Offering over 50Ha (100 acres) of Metropolitan Open Land just a few miles from central London, Barnes Common is important for a host of reasons. It is popular with joggers, dog walkers, and those who just want to get away from the bustle of city living for a while. Although several roads cut through it, including the busy Rocks Lane, traffic noise is effectively screened by the natural barrier of trees and shrubs which also provides an invaluable habitat for wildlife. The football and cricket pitches are used extensively during weekends, holidays and summer evenings.
The Common also has extensive areas of acid grassland, a feature similar to upland moors which can be found on sandy and gravel soils. Lowland acid grassland has become rare because it has been recognised as excellent building land. The important thing is that the soil is acidic and has few nutrients. Small, fine grasses, small wildflowers and invertebrates can cope with these conditions; once any land is fertilised, stronger grasses and flowers will always crowd out the fine plants.
Acid grassland on Barnes Common has wonderful biodiversity. Because of the variety of different fine grasses and wildflowers, a great range of invertebrates can find good places to live. Barnes Common is home to several creatures that are on the endangered list. And because there is a huge range of insects, there is also good eating for the birds.
Barnes Common is managed by the Local Authority, with the Friends of Barnes Common giving advice and assistance in this task.
Friends of Barnes Common
The Friends of Barnes Common was formed two decades ago so the local community could be involved in all matters affecting the management of the Common, and membership and involvement are welcomed from as many people as possible. The Common is still owned by the Church and under an Act of Parliament is managed by Richmond Council.
FOBC’s primary aim is to preserve the character of Barnes Common but this does need managing to avoid losing habitat diversity to a uniform dark woodland.
But FOBC is not only about conservation: it is also consulted on a wide range of issues affecting the Common and would welcome comment by local residents interested in any and all aspects of this wonderful local amenity.
Barnes Green is the area around the pond, bordered by Church Road to the north and Beverley Brook on the south side, with a bridge over the Brook connecting it to Barnes Common. The grass is kept mown, making it a favourite area for informal games of football, cricket etc, as well as picnics in the summer.
Managed jointly by the Council and the BCA, Barnes Green hosts a variety of activities including a monthly Collectors’ Market and, of course, Barnes Fair, the BCA’s biggest annual event. It is also the starting point for the annual Duck Race on Easter Saturday.
Russell Greaves has been our Greenkeeper for several years, having worked previously at The London Wetland Centre.
Special thanks to Andrew Wilson for allowing us to use a selection of photographs from “Wild About Barnes”.