Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Local Residents: Have Your Say in Local Development and Help Save the Ribble and Green Belt Now!

Local residents in Preston and South Ribble are invited by their Local Authorities to get involved in the consultations for the drawing up of the Local Development Framework for both areas.

The Local Development Frameworks are being co-ordinated by Preston and South Ribble Councils, and include plans to “facilitate the development of the river environs and are currently making the case for the development of the Ribble Corridor to be embedded in the new Regional Spatial Strategy now being prepared by Government Office North West” (Preston City Council River City Project section 3.9)

The Save The Ribble Campaign therefore urge all Ribbleside residents to get involved in the consultation process for the Local Development Framework (LDF). The LDF will be the blueprint for how the South Ribble and Preston sections of the Ribble corridor develop over the coming years, particularly in relation to the development and use of land. These documents are under construction for both Preston and South Ribble NOW.

The Consultation is in two ways:

Public Drop-In sessions –

Chorley: Tuesday 6th March in Committee Room 1, Town Hall Between 4pm - 7pm;

South Ribble: Tuesday 13th March in United Reform Church Hall, Hough Lane, Leyland between 4 – 7pm;

Preston: Wednesday 21st March in Meeting Room A, Town Hall, Preston between 4 – 7pm.

Response Form, to be completed by 30th March 2007 – so don’t delay, DO YOURS TODAY!

The Questions you are being asked are here.

Both Local Authorities have adopted the Statement of Community Involvement, which aims to involve local residents in defining the future development of their area. Organisations with a vested interest can also register.

Preston residents can register their consultation contact details with Preston City Council by email to or write to Planning Department, Preston City Council, Town Hall, Lancaster Rd, Preston PR1 2RL.

South Ribble residents can register with South Ribble Borough Council by email to or telephone 01772 625384 or write to Planning Department, South Ribble Borough Council, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland PR25 1DH.

Penwortham Town Council is also drawing up the Penwortham Town Plan, and if Penwortham residents want to get involved, contact Steve or Mick at Penwortham Town Council, 01772 750533 or write to them at the Penwortham Community Centre, Kingsfold Drive, Penwortham PR1 9EQ.

Residents from other local authorities will need to get in touch with their local council to find out how they can get involved in their own Local Development Framework process.

Once you register your details, you will be included in the next round of consultation taking place over the coming weeks. This is likely to involve a questionnaire.

REGISTER NOW as the Local Development Frameworks for both Preston and South Ribble are already underway. YOU can have an input into protecting the areas which are important to you. Whilst new building of houses, commercial properties, and roads are inevitable, we can all try to ensure the places we value can remain protected from development.

Whilst the Local Development Framework is not directly involved in the proposals to merge Preston and South Ribble as a Unitary Authority, this proposed merger is also something local residents need to consider over the coming weeks. It is clear that Preston City Council view their Central Park building development and barrage as developing a “new city along an underutilised river valley that currently separates two halves of an established urban structure” (Preston City Council RiverCity Project section 3.5) thus linking together what they see as “two halves of the city” (ibid section 3.3).

We will shortly be posting an article on the blog regarding the questions we need to be asking our Local Authorities about the impact on our environment, including our River and our areas of designated Green Belt, as well as the economic and administrative impact, in the event of the merger going ahead.

Regardless of the outcome of the current thinking on unitary status, Preston City Council is placing the Riverworks development at the centre of their Regional Spatial Strategy which is directly linked in with the Local Development Framework – so get involved now!


Anyone wishing to think about some of the issues at stake in this consultation should read this Debate at Preston Lancs Forum.

UPDATE (Added 27/12/06)

To put your point of view forward to the Local Development Frameworks, if you live in Preston, South Ribble or Chorley, you will need to participate in one of the 'Central Lancashire City Public Forums' click on THIS LINK to find out more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cycling the Ribble Way - The Fish and The Terrapin

It was the first sunday of Autumn and we had planned a trip downriver from Middleforth to the Fish at Longton Marsh, cycling as far as we could get then walking the rest of the way past the marshes between the Ribble and the Douglas at Hutton and Longton. We were also hoping to see the tidal bore again as we had at Freckleton in the Spring!
We make this day-long trip to the Fish (the Dolphin) every summer if we can, and when we're feeling brave, in the winter occasionally too.

