Tag: beeston

Beeston Boxer Joe Hughes fighting in Nottingham this weekend

Beeston resident Joe Hughes is a professional boxer who will be fighting in only his second pro fight this weekend at Harvey Hadden Stadium.

Joe celebrates after winning his first pro fight

Joe, 22, won his first fight after just 50 seconds and will be hoping for a repeat of that result when he takes on Uzzy Ahmed from Birmingham on July 6th…

I had a chat with him recently to find out more about Beeston’s resident boxer ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

Could you tell me a little bit about how you got into boxing?

“Originally, I got into it when I was a youngster to get rid of a little bit of energy and to stop me misbehaving. Then I stopped doing it until I was 17. My Grandfather passed away with cancer so I signed up to have a charity boxing event and from there I just carried on with it. Last Christmas I signed professionally and had my pro debut in March.”

Who’s on your coaching team and do you have a trainer, who helps you with these fights?

“I train in Hyson Green. My coach is called Barrington Brown, he’s a former professional boxer himself. My assistant coach is Mark Howe, who is also a former professional, so two ex-professionals are now coaching me.

How did the fight come about and how was it organised?

“When you sign as a professional, you get a manager and you sign all your contracts with your promoter and he gave me a date for my debut which was on the 16th March. My manager organises who my opponent is. I just turn up, sell tickets and fight.”

L-R: Head trainer Barrington Brown, Manager Scott Calow and Assistant Trainer Mark Howell
Do you box full-time and how are your preparations going for the fight on Saturday?

“I train full-time and I work part-time for just 3 hours a day as a lifeguard. I’ve just been doing a lot of running, training twice a day, dieting and a lot of sparring work and just doing anything that my head coach tells me really.”

What are your future aspirations when it comes to boxing?

“A lot of boxers say this and I think it’s the best way to go about it, you’ve got to take every fight as the fight you’ve got in front of you, but I would say as a short term goal for the next year or two years would be to win an area title.”

Could you explain what an area title is?

“An area title would be the whole of the Midlands. Everyone in the Midlands competes for one title in my weight class which is super-featherweight, so if I work my way up the rankings then I could apply to have a shot at the title and hopefully win that. After that maybe defend it a couple of times and then move on to either the English or the British titles.”

Joe won his first fight by knock out after just 50 seconds
Who is your opponent and how many fights has he had before?

“The guy I’m fighting has had three fights and his record is two losses and one draw, so he’s looking for his first win.”

Tickets are available by contacting Joe on 07804732595 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jhboxing7/. Doors open at 6:30 pm with the first fight of the night at 7:30 pm.

IS

The Future’s Write: Amateur authors invited to write the next chapter of Beeston

If you’re reading this, you *probably* live in Beeston (although if you read the rest of this issue, you’ll find that’s not always the case). But, for those of you who live the majority of your life in this town, you’ll no doubt have thoughts and opinions of what you’d like the future of Beeston to hold. After all, this is the place we call home, it’s pretty important.

So if you’re a budding blogger, willing writer and far-sighted futurist as well as a proud Beestonian, you could see your name in print as part of a competition to write the next chapter in the rich history of Beeston.

To celebrate their 120th anniversary, the family owned, family run business CP Walker & Son commissioned local historian and writer David Hallam to help them to tell and celebrate the story of Beeston over the period 1896-2016. The book is organised with chapters covering each decade from the 1890s to the 2010s. Now, having chartered the history of Beeston, Rex and Dan Walker have created this competition to look at how the town might develop in the 2020s.

As Rex explains, “We are keen supporters of community projects and initiatives that benefit the local population. Our book charts the ups and indeed the downs that Beeston has faced during its history. However, we then thought, what happens next? We were chatting about the future of the town with the various developments going on and realised there’s a whole new chapter to write, perhaps even a couple. Who better to write them than local people like us who love their town? That’s where the competition idea came from.”

He continues: “Lots of people make New Year Resolutions to start writing or to rekindle their hobby, but getting published is too often out of reach. This a chance for people to share their ideas and their love for Beeston and to start a debate that will play a part in forming the next chapter of our town’s tale, perhaps even the next century.”

