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The Conservation Volunteers

The Conservation Volunteers (formerly British Trust for Conservation Volunteers)
The Conservation Volunteers work in the grounds of Alexandra Park, usually once a month on a Wednesday.
They carry out various conservation tasks such as pond clearance, building foot bridges, planting trees, and opening glades to increase bio-diversity.

If you would like to volunteer to work with TCV in the grounds of Alexandra Park, please phone

East London TCV on 079 1726 7573 More details here.

More pictures of work done by TCV 

Check here for updates, or contact Tom Nandi our BAT East Project Officer, email t.nandi@tcv.org.uk or call on Tel: 07917 267 573. for more info. 

Some of the work carried out in the past

February 2019

TCV worked around the Butterfly Meadow in the Park this month on the same day as the Friends' volunteers. TCV spent a good deal of time clearing some saplings along the edge of the Lower Path below the meadow.

Other jobs involved removing some leaves in the meadow itself as well as helping out with the bramble clearing (picture).

The weather was extra-ordinary for February with temperatures approaching 20 degrees.

December 2018

For the last workday of the year, the volunteers were blessed with good numbers and set about clearing some of the self-seeded saplings in an area down (before picture) from the Gas Hut (near the Bedford Road entrance). Mostly Ash, Sycamore and Elder were removed on a sunny, quite mild, day.

The resulting wood was made into posts in order to construct a small section of dead hedge. After the two lines of posts were knocked in (luckily the ground was quite forgiving) thinner, longer pieces of wood were weaved in between the posts. Finally the middle was filled with the rest of the wood along with some ivy.

November 2018

Further work cutting back areas of bramble along the Lower Road carrying on from work done in October.

October 2018

The plan was to cut back some of the bramble above the Lower Path promoting biodiversity. An initial problem was the fences up for the Fireworks the following weekend. Luckily Tom came equipped and we temporarily breached the barrier.

We cut back the bramble in a series of (mostly) semi-circular arcs. A wood blewitt fungus was discovered deeply buried under the bramble.

Sunshine helped the cause and work behind the barrier proceeded at a good pace.

(The fence was resealed after the work.)

September 2018

The Conservation Volunteers helped out in the Butterfly Meadow this month cutting back huge swathes of bramble from where it has been encroaching. This help is invaluable and will help to further boost the number of butterflies in this beautiful, quiet area of the Park.

August 2018

The theme for TCV work in August was the cutting back of the Cherry Laurel by Alexandra Palace Way near the entrance to The Grove. A first session of this hedge reduction had already been undertaken by corporate volunteers.

A lot of sawing and chopping took place and this will now allow a lot more light into the area. The removed branches were loaded up and removed by the Park Contractors, John O'Conner.

July 2018

One of TCV's July jobs was to open up some hedgehog holes in the old Deer Enclosures. You may spot some of these small gaps in the fence....

April 2018

TCV returned to The Grove to extend the line of new saplings planted. Field Maple, Hawthorn and Rowan were in the mix this time. Holes were dug, trees put in, holes filled and finally a generous watering was applied.

With this job done, the team moved down to the area above the access road to the Paddock Car Park where some leaning Poplars had previously been felled. Saplings of unwanted species were removed - Ash, Sycamore, Norway Maple and Poplars while Hawthorns, Elder and Blackthorn were left.

February 2018

A double line of new shrubs/trees have been planted in The Grove. This will help to protect the Snowdrops and other flowers.

Among those planted were Field Maple and Blackthorn.

November 2017

With limited numbers, we cleared a large section of bramble near the old Rifle Range in the Nature Conservation area. Ash saplings (many/most suffering from Ash Dieback) allow to promote more biodiversity. 

Other trees/saplings in the area included Horse Chestnut, Oak, Hornbeam, Sycamore, Hawthorn, Alder Buckthorn, Goat Willow and Guelder Rose.

Of interest....Willow Gall seen on Goat Willow caused by a sawfly.

August 2017

A different job in a different area of the Park this month..... In hot Summer weather we were happy to work mostly in the shade.

Our job was to clear some of the saplings of mostly Robinia and Elder underneath the large Black Locust tree below the Rose Garden.

They were cut up and then placed around a nearby dead Oak Tree to discourage people from approaching to closely. This should achieve its purpose when combined with the bramble growing around the old tree's base.


April 2017
Hot, hot, hot. With April temperatures soaring up to about 25 degrees for the volunteers. Can't complain, but it was a little distracting as were the sound of cheers and shouts from the football pitch nearby.