It was our last chance for the summer months, but the weather had other ideas...

The birds were feeding on the Broadgate mudflats as soon as the out-going tide exposed these rich and glistening feeding grounds.

The weather forecast was for cloudy with sunny spells, chance of occasional showers, but the over-cast sky was looking ominous...

Looking towards Liverpool Road Bridge as the tide recedes further. Light rain starts to fall...

We cycle on through Penwortham Holme where the first sunday soccer games were getting under way, over Liverpool Road and towards Priory Park, the allotments already busy with holders gathering the veg for sunday lunch.

We cycle through Priory Park and past the power station (on what used to be Penwortham Marsh before the land here was drained and the river's direction was changed to one side of Penwortham Holme - which used to be an island), and by now we were enduring torrential rain, and thunder and lightening for good measure.
Within minutes we were all soaked to the skin: adults, children, and dogs.

The Fish was clearly off the menu, and we turned back home.

By the time we had dried ourselves, unpacked our rucksacks and saddlebags, and had a comforting cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit (or three), the rain-clouds had gone and the sun was shining, so we intrepid cyclists turned our spokes upriver and cycled along the Ribble Way towards Salmsbury.

Lots of local people were out walking or cycling with dogs and children - and just themselves - on what was now a warm sunday afternoon.

A crystal clear view towards Pendle Hill as we cross the Old Tram Bridge at low tide.

There are a fair number of Goosander on the Ribble - competing with the fishing! - and we were not at all surprised to see a number of these attractive birds lounging around on the exposed rocks between their dives for fish at Walton le Dale... although we were very surprised by another sunbather we encountered much later in the afternoon...

The woodlands of Fishwick Bottoms run right through to Brockholes and beyond, still pretty much in their full Summer green although there are one or two tinges of red just beginning to show...

The Ribble Way heading upriver from Fishwick Bottoms.

It's a truly glorious afternoon, and the birds are singing in the hedgerows, which echo the Ribble as they meander their own way across this spectacular river valley.

Hedgerows full of birds singing and chattering...

Eventually we rejoin the Ribble, meandering her ancient way through the plains...

...from the North East and Yorkshire...
...towards the sea...

Here, just before Mellings Wood, we see a truly unexpected bit of wildlife...

An alien invader - a Terrapin - presumably an unwanted pet dumped into the Ribble, but quite happily sunning himself on the rocks, unconcerned about the stir he is causing...

The Terrapin is the centre of attention for quite a while.

We eventually cycle on, through Mellings Wood and towards Lower Brockholes, before stopping and spending a happy and relaxing hour or two on the shingle beach opposite Cuerdale Hall, just short of the A59 and M6, far enough away for the noise of the traffic to be secondary to the birds singing and the Ribble plashing on her way, her banks dotted with local people fishing, or just relaxing in this harmonious landscape.

There are a broad range of riverbank habitats and plant-life on the Ribble - albeit steadily invaded by that other alien species, Himalyan Balsam - so we happily pulled up several Balsam plants to allow the natural vegetation space to breathe.

There are Sandmartin homes in the riverbank here, and quite possible Water Voles too as we caught sight of a little furry creature who unfortunately plopped out of sight into the water and was gone before we could get a good look!

We eventually dragged ourselves away from this idyll to head for home and the usual sunday night chores, but had the pleasure of cycling all the way back through this beautiful river valley, reaching the Old Tram Bridge at Avenham and Miller Parks in time for the glory of a golden sunset.

