|HCC Site ID.||1621||Parish:||Fareham|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Fareham Borough Council|
Location and site
The Gillies is situated to the south of Fareham town centre, bordered to the north by the Southampton-Portsmouth railway line and the A27, to the west by the disused Fareham-Gosport railway line, and to the northeast and the south by post-war middle-density residential estates. The Black Brook flows from west to east through the site and is joined by other water channels at various points along its course, leaving the park at its eastern extremity to flow into Fareham Creek. The park contains a variety of habitats: allotment gardens, open grass, meadow, scrub, wetland and remnants of very old, mature oak woodland.
The first known activities were recorded in the wetlands known as Prior’s Marsh where willow trees grew, their flexible branches being used to make baskets and fish traps (GIB). It was used as agricultural land in more recent times, and the 1847 Fareham Tithe map and apportionment show pieces of land called Gully Meadow, Gully Field and the Gill, reflecting the importance of the water channels. The stream has been known as Gully River, Gilly River and the Black Brook, after the estate through which it flowed. It was originally tidal almost as far as the footbridge (HGT research 1996).
The 1870 6″ OS map shows a footpath from north to south, linking the town centre with Redland Lane and following virtually the same route as the modern footpath. The 1896 6″ OS map shows a footbridge over the stream (NLS online 2016).
After the First World War, the Gillies was used mainly by livestock for grazing (GIB). By 1933 allotment gardens can be seen in the southern portion of the area, on the 1933 6″ OS map. (NLS online 2016). They occupy the same area as those which exist today. Between 1940 and 1963 the land was gradually bought up by Fareham Borough Council, with the major part being purchased in 1956, and by 1996 the land between the allotments and the Southampton-Portsmouth railway line was being used as a public park, with the area to the west of the north-south pedestrian and cycle path managed as a conservation meadow, and the space to the east as amenity grassland (HGT research 1996).
The Gillies is made up of four different areas: the 71 allotments to the south and southwest; the grasslands in the north, divided into the recreational grassland which is regularly mown and provides a space for play and relaxation; and the conservation grassland which is cut once a year to encourage wildlife. There is a mown path through the latter with some new tree planting before 2008. The third area is the woodlands, mainly of mature oak with ash, hawthorn, sycamore and field maple, and criss-crossed with paths. This gradually gives way to the fourth area, the wetlands in the narrow eastern section which encompasses the river and surrounding woodland which is mainly willow, alder and scrub with sedge and rush plants.
The Fareham Society holds regular work days with the Fareham Countryside Service, to carry out wildlife surveys, maintain hedges, paths and steps, and clear litter (FLBAP 31, 2008 – online 2016)
Summary and significance
A public park, rich in wildlife and a variety of habitats including open grass, conservation meadows, wetland and remnants of very old, mature oak woodland, which provides an oasis of calm and recreation within residential estates.
HGT Research: July 2016
(GIB) – The Gillies Information Board produced by The Fareham Society, positioned near the footbridge
Hampshire Gardens Trust research 1996
(FLBAP 2008) – Fareham Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2008
http://www.fareham.gov.uk/pdf/planning/bap.pdf – accessed July 2016
(NLS) – National Library of Scotland
http://maps.nls.uk/index.html – accessed July 2016