The team attacked the brambles with mattocks and forks in the Butterfly Meadow helping to stop them from re-establishing.

Some Oak Apples were spotted nearby (picture on Oak Trees) also butterflies came through including Speckled Wood, Orange Tip and Holly Blues.

We made some good progress on this treasured corner and we are looking forward to the wild flowers that will soon be filling the area.

March 2017

This is the final month on the Racecourse (February we were also there). 

Another day of felling mostly Hawthorns and letting the light back in to the area. Unfortunately the weather was not so kind to us with a gentle application of Scotch Mist for most of the day.

A good little group of us from at least four different countries worked on sawing, snipping and tidying away the wood into hedges in the Conservation Area. Overall a job well done.

January 2017


We continued the work of removing shrubs and small trees beside the Racecourse. Mostly taking out Blackthorn, but also Ash, Dogwood and Hawthorn.

Good progress made, but the terrain is muddy....

We also spotted the first Hazel in flower.

October 2016


Great to see two new faces for the TCV conservation work on Sunday. We cleared trees and saplings along the side of the racecourse. Mostly ash to start with then some dogwood, hawthorn, prunus and elm.

September 2016

TCV on Sunday attacked the vegetation in front of the Nature Pond. A large area of greenery to the centre and right was cleared. The day was warm! We cleared up afterwards! (pic)

One bit of Himalayan Balsam opposite the pond removed.

August 2016

An invader had made an appearance opposite the Nature Pond and this was removed to stop further spread. - Himalayan Balsam.

Most of Sunday's work involved pollarding willows (going, going, going, gone) near the reservoir. This willow is Crack Willow which not the best for weaving, but will used elsewhere in fencing.

More importantly, lots of free chocolate biscuits were available.

July 2016

Pollarding Willow plus this little construction were the tasks for July.

June 2016

Not such summery weather for this month's conservation work, in fact to begin with there was persistent drizzle. Undeterred the volunteers made their way to the Nature Pond.

They cleared part of the vegetation in front of the pond using slashers (a bit like scythes) in order to give passers by a better view (, but kept the yellow irises).

Time to wander by and inspect it yourselves....

Luckily by half eleven the rain had eased in time for tea and biscuits.

The next little project was to stop some of the vegetation encroachment in the nearby Nature area. (picture)

Lunch was taken then the final little project for the day was undertaken.
We dug a hole and filled it with dead wood in order to create a Stag Beetle Loggery. These once common insects are now much less frequently seen especially North of the river. Hoping that this will encourage more of them to patronise the Park and enhance the biodiversity of the area. (picture)

It good to meet the new Project Leader Tom Nandi and hope that future conservation days will be just as successful.

April 2016

Sunshine again for the TCV volunteers. Two jobs undertaken. Firstly the ditch was cleared (before, work, after) further upstream opposite the Nature pond with a good deal of dredging involved.

The other job was to repair the Bug Hotel partially damaged in a recent fire. New bits and pieces.  This now stands proud waiting for new residents to take up residence. More bugs will attract more birds and improve the ecology of this Local Nature Reserve.

March 2016

Down in the Ditch. 

This month a small band of volunteers (The fewer men, the greater share of honour.God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.) cleared over half the ditch opposite the Nature Pond. 

We removed vegetation in front of the ditch and a metre behind as well as clearing debris out of the ditch.

The weather was very kind to us and large swathes of vegetation disappeared very quickly. These pictures show part of what we cleared in classic before and after shots.

It is nice working here as we usually get plenty of favourable comments for the floods of passers by typically seen on a sunny weekend since the new path has been installed.

Joking apart the good weather maybe scared away some of our regulars - come help out next month, please!

If you prefer, here is a slide show of some of the progress during the day.

February 2016

We were happy to meet new TCV leader, Trudi Wilkinson, who had come over from East London to lead the project.

A few large Poplar Trees had been felled in the Butterfly Meadow area and bramble chopped back prior to TCV arriving on the scene.

The first job was to clear away some of the saplings felled and the brambles cut to be able to see what needed to be done.

Next we got down to the hard work of removing bramble roots from this cleared area. Mattocks are the ideal tool and TCV came well-equipped.

This hard, physical work was quite welcome bearing in mind the low temperatures for the day (although we did see quite a bit of sun).

A break for tea/coffee biscuits as usual although cut short we started to cool down....

At the end of day the uprooted bramble was moved down to the bottom by the Lower Road.

A satisfying bit of work....

