Heyford Meadow

One of Oxford’s most delightful nature reserves replaces a former scrap yard

Oxford Preservation Trust was kindly bequeathed Heyford Meadow in 2006 by Mr John Tait, with the support of the Challis family. It took five years to remove 250 tonnes of waste (including tractors, rail wagons and six boats) and turn the former scrap yard into a nature reserve.

This work was made possible through generous grants from the Pond Conservation Million Ponds Project and the Waste Recycling Group, with the support of BBOWT which has seen its transformation by:

  • Pollarding willows to prolong the life of the trees and provide habitat for birds and bats.
  • Removing non-native trees and replacing them with species such as rowan and field maple to provide food and shelter for birds and invertebrates.
  • Planting up the existing hedgerows with native species such as blackthorn, hazel and hawthorn to provide increased food and shelter for small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and bats.
  • Creating ponds and a scrape to increase the diversity of the site and provide food and shelter for amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and birds, and also, to enhance the site for water vole and otter, which are known to be in the area.

Interpretation boards help the visitor to know what to look for and a board walk has given all year round access over the wetter areas of the site. Willow screening allows quiet viewing of the scrape from the board walk without disturbing wildlife, and there are viewing platforms and seats to enjoy the Thameside setting looking across to OPT’s land at Kennington.

Since the work was done, the ponds have matured into valuable wildlife habitats brimming with aquatic life, and careful management of the grassland has seen the return of rarer meadow flowers such as snakes-head fritillaries.