Woodbridge Meadows

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In mid-October I went for a walk with my Hungarian friend Gabriella along the banks of the River Wey in Guildford.

We visited a place called Woodbridge Meadows. It’s an area of land between the river and an industrial estate, which has a wild meadow, and some trees.

Woodbridge Meadows has changed quite a bit from the days when as a young boy I used to walk along that route towards the town centre.

The sign for Woodbridge Meadows

As part of a re-development plan devised in 2004 the council’s vision is to ‘create a high quality work environment for those employed at Woodbridge Meadows, and a worthy piece of townscape that constitutes a good place to visit and pass through’, and want to attract development to enhance the area.

The area is now being managed to prevent re-growth of the trees with tall grasses, wild flowers and other plants. The meadow is now a diverse wildlife habitat with populations of birds, insects, mice and grass shrews having established themselves there. Plants include buttercups, purple knapweed, birds-foot trefoil and blue speedwells.

The first indications that something had changed in Woodbridge Meadows were the sculptures, which had been created there. The council had untaken a project to restore the meadow, and many of the old trees had been felled. The tree stumps and logs were used for the woodcarvings.

There were all sorts of unusual woodcarvings. I took a picture on my mobile of Gabriella standing on the steps of one, whilst she was overlooking the river watching the boats glide past.

Gabriella watching the boats

Other things we saw were the few remaining trees which now had faces carved on them. We also saw a happy looking cat that had caught a fish, a dragonfly, a giant buried in the ground with his, head, hands and feet sticking out, and a mould of earth representing his belly, tribal looking face masks, a stag, and an owl.

A happy tree face

This looks like a female face

A face with a crown and beard

The happy cat with its fish

A large dragonfly

The buried giant

A tribal face mask

The stag holding a fish

Me with the owl

At the end of the walk near the railway viaduct there is small pay-and-display car park. A sculptor has created replica viaduct railway across the height barrier above the car park entrance. It is a scale replica of a steam train with its wagons carrying all the different types of wildlife that live amongst the Woodbridge Meadows.

The steam train on top of the height barrier

Although I enjoyed what they have done to Woodbridge Meadows, I miss the trees that once grew along the riverbanks at that location. I used to fish along there with my late grandfather. It all looks too managed now, very open, and a bit odd with all the wooden sculptures. I would have preferred the old trees to remain there, and for them to have used wood from other sources to make the carvings and sculptures.

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