Wildlife friends bring new life to Hull’s urban dynamic drains

Two new mascots are helping bring to life the history and wildlife of a city centre urban watercourse.

Beresford Avenue

A new history and wildlife trail across Hull’s Beverley and Barmston Drain sees wildlife ‘guides’ Wendy the Water Vole and Percy the Perch help reconnect people to their natural environment.

The pilot project – along nine bridges across the drain – gives historical information and helps the community spot wildlife native to the location.

It also includes advice on how to go ‘pond dipping’ in the new Clough Road ‘pocket park’ – to  encourage children and families to connect with the Drain and what lives beneath its surface. 

The trail brings to life the work of ‘Hull’s Dynamic Drains’, a partnership project with Groundwork Yorkshire, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Hull City Council that aims to improve the urban watercourse, boost wildlife habitats and encourage people to connect with and spend more time in their natural environment, as well as reducing littering and fly-tipping into Hull’s watercourses.

The Environment Agency’s Dan Jagucki said: “This pilot, part of Hull’s Dynamic Drains, has cleaned up the Beverley and Barmston Drain and the surrounding areas, created new green spaces for people to enjoy and encouraged people to connect with nature right in the centre of an urban environment.

“This is very much a community project and we hope the interactive trail – led by Wendy and Percy – will capture people’s imagination and encourage them to get involved in the future of Hull’s Dynamic Drains as we roll it out to other areas of the city.”

Beverley and Barmston Drain runs for 4km through the city, including residential areas, retail and industrials areas. When the project started in 2020 the drain needed significant Environment Agency maintenance due to litter and fly tipping which causes blockages and increases flood risk in the city. There are signs that this is getting better, though still remains a challenge.

As well as the new history and wildlife trail, so far the £500,000 project has:

  • Used silt dredged from the channel to create areas on the bankside for easier access, as well as creating better habitats for fish.
  • Created two new pocket parks – one at Clough Road retail area with picnic benches, a pond dipping platform, a cycle shelter and new wildflower meadow; and another outside the primary school at Thorpepark Road that has a new seating area, path and native trees.
  • Created designs for a third pocket park close to Endike Primary School, with a terraced bank that will improve access to the water’s edge and a new pond dipping platform.
  • Cleared land along the drain of historical fly tipping and planted it with native trees and shrubs, treated invasive Japanese knotweed and replaced it with native trees and installed two otter holts and several bird boxes to improve habitat and create areas for wildlife to thrive 
  • Delivered community litter picking events – which included support from Kingston Kayaks to collect rubbish from the drain using canoes – and launched magnet fishing events to encourage involvement from other members of the community.
  • Launched a schools engagement programme, which also includes creating wetland wildlife areas in local schools  and diverting rainwater from the sewer into rain gardens and planters.
  • Created – by Groundwork during 2021-2023 – the Green Team, employed two supervisors and delivered training and work experience that helped people gain relevant qualifications and work experience to help them into employment. The Green Team delivered project works on the pocket parks, cleared fly tipping, planted trees, and planted the meadow at Clough Road.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s David Craven said: “We are delighted to see this project come to life and signs go in along Barmston Drain. As a partner in the work, it is important to us that people get to know and have a better opportunity to connect with and care for the wildlife that surrounds them every day.

“Wildlife can thrive and live alongside us even in functional features such as well managed urban and suburban drains.”

Holderness Drain is the next drain the project will be rolled out to with plans already in place to restore a neglected and overgrown area that has suffered from anti-social behaviour and fly tipping. Plans also include new community green spaces, pocket parks, fishing areas and events to improve access to free fishing and community litter picks. 

Over the next three years the project will also roll out to Setting Dyke, Foredyke and Old Fleet Drain.

Groundwork’s Karen Tozer said: “As part of the Dynamic Drains partnership and as a resident of Hull it’s exciting to see these signs going up along Barmston Drain. I hope they encourage people to discover more about the nature and heritage of the Drain.”

To find out more, visit Hull’s Dynamic Drains.