About the Group
Friends of Watts Meadows is not the first incarnation of a group of locals who have an interest in this small site in Rochester. Groups have formed in the past when there was some threat to the space, and the current one is no exception! We initially got together when it became clear that the Kings School were intending to fence off the area of the site that they bought from the council in the 80s. This caused locals to protest the loss of access they had enjoyed for many years, but unfortunately there wasn’t anything that could actually be done. However, the interest raised did remind the community that perhaps we had been taking the space for granted, and a group formed to explore how we might protect and promote the area that remained open access.
Our aims are: to sustain Watt’s Meadow for the benefit of the people of Rochester; conserve its natural environment – including maintaining the balance between woodland and open space as far as practicable, and protecting its flora and fauna – especially the native species; oppose any loss of amenity by further development; and encourage the goodwill and involvement of the local community.
The committee meets monthly to share ideas and plan activities and have recently re-started our monthly working groups. These cover a mix of tasks, including keeping paths clear, litter picking, and we have recently started more formal nature recording.
We’d love to start planning some more events to welcome the local community – and will perhaps repeat our initial brainstorming activity where we asked people what they would like to see and do, to help us prioritise what to work on next. We’d also like to find out more about the history of the space, and appreciate any memories that people share, or research from the archives. Keep an eye on our website as we plan to share what we find.
We’ve enjoyed talking with our neighbours – and during the recent lockdown period we’ve seen a noticeable increase in visitors as more people have discovered Watts Meadow. Perhaps the following comment left on our social media show what is has meant to them:
“Thank you to the wonderful Friends who work so hard to maintain Watts Meadow. This little patch of woods has become our sanctuary during lockdown life. As each season progresses, we always find a new treasure to observe, a changing light to admire and often a new friendly face to greet. Thank goodness for these little pockets of nature in and around our towns and thank goodness for the lovely folk who help to look care for it.”
Watts Meadow is a small site – part woodland, part open grassed areas – which can be explored via a network of rough footpaths. It lies in a square bounded by Maidstone Road, Ethelbert Road, St Margarets Street and Priestfields.
– Facilities on site (toilets/cafe): None
– Car park (free/chargeable): No, but we are close to Priestfields playing fields, which has a small free car park, and there is parking along local roads (including St Margaret’s Street and some of the roads off Maidstone Road), from which there are many access points to the site.
– Accessibility (hard paths, gradients etc.): The site is on two levels, and there is a steep, fairly uneven path between the two parts. There are stony paths around the site, but visitors need to take care and few of the entry points are wheelchair or pushchair friendly. Access is possible though, and we plan to create and publish a map at some point, and this will indicate the different routes.
– Marked walking routes: Pat Wilson way RRX15 is a marked footpath which runs through the lower part of the site, between Ethelbert road and Priestfields. RRX14 between Borstal Road and Ethelbert Road also provides access to the upper part of the site.
– Watts Meadow will soon be included in health walks, and we hope it will feature in walking routes being planned to include several of the local greenspaces in this part of the Medway towns.
– Children’s playground: No, but Priestfields playing fields close by has a playground
– Outdoor gym equipment: No
– Other points of interest: we now have a couple of official geocaches in the Meadow – see if you can find them!
• Our website: https://friendsofwattsmeadow.wordpress.com/
• Find us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wattsmeadow
• Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/ofmeadow
• Contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• We share photos of this space on flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/3960076@N21/
and instagram: https://www.instagram.com/friendsofwattsmeadow/