Creating a Natural Environment in the Heart of Clitheroe.
Primrose Community Nature Trust owns and manages the Primrose Nature Reserve for the benefit of the community and wildlife. It is perhaps the most exciting development of a community space in the town since the Castle Grounds were purchased by the Council in 1920. Despite being severely neglected, the site is already listed as a Biological Heritage Site. The extensive restoration work has now been carried out by the Ribble Rivers Trust making this a beautiful natural sanctuary for wildlife that includes walkway and bridges that connect Whalley Road to Woone Lane. The Dam has been made safe and prepared for the installation of the longest Alaskan A fish pass in England. There are plenty of community projects that require volunteers, so if you can help, please register your interest at the bottom of this page.
Primrose Community Nature Trust
We are a not-for-profit organization supported by donations from the previous owner of the land, Beck Developments and the Ribble Valley Borough Council. We are delighted to have been awarded charitable status by the Charities Commission.
We have 3 principal objectives:
To conserve and rehabilitate the lodge for environmental protection and make improvements for the benefit of the natural environment and the public.
To advance the education of the public, schools and associations for the understanding of the lodge, including its fauna, flora, biodiversity and river catchment management.
To create an accessible Public Open Space for the enjoyment of the community.
Fish pass & dam works
The dam was considered to be in poor condition, and this was confirmed during the works. It has now been made safe, and the fish pass installed. The works have been carried out under the management and direction of Ribble Rivers Trust by the specialist contractor Baily’s. It will now be monitored to ensure it is operating as expected. It is 44 metres in length, but the fish will have resting pools as they make their way up to the lodge. The new arrangement will ensure that in normal times, the water level in the lodge will be stabilised.
Over many years the lodge has trapped the silt washed down from upstream largely from quarrying activity and natural erosion. 4,000 cubic metres of silt was removed and placed behind new banking that was constructed using a well-tested technique of "brash bundle receptors”. The willows around the lodge have been coppiced, and some used in the construction of the brash bundles. The site was heavily overgrown, and many trees unsafe or suffering from Ash Dieback. These have been either felled or coppiced. Habitat piles have been created around the site for the benefit of wildlife, and some trees have been left with a standing trunk for birds and insects to enjoy.
A walkway now connects Whalley Road, close to the town centre, to Woone Lane, close to George Street's junction. It has step-free access and suitable for wheelchairs, prams and buggies, and the Monet bridges are a lovely and key feature of the walk. An observation deck provides an uninterrupted view of the lodge with an interpretation board showing the wildlife to be seen. Already we are witnessing a wide variety and number of water birds on the open water.
A high kerb has replaced the roadside wall that borders Woone Lane, and chestnut pale fence is backed by hedging that will grow over the next few years.
There has been an enormous quantity of litter that has built up on the site over the years, and volunteers are steadily clearing this. It will remain a regular problem as people in Clitheroe continue to discard litter, but our army of volunteers will be ready for the task.
With further fundraising, we plan to extend the walkway to provide a full circular walk around the lodge. There are also many educational projects we hope to run with local schools that can participate in monitoring the ecology and in wildlife surveys - but we expect that many of the best ideas will come from the community.
In a recent survey, 231 species of plants and trees were identified and 28 species of birds. Only a few mammals were recorded, but one future project is to ensure the habitat will encourage water voles to find this a place to flourish.
“The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.”
Pendle Hill dominates Clitheroe to the East and is the source of Mearley Brook from which the lodge was formed. It was created to supply the adjacent Primrose Mill, opened for cotton spinning in 1787. It was only the second major mill to be built in the area after the one at Low Moor. They marked the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in Clitheroe and as such were important landmarks in the area. Subsequently, Primrose Mill was used for calico printing and later became a paper mill. Meanwhile, Mearley Brook had become an important source of water power for a series of smaller mills built along its banks. However, the paper mill at Primrose had a relatively short life, being closed by 1890, but the lodge continued to feed the nearby Lower Mill which ultimately became a bleaching and dying works and continued to operate until 1963. The lodge prevented upstream migration of a number of aquatic species and has created artificial sediment downstream. It is now redundant so the next chapter is to address these issues for the greater benefit of wildlife.
You can make a difference
Your support is vital to our work at Primrose Community Nature Trust. There are many ways you can contribute - for as much or as little of your time and your skills as you can manage. We are also looking for community-minded individuals and companies to become local heroes and join us as PCNT Partners to support the projects we hope to run. Every contribution will help us to fulfil our mission. Learn more about how you can get involved and take advantage of the opportunity to make a real difference to our wonderful community.
Volunteer your time
Register so we can contact you
Learning through experience
Partner with us
Help us soar