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Preston Cemetery

 

 

 

Preston Cemetery is a key site  in the village and one of the largest open spaces in the North Shields area.  Covering 52 acres it  includes five conservation areas and is home to a variety of bird and plant life, as well as containing some fascinating gravestones that provide an insight into local history and  way of life. The conservation areas are monitored by the North Tyneside Council biodiversity officer and a leaflet detailing a short walk through the cemetery which highlights points of interest and wildlife is available from the cemetery office or North Council Leisure and Tourism Service

.Yellow flower

Preston Residents Association was instrumental in the reinstallation of railings to the front of the cemetery and aims to continue working with NTC to improve its appearance further while maintaining its important secondary function as a home for wildlife in the area.  We have secured funding to purchase and site a number of bird and bat boxes in the cemetery; this work will be carried out over the summer of 2012 to allow potential residents to explore and become used to them ready for next years breeding season.  The images above include one of an owl box already sited in the cemetery.

Preston Cemetery is an excellent example of a public Victorian planted woodland within the borough, due to the maturing trees at the site.  Within North Tyneside there are no publicly owned areas of ancient woodland – therefore the value on such mature woodlands including that of Preston Cemetery are important examples.

The site is designated a Local Wildlife Site (LWS) formerly known as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance(SNCI) – these sites hold special designation due to the diverse flora and fauna found at the site.  This urban cemetery is characterised by mature trees, under storey planting of bulbs and tall herbs.
The following is taken from the North Tyneside Biodiversity Database site description
” Preston Cemetery was created in 1856 on former pasture land and is the largest cemetery in North Tyneside and one of the largest open spaces  (21 Ha) within urban North Shields. The area  therefore represents  an  important  refuge for wildlife  within  the  built environment  and  is dominated by large areas of mature  secondary woodland with small remnant patches of old grassland. The cemetery is sensitively managed by North Tyneside Council for the purposes of burials, informal recreation and nature conservation.
The majority of the cemetary is characterised by an open canopy of mature trees including horse chestnut, lime, beech, wych elm, ash and sycamore.  Many areas are dominated by introduced bulbs such a daffodil, grape hyacinth, spanish bluebell and snowdrop.  These areas are left uncut until earl July which allows many native woodland forbs to flower and set seed.  These include primrose, wood anemone, greater stitchwort, wild garlic, Dog’s mercury, Lords-and-Ladies and lesser celandine
Un-shaded reas of old grassland are characterised by meadow foxtail, sweet vernal grass and red fescue associated with forbs including germander speedwell, pignu, buttercup (bulbous and meadow) and sorrel.  The wooded areas of the cemetery provide cover for a number of woodland birds including: Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Creeper, Wood pigeon, Goldcrest, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Robin and Wren.  Regular winter visitors include   Redwing, Fieldfare and Bramblng.  Mammals observed in the cemetary inlcude hedgehog, mole, rabbit, fox and weasel. 
In autumn the wooded areas of the cemetery are characterised by an interesting array of fungi including Brown Roll Rim, Slippery Jack, Rufus Milk Cap, Dyads Saddle, Honey Fungus, Earth Ball and Orange Antler Fungus. “
A complete species, compiled in 1990 (so possibly in need of some updating – if anyone has anything they would like added please let us know), provided by North Tyneside council can be found here