If you have any Ribble Tales, contact

The Preston Society have a talk tonight on Lancashire Wildlife, at St.Mary's Hall, top of Cop Lane, Penwortham at 7.30.
See the Preston Society link on "Blogs We Like" for more details of this and other talks on Birdwatching and Natural History at The Preston Society.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reflection on the Ribble Ramble at Frenchwood Rec

Frenchwood Recreation Ground

This contribution to the blog is from Hannah C, who followed her family's roots back to the banks of the Ribble, and was so struck by the peace and beauty of the river and its green spaces that she has stayed...

Why I Want To Save The Ribble : Reflection on the Ribble Ramble (10/09/2006)

It may strike some as a surprise, as a relatively new Preston citizen, that I feel passionately about the Ribble and adversely so to the proposed developments the Council wishes to inflict upon it and its banks.

After researching the Preston area in general I came across the website and was informed about the "vision" for the river barrage and Riverworks housing development, and the devastating effects it would have on the River and its surroundings.

Frenchwood Rec 2

As an environmentalist and part of a family born and bred on the Ribble I wanted to get actively involved and hence accompanied the save-the-ribble crew on their quarterly ramble. The purpose of the ramble is so those already aware can appreciate this beautiful part of Preston, and introduce those who do not, to realise what a terrible thing it would be to lose this.

Opposed as I am to these developments on an environmental level, I also have a personal affinity with this particular place. My grandmother grew up on the Boulevard in the 1940’s, and much has remained unchanged there (as you can see from the photographs, below).

My great-granny Roberts (left) strolling along the Ribble bank

The ramble began at 2pm on a wonderfully sunny Sunday. Despite being on my own I was welcomed by a friendly group, half human, half dog, and after salutations, introductions and a fleeting glance of a passing Kingfisher, we set off up the Avenue parallel to the Frenchwood Recreation Ground, towards the Boulevard. Along this route, admiring the sparkling Ribble and wetlands where ducks and waders had left their prints, Terry informed us of the historical aspect of these parts: the Boulevard houses, built in the 1930’s, were built on a ancient battle ground - the site of the defining battle of the English Civil War, and across the river was ‘The Plump’, the land between the Darwen and the Ribble which had housed a Roman settlement.

We passed many other walkers and cyclists enjoying the scenary, and sighted some kids playing golf and football on the playing fields on Frenchwood Rec.

We carried on round behind the park, past a delightfully spooky and atmospheric patch where apparently two bowling greens had been and gone (now a grassy square surrounded by trees) and up a set of shaded steps towards Selbourne Street.
Up Toward Selbourne St

Frenchwood Knoll

A lovely surprise awaited us at the top: the Frenchwood Knoll Wildlife Garden, an initiative brought about by the Preston Council Park’s Department and Friends of Avenham Park, which invited us in through wrought iron gates and down a winding path, leading through the forest filled with beech trees, elms, sycamores and horse chestnuts. A stone look-out point looked down onto the butterfly garden and further beyond the Ribble. Following the path this led us to a sunlit glen complete with a pond, a totem pole and a macrocosm of wildlife.

Dragonflies flitted about above the surface of the pond where pond skaters and river boatmen whiled away the day. Pondweed, watercress and water lilies dotted the surface.

We rested here for a while soaking up the sun, then headed back into Avenham Park – to the Old Tram Bridge where our ramble had started.

Old Tram Bridge

The ramble had officially finished, but there was no harm taking the time to walk a little further up the bank to the Railway Bridge. There at the Continental we bid our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Enjoyed very much by the whole party, the ramble was a perfect time to appreciate the beauty of Frenchwood Recreation Ground and its surroundings, exploring the woods, admiring the scenary and spotting the wildlife. With the proposed Riverworks Development a detrimental effect would be had on this carefully balanced ecosystem. The recreation ground, which is one of the sites for the proposed new building developments, was dotted with children and adults alike playing, relaxing, walking the dogs (and the children). Where would these people go to find similar surroundings?
With childhood obesity set to rise and some species of Bristish wildlife dwindling, a barrage and housing development would not help these issues.

My great uncle, great grandparents and grandmother by the river.

