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Potteries Orienteering Club

West Midlands Orienteering Association

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First published in The Potter July 2005
Text © Copyright John Heaton 2005, 2010

Biddulph Grange Country Park

Geography

This Orienteering area, now with a permanent course, is small leg-of-lamb shaped Country Park about 1km long and 0.7km wide at the widest point. The main feature is a steep sided wooded stream valley. The source of the stream lies just outside the map on the ridge above Biddulph Moor, only 1km from the source of the Trent, but this stream feeds into the Dane at Congleton then on to the Irish Sea. Away from this valley the park is a mixture of gentle sloping open pasture, runnable woodland and dense rhododendron. Since the map was first done some of this rhododendron have been cleared re-opening old paths and exposing interesting rock features. Furthest away from the valley to the south the open woodland has scattered rock features including two extremely large boulders one of which contains a cave.

Event and Map History

First mapped in 1998 by Peter and Christine Roberts (Roberts mapping) and was with the map of Trentham the start of our Lottery funded mapping project. The first Local Event was staged in October of that year and in each year subsequent to that we have held a Local Event in August to coincide with a programme of other outdoor and arts events held in Biddulph.In February 2009 the Permanent Course was created on the area. A grant was obtained for the materials and a work parties of club members installed the posts over a two day period.

History

Adjoining the park but completely separate now is Biddulph Grange Gardens which are administered by the National Trust. Biddulph Grange house is now split up. A small part next to the Gardens is used by the N.T. The bulk has been converted to luxury flats. In 1840 James and Maria Bateman purchased the Grange, then a Vicarage, and commenced a dramatic rebuilding programme of the house and the extensive grounds. They were keen horticulturists and created a themed garden to represent parts of the world covering 15 acres. Little is mentioned on the web pages I have scoured of work on the parkland outside the gardens. I did find one reference crediting the Batemans with its creation. One outstanding feature of his garden was a long straight uphill avenue of giant North American pines. He called this Wellingtonia Avenue after the name of the tree species. The line of this avenue continues into the country park area and uphill to the cave. Just beyond the locked gate to the gardens stands a very large stone urn and looking downhill from there part of house and gardens can be seen. The original trees were neglected or felled, but replanted in 1996 by the N.T. and in 2070 these Wellingtonia will reach maturity. In 1871 the Batemans sold the estate to Robert Heath a wealthy industrialist who owned many of the mines in the north of the Potteries. A name which rang a bell from when I was researching Chatterley Whitfield. In 1923 the estate was converted to a Hospital. Shortly after closing in 1988 the N.T. purchased the gardens and in 1990 Staffordshire Moorlands Council purchased the parkland, restored it and opened it as a Country Park.

Hydro-Electricity

In 2002 a small scale hydro electric plant was commissioned to supply up to 3kw of power to the park visitor centre. This was a restoration of a facility that existed at the beginning of the last century.

John Heaton