2017: The year of new beginnings

In May 2017 Alizon Bennet was elected chair of the Station Masters Community Wildlife Garden have been in an acting role for six months prior. Duika Burges Watson, chair since 2011, stepped down to pursue other interests but remains an active committee member. Alizon has seen in some exciting new changes – not least a caretaker system for allocating growing areas! It has proved very successful in encouraging new enthusiasts to the garden. In addition to the general day to day growing a programme of events is also growing.  The Whitley Bay Film festival is back for another starlight night of movies in the garden, Whitley Bay High School will be holding their annual event again, and the storytellers festival is also back! Stay tuned to events via our facebook page. For particular enquiries, contact us on



2016: A very big year

The garden grows from strength to strength. We have many events lined up for 2016 and would love you to be involved in helping us growing the garden in all sorts of ways! The planting group meets every Wednesday at 10.3o am; drop in to join in. We have school groups, writers festival , harvest festival, film festival an d Halloween events already lined up for 2016 – with opportunities to get involved in helping out with these, or thinking of a project you’d like to do in the garden. Contact us on the new email at



2015: The Year of Art in the Garden

The CAWCRA committee has declared 2015 the year of Art in the Station Master’s Garden. We will be inviting and encouraging poets, painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians and all creatives to draw inspiration from and use the Garden as an arts space. The committee is particularly keen to involve local artists. For further information or if you would like to be involved, please contact Dave Turnbull at


New Prospects Barbecue celebration

In June 2013 the CAWCRA committee offered New Prospects – a support provider for people with learning disabilities based in Whitley Bay – a raised bed for a gardening group. We hadn’t anticipated how successful this new relationship would be! The New Prospects team and gardeners just love the garden and have been involved in every event we’ve had in the garden this year. For the food swap event they made lots of homemade goodies to bring along, and provided the musical entertainment! In late August they decided to have a big celebration all of their own.  The Barbecue was a rip-roaring success.


Bring On 2014!

A Programme of Events for an Exciting Year

1047139COWith the hard landscaping works complete at the Station end of the garden, the CAWCRA committee has turned their attention away from paperwork, funding applications and landscape plans to how we use and enjoy the garden into the future. CAWCRA is designing  a programme of events for the coming year and years ahead to ensure that the local community can enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Already in 2014 we have provided a free apple tree grafting workshop and ‘wassailing’ event led by the wonderful team from ‘Fruitful Durham’.

In March we will be delivering composting workshops, and in June/July we are looking forward to the first ‘mini mela’ at the coast. More to come!





The Works Complete: The Garden Open

June 2013 

DSC02247COThe hard landscaping undertaken by Brambledown contractors took several months to complete, but the final works were done just in time for the June 2013 opening event. See our facebook page for a pictoral history of the developments.

With the Station end of the garden open to the public, works by the community will now focus on developing the other sections of the garden.









Knott’s Flats Community Garden

9th October 2012

knottsCOI (Duika) met with the committee of a nearby community garden project, Knott’s Flats, in Tynemouth this week.

The community has been working hard for a couple of years to establish a small plot for the benefit of residents. We shared stories of the challenges of setting up garden projects, but also got quite excited and bouyed up thinking up novel ideas for communicating the benefits of gardens, and for sharing better between gardens in North Tyneside the ways we can help each other. Several of the committee will be visiting our garden on Sunday 14th October at 2pm.

Knott’s flats was originally built to withstand the second world war – there is an interesting article about it here.






Planning Passed!

June 2012

It has taken some time to get through the mountain of paperwork – but we’ve made it. We have planning approval for the space to be a community garden. This is the most important hurdle of all. It’s officially a garden now!











Knotweed Day Out

12th May 2012


A collective team effort in early may and we have sectioned off all the areas of knotweed in the garden. Nice fences!












Ten Silvery Slow Worms!

April 2012

2011-april slow wormsOIn April we erected a reptile fence around the area in the garden that will be undergoing ‘hard’ landscaping. Then for a couple of weeks we’ve been trapping slow worms and taking them out of the site. The trapping is now complete and 10 slow worms were taken out of the site and put in a safe place in the southern end of the garden.










Planning permission granted!

