Jean McAlpine Park

History of the park

Peldon road park was formerly a Harlow Development Corporation tip site for the spoil from the construction of the new town. Harlow District Council’s proposals were for the site to be developed as an informal ‘Country Park’, to act as a buffer between residential and industrial areas and also as a habitat for wildlife; however these were constrained by lack of available finance.

Thamsgro a joint venture company between Thames Water and Brophy plc needed to acquire sites suitable for disposal of sewage sludge and excavated spoil and so offered a way of meeting the council’s objectives, at a greatly reduced cost. The work consisted of land filling using non-harmful materials from construction activities, the creation of new contours, and importation and incorporation of sewage sludge to create an organic growing medium.

The sewage sludge has been treated and dewatered to form a ‘cake’ which is blended with approved screened subsoils or other soil forming materials, to form the topsoil substitute.

Features in the park

Existing trees and hedgerows have been retained, and new plants selected with the assistance of the Nature Reserve Warden. Species used are representative of those found locally, and so will enhance the ecological balance of the area. Many of the new trees were planted on 17 March 1991 as part of the ‘Forest Day’ Guinness Book of Records Challenge.

A memorial stone has been placed at a high point within the Park in memory of Mick Brophy founder member of Brophy plc, who died in 1992, shortly before completion of the park.

Wildflowers

These include: Ox-eye Daisy, Wild Carrot, Meadow Cranesbill, Grass Vetchling, Bee Orchid, Cowslip, Self Heal, Meadow Buttercup, Common Sorrel, Common Vetch, Musk Mallow, Tufted Vetch and the Common Spotted Orchid.

Native Plants

These include: Mountain Ash, Scots Pine, Alders, Willows, Hazel, Holly, Gorse, Broom, Beech, Silver Birch, Sloe, Sea Buckthorn, Wild Cherry, Ash, Dogwood, Elder, Guelder Rose, Hawthorn, Juniper, Field Maple, Oak, Dog Rose, Spurge, Laurel and the Wayfaring Tree.

Management of the park

Quick growing species of trees have been selected to produce a good canopy in a relatively short period and these will subsequently be thinned to enable larger specimens to mature.

Some of the larger informal grass areas will be managed as a hay meadow.

The wildflower areas need to be managed carefully in order to be successful in competing against grasses and weeds. Therefore in the first year, the mixture will be cut every two months and thereafter the sward will be cut once in either spring or autumn. Any weeds will be controlled by either cutting or the selective use of herbicides.

For more information on places to visit in Harlow visit the list page.