If reading this has got your brain stirring with thoughts of what the future could hold or how you could implement your brilliant vision on the town, and you’re just itching to get writing, then here’s what you need to know before you put pen to paper:

  • The competition is open to anyone with three age categories: Primary School, Secondary school and 16 plus.
  • There’s no word limit per se, but you’re advised to try and stick to around 1000 words maximum if possible.
  • Try and look to the future with a positive outlook, write something to stir the imagination and get people thinking about what comes next and how it can happen (We’re not talking pipe dreams here!)
  • Entries will be judged by an independent panel of local people, chaired by Rex Walker and featuring Editor in Chief of The Beestonian Matt Turpin, Phillipa Dytham-Double from Double Image Photography and David Hallam, author of ‘The Story of Beeston’.
  • The deadline is April 23rd and entries are preferred via email to nextchapter@cpwalker.co.uk
  • If providing a hard copy entry, please post them to CP Walker & Son or drop it in to their office.
  • Entrants must consent to having their work published and to taking part in any publicity around the competition should they win.
  • For more information, visit https://www.cpwalker.co.uk/pages/nextchapter or the dedicated Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/beestonthenextchapter.

This is a fantastic opportunity, so once you’ve extracted all the inspiration possible from reading the rest of this issue, get your future-thinking in gear, because you never know what it might lead to. Good luck, Beestonians!

JM

Frames and Spokes and Chains

Meet Beeston’s bicycle collector

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A famous Nottingham company that most people will know is Raleigh, who evolved and popularised the bicycle. Frank Bowden founded Raleigh in 1888, after acquiring a small cycle making workshop in Raleigh Street.  By 1896 Raleigh was the largest cycle manufacturer in the world with bikes produced at their much missed factory in Lenton, made famous of course through the Sillitoe novel ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’. Frank’s son Harold took over the business in 1921 and for a time lived at the manor house at Beeston Fields, now the golf club. Sadly the company folded in the late 1980s, and the site cleared for Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus.

Beeston of course had it’s own bicycle factory, the Humber Works, formed by Thomas Humber in 1878.  They also branched out into making motorbikes and cars. In 1932 Humber sold their cycle patents to Raleigh, with Humber Cars ceasing trading in 1967.

Like a lot of people then, we were quite poor, so I used to make up bikes from old parts.

Unlike cars, bicycles don’t seem to attract the same level of fascination. Maybe people view bikes as just being two wheels and a saddle. Fortunately there’s one man in Beeston that’s doing his best to preserve the history of the humble pushbike. I first met Paul Page last January, when he appeared as an ‘I Am Beeston’ subject. During our chat, I discovered his passion for bicycles and preserving their history. Paul recently invited me to his house to see his collection of bikes and memorabilia. Arriving, I noticed an old, rusty bike propped up by a garden shed. “This is a 1904 Sunbeam safety cycle,” enthused Paul. “Introduced to replace penny-farthings. Hence ‘safety cycle’”.  Inside his large workshop, were many bike frames hanging up, waiting to be assessed. He has around 14 musette bags. These are small logoed bags that riders use to carry tools and food. Of course there’s one with Sid Standard’s name on it. I had to ask him if he had met Beeston’s cycling legend. “Sadly not. I think he died before we came to live in Beeston. But I do have one of his bikes, a 1984 Superbe 541 that was built by Peter Riches”.

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Rows of bikes, many ridden by famous cyclists, boxes full of memorabilia, and of course the obligatory Christmas tree fight for space in the spacious loft. Paul directs me to what looks like an old army bike. “This is a prototype Raleigh military bike from 1943. 50 were made, but only 6 survive. I think this is the only unrestored one. It was so over engineered, that it wasn’t taken up”. Paul then shines a light into a corner, where an old trike sits. “This was raced by David Duffield in 1962, when he went from Lands End to John O’Groats”. I ask Paul what made him interested in cycling. “I used to cycle as a kid. Like a lot of people then, we were quite poor, so I used to make up bikes from old parts. My dad rode a Hetchins bike. Would love to have one of them in the collection. I’d also like something from Beeston’s Cycling Club, and a Raleigh jersey. Talking of Raleigh, I’m really keen to own something from their Specialist Products Division. With so many local people working for Raleigh, someone must have something lurking in their garage”.

