The extraordinary thing is that nobody appears to own the old Abbey Wall that borders Gold Hill. Not the county, district or town council, not English Heritage or another national conservation body. Not even The Abbey Museum.
But with Gold Hill being Shaftesbury’s biggest tourism asset, allowing Gold Hill to become Green Hill is not an option. So credit to Anne Giberson, chair of Shaftesbury and District Tourism Association (SDTA) for persevering in getting the clean up work done.
And it’s the private sector that paid for it. With councils pleading poverty (and denying responsibility), the SDTA applied to be one of the beneficiaries of Tesco’s Bags of Help project, whereby the 10p then paid by customers for plastic bags was redistributed to community projects. The appeal to help clean up Gold Hill worked, with Tesco making a substantial grant towards the project.
The money has been spent in two tranches. Last autumn, specialist stonemason Lorenzo Ferrari and his team lifted and relaid those cobbles that had worked loose, while clearing the gullies and drains of silt and weeds, scraping vegetation off the cobbles and clearing the areas around the bench seats. You can read the full story of The Gold Hill clean-up Pt 1 here – and watch the video.
And today, Dorset County Council’s workers were back, with a cherry picker hired in from Bristol to reach the top of the walls and clear off Valerium and other vegetation, while keeping the wallflowers. The vegetation was stripped off the walls to the top of Gold Hill: the team will be back in a fortnight to clear the lower walls and spray the roots to keep the walls clear.
The final job planned this time around is to rub down and varnish the wooden rail supports. The SDTA will pay DCC to carry out the work, as it has for the work to date. And then…. work out who owns the Abbey Wall and who has responsibility for cleaning the wall and Gold Hill, and lay down guidelines for ensuring regular maintenance work is done.