Hannah C., Preston.

Hannah has also pointed out that the Wildlife Trust are involved in numerous local projects such as the Frenchwood Knoll Wildlife Garden, and you can find more information on these projects and how you can get involved at

Follow these links to read more about Threat to Frenchwood Recreation Ground or the Ramble on Frenchwood Rec and the Riverworks proposals .

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Ribble Fishwick Bottoms Clean-Up A Success!

Hundreds of local people turned out in force in the clean-up operations running throughout Lancashire as part of the ITV Big Clean-Up, and the Ribble Big Clean-Up at Fishwick Bottoms was no exception.

An army of local volunteers, including a good number of Save The Ribblers, helped to remove the alien invader species Himalayan Balsam from the woodlands and meadows of Fishwick Bottoms, and clear up huge skip-loads of rubbish from this beautiful area.

The natural woodlands soon began to reappear from the jungle of Balsam which swamps any area it occupies and drives out native plant species, the biodiversity of our native woodlands, meadows and especially riverbanks suffering as a result. Now these cleared areas can re-colonise themselves with native plant species.

This whole day event also involved entertainment and art activities, and free food for the local Ribblesiders cleaning up this area.

The entertainment included a very unusual species of butterfly never seen at Fishwick Bottoms before!!!

This pile of rubbish alone was choking just a small area of Fishwick Bottoms...

...which can now be returned to a wildlife habitat once more!

Local people value this area for its peace and quiet, and its diverse wildlife - even deer have been seen on Fishwick Bottoms! And this is only 5 minutes from Preston City Centre!

You can read more about how the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, in conjunction with local residents, are currently working towards designating a further area of Fishwick Bottoms a Local Nature Reserve, and why the last thing local residents want on Fishwick Bottoms is new building developments.

The ITV Big Clean-Up was organised by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire in conjunction with the Community Volunteer Service, and was helped by numerous other organisations such as Preston City Council and their park wardens. The Wildlife Trust do a great deal of work on Fishwick Bottoms and other local green spaces all year round, including Preston and South Ribble and other areas along the Ribble corridor, so by all means volunteer for more of the same!

The Ribble Fishwick Bottoms Clean-Up has been a huge success, and the day was a very enjoyable event for everyone involved - and the biodiversity of our local green belt has benefited as a result! Well done to everyone involved!

If you want to share your story of the Ribble Clean-Up or other Ribbleside Tales, you can email us at

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Monday, September 11, 2006

River Ribble ITV Big Clean-Up at Fishwick Bottoms, and the Ribble Basin Annual Forum

A busy week for Ribblesiders! There are two important events happening this week, so join in and do your bit!

Ribble at Frenchwood

There is a major event helping to tidy up the River Ribble at Fishwick Bottoms on SUNDAY 17th as part of the ITV Big Clean-Up! There is also the Ribble Basin Annual Forum on Thursday 14th September.

River Ribble ITV Big Clean-Up at Fishwick Bottoms:
Save The Ribble Campaign are joining in the River Ribble Big Clean-Up at Fishwick Bottoms. This event is on SUNDAY 17th, meeting at 10am at the car park to the Fishwick Bottoms athletics tracks on London Road in Preston.

Organisers are hoping to attract at least 300 volunteers to help clean up this area - come and join in and help clean up this beautiful area - and you may even be on TV!!

The whole event will last from 10am til 4pm, and promises to be a fabulous day out for all as there will be music, circus acts, art projects, and free lunch!!

There are also other Ribble Clean-Up events in other Ribbleside areas: for more details and how to register to join in the Ribble Big Clean-Up, see or

Ribble Basin Forum:
Anyone who loves the River Ribble and wants to know about the projects and issues that will affect its future is invited to the fourth annual Ribble Forum on Thursday September 14th in Preston.

There will be presentations and also the chance to raise questions and issues that are close to your heart, including a Soapbox session from the Save The Ribble Campaign.