November 2015

TCV were back in the Butterfly Meadow this month tackling the encroaching bramble. Progress seems slow, but roots were being removed so the results should be more than temporary allowing more space for the yellow ants to re-colonise lost areas.

The technique for bramble removal is to mostly use mattocks a type of pick axe with a blade which is very good at getting under the plants to get the roots out.

A lot of the world's problems were put to rights.

The weather was mild and the rain held off all day. We spotted a lot comings and goings during the day with the Fireworks bits and pieces being taken away along the lower road with some strange Mutoid Waste vehicles seen passing by....

Some of the other vehicles seen:

October 2015

A good turnout of volunteers on a lovely sunny Sunday attacked the bramble above Alexandra Palace Way near the Bedford Road entrance. We cut back and down some of the bramble and then dug out roots with mattocks. This is to try and reduce the encroachment on the grassland. Also a little time was taken to start to finish off the Insect Hotel near the Gas Hut.

September 2015

Construction of a new section of the Insect Hotel near the Bedford Road entrance was the project for September.

The new sections were sawn to length and a joined together. Behind the wall, the ground was excavated before the new structure was put in place.

The earth was slowly replaced being tamped down as it went. The new section is now in place ready to be filled with suitable habitat materials.

Good weath
er blessed our efforts.

During the morning the
Friends of Alexandra Park passed by on a Members Walk to admire our progress.

Later, a Fungi Expert, Andy Overall who leads our Fungi Walks came by to photograph (pic) and log a nearby rare red fungus, Pluteus aurantiorugosus.

This habitat was first created in September 2011 see report lower down this page.

August 2015

A drain at the end of the ditch opposite the Nature Pond was cleared to reduce future path flooding risk.

Part of the Butterfly Meadow was in shade which was welcome on a hot day as we moved to some quite physical work. Mattocks were employed to remove more bramble and ivy and to help encourage more Butterflies into the area.

The area does seen to attract a great range of insects....

July 2015

The volunteers cleared the vegetation from in front of the Nature Pond in order for visitors to appreciate it better. A large clearance is done each Winter and a second one after the bird nesting season.

June 2015

A healthy number of healthy individuals joined TCV leader, Jack, to work on the butterfly meadow. This area has been worked on by TCV (see Feb 2011 report) in past as well as more recent work by the Friends of Alexandra Park and John O'Conner (the Park Contractor).

The day's volunteers were a good mix of previous enthusiasts and new-comers (who we hope will come again).

We concentrated our work on digging up brambles on the southern edge of the site. Forks, spades and above all mattocks were the chosen tools.

The weather was kind to us after initial drizzle.

Although the area worked was not that large, it should put a big brake on bramble encroachment and help the grass to re-establish.

April 2015

Lovely sunshine for the volunteers and all Park Users. We continued the work by the drainage ditch opposite the Nature Pond. This time, we concentrated on removing roots of the brambles - hard work, but with tea, coffee and biscuits we enjoyed the day. Hopefully this will make a significant difference and make future work in the same area much easier.

March 2015

A mixed-up day weather-wise with sun at first then cloud and even the odd hint of rain. The volunteers dismantled the Viewing Platform whose view had been obscured by the high fence with a view to a new construction possibly at slightly different location.

The main work, however, consisted of clearing vegetation away from the drainage channel near the Nature Pond. The main culprits were brambles and willow herb. Over half has now been cut back to last year's position. Lots of work was done and the tea and biscuits provided were most welcome.....

February 2015

It was a beautiful sunny day and almost warm for TCV work on Sunday. We concentrated on removing more bramble below the middle path, but this time the emphasis was on digging out the roots of the brambles in as large an area as possible. Obviously this meant that not such a large could be covered, but there is the expectation that this will severely dent the regrowth of bramble in this area.

The Friends of Alexandra Park had a Members Walk which included visiting TCV working in the Park. Jack explained some of the work of the volunteers and demonstrated cutting down a small sycamore tree also inviting some of the Friends to participate in future.

January 2015

On a sunny, but cool Sunday volunteers continued work on the dead hedge enlarging it along the path just below the lower path near the Bedford Road entrance.

In the afternoon, TCV started to attack some of the brambles next to the middle path.

December 2014

This month TCV cleared competing saplings and small trees around a large oak tree. This was just down from the lower road in the Nature Conservation area. Species cleared included elm, ash, sycamore and horse chestnut. The wood produced was then used to produce to make a short dead hedge.

November 2014

Cloudy to start to the day then we were blessed with sunshine for the November workday.

