotland and Ireland.
Whitebeam A commonly planted tree in England and across Central and S. Europe. Given its name by the Anglo-Saxons who used it as a boundary marker.
White Willow Native all over Britain except N.W. Scotland. It can be identified by its smaller grey-blue leaf which is silky white underneath.
Deodar Cedar Its native habitat is the W. Himalayas. It has religious significance by being known as "Tree Of God". Introduced to Britain in 1831.
Grey Poplar Commonly found all across Britain and Europe, probably introduced by some of the first settlers after the ice ages. Grows best in chalk and Limestone country. Female trees are rare; male trees have a purplish tint in February.
Hawthorn Native to Britain, and all of Europe. It is the most common hedge and scrub plant. It grows very slowly but is very long lived.
Broadleaf Cockspurthorn An obscure hybrid. A fairly new variety as it has only been planted for some 30 years, usually in parks and gardens.
Common Ash A native to all parts of the British Isles, Europe and Asia.
Silver Maple Introduced to Britain in 1725 from S.E. Canada. Frequently found in large gardens and parks.
Silver Birch Native to Britain, Europe and Asia. Stems from pagan times where the Celtic and Germanic tribes believed this tree to be holy.
Rowan (Mountain Ash) Native to Britain, Europe, and North Africa. Can grow up to 20 metres in height. It has been connected with witchcraft since ancient times. Its name is thought to be derived from the Norse "Runa" meaning "Charm".
Single Leaf Ash A variant of the common Ash, common in city and town parks.
Sycamore Common in Central Europe and Britain. Introduced around 1550 but possibly originates from Roman times.
Cappadocian Maple Originates from Asia and the Himalayan Mountains into China. Introduced to Britain in 1838 and found in large parks and gardens. Less common in Scotland.
Violet Willow Found across Britain and Europe. Introduced into Britain in 1829.
Scots Pine Native to Scotland, being the only native Pine in Britain. Also found in Spain.
White Birch Native to Britain, Europe and N. Asia. Also found in abundance in the Scottish Islands, but rarely planted in parks and gardens.
Common Oak Native to Britain and all across Europe. This long lived tree provides both shelter and food for wildlife.
Horse Chestnut Contrary to popular belief this tree is not native to Britain. It originates from the mountains in Greece and was not grown in W. Europe until 1600. Planted in public places since 1820.
Black Poplar Native of Britain and across Europe. A very large tree that can reach a height of 30 metres.
Common Lime Origin uncertain, probably a hybrid between the small leaved and the broad leaved Lime trees. Can grow up to 46 metres in height.

West Park Railway
The West Park Railway (or Wilsthorpe Light Railway) was built and run by a group of enthusiasts as an off-shoot of the Long Eaton and District Model Railway Club around 1964. It extended for a length of about 400 yards on West Park, Long Eaton, by agreement of the (then) Long Eaton Urban District Council. Funding was through an ingenious scheme whereby residents of Long Eaton were invited to subscribe 5/- (25p) in advance of the scheme, being given a transferable voucher giving entitlement to five free journeys when the railway was opened.

Gauge was nominal 2 foot. Original motive power was a Ruston diesel loco (cannot recall date of build or exact specification). This was purchased from British Gypsum who had previously used it on the narrow gauge industrial system in one of their mines near Gotham, Notts. Original rolling stock consisted of two open "Manriders" long wheelbase four-wheeler steel-frame vehicles with (I think) four compartments, each seating four (or at a pinch 6) on wooden latted seats. These were purchased from the National Coal Board at Morton colliery near Chesterfield, Derbys.

Rails were bought second hand from British Rail (extracted from H-Stores, on the sight of Railway Technical Centre - extracted from their concrete setting with a pneumatic drill!) and also from a scrapyard at Loughborough. Sleepers and ballast were bought second hand from British Rail, the sleepers being cut in two. A second loco was purchased from Beeston (Nottingham) sewage works. This was a Lister-Blackstone diesel, and was much easier to crank-start than the Ruston, which was an absolute pig - very heavy to swing, and requiring a gymnastic movement at arms' length to flick the compression levers at the right moment.

Ticketing was by proper "Edmondson" card type tickets (printed by Hassell & Lucking of Long Eaton) using a second hand dating press and ticket racks bought from British Rail in a sale of surplus materials. (Remember this was in the days just after Beeching). Owing to various problems the original operating personnel withdrew, and new people took over around 1970. The line was subsequently rebuilt to (I think) 7.1/4 inch gauge and ran in this condition for a year or two before being dismantled.
Information kindly supplied by Jim Ford

Fox Covert
Fox Covert was for many years a very under-used asset to an otherwise very well used recreational park. However, with good management, the Borough Council has developed the site to provide an important leisure and educational asset for the local community. Strolling through the fox covert offers people a rare opportunity to see unspoilt countryside within a short distance of Long Eaton's busy town centre.

As early as the 17th century, documentary evidence shows the site as being arable land within an area known as 'Hoselett Field'. In 1819 Fox Covert was owned by Lord Harrington of Elvaston Castle who leased the site to a local family of builders. At that time it was known as 'Brick Kiln Close', and it was a source of good clay for the local brick makers. But once the brick making had ceased, the area was planted up by the Harrington Estate to provide cover for foxes. The Fox Covert was purchased in 1949 by the Long Eaton Urban District Council. Because the Fox Covert site is in a low-lying permanently damp area, it survived in its semi-natural state whilst the rest of West Park was designed for more traditionally recreational pursuits.

The area is part of the River Trent flood plain, the soils built up of river sediment consist mainly of heavy clay with small pockets of sand and silt. The water table is high so therefore natural drainage is very slow. Depressions formed by the extraction of clay involved in brick making, often have standing water, even during the summer months. In winter the area is likely to be more extensively flooded.

Although the whole of Fox Covert has, in some way been influenced by man, the most obvious sign of human interference is the flood bank which splits the site into two parts. This was constructed in 1982 and is designed to protect Long Eaton from exceptional flooding. West Park is the main flood drainage storage area for the town with any flood water first directed into the marshland habitat in the south east corner of the Fox Covert site.

The Fox Covert has an abundance of wildlife, particularly as it is so close to the centre of Long Eaton. It is classed as a Grade 1 site on the Biological Sites Register for Derbyshire, which means it is significantly important within the county. The site is of special importance because it has remained relatively undisturbed and contains a variety of habitats within a small area.

The marshland next to the Erewash Canal contains the colourful Yellow Iris and Purple Loosestrife. The central wet, Willow woodland is particularly important for both insects and Lichens, with a number of old trees providing nesting sites for birds. Flowers that are found within the damper areas include Ragged Robin, Tufted Forget-Me-Not and the very scented Meadow Sweet. On the drier ground Willows are replaced by Oak, Hawthorn and Elder. Plants such as Bramble, Dog Rose and Honeysuckle provide nesting sites for visiting birds such as Whitethroat and Blackcap, as well as the resident Song Thrush, Dunnock and Wren. Open grassland contains mature Hawthorns which are attractive to Warblers and other birds passing through on migration.

The Carved Tree
Environmental artist Andrew Frost has carved and shaped this Black Poplar tree, which was damaged during the galeforce winds of February 2000. It depicts the character of Rapunzel from the fairytale throwing down her hair to the knight who has come to rescue her.The project was commissioned by Groundwork Erewash on behalf of Erewash Council, at a cost of 1,500. The tree stands close by the bowling green on West Park. Below are some photographs taken just after the carving had been completed.

Home > Welcome > West Park

Search our site: