OXLEY PARK (OZ/ES01)

Click here to see preliminary management plan for the site

Click here to see species lists for this site

General Information (click to see a GIS derived map of Oxley Park)

Grid Reference

SK26009830

Ownership

Sheffield City Council Leisure Services

Size

10.5 hectares (1,612m perimeter)

Designation(s)

Green Belt. A small portion to the north has been designated part of New Hall Wood ANHI (probably in error)

Access

Full public access. Public rights of way No 48, 45 and 23 run through the site.

Classification

B3

Importance

Largest piece of recreational open space in Stocksbridge that includes formal playground facilities and three football pitches (one with pavilion). There is also an allotment site on the eastern side of site and Stocksbridge Leisure Centre is to the north. Therefore, a very important community facility for sport and recreation (including dog walking). Ecological importance is also significant on fields where only mowing takes place. Habitats and flora are very diverse for such a site.

Date Surveyed

25 February 2000

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Survey information

Introduction

Largest area of recreational open space in Stocksbridge and Deepcar.

History

Oxley Park was named after Thomas Oxley, who at the beginning of the twentieth century owned a large fruit farm on part of this site, growing blackcurrants, gooseberries, plums, damsons and other soft fruits. He donated land (over 30 acres) that now bears his name for the creation of a park and recreation ground for the people of Stocksbridge in 1921. The steel works (Samuel Fox and Co.) took on the landscaping and management of the park and such features as the rhododendrons along the 'ash track' date from this time. A major landscaping project that developed the western side into a series of stepped recreational fields was undertaken in the 1960s. Around 1993-94 small areas of the park were planted with shrubs and trees by the then Stocksbridge Steel Valley Project.

Topography

Gently north facing. The western part of the site consists of three plateaux landscaped as part of landfill operations in the 1950s. Western margin of this area forms the eastern valley slope of New Hall Wood.

Recreation and Use

Dog walking occurs all the time. Informal play and formal (using playground) by kids occurs mainly in the late spring and summer. Football pitches are in use during weekends in the winter months.

Present Management

Grass areas are mown quite frequently. Some parts such as Juncus area in the eastern part (parallel with Footpath number 45) are not mown at all. Wet meadow in this area is allowed to develop over spring and summer. Some tree planting has taken place in the past (in three areas).

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Plant Communities

Community

General Description

Characteristic Species

Community A

Tall herb

Urtica dioica, Arrhenatherium elatius, Chamerion angustifolium, Epilobium hirsutum, Heracleum sphondylium, Centaurea nigra

Community B

Scrub

Sorbus aucuparia, Sambucus nigra, Betula pendula

Community C

Woodland

Alnus glutinosa, Acer pseudoplatanus, Betula pendula, Ilex aquifolium

Community D

Juncus flush

Juncus effusus, Juncus conglomeratus, Lotus pedunculatus

Community E

Wet Meadow

Cardamine pratensis, Ranunculus acris

Community F

Amenity grassland

Luzula campestris, Lolium perenne, Bellis perennis, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus

Community G

Rough grassland

Dactylis glomerata, Ranunculus repens

Community H

Linear amenity planting

Prunus sp. (cherry), Prunus laurocerasus

Community I

Managed hedgerows

Crataegus monogyna

Community J

Heathland

Calluna vulgaris, , Vaccinium myrtillus, Deschampsia flexuosa

Community K

Birch and willow woodland

Salix caprea,  Betula sp.

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Ecological Interest

A very diverse site with a history of development for recreational use. It abuts New Hall Wood in the west, agricultural land to the south and south east with a leisure centre and housing to the north. Much of the present vegetation dates from when the site was landscaped as a public park in the 1920s and when major landscaping took place in the 1960s that produced the tiers of recreational fields in the western part.

The extensive areas of recreational fields provide space for three football fields, a hard surface playground and basketball court. The fields themselves have some interest, some areas more than others, as they have received very little in the way of inputs of fertiliser or chemicals. Although the top field on west side is managed amenity grass, species such as Common bird's-foot-trefoil and selfheal have been recorded. The field at the back of the leisure centre is of most interest as a wide variety of plants, albeit very low growing because of the frequency of mowing, can be found from daisy, common cat's-ear and selfheal to lady's mantle and field wood-rush. In autumn the field (if uncut for a while) is frequently found with a variety of wax cap fungi (Hygrocybe) including meadow, parrot, snowy and scarlet, as well as the Red Data Book Species Hygrocybe calyptraeformis discovered in 1997. A survey in early November 2000 recorded six fruiting bodies of this fungus.

This field also contains a large wet meadow area on its eastern side surrounding a wet Juncus (rush) flush marking a spring with characteristic species such as lady's smock and meadow buttercup. 

The woodland compartment consists of a few areas of mature trees on the east part of the site, including the area of trees and shrubs along the 'ash track'. An area of mixed trees (with much ash) has developed on the eastern side of the top recreation field in the west. Tree and shrub planting in three areas took place in the 1990s with species such as rowan, guelder rose, alder and hawthorn planted.

Birch and willow woodland skirt the western fringe of the site and form the upper slopes of the valley in which New Hall Wood lies. Some of this woodland has developed on one of the north-facing slopes between the stepped fields. At the east end of this finger of woodland occurs heathland habitat with some bilberry. Parts are eroded as a result of the slope being used as a shortcut to the football fields of the top field. The birch and willow scrub/woodland may, in time, invade and oust the heather from this area.

Scrub areas are mainly of willow and recent planting as mentioned above. An unusual feature is a large linear amenity planting feature on the east side of the two northernmost stepped fields. This consists of many large cherry trees and also a stretch of cherry laurel. A dirt track drive runs between this feature and the back gardens of the houses. Some of these property owners have extended their gardening across the drive to the linear feature with formal planting of cultivated plants and shrubs such as wallflowers, Iris and Forsythia.

Tall herb areas are abundant and are found adjacent to the leisure centre car park and south of the allotment site. Also, there is a small area south of the Inman pavilion that has Russian comfrey. Tall herb is also found around the southernmost stepped field with hogweed, thistles and rosebay willowherb being major components during the summer months. 

With this variety of habitat there was, as expected, a wide variety of birds with corvids using the recreation fields as feeding grounds, and in winter gulls use these to roost, whilst small flocks of siskin can be found in the alders along the 'ash track'. Redpolls were seen on the survey day around the area of alders with other finches. This is a species that has experienced significant population declines in recent years. In summer the space above the fields are used for feeding by swallows and house martins. Bats are frequent along tree and woodland margins. Mole activity is sometimes considerable at appropriate times of the year. Extensive mole hills on some of the fields indicate a thriving population. Invertebrates are very diverse too. Local naturalists have recorded many butterfly, gall wasp and fly species.   

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Botanical survey - to view lists of species click here 

 

Stocksbridge SRB5 Greenspace Audit undertaken by Jim Flanagan for Sheffield Wildlife Trust - see their Community Action Handbook - full of good ideas for your local site


Back to map of ecological survey sites

Inner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I
Back to map of ecological survey sites

nner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I
Back to map of ecological survey sites

nner Zone

Knoll Top

Outer Zone

Oxley Park

Bracken Moor - playing fields

East Whitwell - open space

Wood Royd

Countryside Zone

Ellen Cliff Wood

Townend Common

Industrial Zone

Dog Lichen Field

Hen Holmes Wood

Little Don - acid heath

Little Don - open space

Exchange Sidings

 

 

 

 

 

 

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