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118 ROWENA MARSH AND POND

PART OF SOAR BANK FARM, LOUGHBOROUGH ROAD, ROTHLEY

OS REF. SK594136

THIS IS PRIVATE LAND BUT CAN BE VIEWED FROM THE TOW PATH ALONG THE RIVER SOAR OR BY A PUBLIC FOOTPATH AT THE BACK OF ROWENA GARDEN CENTRE.

Rowena Marsh and Pond, Site 118, is part of a larger area to include Site 119 Rowena Fishing Lakes. There is a hedgerow boundary between the two but together they make one excellent natural history site and both in the same ownership.

The photographs below show Site 118 but the narrative can be found by clicking on the following link

Site 118 Cricket Bat Willow Plantation in April 2002. Looking to the Garden Centre.

Site 118 Cricket Bat Willow Plantation in April 2007.

Site 118. Cricket Bat Willow Plantation in May 2008

Site 118 The marshy area between the River Soar and the Cricket Bat Willow Plantation. April 2002

Marsh Marigolds love the marshy area in Site 118. April 2002

Pond 7 in Site 118. This is the natural pond unlike the two in Site 119. April 2002

Pond 7 showing it leading into the marshy area. April 2002

Pond 7. Looking to Rothley Lodge Farm fields. April 2002

Pond 7 looking to the marshy area in April 2007

On the boundary of Site 118 with the Sewerage Farm and filter beds between Farnham Bridge Farm and the River Soar. April 2002

Looking into the filter beds from Site 118 Rowena Marsh and Pond. April 2002

ROWENA MARSH AND POND IN 2013

The Cricket Bat Willows have made a good plantation since they were planted for future cricket bats. The tow path along the River Soar runs along the edge of this site which is still a boggy area. Pond 7 has become more overgrown which is natural without management

Cricket Bat Willow Plantation, left hand side, in June 2013

Cricket Bat Willow Plantation, further right, in June 2013

Cricket Bat Willow Plantation, right hand side. June 2013

Pond 7 in Site 118 getting very overgrown. June 2013

Pond 7 in Site 118. June 2013

The extreme right hand end of Pond 7 in Site 118. June 2013

MAKING A CRICKET BAT

Where might the Rothley cricket bat willows go to produce high class cricket bats?

The following information came from Andrew Kember the owner of the Salix Cricket Bat Company

Mature willow, aged 15-30, is most suitable. A tree supplies on average enough wood for 30 bats, though in the 1930's one huge willow made1,010.

The timber is cut into rounds and the clefts split out. Each cleft is rough sawn then waxed at the ends. Waxing prevents quick moisture loss from the end grain, which could cause cracks. The clefts are then air or kiln dried.

The cleft is cut into the basic blade shape. The craftsman needs to establish which end is best for the handle and make sure the 'sweet spot', the springiest part of the bat, is located in the centre to ensure maximum reward for a well-struck shot.

The willow fibres are compressed to strengthen the timber to withstand the impact of the ball. It is a delicate balance between hardening the willow for strength and leaving the blade soft enough to play well.

The handle, a laminated construction of cane and rubber strips (treble sprung), is precisely spliced into the blade of the bat. The handle is set slightly forward in order to ensure a perfect pick up. It is secured using a water-resistant wood glue, and then left overnight to dry.

Pulling off the willow with the draw knife shapes the blade. The coarse cuts of the draw knife are smoothed using wooden planes and the shoulders are seamlessly blended with the spoke-shave. Once shaped, the bat is coarse and fine sanded.

The bat is mounted in a lathe, which is controlled via a foot pedal, and the handle bound using twine. The handle is brushed with glue and whipped with twine, which adds strength at the top of the splice and throughout the length of the handle. The blade is finely burnished using a compound wax that polishes and flattens the wood, leaving a satin finish. English grips are fitted to the handle and labels applied.