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I was curious to know how Paul increases his collection. “It tends to be word of mouth. I also run an advert in Cycling Weekly. These bikes were designed to be used, and I try to make them road worthy. My wife Penny is a keen cyclist. We’ve ridden all over Europe. Sadly our children don’t share our enthusiasm, and will probably chuck the lot away when we go”. Back in Paul’s ‘man cave’, he shows me an old advertising sign for the Heart of the Midlands, now Rock City. “Something else I’ve saved from landfill”.

Paul obtained an ordinary looking gents Raleigh Popular bike in November, but it has a mystery attached to it. Purchased in Cardiff by David Thomas on 13th July 1935. Around the 11th February 1937, David disappeared. The bike had remained with the family until Paul purchased it. No one knows what happened to David. He was interested in ships, so may have gone to sea, losing his life during WW2. Or he just fancied doing a ‘Reggie Perrin’ and becoming something more exciting than an accounts clerk.

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Paul has a truly wonderful collection of cycling history and it’s a great shame that more don’t have the opportunity of seeing it. Beeston therefore needs a ‘museum of cycling’, so that Paul’s collection can be displayed properly.

If anyone has anything to do with vintage cycling that they’d like to offer Paul, then please get in touch through the Beestonian’s Facebook page. Of course if anyone can offer a large space that would be suitable for a museum, then we’d really love to hear from you too.

Words and photography by Christopher Frost

The Bean at Twenty

How The Bean reached 20

Coffee shops and Beeston have become synonymous over the last few years. It’s become a caffeine-lovers hotspot, and although some grumps seem to think this is a negative most Beestonians recognise it as a sign of a strong town: if enough local, largely-independent businesses can survive on the disposable incomes of residents, we’re doing alright.

Hipsters and their caffeinated contemporaries would be shocked to know that just a mere 20 years ago, a cappuccino was as exotic as it’d get and the default coffee was a cup of bitter Nescafe. The café that ushered in this new era back in the late nineties was The Bean. To mark 20 years of excellence, we talked to owner Alex Bitsios-Esposito to find 20 facts about the shop that started it all…

  1. The Bean was set up by Silvana, a Canadian Italian who moved here in the nineties. Her son Alex explains “There just wasn’t anywhere in the town to get a decent coffee. Italy and Canada both have developed coffee-cultures, so she took a gamble.”
  2. Beestonians were initially cautious, but curious. “The idea of a coffee shop being a social meeting point wasn’t really there, and took time.”
  3. Alex was just 8 years old when he started helping out. “I’d take orders, do bits and bobs. I could barely reach the till.”
  4. It swiftly gained accolades: in 1999 it won a national survey of coffee shops.
  5. It was unprecedented in carefully selecting its coffee: “Mass produced coffees tasted burnt – we wanted to show off the vast range of flavours and subtleties.”
  6. Back then, it was a Cyber Coffee (readers under 30: ask an older person). People would queue to pay £3.50 per hour to tediously wait for a message board about Star Trek to refresh on Windows 98, and sip on their Latte thinking they were living in the future.
  7. “We still get people a bit confused, and asking what the wiffy is and why its free.”
  8. As it grew in popularity, more coffee shops opened up to cope with the demand. We currently have around 12, mostly independent. Do Beestonians sleep?
  9. Alex is a fan of these other coffee shops. “They’ve created a healthy competition, keeping us on our toes to innovate.”
  10. Handily for our international issue, they’ve always been one of the most global of employers. Alex: “Spanish, Turkish, German, Czech, Chinese, Ghanaian, Australian, Vietnamese, Latvian, New Zealanders…and many more.”
  11. Many people met their partners here, not least Alex, whose wife used The Bean as a place to write a book. Staff have married other staff; customers have married other customers.”
  12. He’d be able to retire if he’d taken a commission on all these couplings…
  13. They became the first café in Beeston to be part of the Suspended Coffee programme: customers can buy a coffee for those less fortunate than them, and those who can’t afford a drink for whatever reasons can receive one, no questions asked. Nice.
  14. It has a city-centre sister shop, Cartwheel: “It’s less of a community place, being located there, a different buzz.”
  15. One fan is the superstar author Jon McGregor, who voted it one of his cultural highlights in an article for the Guardian.
  16. Quite cheeky considering he’d just won the Costa award, if you think about it.
  17. Other famous Cartwheelers are Dylan Moran and Ronan Keating: “he had a juice.”
  18. The Bean, and many other cafes and pubs, seems to be the de facto office of The Beestonian. If you’re reading this in one of those places and see a harassed looking chap bashing away at his keyboard while muttering to himself, you’re probably watching the next issue in progress.
  19. Alex took over as owner in 2018. With two young kids and one on the way, is this a start of a dynasty in Beeston? “When they can reach the till.”
  20. Favourite drink? “Same as my mum: straight espresso.” When I look disappointed, he replies, “It’s a perennial classic”. As The Bean moves into its third decade hepping-up Beeston, it’s a description that serves that corner of Stoney Street well.

