Speen Playing Fields: Ridgley’s Field

Ridgley’s Field

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Ridgley’s Field was gifted to the village in 1999 by local resident Dan Ridgley and in accordance with Dan’s wishes “….to be used for the benefit of the children of the village….” and placed under the management of the Speen Playing Fields trustees.

The land consists of a field of approximately half an acre in size plus a copse of mixed woodland.  Following consultation with the community the idea of creating a bike park was suggested by a group of village youngsters.

Plans were drawn up under the guidance of Peter Symonds and the bike park started to take shape.  Appropriate planning permissions were obtained and the groundworks (donated by local contractor SPD Groundworks) commenced in early 2006.  Peter with the help of local teenagers designed the various jumps and bridges and these were fabricated ourselves using purchased materials during the spring months until the Speen Bike Park was opened in July 2006.

Opening of Speen Bike Park by Steve Cohen of the Garnet Foundation

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Conservation Work carried out in December 2021

In December a number of Playing Fields committee members and other village volunteers gave up their spare time on two weekends to undertake hedge management work at Ridgleys Field.

The dual purpose of the work was to open up views over Ridgley Field and to create a
better hedge for wildlife in line with the advice issued in the Chilterns Landowners Guide by
the Chilterns Conservation Board. The proposed lower height for the hedge also improves
road safety for village children cycling to visit the bike park.
Historically a high hedge was required to retain horses and annual flailing with a tractor over
many years perpetuated the poor shape and structure. The old hedge contained barbed wire,
fence posts and significant sections of very thick old growth all of which needs to be
removed in order to start to achieve the shape favoured by the Conservation Board which is
described as a “Topped A- Shape”. The process is explained in the Hedge Management
leaflet on this link;
https://www.chilternsaonb.org/uploads/files/AboutTheChilterns/Farming/farming_hedge_mgt.pdf
The initial works, which were all carried out by hand, needed to be severe to remove the old
very thick growth and dead material as well as the barbed wire and posts and to reduce the
height so that mechanical cutting can be carried out in future years. The growth will start to
bounce back in the Spring but it will take two or three years to reshape the hedge to achieve
the topped A-Shape which is best for wildlife and favoured by the Conservation Board.
Likewise the village environmental group, SEAG, have also been carrying out works to
create a more attractive wild flower meadow but this work will also take some years to bring
to full fruition.
Additional hedging has been planted where gaps existed following on from the road safety
work at the previously dangerous corner opposite Cherrytree Close.
Nest boxes and bat boxes have been provided in the copse and elsewhere around the field to
help our local wildlife. Scalpings have been laid within the kissing gates to get rid of the
muddy access points to the field.
One of the downsides of these improvements is that the hedge works created a very large
volume of waste that is bulky and difficult to handle and this will not rot down quickly.
The
material has been piled up ready for burning in the near future. Whilst the SPF would prefer
not to have to burn the waste there is simply no realistic alternative and any impact to the
field and in the locality will be short term.