Why Armley is ‘blessed with common land’


We are blessed in Armley with common land, writes Armley resident Emma Bearman. There are six pieces of land protected by the Armley Common Right Trust. Hill Top, Charlie Cake Park, Moor Top (at the junction of Town St and Wortley Road), Armley Moor, Far Fold (over Theaker Lane from the Moor) and Ley Lane (beyond Mistress Lane) Check out Armley Common Right Trust on Facebook for more.

I’ve mentioned before that the most local to me is the triangular mythical Charlie Cake Park.

It’s two minutes away and is a perfect size for play. Bounded by roads and railings it used to be proper posh back in the 30’s according to one of our former neighbours, Sybil (age 101). The good citizens of Armley on Facebook recall it as a very special place which was well maintained and had a park warden back when society had more money for parks. Here’s a story about the origins of the name if you are curious. It involves a pony and shortbread…

Yesterday me & the pup joined about 15 others on what we thought would be a wander with wild flower seeds! With a little encouragement the trust got out their enviable stash of litter pickers and bags too! Off we set, a motley crew, up the road to Moor Top. We didn’t realise it was the same day #cleanforthequeen was trending on Twitter! Had we have known might we have worn little royalist purple rosettes? (answers on a postcard please).

What a fantastic amble it was. Our puppy was worn out by the children racing about with her. I met some people off of The Facebook (Armley Good Stuff) and we plotted social events together, and discussed the rather marvellous Cats of Armley group.

Other conversations turned to education, homework and testing, we discovered commonality in our worries about the pressures upon our children and their teachers.

armley common rights trust litter pick
Hard at work on Armley litter pick. Photo: Trust memeber Mark

It was interesting to compare experiences from across the local primaries and realise issues were common to one and two-form entry schools. It was helpful, in a sense, to think as parents, governors and teachers we share a concern not just relevant to our own schools but possibly across Armley and beyond.

We visited a bit of land which was cleared up last year by the residents, which isn’t ‘common’ but is jointly owned.

We got to know Claire last year, one of the instigators of the clear up via Twitter when she was wondering what to do with the burnt out wreck. From there a conversation ensued where Pete offered to drive the trust’s ride on lawn mower and help clear the space. The joys of local listening posts on social media enabled these little connections to take place. Now look at their pocket park as the grass has been cut down and it’s no longer a rubbish tip and fire hazard.

We happened across a mug dangling from a tree on the largest common we know as Armley Moor. Suffice to say it gave me ideas about mug trees, and learnt from Mark that ‘mug trees’ are actually a thing in public which transcend the kitchen! Hmmm…

One thing I was a little curious about was the swanky new noticeboard on the Moor which had no notices inside in, but a lost dog poster stuck on it.

‘Who had the keys?’ I asked, thinking how vital these community posts are for information sharing. Worth finding out who holds the keys now, it used to be the trust, but perhaps it’s somebody in the council now? One to follow up methinks:

All in all a gentle amble and over 10 bags of litter picked. It was no big deal, and pretty sure we weren’t ‘do gooders’, just people enjoying a walk where we live, making new friends, sharing some ideas.

Thanks to the people who volunteer fortnightly at Armley Common Rights Trust. As I get older, and care more for a place where our children and their friends (and potential friends not yet encountered) can be safe and flourish, I appreciate the constancy of effort that people put in on a regular basis to make where we live better for all of us.

Common lands are ever more important spaces for communities these days, they enable us to be free, and find commonality.

A version of this article first appeared on Medium.


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