Now wheelchair users can enjoy Lancaster green space

More people can now access a special field in Lancaster, paid for by Lord Ashton’s step daughter more than 80 years ago.

By Louise Bryning
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 12:30 pm

Wheelchair users can now enjoy Miss Whalley’s Field, nestled between Derwent and Kentmere Roads after dropped kerbs were installed on either side of Derwent Road.

The improvement came about after wheelchair user, Sarah Bayton, 24, was unable to attend the field’s annual Remembrance event last year.

Money to buy a space where children could play was bequeathed in memory of Miss Whalley’s brother who was killed in World War One.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Pictured at the new access to Miss Whalley's Field are Christ Church vicar, Rev Carol Backhouse; Sarah Bayton; Friends of Miss Whalley's Field chair, Paul Wiggins and County Coun Lizzi Collinge.

Friends of Miss Whalley’s Field chair, Paul Wiggins, said: “I was really upset when Sarah was unable to access the Remembrance event and was determined that it would never happen again. We believe the field should be accessible to all, which is why we’re also improving access at the Kentmere Road entrance.”

The Friends contacted Lancaster East County Councillor Lizzi Collinge who contacted the landowner, Lancaster City Council. Lancashire County Council then installed the dropped kerbs which also serve the Derwent Road bus stop.

Sarah, who lives in Lancaster, said: "It's brilliant that the council have made a dropped kerb. Thank you to the Friends of Miss Whalley's Field for making it happen. Now I can access the field really easily."

County Coun Collinge said: “The Friends group is a real asset to the area and I love bringing my kids to the field to play. I believe that accessibility should be a basic right for my residents and I was really pleased that the group has made this a priority. The response from the city council was exemplary and I only wish my other work on accessibility was so easy!”

The memorial stone on Miss Whalley's Field.

As well as improving access, the group, run by volunteers, has a number of ongoing projects including draining the wettest corner near Kentmere Road and providing a better path. They’ve received funding for this improvement which is now going through a planning process.

On May 8, the Friends are hoping more volunteers will join them from 1pm in clearing undergrowth from Jean Argles Wood on the field which is named after the Wray wartime code breaker and great-niece of Miss Whalley. They have already planted 750 trees there including small leaved limes which live for 2,000 years.

Although Miss Whalley’s Field has a certain amount of protection from development as a designated official war memorial, the Friends have also approached Lancashire County Council for the space to be given Town/Village Green status for even greater protection.

The Friends always need new volunteers to help with maintenance and are currently focusing on the orchard and memorial garden.

Miss Whalley's Field covered in buttercups.

Paul said: “Maintenance is key as we move forward. Miss Whalley’s Field was left for the community and it would help if more people in the community took responsibility for it.”

People can volunteer to focus on particular areas informally if they prefer as long as they tell the Friends. For more information, visit the Friends website here or email [email protected]

Visitors to Miss Whalley's Field can enjoy beautiful views over Lancaster.