Thursday, 5 May 2011

Thames tributary Beam River - Eastbrookend

Thames Tributary Beam River
The River, now called the Beam, flows south towards the Thames
The river once flooded the valley occasionally but it is now imprisoned within artificial banks which are set back to create a channel within which it can flood. It supports small crack willows which overhang the banks as well as stinging nettles, dock, Himalayan balsam and Comfrey. Kingfishers have been seen here.


Country park and nature sites

Post to the north Eastbrookend
Post to the south Bretons

Railway Line
Canal bridge – an arch of which could be seen on the south side of the line near Rainham Road. However, it never a canal under it. It was put in by the London Tilbury and Southend Railway when they built the line to Upminster in the 1880s because parliamentary powers must have existed for a canal and the company had to build a bridge for it. In the 1930s rebuilding for the District Line meant that the embankment filled in the northern part of the bridge. However this bridge was the 'wrong' side of the Beam River for the Romford Canal built to the south. South of the railway crossing is a depression which might mark the line of the canal bed. North of the line it is more marked.
Railway embankment – this has oaks and hawthorn scrub below in the area adjacent to the nature reserve.
Scrub is prevalent south of the line east of the Rhone Poulenc lake and there is also a grove of willow and oak trees alongside the line.

Eastbrookend Country Park
The park was set up in 1995 and covers a large area of ex-gravel workings, etc. The terrain is very varied. There is grassland on low-lying area in the south-west with hummocks which support grasses along with flowering bird’s foot-trefoil, cat's ear and sheep’s sorrel as well as broom and hawthorn. In other areas are damp hollows, where rushes and sedges grow. The high ground south east of the Slack is used for grazing horses and features various grasses and clover, ox-eye daisy, and scabious. In gravelly areas there are plants rare in London There is Marshland south of Chase Road on the west bank of the river which supports marsh grasses and flowers, and ditches and pools in the southern area have buttercups, and other flowers.
The Chase Nature Reserve. This is an area of grassland, scrub and wetland which attracts many birds, fauna and flora with locally rare species. Birdwatchers come here frequently– one example of a rare bird seen here was in 1992 when a pine bunting appeared which should have been in Pakistan or China. There are weasels, grass snakes and smooth newts. Twenty-two species of butterfly have been noted as well as dragonflies and related species. There was gravel extraction here in the recent past and then grazing by horses. The reserve is owned by the local authority and has been managed by the London Wildlife Trust since 1988.
Gravel processing plant. In 1931 the Rom River Gravel Company began extracting gravel as building material for the Becontree Estate. Over the next 30 years some the area was dug down to London Clay, but in some parts gravel was left on the surface and this has produced a terrain with hollows and ridges. The site of their plant is in the south-east of the area on the west side of the river and the remains consist of pits used to wash out the silt.
Pit. This was south-west of the line of black poplar trees south of Chase Road and was filled by the Essex River Board in 1962. The area features a number of rare wild flowers .
Rhone-Poulenc Rorer’s former chemical landfill dump. This is outside the nature reserve near its south-west corner between the railway and Foxlands Lane. There is grass and a diverse selection of other plants. It includes bladder senna which comes from southern Europe and is commonly introduced along railway lines. Lapwings and terns nest here.
The Slack. This is south of Curzon Lake and the water level and its size changes with the seasons. Star-wort grows along with Canadian and other pondweeds, and aromatic water mint. There is a reed bed on the west side which supports reed warblers. Water rails breed here as do little grebe. The islands are used for nesting by plovers and terns. Lapwings breed here and fly in display overhead. Some of it has been fenced off to reduce disturbance to these birds and one of the islands has been capped with gravel to make it more attractive as a nest site
Tom's Pond. This is near the railway. It is a natural water area which supports pondweeds, gipsy-wort and water mint. Along its eastern edge are great reedmace,and willow and common sallow and there are also two small islands.
The small, rectangular lake on the site's western boundary contains little aquatic vegetation.
Line of black poplars. These are on the eastern side of the plateau and mark an old field boundary hedge. Black poplar is a native tree but not common in London. The hedge also includes oak, elder and hawthorn.
Allotment area. This includes are some areas of high quality habitat with oat grass and hawthorn scrub. There are migrant birds - warblers, and the rare red-backed shrike.
Romford Canal - The route of the canal followed the river Rom for a distance north of the railway. Further north the canal's dry channel can be seen and eventually sweeps round in a curve but peters out towards The Chase.


Foxlands Lane
This is a secluded public footpath linking Rainham Road South with the nature reserve. It has acid grassland, bramble, broom scrub as well as nettles and willow-herb.
Hedgeline which may be an ancient field boundary. This extends for 200 metres and is made up of blackthorn, hawthorn, elder, elm, mature oaks, and coppiced hazel as well as regenerating elm. There are butterflies and grass snakes live in the undergrowth.
Lake in the grounds of the Rhone-Poulenc Rorer factory. This is an artificial lake with reeds and visited by reed warblers and swans. In 1991 a gravel-covered raft was installed for birds.

Upper Rainham Road
Dunningford Primary School
Gas Transmission Station


Sources
Chase Nature Reserve. Web site
Eastbrookend. Web site
GLIAS Newsletter
London Borough of Redbridge. Web site
Nature Conservation in Redbridge

No comments: