Video tour of Brickmakers Wood (further links below)
Father and daughter team, Rob Brooks and Jo Brooks of the Eden-Rose Coppice Trust charity run, amongst other projects, woodland retreats at Brickmakers Wood in Ipswich and Eden-Rose Coppice in Sudbury.
The Trust was founded in 2007 with the purpose of providing a safe and highly beneficial natural urban green spaces, with essential facilities, for people with a life-limiting illness such as cancer and for the development and skill acquisition of young people with disabilities.
The positive health effects of green spaces, and more specifically woodlands, have been observed on longevity, people's self-reported general well-being and recovery from illness.
In making the case for therapeutic use of outdoor spaces, the evidence base is important and proven. Many people see healthcare as an art as well as a science and encourage access to outdoor spaces. This approach is not often practised; however, the Trust has been doing this successfully since 2007.
Through its partnered social enterprise ‘The Eden-Rose Community Ltd’ it provides vulnerable young people, the unemployed, the elderly and the disabled, with skill-based educational training based on outdoor learning, dramatically increasing their self-confidence and providing an enrichment of life and companionship for those who may feel socially isolated for a variety of reasons.
The charity’s Ipswich site, Brickmakers Wood, was an abused, overgrown wasteland lying between the western perimeter path of Alexandra Park and the lane separating the site from the Suffolk New College campus. Fencing around the perimeter of the wood, a wheelchair-friendly pathway, along with a large wildlife pond, various wildlife habitats and benches have all been developed. The existing Romney buildings (large Nissan huts) on the lower lane have their own historical significance, having been built by the War Office during the Second World War to house a servicing vehicle and supplies to maintain the barrage balloons around the Ipswich dockland area. To these buildings have been added bespoke composting toilets and the remarkable, twelve-sided ‘ECOgon’ building towards the top of the wood.
Having been featured in the BBC television series Big dreams, small spaces hosted by Monty Don, the Trust received a grant from Jewson’s, which enabled the building of the ECOgon. Volunteering is at the heart of the Trust’s work in the conversion of a neglected site to a carefully managed woodland garden with workshops and timber store.
The name of the wood reflects the ancient history of Ipswich dating back to the Anglo-Saxon craftspeople who made Ipswich Ware from the 7th century and probably dug clay here. A brick and tile works was still working here (the slum housing area south of Rope Walk was called ‘The Potteries’) in Victorian and Edwardian times – an ideal location given the plentiful London clay, the digging of which created the steep scarps of Brickmakers Wood.
[Source: Brickmakers Wood/Eden Rose Community who provided all the photographs.]