MT

Beeston Touch Rugby Game

Beeston plays host to The European Touch Rugby Championships

Touch Rugby is a sport that many of you will have heard of, some may have played it at school, but few will have taken it seriously as a competitive sport.

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Some of the matches taking place at the event

This year, the European Touch Rugby Championships where held at Highfields Park for four days in July. Such is the growing popularity of Touch Rugby, that the event was broadcast on the BBC for the first time.

“I’ve been involved in the sport for eight years and it’s grown enormously since I started,” said Referee Manager and Beeston local, Dani Hegg. “When I started in Nottingham we had around 50 people involved and now we have about 300!”

Touch Rugby shares some similarities with Rugby, but with a few noticeable differences. Whilst you can score a try, there are no scrums. Tackling is done by a touch and there are no line-outs.

The matches last for 40 minutes, with two 20-minute half’s and a short break in between. “It involves a lot of sprinting, so it’s quite physical,” said Dani.

The open competitions including the men’s, women’s and mixed are the most popular, but there is also a senior’s category for over 45’s, proving that Touch Rugby is a sport where, if fit enough, anyone can play.

So how popular is Touch Rugby and what brings the sport to Beeston?

“The event has been going on for over 20 years,” explained Dani.  “The first time, it was obviously still quite small, but Touch (Rugby) is a growing sport and we now have about 800 to 900 players here to compete, with 100 referees. We always need at least 3 referees per game and 14 players per team, so there’s quite a lot of people involved at this event.

“Nottingham was put forward to host the event, because we have some of the best pitches. The last event was in Ireland, and we’ve got the World Cup happening next year in Malaysia, which will involve more teams.

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The tents of some of the competing nations

“There’s 17 countries taking part in this event, we have referees from all of these countries as well as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who came to help us out, because the sport is a lot bigger in the southern hemisphere where the referees have years of experience that they’re giving to us here in England.”

Halfway through our conversation, a loud claxon sounds which Dani explains is the signal for the start of the second half of all the matches.

“All the matches are centralised, with the claxon going off for half-time and then when the matches start so everyone knows what’s happening.

“We have a Group Stage and then there’s Knockout’s followed by Gold Medal and Silver Medal matches.

“The Men’s and the Women’s Open are the most popular categories, because that is the highest level, where countries will put players in.”

So how do you get involved if you are interested?

“To join, there is a Facebook group called Nottingham Touch and we’re also on Twitter where you can contact us.

“We have Leagues where there are mixed Women’s and Men’s games which are played on the Beeston Hockey pitches in Winter and Spring and then we have the Summer League which is played at Gresham Playing Fields, so there’s quite a lot going off. Nottingham is one of the bigger clubs in the country.

“I hope that this event will have a good impact on Beeston. Nottingham Touch Rugby are always looking for players to join, so we are hoping that people coming here today will see that this is a great sport to participate in.”