The volunteers finished the opening up of the view of the Nature Pond. The section that we were working contained mostly hawthorn (treacherous thorns...) and guelder rose. This latter shrub has delighted us by giving us some great Autumn colour with its brightly coloured berries and reddening leaves.

Later we moved on to clearing some of the ditches nearby.

Again some of the stumps were removed to facilitate the work for next year.

October 2014

Overcast with some sunshine was the ideal weather to continue the work started last month. A good turnout of volunteers on Sunday enabled us to clear a larger area of the growth in front of the Nature Pond. Sawing, lopping and slashing all done enthusiastically. A good safe distance was always needed (and was observed) when using the slashers!

This will grow next year, but hopefully with the additional work done it should be quicker work to repeat.

September 2014

With a handful of enthusiastic volunteers, some of growth in front of the Nature Pond was cleared allowing the public to get a much better view. We were very pleased 
to hear 
a large number of positive comments from passers-by. Some late flowering purple loosestrife flowers now give a great display edging the pond to all that walk along the path. (Picture before clearance
 - come and see what it is like now!)

June 2014

June: With the Spring growth in full flood and the sun bringing an idyllic day, The Conservation Volunteers worked in the Nature Conservation Area cutting back brambles and other vegetation to promote a more diverse wild flower meadow area

May 2014

In May The Conservation Volunteers returned to the Blandford Hall area slightly widening paths and removing overhead obstructions. This is designed to make wooded area more accessible and safe giving better sightlines. 

With the wood and greenery removed some sections of hedging were created (picture) to protect the wildflower area created earlier. 

April 2014 

Work took place in the Blandford Hall area. Last year an area had been drastically thinned of smaller trees in order to encourage wildflowers. Volunteers cut back the re-sprouting trees and took out some holly to further promote the flowers. The dead hedge was also built up. The picture shows the profusion of garlic mustard flowers now blooming.

March 2014

On a warm day, TCV cleared five varying sized areas of bramble in the Nature Conservation Area to create further areas for wild flowers while leaving the majority of the area for nesting birds. Different methods were used (pulling brambles up by the roots in one area and cutting down all the high vegetation in another). An eye will be kept to see how the areas progress.

January 2014

TCV continued with the coppicing of willows by reservoir also removing some of the young willows growing up and stacking the wood by the reservoir. Also a start was made on repairing one of the viewing platforms.

December 2013

The main aim was to coppice about a third of the willows growing by the path next to the reservoir.
The sun was out and TCV spent a fruitful day cutting back some sprouting willow stumps to maintain the vegetation while not allowing the willows to dominate. The idea is that next year a further proportion of the willows will be back on rotation. Then,  as the sun went down, the cut wood was piled up by the side of the path for a future use on a project.

November 2013

TCV volunteers cut down the vegetation next to the Nature Pond to allow the public to see the pond and to allow new regrowth.

On a very sunny day, the willing helpers (all welcome!) managed to clear large ar
eas of brambles and nettles.

Also they cut back willows, blackthorn, poplars, dogwood etc.. Layers of clothes were gradually removed as the work warmed people up until one guy was working in a tee shirt.

The shrubs and undergrowth will all grow back again very slowly over the Winter then quicker and quicker over the Spring. This part of the job is now pretty much complete.

Summer 2013

During August and September, TCV have cut down as much as possible of the Cherry Laurel near the old Sea Cadets area (just above the Farmers Market). 

The volunteers worked especially hard over the two sessions. Much to everyone’s surprise virtually all of this invasive plant has now been chopped down to ground level, allowing significantly more light into the area, and giving native trees the chance to take over.

May, 2013

TCV spent the day clearing the rest of the drainage ditch that runs opposite the conservation pond and area next to it, back up to its source.

All plants were removed from the ditch as was all the rubbish and wood; some of the ditch was dug out to allow the water to flow freely. Also, vegetation either side of the ditch was cut back. Lots of cutting, slashing and some digging....

The highlight of the day was the vole spotted in the drainage ditch while we were working.

March, 2013

ardy volunteers braved the cold to clear back the vegetation from one of the drainage channels running through the conservation area.

The main target was brambles which threaten to overgrow the water and cause more flooding.

Last year’s willowherb growth was also removed. Tools used were “slashers”, rakes and loppers. A substantial area of the stream was cleared on both banks and the channel is now running much more freely.

February, 2013
In the cold and continuous rain, the brave volunteers removed some of the dead reeds and pollarded and coppiced willow, guelder rose and dogwood by the pond in the Nature Conservation area.

