Wheathampstead Heritage: Virtual Museum Exhibit
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The open space by the river, known locally as The Meads, is one of ten such open spaces owned by the Parish Council, each with a volunteer ranger. Each site is managed to achieve a balance between providing access to the public, ensuring visual appeal, and encouraging wildlife.
The Parish Council bought the areas on each side of the river, some six acres, from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (the Church of England) on 29 October 1937 for the sum of £200. For many years, it was rented to local farmers for grazing and for growing arable crops. Until 1976, the area now known as The Dell, plus what is now the Wheathampstead Community Orchard, was a sewage works owned and operated by the Thames Water Authority. The works closed at the end of the 1970s. The Parish Council bought the land for £2000 in 1983 and it was reclaimed and restored by volunteers in the late 1980s. The work was awarded first prize in the Rural Section of the Hertfordshire Conservation Awards in 1991 and, in 2013, the Dell was designated as a Local Wildlife Site.
At the western end of The Meads stands the old Westwood Brothers forge. The forge was originally located behind 10-12 High Street, which was formerly a pub, “The Two Brewers”. It later moved to Bull Yard (where the Bull car park is now) and then to this site. It finally closed at the end of the 1970s. Many examples of the Westwoods' work can be seen around the parish, including the gates of St Helen's churchyard and the splendid double gates of Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence.
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Date Created: 06/11/2013 10:53:08, by: adam Date last edited: 25/02/2014 20:33:56, by: patrick