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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Explosive project may explain juniper decline

A CUMBRIAN student is hoping Memories Page readers can help to shed more light on the demise of the county’s juniper trees?

As part of a research project aimed at helping the Cumbria Wildlife Trust with its juniper regeneration programme, Daniel Sencier is trying to discover how many of these amazing trees were in the county before industry, the miners and farmers moved in.

He said: “At this time of year, the evenings are drawing in, the nights getting colder and outside, we hear the crack and bang of fireworks, but how many of you know that Cumbria was once the gunpowder capital of Europe?

“As a third year Wildlife and Media mature student at the University of Cumbria, and in conjunction with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, I am undertaking research into the rise and fall of this industry and looking to find out what effect this had on the junipers of Cumbria.

“The junipers? Yes, that is why gunpowder mills started to spring up all over South Cumbria, because the best charcoal in the production of the finest gunpowder was made from juniper wood.

“If I can establish the scale of gunpowder production, I hope to relate this back to how much charcoal, and thus how much juniper would have been used.

“But we may have exported, or imported, both gunpowder and juniper, so this will not be a simple task.”

He has already built a base of information from the books Gunpowder Mills of Cumbria by Ian Tyler and The Leven Valley, A Secret Past by Ronald Mein and
Richard Sanderson.

The student, who lives in Penrith, is keen to contact South Cumbrians who had relatives or friends who worked in the gunpowder mills.

He said: “Perhaps you know someone who works, or has worked, in offices where old record books were kept; possibly churches, schools, company offices, council vaults; the list is endless.

“I am looking for old photographs, sketches or paintings that might show the landscape before these trees were felled, also old maps that showed the vegetation make up of these areas.”

The student hopes to put the results of his research on-line.

He said: “This is a very exciting project and I hope you will join me in bringing the past to life, so that we can help the Cumbria Wildlife Trust with the regeneration of this beautiful tree, and in return help the local wildlife that depends so much on it.”

You can contact Mr Sencier by email at dansencier@yahoo.co.uk or on 07731 758774.

Messages can be left on his blog at www.juniperjuniper.blogspot.co.uk


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