Many in Beeston will not have realised that such an international event was taking place on their doorstep, but there’s no doubt that few sports are more fun, engaging and easier to play than Touch Rugby.

IS

We Dig NG9: Plants gone wild

Tamar Feast on Beeston’s Wild Side

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Six years ago, this odd patch of grass next to Myford’s factory was basically a dumping ground for litter, garden trimmings and erm… discarded golf paraphernalia. I passed it, wearily, twice daily.

Four years ago, I got the Council to not cut it, and started establishing it as a wildflower dumping ground for litter and garden trimmings instead.

One year ago, it was recovering from erroneous grass cuts due to the Council’s sheer circumlocution-like ineptitude. The burgeoning meadow flowers I’d planted and sown the years before were denied their fifteen minutes of fame and, despite managing to win a Level 4 award in the ‘RHS East Midlands in Bloom: It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition, it looked pretty sorry for itself.

Despite more set-backs this year, [fanfare] the grass has now erupted in a SUMMER BOOM of colour. This is largely thanks to extra wildflower seed donated by a guy called Chris, who sowed it with his daughter, Holly, once the footpath reopened earlier in the year.

It’s not just about pretty flowers, though. There’s a brash heap and log pile (good for grass snakes, insects, invertebrates and small mammals), and fruit trees and hedglings from The Woodland Trust.

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RHS Wisley it ain’t. But it IS a-buzz with pollinators flitting from plant to plant, taking pit stops on the Bug Squat (hotels are sooo ‘Bridgford). Here too, Hedgehogs rummage around; Bats and Swifts (numbers of the latter are worryingly low this year) hunt overhead in the last of the light at dusk and the gloaming.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country).

To some, it may look weedy (“I’d torch the lot” said one lady to me while I topped-up the bird feeders). But wild verges work hard, helping our underappreciated Beestonians: the critters pollinating your fruit, veg, and flowers; or eating the ones eating your fruit, veg and flowers. And they need all the help they can get.

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We love to see wildlife in our gardens. But if we tidy away the places it lives, feeds and breeds, or if the only ‘wild abandon’ we allow is that with which we throw down slug pellets, then it could soon disappear. Don’t get me started on slug pellets – I don’t have the word allowance…

Although small, rewilding areas like this connects one patch of habitat to another, so species who thrive or rely on linear movement; on mixing species through urban areas, or on stop-offs to larger habitats – such as Attenborough Nature Reserve – can survive.

It really is simple: less is more. Leave a piece of your garden to ‘go over’, or plant wild flowers if you prefer (native ones are best – so you know they’ll help insects in this country). If you have space for a pond, this will exponentially boost the benefit – even an old washing-up bowl sunk in the ground, filled with rain water and some rocks (for escape) will soon be colonised.

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If all this sounds like too much mess and effort, or you’re only up for doing one thing to help wildlife: please STOP USING SLUG PELLETS.

True to its word, an established ‘wild’ patch can get on with very little interference from us.  And, though We Dig NG9’s will never be proper idyllic ‘meadow’, of course – if it looks nice, well that’s just a bonus.  (TF)

Connect with We Dig NG9 on Twitter and Instagram: @WeDigNG9

WeDigNG9@gmail.com

TF

Trees of Beeston

Trees of Beeston is a psychogeographical and art project that celebrates the arboreal entities and architectures that enrich the landscapes and lives of humans and animals living, working, or visiting Beeston in Nottinghamshire, UK.

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Between spring and autumn 2018, Dr Jo Norcup will facilitate a small group of Beestonian tree-appreciators under the moniker ‘The Beeston Tree Appreciation Society’. We will map and record (via words, sounds and pictures) stories of trees that serve as landmarks and enhance the landscape of Beeston. Informed by historical and civic activities as well as by the stories and connections that Beestonians and honorary Beestonians have in how they connect and appreciate the trees that mark our landscape, a gazetteer map will be created so that residents and visitors alike might explore the local geography of Beeston and the living landmarks that endow and make habitable life in this part of the East Midlands.

Tree appreciation will be further explored in a series of forthcoming workshops and local field trips to be held in the autumn (details TBA).

For further details on how to get involved and to find out more go to www.geographyworkshop.com/TreesOfBeeston

Please follow on social media via @geo_workshop hashtag #TreesOfBeeston

Trees of Beeston #1 “The Truffula Trees” (Silver Birches) of King Street.

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“I speak for the trees, for they have no tongues”

In his children’s book The Lorax, Dr Seuss’s wise tree environmentalist and eco-warrior, The Lorax, warns of the rapid loss of trees and environments at the hands of short-term profiteering “I speak for the Trees” he repeats. The Once-ler (who narrates the sad story), tells how he learnt, too late, not to destroy the natural environment.  How, when the trees are removed, the animals, birds, insects and other animals move away, leaving a desolate and depleted landscape no animal, and indeed, no human wants to live in.  The moral: to be mindful of the future, to be wise custodians of the trees, plants, and animals that enrich our daily lives so that we and future generations might also have a quality of living that appreciates in turn the natural world and non-human lives that enrich it.

My son was the first to see the shape of the silver birches along King Street in Beeston as the Truffula trees of Dr Seuss’s tale.  On a street where there are no street trees to speak of apart from these majestic deciduous duo (save the holly tree growing from the cracked tarmac at the side of the ginnell wall between the motorcycle showroom and the housing near the Queen Street end of King Street – yes, I see you too wee tree), these two Silver Birches (and a couple of smaller saplings at their base) provide both landmark and respite to the eye from the primarily residential and industrial buildings along King Street.  Go closer to these trees, and you find a wee ecosystem, as the silver birch provides the lightest of canopy of leaves through which sunlight can dapple its way through to enable other plants to grow.  Other smaller saplings are present, fighting for light and space in their small location in front of an electrical sub-station where a small black fly-tipped bin and rubbish that someone has dumped has been grown over by wild flowers (“weeds” to give them their antisocial pejorative shorthand) and the foliage of the saplings.  Three types of valerian grow in white, pink and purple, giving colour and cover as well as pollen and habitat to insects and butterflies. The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is known as a ‘pioneering tree’ because it can grow pretty much anywhere. The roots draw up nutrients and when its small serrated heart-shaped leaves and catkins fall, this deciduous tree provides fertile compostable nutrients in which other plants can find a home. It is a tiny oasis.  Walking past them regularly as we do, the sound of the leaves gently bristling in the slightest of breezes that on a parched heatwave day is akin to a lightly babbling brook. The sound calms. The cascade of leaves on thin branches cools with its light coverage. We always greet the trees with a respectful hello. They are friends.  They are much loved.  They make our daily lives better. We always slow down for them, more often than not stopping, for fleeting seconds to pay our respects. For local dog owners, these trees provide a stopping point and canine territorial interest. In 2013, The Beestonian (issue 21) published a poem by the local poet Steve Plowright about them.  It is repeated below.

A Pair of Silver Birch Trees

By Steve Plowright

Silver-soldered soldiers
Solid through the Seasons
Re-assurance resonates,
Whilst gazing through your filigree
Of branch and twig and leaf

Silver sheen of bark
Mercurial magicians
Light unwilling journeys
On sighing school mornings
You never beg to question

Just a pair of silver soldiers
Guardians of our secrets
You never show your feelings
Thanks for your solidarity
Thanks for being there

 