Presentations will cover a range of topics, including one on the innovative Sustainable Catchment Management Plan, which aims to improve water quality in the Ribble catchment and give a major boost to local wildlife at the same time.
It is being carried out by United Utilities on land it owns throughout the Northwest, including in Lancashire, with the help of the RSPB.

The half-day forum is open to all and free to attend. It is being held at the Gujurat Hindu Society, South Meadow Lane in Preston (curry for lunch is on offer) and starts at 9.30 a.m.

To book a place, contact Bev Mitchell at the Mersey Basin Campaign
on 0161 242 8212 or
Gujurat Hindu Society, South Meadow Lane, Venue for the Ribble Basin Forum

For more information see

To contact Save The Ribble Campaign email


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ramble on the Rec! - Sunday 10th September

Local riverside residents are organising a walk on Frenchwood Recreation Ground on Sunday 10th September beginning at 2.00 p.m.
We will meet at the Avenham Park end of the Old Tram Bridge and from there we will be walking alongside the River edge of Frenchwood Rec first before exploring the upper part.

We had hoped to have a picnic but the unreliable weather has persuaded us otherwise!!

The ramble is an opportunity for residents to enjoy another one of our green spaces which is under potential threat from the Riverworks “Vision”.

Frenchwood Recreation Ground - The Council Wants To Build Housing Here as Part Of Its 'Riverworks' Proposals

The Riverworks proposals for this area includes a scheme to build housing on Frenchwood Rec. This would be close to the Central Park Building Development which is proposed for the largest section of our green belt opposite Avenham-Miller Parks. The Riverworks Riverside East proposals includes a scheme to concrete the river banks from the Frenchwood area through to Lower Brockholes for boat moorings, to be used for the proposed water sports park which would be created by barraging the Ribble.

Frenchwood Rec, just to the right of Avenham & Miller Parks, has a blocked out section earmarked for housing on the Riverworks documents, as shown here on the Taylor Young/Preston City Council Masterplan.
Whilst this is not as huge a development as the so-called "Central Park" building development proposed for the Penwortham side, it's another chunk of our green space gone forever, a green space which currently provides a beautiful, tranquil spot for residents to enjoy on the Preston side of the river.

Concreting the river bank and building on green belt and flood plain will destroy valuable wildlife habitats and damage the integrity of this vital river valley ecosystem. It will also diminish our green spaces and our access to “space to breathe”, and be detrimental to our quality of life.
You can read more on our post Threat to Frenchwood Recreation Ground.

So come and show your appreciation for this area and join us for a Ramble on the Rec on Sunday 10th at 2pm. Bring your family and friends!

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Poetry from the Riverbank

Thanks to Terry, a Preston resident who cares about the River Ribble and his local environment, for this excellent and thought-provoking poem...

Riverworks, the Ribble

The Project,
Getting the river to work
The Council’s right
The river’s old enough
To earn its keep.
It’s had its chance
Meandering through
A few thousand years
Get real, get a job,
Stop pouting
In a teenage rage
Over high tides
Or lazing away a low tide
While birds get a free lunch
From menus of untidy mud.
If I work, it works,
And it will.
Dragged out of bed
By the arms of a crane
Straightened up,
Built up,
Pumping brick till its sides
Take the weight
Of bars and shops selling
Pictures of rivers curving
Through green and pleasant lands.
No more rising in its own time,
Shaken awake by early calls
From jet skis and fun,
Propped up against dams
To stop it falling back,
Pushing turbines, pushing wheels,
There’ll be sweat flooding off
Into crumpled fields that are
Stored out of sight
Under four thousand lawns
And those birds will graft
Nothings free
As the man said,
Thanks to the Council
And wheels within wheels,
In five years
I’ll be reading a book
By the light
From the work
Of a duck.
And you can’t argue with that.

Terry Q., Broadgate.

See more residents' views, pictures, and poetry
Tales from the Riverbank
More Tales from the Riverbank
Residents' Concerns
Ribble Photographs

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"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo