Thursday, 23 July 2020

The Butterfly Park and the Community



Maypole dancing at Open Day
Maypole dancing at Open Day

New Ferry Butterfly Park opened its gates to visitors in 1995 and since then it has become a real part of the community.

Plant sale at Open Day
Plant sale at Open Day

Under normal circumstances, the New Ferry Butterfly Park Opening Day on the first Sunday in May has become a feature of the local New Ferry calendar, attracting between 800 and 1000 people in recent years.


Cake sale at Open Day
Cake sale at Open Day


A busy Open Day
A busy Open Day

Local people regularly visit on Sundays from May to the beginning of September when we are open from 12 – 4 p.m. We have three guided trails with leaflets: a Nature Trail, Art Trail and History Trail.

Nature Trail leaflet
Nature Trail leaflet

As well as these, pond dipping is supervised by the wardens and everyone is thrilled to see the newts and other water creatures.

Local schools, especially St John’s and Grove Street, use the Park for class visits in the summer term. Many uniformed organisations and other groups, varying in age from toddlers to the more mature like U3A, visit each summer for guided tours.

School children on a guided tour of the Butterfly Park
School children on a guided tour of the Butterfly Park

In 2012 New Ferry Butterfly Park was awarded an Empty Shops Fund grant. This was a grant from Wirral Council to encourage the use of vacant shop premises for creative activity to reinvigorate the town centre and help economic recovery. The idea was also to raise awareness of the Butterfly Park. The shop at 66 Bebington Road, New Ferry was called ‘The Comma Project’ after one of our most regular resident butterflies. It hosted 6 artists over 6 months and each artist produced a nature/environment based body of work within the space over the course of their mini-residency. Each artist took a four-week-long slot between April and September, doing free community art workshops with their art linked in various ways to the Park. Carol got our MP Alison McGovern to open it on 20th April. Alison brought along Harriet Harman MP, then Deputy Leader of the Labour party, who just happened to be visiting the area that day. A class of school children from Grove Street School were involved. Plenty of press publicity resulted.

The window of The Comma Project in New Ferry
The window of The Comma Project in New Ferry

The opening of The Comma Project
The opening of The Comma Project

Harriet Harman MP at the opening of The Comma Project
Harriet Harman MP at the opening of The Comma Project

Here are some photographs of the work that was produced.

Ian Broadley’s bug creations
Ian Broadley’s bug creations

Gerald Curtis creating poetry with Brownies
Gerald Curtis creating poetry with the Brownies

Pam Sullivan’s favelas made by visitors
Pam Sullivan’s favelas made by visitors

Julie Dodd’s paper trees
Julie Dodd’s paper trees

Julie Dodd with her paper trees
Julie Dodd with her paper trees

Andrea Bassil’s painted paving stones
Andrea Bassil’s painted paving stones

In 2015 Merseyrail commissioned two decorative panels for the tunnel linking the two platforms of the station, and we helped the artist with information on the history and wildlife.

Panel in the tunnel at Bebington station
Panel in the tunnel at Bebington station

That same year Alex Rowan came to New Ferry Butterfly Park with his Scout group. He really enjoyed it. In school, he was asked to draw a poster for travelling somewhere by train and he picked the Butterfly Park. He was one of the winners. The poster was put up on Merseyrail stations and was part of their calendar.

Alex Rowan's poster
Alex Rowan's poster

Since 2016 Forest Church services have been held in the reserve.

Forest Church service
A Forest Church service

Apple pressing and apple grafting sessions have been established.

Apple pressing
Apple pressing

Local organisations like Unilever, Liverpool John Moores University Conservation Society, SP Energy Networks and Prince’s Trust have taken part in Workdays.

SP Energy Networks' workday
SP Energy Networks' workday

Chester Wild Society
Chester Wild Society

Debbie McCall with her prize elm cuttting
Debbie McCall with her prize elm cuttting

Liverpool John Moores Conservation Society
Liverpool John Moores Conservation Society

Justin triumphs over the birch tree
Justin triumphs over the birch tree

The Park is a site for training courses each year when Hilary Ash runs courses for Cheshire Wildlife Trust on Identifying Wild Flowers and Identifying Grasses.

At the time of the Comma Project, Carol Ramsay, Project Manager said …”there is no reason why, in the future, New Ferry can’t have enough butterfly attracting plants within its open spaces to attract many more butterflies to the area. Maybe one day New Ferry could become a town of biodiversity, a Butterfly Town”.

Now, in 2020, the butterfly has become a symbol of New Ferry used on the shop stickers "# I love New Ferry", the colourful wall mural "Vanessa" by the former co-op and the butterfly mosaic on the site of the explosion. 

The butterfly wall mural in New Ferry
The butterfly wall mural in New Ferry

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