Tree facts: #1The Silver Birch

  • Botanical name: Betula pendula of family Betulacae
  • A native tree to Europe and parts of Asia, known in America as the European white birch.
  • Deciduous tree with a white peeling paper-like bark with slender and pendulous branches, it has small heart/triangular shaped leaves with serrated edges that are green in spring and summer, turning yellow before they fall in the autumn.
  • The Silver Birch flowers catkins and is self-pollinating bearing both male and female catkins (droopy and small, compact cylindrical respectively) that scatter seeds with the wind.
  • Known as a pioneer species of tree as they are often the first type of tree to appear in a clearing, the catkins produced often containing high levels of nitrates drawn up from the roots, the leaf and catkin litter producing fertile compost in which other plants are able to succeed.
  • Silver birches provide habitat for a diverse range of insect and bird species, and larger specimens in gardens and parks provide ideal perching points for songbirds.
  • Humans have derived a number of uses from the Silver Birch: their sap can be tapped when it rises in March, and the sweet liquid can be used a little like maple syrup or concentrated and fermented for brewing wine and beer. The timber of the Silver Birch can be used for joinery, firewood, brooms and tool handles. Medicinally, Silver Birch has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, and externally can be used to promote healing to relieve skin pain and inflammation as its decorative bark contains triterpenes.
  • The Silver Birch is the national tree of Finland.

References and wider reading:

Edlin, H.L. (1970) Collins guide to Tree Planting and Cultivation. Gardeners Book Club. Newton Abbott.

Plowright, S (2013) A pair of Silver Birch trees. The Beestonian no 21. Back page.

Dr JN

Let Us Spray: Beeston’s Street Art Festival

The use of aerosol paint to spray shapes, words or figures on a wall or surface is often seen as vandalism to some, but art to others.

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Some of the country’s best spray can artists descended on Beeston recently, to colour the town in more colours than your average bag of Skittles. They didn’t arrive under the cover of darkness like Banksy appears to do, but in broad daylight and an audience watched while they created their unique works of art, with their £3.50 a can of spray paint. They were here to participate in Beeston’s first Street Art Festival, which took place around the town on the weekend of the 16th June.

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I caught up with Jeanie Barton, the driving force behind the project, who welcomed the break from gardening, to talk about the weekend and how things went. “It was brilliant. It went really well.  I’ve had lots of emails from people saying how happy the artwork has made them. The artists were happy with how things went too. Which is rewarding in itself. People are really impressed with the quality of the work created. I don’t think there’s been a single complaint about it. There was a bottleneck at the top of the twitchell by Round Hill School on the Monday, as parents and children wanted to see how their school looked now. There’s a great mix of styles. Something for everyone.”

Turning to the original plan, which was to decorate that dull part of Station Road, between Birds and B&M. I asked Jeanie about the origins of the idea and why it hasn’t taken place yet. “It started with a posting on Beeston Updated. Someone said how street art could make a town more colourful and that something should be done with that wall near Birds. Other people agreed, so I set up a separate Facebook page and people started to join and shared photos of walls from across the world that had been decorated.  This was in April last year. Broxtowe Borough Council was approached and liked the idea. They have £8000 that’s ready to be spent on art. But things went quiet, so we thought we could decorate some other bare walls around the town instead and went for sponsorship and Crowdfunding. Altogether we raised over £3000.”

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I then asked Jeanie about what’s next. “We have a few more areas to do, such as Hallams and the Victory Club. Hopefully more owners of buildings will come forward that they’d like decorating. We will also be producing a proper guide to them all later this year, with photos of the work, together with profiles of the artists. People from Cheltenham, Bristol etc have been to see the designs. Bristol has its own annual street art festival. So I don’t see why we can’t have one too.”

By the time you are reading this, hopefully there will be some good news about those grim walls on Station Road and how they are going to be transformed into something more in keeping with the artistic identity of Beeston.

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The names of the artists include Tunn, Boster, Onga and Emily Catherine, Zane, Zabou and Goya.

CDF

Lego Hallams

Welcome to the world of the plastic shop…

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10 year old Beeston lad Ewan Cooper has produced a spectacular homage to the iconic Hallams shop in the town centre. With a bit of help from dad John, Lanes Primary School pupil Ewan painstakingly constructed the replica over the course of the last year and a bit.

Featuring mini-mes of many of the staff and local people, the mock-shop is fully stocked with all the usual fresh fruit, veg and seafood that is found in the real place 6 days a week. In the street outside you can spot Nigel picking litter, and the obligatory Beeston thief fleeing the scene after removing the security chain from a bike.

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The whole thing is constructed from genuine Lego parts, the only ‘cheats’ being a few printed labels to provide the extra bits of detail.

Photography by Christopher Frost and John Cooper.

 

 

Creative Beeston: ABC Arts Trail

Letter by Letter by Letter by Letter…

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Beeston has a great community, and many of its community are greatly creative. This was firmly established in the first weekend of June when eleven local artists opened up their studios and invited us all in to see for ourselves. The annual ABC Art Trail involves artists from Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell, which is how it got its name funnily, and as the name suggests it doesn’t just take place in Beeston.

I followed the trail from back to front this year in Attenborough at Rita Miller’s stunning studio on Long Lane. Her compact converted garage was so extensively filled with serene landscapes and bold still life paintings my eyes took a while to take it all in. “Why did you start at the last venue?” I hear you exclaim. Well the point is, that it doesn’t really matter where you begin or where you end, the standard and variety of work on display will impress you wherever you go.

In fact, in total there was an artist for every letter of the alphabet this year, so you were rewarded with more stunning pieces than anticipated to pore over at some venues. And of course if you do like to wander in a less haphazard way, the organisers had put together a back pocket map that you can refer to on your journey round with each location clearly numbered.

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And let’s talk about the variety! There were oil paintings, photographs, glass and silver jewellery, textile art, embroidered felted wool, ceramics, knitwear, stained glass, watercolours and sculptures as well as an opportunity to chat to Bob Child who offers a traditional bespoke framing service. It was truly an inspirational weekend and I even managed to pick up a few purchases along the way. It is worth pointing out though that not all the venues are artist’s studios.

You could enjoy examples of Susan Harley’s landscapes hanging from the red, yellow and blue frames of the gym equipment at The Lanes Primary School, alongside glittering glass and gentle watercolours. In contrast to all that kaleidoscope of colour, Sara Gaynor’s ethereal photography sat rather well in its temporary home at a Beeston Dental Practice. It’s usual to pick a day and a selection of artists to visit as there are so many, but this year a new challenge was set.

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Three Beestonians (me, Matt and our intrepid photographer Christopher) set off early on bicycles to visit each venue and collect a unique piece of artwork in the form of a letter. As if organising and publicising this impressive show of local people’s work wasn’t enough, each collective of artists at each venue had handmade a letter in a combination of their own distinctive styles. It is impossible to visit all of the venues in one day and do them justice, to make sure that you have made the most of your visit you really do need to stay a while and ponder, and not just the artwork either.

A number of our artists’ gardens were just as attractive as their artwork and we couldn’t resist a wander around some of the winding paths and buzzing flowerbeds. It struck me at one point, how community spirited these people are for opening up their studios, and in some cases their homes, to the general public to wander freely. They are sharing their sanctuaries and their personal collections with us as well as the pieces they created and put on display. The twiglets served in a hand thrown piece of pottery made by founder member Alan Birchall didn’t go unappreciated, and the plentiful refreshments welcome too after a few hours of cycling.

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Another wonderful thing about the ABC Art Trail is how welcoming the artists are. Their joy at receiving visitors was unrestrained and genuine and this made us want to linger a little longer at each venue. I met with one of the artists and organisers Karen Attwood before the event and as we discussed the work she would be exhibiting it was obvious how much of herself she was pouring into her pieces. Not only is her textile work detailed and time consuming, each piece has a personal resonance which must make it hard to let them go at times, but then sharing is what this event is all about. The artists are more than happy to talk about their inspirations and processes, it’s a celebration of creativity! It is also evident they have an appreciation of each other’s work, and although much of their work is for sale there is no pressure to buy.

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If you do happen to be seduced by a brightly coloured piece of glass or an exciting sliver of silver then be rest assured that you are getting good value for money and you are helping a living artist in your community to thrive, and that’s got to be a good thing right? The experts say that art appreciation promotes quality of life and makes you feel good. According to Professor Semir Zeki, neurobiologist at the University College of London, when you stare at great artworks, the part of your brain that is stimulated is the same as when you fall in love.

We definitely fell in love, over and over with the amazing talent and with this home-grown event that makes art accessible for all. And have you guessed what those eleven letters spelled out? ABC Art Trail of course!

DU

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