Local Nature Reserve
Map Ref: SJ 925 234
Kingsmead Marsh Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is a large wetland area, which provides a valuable wildlife habitat close to the centre of Stafford town. In December 2003 the marsh became the first new LNR to be declared in Stafford Borough as a result of the 'Wildspace!' project.
Ecological Value of Kingsmead Marsh
The majority of the site is marshland, which supports a variety of flora and fauna, including locally rare plants such as purple loosestrife and brown sedge. In 1997 Staffordshire Wildlife Trust carried out a detailed ecological survey on the site. On the basis of the information that was gathered Kingsmead Marsh was designated as a grade 1 Site of Biological Importance. The site is a valuable wildlife haven at the centre of a busy town and at a size of approximately 6 hectares it is more extensive than many of the remaining marshes in Staffordshire. The Local Nature Reserve declaration provides further recognition of the site's importance.
As part of the Local Nature Reserve (LNR) declaration process a habitat management plan was developed, which describes how the marsh will be managed over the next five years to protect and enhance its important wildlife value, and to promote it as a valuable area of community greenspace.
Various management tasks have been identified, including:
- Willow coppicing
- Tree maintenance
- Protection of an old hedgerow
- Wildlife surveys
- Control of invasive plant species
- Improved signage and seating
- Access improvements
Willow scrub, which is encroaching from the perimeter of the site, is threatening to dry out sections of the marsh. To prevent dense scrub cover from developing on the marsh coppicing work is being carried out. Coppicing is a traditional form of tree management which involves cutting off the tree stem close to ground level. This encourages multiple new shoots to grow at the point where the stem was cut. These young tender shoots were traditionally used for making items such as baskets and hurdles.
A Brief History of the Marsh
Kingsmead Marsh is a remnant of a much larger area of marshland that lay to the north and east of the Saxon settlement of Stafford. The marshland and the River Sow, which meandered to the west of the settlement, were the key reasons for the selection of this location as they gave the settlement an excellent defensible position.
The sediments in Kingsmead Marsh are metres thick and are likely to have been accumulating since the retreat of the ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age.
During the Middle Ages there was a mill, which was owned by the King, in the vicinity of the present Kingsmead Marsh. At that time the stream which ran through the marsh was dammed up to make a mill pond, which was known as King's Pool. This royal connection lives on in the current name of the site.
Over time the pool silted up and returned to marsh. More recently the marsh is likely to have been used for summer grazing of livestock and may have been used for gaming. Apart from these activities the marsh would have been relatively untouched by humans.
If you would like any additional information about conservation work on Kingsmead Marsh LNR or other biodiversity initiatives please contact us.