Planning permission to use the space as a community garden was granted in January, but we still need to fill a couple of conditions regarding the slow worm mitigation strategy. Getting this far enabled the community spaces bid to be reviewed and we are expecting a decision on that within two months. Meanwhile, works to clear the scrub and rubbish will begin in earnest from 28th January. This is required to prepare for the slow worm mitigation (all the slow worms will need to be captured and protected while work is underway). We will soon be looking for volunteers to train as slow worm experts!



September 2011

Planning Application In

The planning application for the garden has been submitted. Members and the public can read and comment on the application through the North Tyneside planning portal. It includes a full Ecological Survey, a Slow Worm Mitigation Strategy, a Statement of Arboricultural Implications of Development, a Methods Statement, Design and Access Statement, Landscape plan. There is a 21 day consultation period (from Oct 6-27th) after which a decision will be made to accept or reject the application.



25th September 2011

The Landscape Plan

The Station Master’s Garden Landscape Plan is finally done and dusted. It’s taken lots of work from Alex and her team at AJT, but also involved lots of discussion with CAWCRA and the committee to make sure its exactly what we want as a community.




10th July 2011

Landscape Architect Appointed

We submitted a landscape tender to four local companies and have now appointed AJT Environmental Consultants to take the project forward. Over the next weeks and months they will be consulting with members to produce a landscape plan for the site. Exciting times!



Strange Sightings…

13th June 2011

IMG_5290cOA deer in the Station Masters’ Garden? How did it get there? Why did it eat the bottom of the apple trees but not the pear?

Great excitement when the deer was seen wandering in the garden. Children came out in their slippers, adults lifted them above the height of the fence in hope of a second viewing.

Lots of conversation and questions. How did a deer get into the Station Masters’ Garden? Where did it come from? Marden Quarry? Did it walk along the tracks?

And we have proof. A camera photo by a resident of Stanley Crescent. And below, shots taken of deer tracks.

Early on Tuesday morning, I went out into the garden in hope of seeing the deer. I didn’t, but I did see something and I don’t know what was under the moving pile. I was very patient. It certainly wasn’t a cat, too small. It wasn’t a bird. What WAS it?

Click here for the Garden Mystery video




7th June 2011

The end of the dangerous dead trees

The dangerous dead trees are no longer standing. Click here for a video of Feral Tree Works in action.



May 2011

Station Masters’ Garden videos

We now have Station Masters’ Garden videos online where various ‘films’ documenting our progress will be available to watch. We will also upload presentations from ourselves and others about the garden, and perhaps there may be members would like to do some creative video work. Duika is happy to  give instruction on using video editing software.



April 2011

Logo Design Competition

Can you design a logo for the Station Masters’ Community Wildlife Garden? A prize will be offered to the best logo design to be used on the website and for any communications from the project. Adults and children are invited to have a go. We have a few suggestions of things to think about:

* A simple and clean logo is very easy to remember and print.
* A modern logo is a very eye-catching and appealing design.
* Do you have a preferred logo symbol? it may be the clock tower at the metro, the telephone box… something that identifies the site for you
* What is the exact text that should be included in your logo? Do we want to include the title, SMG? If so, what font?
* Ideally the colours will fit with the website, but we may also need a black & white logo version



29th April 2011

Slow Worms

Our site is one of the only known habitats for slow worms in North East England! We will be ensuring that the slow worm has plenty of space in the Station Masters’ Community Wildlife Garden. On April 29th we held a ‘royal compost day’ and built a compost heap nearby a known slow worm site. The compost heap will be used by residents to recycle their green waste, and will provide further habitat for slow worms. We wont disturb the heaps between November and March as they are likely to hibernate there during these months.

Slow Worm: Fast Track – the movie

BBC footage of slow worm giving birth



4th April 2011

Winter Flowering Honeysuckle

As the bindweed and knotweed are gradually removed from the garden, other plants have a chance to flourish. We found this winter flowering honeysuckle hidden under bindweed and in a big pile of rubbish. It looks much happier now.



March 2011 

Success! Well nearly…
We were successful in the first stage of our Community Spaces bid for funding the development of the Station Masters Community Wildlife Garden.



5th March 2011

Woodpecker sighting and other fauna and flora events

–  The Greater Spotted Woodpecker has made his/her? annual return to the garden (males have a distinctive red patch on the back of their head – if you see the woodpecker see if you can identify what sex it is!).
–  The red robin, a loyal companion to anyone who digs in the Station Masters Garden, has found a mate! The two robins are having a lovely time with all the recent work.
–  Frog spawn galore! The pond at the southern end of the garden looks like being a haven for frogs this year. Where did they come from?
–  Plant rescue: three wonderful winter flowering jasmine were ‘rescued’ from years of bindweed and blackberries. They are in flower and it’s worth popping in to the garden for a sniff.