This should ensure that the pond remains visible from the path.

Not the most pleasant time, but tea and coffee kept the spirits up!

January, 2013

TCV did their last day of clearing a small part of the Blandford Hall site to let more light in to the g
round and help encourage a more varied vegetation. 

Paul Colcutt (TCV project leader, pictured here) demonstrated the correct technique for felling small trees in a controlled way.

Volunteers cleared ivy and then continued building the fence at the corner by the main path.

December, 2012

TCV worked again in the Blandford Hall area. They cleared a swathe of ivy from the ground to encourage other vegetation to grow. Previously a large amount of sycamore saplings and bramble had been cleared from the site. The result will be monitored and if only brambles and ivy reappear then some active planting of native species can be envisaged. They also continued to build a dead hedge on the edge of this area.

November, 2012

In November, TCV were working in the Blandford Hall area, removing sycamore and ash trees to allow the light to enter the area, and encourage other vegetation. We then wove the branches into a neater section of hedge.

October, 2012

On the October workday, the TCV  worked on the Blandford Hall area. We cleared out all the small and medium sized ash and sycamore trees allowing some light into this area to promote biodiversity. Most of the cut down vegetation was used to build and improve a fence around the area (not blocking access).

September, 2012

TCV were working near the viewing platform closest to the station 
(where the cormorants perch).  They were coppicing hazel and removing some ash trees, to let in more light.

August, 2012

On their August work day, TCV cleared an area of the pond surrounds, to allow viewing.

July, 2012

In July, TCV worked on repairing, improving and protecting the insect hotel near the Bedford Road entrance.

April, 2012

The April working party created two new stag beetle loggeries to encourage these beetles and other invertebrates in the park. They are under the big Robinia between the Rose Garden and
Blandford Hall Area.


February, 2012

Working with TCV this Sunday we finished clearing the drainage ditch opposite the Nature Pond working back almost to the bottom road.

This should hopefully help prevent flooding later in the year.

We had a great turnout with 15 people working hard wielding all sorts of tools. The snow fled fast throughout the day.

January, 2012

This month, we cleared the vegetation around the conservation pond.

September, 2011

Building a couple more Insect Hotels and filling them with inviting habitats!

A beautiful sunny Autumn day.

May, 2011


We built a fence to help protect a wildlife area with nesting birds near the reservoir.
We sunk some posts and concreted them in before cutting out wedges for the cross rails and then screwing them in.
The weather was warm and sunny.

March, 2011

Ten enthusiastic volunteers cleared scrub vegetation, and removed soil, to reveal the foundations for the old Lido along the footpath that runs alongside the reservoir.

They discovered that the remains are more substantial than had been thought, uncovering what looks like a concrete path along the wall.

February, 2011

spent the day clearing saplings with loppers, and bow saws, from an area below the pitch and putt, to help maintain it as a wildflower meadow.

January, 2011

We had six volunteers for our first visit of the year. We worked in the strip of scrub land behind the cricket pavilion. Last year we cleared large amounts of heavy bramble growth from this area, and Sunday's task was to consolidate this work by clearing back patches of re-growth to maintain the open areas we had created, and clear around the small footpath to ease access.

Large areas of dense bramble were left to provide nesting and cover for birds and other fauna. We also removed a diseased Hawthorn tree to prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring trees.

December, 2010

Bramble Clearance

Our last Sunday project of the year was spent clearing areas of bramble in the roughland common which lies along the footpath which cuts through the heart of the Conservation Area.  Three years ago we cut back the bramble in this area completely which allowed many grasses and wild flowers to re-establish their presence. This time we attempted to cut back the re-emerging bramble in a patchwork pattern, leaving about half of the bramble to provide habitat and food for the birds.

November, 2010

Coppicing by the Pond

We had a good turn out, with ten volunteers showing up to help us complete our work around the pond this autumn/winter. We cut back shrubs and
coppiced the small trees (mainly willow and Hawthorn) between the footpath and the pond. Together with the sedge clearance we had done earlier in the Autumn this has opened up the view of the pond. Our work was appreciated by passing members of the public (especially the bird watchers).

The TCV work in the grounds of Alexandra Park every second Sunday of the month.  They particularly welcome local volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer to work with TCV in the grounds of Alexandra Park, please phone 07740 899 680.

To find out what it's like to spend a day volunteering with TCV, and to see a list of frequently asked questions, visit the TCV website.

Some more pictures of TCV work in Alexandra Park here.