The site of the Nature Reserve is the clay pit and former brick works which was established in 1902 to supply bricks and roof tiles for the growing village of New Earswick, started by Joseph Rowntree in that year and developed by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust (later the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust – JRHT) into the community of over 1400 dwellings that exist today.
Brick production continued until the end of 1933 when the works were closed down end the buildings and machinery dismantled. All that now remains are the clay pit, the concrete base of an old wind driven pump, a well and an area of brick paving. The pump was used to remove water from the pit to allow the clay to be extracted for making into bricks and tiles and it is believed that the well provided water for the brick-making process and possibly for the railway workers’ cottages which stood in the meadow on the western side of Haxby Road, near the Link Road junction. The brick paving may have been the base for the kiln in which the bricks were “fired”, which may have been of the “beehive type”.
The pit gradually filled with water [the only sources are rainwater and seepage from the surrounding higher ground), and the area became “wild”. In 1973 a formal agreement with the Local Authority led to the area being established as a Designated Educational Nature Reserve ” …. whose object is to provide a place for the outdoor study of natural history …. ”
The Reserve is managed by a Committee of volunteers including staff of the Housing Trust, representatives from local schools, New Earswick Residents and tNew Earswick Parish Council, New Earswick Angling Club, the Honorary Recorder and several individual members. The Committee meets formally at least once a year (usually in October), and a sub committee, the Action Planning Group, several times a year to walk the Reserve.
Following incidents of vandalism and misuse, the Reserve was fenced some years ago and is now kept locked. Public access is limited to open days and by arrangement with the Trust. Information on access can be obtained from Brian Jardine, Secretary to the Management Committee by completing the form below.
Why not take a look around the site at the various species that inhabit the Reserve and activities that take place there.