Hidden heritage of Manchester woodlands to be revealed

19 July 2018

Leading environmental charity City of Trees has received a confirmed National Lottery grant for their ‘Woodland Futures’ project.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project, which has been awarded £182,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), aims to restore and revitalise three important historic woodlands in the Greater Manchester suburb of Wythenshawe; Sandilands Wood; The Brundrit and Ash Wood.

Just 8 miles from the city centre the woodlands are home to a variety of wildlife, including foraging bats and are a haven amongst the urban sprawl, forming a network of mature woodlands across the borough.

As well as restoring the natural heritage, the 2 year project will work in partnership with charity Back on Track and hundreds of volunteers to connect local communities to the woodland around them and provide opportunities for people who want to develop their skills, improve their confidence and general wellbeing.

Andy Long, City of Trees said: “The area has always had a special connection to trees and woods - Wythenshawe comes from Anglo-Saxon “Withigensceaga” meaning ‘small wood of withy (willow) trees’.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will focus on bringing these natural heritage assets back into use for both people and wildlife”.

The area has a fascinating history linked to the industrial revolution and the city region’s rapid growth. The woodlands are part of the rich history of the area, and are relics of the major rural estates of Tatton and Massey which dominated the landscape from the 13th to 19th centuries.

For hundreds of years the historic 15th century, Grade 2 listed Wythenshawe Hall and most of the land in that area was privately owned, but there was a desperate need to house the city’s booming population. The land was purchased by the ‘Manchester Corporation’ and what used to be farmland was transformed into one of the largest housing estates in Europe.

Wythenshawe was intended as a ‘garden city’ where people could be rehoused away from industrial Manchester and breathe in clean air. All three sites have been woodlands for hundreds of years and are part of the legacy of the former wooded, agricultural and parkland landscape that existed before the rapid expansion of Manchester’s southern suburbs from the 1920’s onwards.

Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West said: “We are really excited to support City of Trees ‘urban greening’ project in Greater Manchester, which, thanks to National Lottery players, will work with a significant number of charity partners and volunteers meaning that people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting natural heritage right on their doorstep.”

Photo caption: Drone shot of The Brundit wood, credit Matthew Nichol Photography. This pocket of woodland is situated in the corner of Rodger’s Park in the ward of Baguley and is close to Newall Green Primary which will be engaged with as part of the project.