This is the story of a wall. Not just any wall, but a wall on Katesgrove Hill.
This particular wall started out life in about 1895 as two walls forming the rear boundary to terraced housing at the west end of Milman Road opposite Christ Church primary school (see map below). The wall became a single wall around 1910 when an access road that split the two terraces was removed by in-filling three houses to form a 20 house terrace.
The wall overlooked a brick kiln in its early life, then allotments during the war years and up to the 1960s, and then a school playing field from 1968.
The wall is approximately five to six feet tall, double skin, made from locally sourced red Victorian brick and has been a major thoroughfare for local cats for a century.
In the summer of 2008 the school, now New Christ Church CE Primary School, decided to put up a fence 7 feet from the wall for security reasons. The area between the wall and the new fence became known as the ‘gap’ or ‘DMZ’ (demilitarised zone). This gap became neglected and nature, in the form of ivy vines, took the area back. The vines even climbed over the wall to take over back gardens. Cats could no longer traverse the wall and the weight of the vines at the far end of the terrace broke it down.
In the summer of 2015, Whitley Pump activists joined forces with the school to save the wall. The school commissioned its groundsman to cut back the vines but this was not a complete success; they were concerned about damaging the wall further.
Residents joined forces to liberate both their back gardens and the wall from ivy, and collaborated to rebuild the fallen wall in August 2016.
This work is now complete and the wall fully restored. The ivy, including its roots, have been banished. The Victorian wall now stands proud as it overlooks the school field as well as life going on in the terraces of Milman road.
The wall looks forward to grass regrowing in the gap and tender loving care from the school’s grounds staff.
Thank you to the residents – Adam, Andrew, Chris, Evelyn, Martyn, Rosemary and all the other residents who supported the work over the last year. Thank you to the school – Cathy, Michaela & Wendy, and the builders Marius and his team of craftsmen.