February 2011 

Things are moving quickly now. The lease is in draft form, giving us a 10 year period and peppercorn rent; the bulbs that have been hidden under layers of rubbish are popping up; the birds are singing. Its time to come out and have a look and maybe even bring your gloves! There is still rubbish to be collected, plants to rescue, your creative juices to begin flowing with a look around the garden. We are yet at the ‘design’ phase but it will be upon us soon and we’ll need member views to know how to progress. Now that we have access to the garden and what with spring just around the corner, weekends will be busy times and all members are encouraged to be involved in whatever ways they have time and energy for. We can find plenty to do…



January 2011 

Happy new year!

A great start to the year for the Station Masters’ Garden. We have been awarded a grant from the North Tyneside Council Area Forum to kick start the project. This money will be used to cover land clearance costs, access, administration/publicity, design consultancy and rubbish removal. There have been some delays in progressing the legal tenure arrangements because of internal post changes in Nexus, however we have been given the go-ahead to access the land. With the new fence in place, the site is protected from the train tracks. This is great news – however we need to take care in the site as there are safety issues particularly for children – lots of broken glass amongst other rubbish.

The first big clean up took place on the weekend of January 22nd. We retrieved at least a skip full of general rubbish, revived the patch of raspberries, made lots of piles of brick, wood and items that may come in use, and exhausted ourselves completely. Thanks to all who came out!



December 2010 

SNOW covers the coast… and a yogi takes residence in the Station Masters’ Garden



4th December 2010

Oh to roam without an agenda: Landscape design for children

We have the opportunity to design the Station Masters’ Community Wildlife Garden for biodiversity, and also for the enjoyment and education of kids. There are lots of books around garden landscaping for kids, but a few stand out. The first is from the Royal Horticultural Society on Wildlife gardens for children. It is full of great photos and practical ideas about how to create a wildlife garden with kids. Ric Mcconaghy is an award winning designer of children’s play spaces in Australia – and also a friend of ours. Molly Dannenmaier’s ’60 Gardening Ideas for Kids’ gets good reviews for inspiring creativity. At the top level she gives nine essential elements to consider in a child’s garden. These elements are:


One review suggests the book will “draw parents into their children’s timeless, carefree world and perhaps back to a time when they themselves explored streams, played in the sand, studied bugs, and roamed without agenda”. Sound good?




November 2010


Over a fortnight, Nexus workers raised a fence from Whitley Bay Metro Station to Stanley Crescent. The fence is a crucial first step in establishing the Station Masters’ Garden, it is a safety barrier between us and the tracks. We had heard it was coming, but had no idea it would be done so soon, or that the fence builders would work through a snow storm to get it done. Thank you Nexus.




20th November 2010 

The website is born!

Welcome to the new residents association website. As you can probably see it is fairly bare at the moment but the hope is it will evolve into a useful resource. A forum is also in development to give a secure platform for discussion.



September 2010

Lindsay Bramwell and her team from the Contaminated Land Office at Newcastle City Council conducted a soil survey on the land. We wanted to know if there were any contaminants we should be concerned about, particularly as the site was once regarded as a ‘ballast dump’. The team conducted the survey on the 20th August and we got the results in September – below.

Results for soil concentrations of contaminants at the ‘Station masters Community Wildlife Gardens’ indicate most potential contaminants to be within guideline concentrations across the site.

Exceptions are raised concentrations of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) including Benzo-a-pyrene (BaP) at sampling areas 4 and 5, and raised cadmium in sampling area 5.

These raised concentrations appear to be consistent with the previous route of the railway track and are in areas which were found to be stony or uneven and difficult to dig and as such would not be cultivated as growing areas.

Fruits and vegetables do not generally uptake PAHs from soils as these chemicals require fat deposits for storage.

Accidental ingestion of soils should be avoided in areas 4 and 5, retaining ground cover would be one way to achieve this.

Normal health and safety and personal hygiene precautions are recommended for safe site use.
* Hands should be washed before eating at the site and after working on the site
* Vegetables should be washed and peeled
* Back tracking of soil from the site to homes should be avoided where possible
* Young children should not be left unattended on bare earth.

Click here for the complete soil analysis report