Around every corner in Wellington, you’ll find amazing people quietly doing amazing things. As well as an array of traditional charities, clubs and societies, there are a growing number of ‘place makers’ – individuals coming together to protect, enhance, reuse and reinvent all sorts of places and spaces in and around the town. Here are some of those place-maker groups and details of how you can get involved.
The Clifton Project
The Clifton Cinema was the last and largest cinema built in Wellington, opening its doors in 1937. Originally boasting 1,300 seats, it staged concerts, pantomimes and lectures as well as screening films. Closing as a cinema in 1989, it was most recently a Dunelm superstore but has sat vacant since 2012, sparking the creation of a campaign to bring the old cinema back to life as an arts and performance space. That campaign has since developed into a mass community project with hundreds of share holders contributing tens of thousands of pounds. The group stages regular ‘pop-up cinema’ nights in existing venues – often sell out events – and has started to stage live events as well. With the original Clifton building apparently purchased by an unknown buyer and its future uncertain, The Clifton Project is now working hard to realise at least part of its ambitious vision at another site in the centre of the town. You can visit their website here.
Wellington Station Friends Group
Since 1849, Wellington Station has brought visitors directly into the centre of the town, just a minute’s stroll from the Market Square. It’s an important point of entry into the town, generating over 600,000 journeys a year, yet its neat redbrick buildings look unloved and under-utilised.
In Spring 2017, local entrepreneur Fay Easton brought together a group of Wellington organisations to discuss plans for ‘adopting’ the town’s railway station. Under the Adopt a Station scheme, volunteers will work to smarten up the station and create a more inviting, distinctive gateway to Wellington. Plans are still emerging, but work is likely to include new planting and painting, as well as generating new uses for previously unused station buildings. To find out more, email Fay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellington History Group
Wellington History Group comprises a group of individuals interested in researching, promoting and sharing the history in the town. The group’s Wellingtonia Magazine has unearthed all sorts of weird and wonderful stories about the town’s past, ancient and recent, and every year the group organises a programme of free talks.
The Peace Gardeners
This group of volunteer gardeners maintains the Peace Garden in the centre of Wellington, opposite the town’s Civic and Leisure Centre. Since it was first planted in 2012, it has bloomed into a bright, welcoming spectacle at what is, for many visitors, the entrance to the conservation area. Importantly for George Evans, the D-Day veteran with whom it all started, this is also a garden with a message. It is not only a peaceful place in the most literal sense of the word, but also a place that symbolises a commitment to building a more peaceful world. The ethos of the garden is that it belongs to everyone – anybody can plant something here and tend it, there are no rules and no committees. The group has nothing as straight-laced as a bank account or website, but you can read about the origins of the garden on the Wellington H2A website, here.
Friends of Dothill Nature Reserve
Dothill Local Nature Reserve forms the largest area of publicly accessible green land in the Wellington area and became a designated located nature reserve in February 2016. The LNR comprises three main areas; Dothill Pool, Tee Lake and Beanhill Valley. These areas combined have a multitude of habitats including a series of ponds, lakes, streams and wetland area when the streams flood. One of the ponds includes a large reed-bed, all areas are linked by grassland, scrub and woodland with well established hedges. There are well trodden footpaths around the area providing reasonable access.
The Friends group organises regular volunteer work parties which help to maintain and improve the nature reserve for local people to enjoy. You can find out more about the group at their website.
Walkers are Welcome
Wellington was awarded ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status in 2010, thanks to the efforts of local walkers, Wellington LA21 and Wellington Town Council. The WaW group has produced a range of walking routes around Wellington, including The Wrekin Forest, Wrockwardine and the Wealdmoors, and organises a regular series of Sunday guided walks. Once a year in September the group hosts a packed week-long Walking Festival featuring around 20 walks. You can find out more on the Festivals page of this website, and visit the Walkers are Welcome website here.
Wellington H2A (Heritage & Arts Alive) was formed by Rob Francis and Tony Nicholls in 2007. The group’s aims are:
- To promote awareness and enjoyment of heritage and the arts in and around Wellington for the social, cultural and economic benefit of the town and its inhabitants
- To promote the maintenance, enhancement and enjoyment of Wellington’s built heritage and public spaces
They organise Charter Day every March, the Midsummer Fayre every June and Sounds in The Square each July and August. They also lead one-off projects, such as the Makers’ Town project behind the Mural Trail and this website. You can find out more about their work on the H2A website.
Local Agenda 21 is an international movement which aims to tackle global and local environment and social injustices through the action of local people. It believes in working together to make the world a better place to live in now and for future generations – one community at a time.
In its early years well over a decade ago, Wellington’s LA21 group started a Farmers Market in Wellington and a good to locally-produced food. It has gone to on to produce a series of excellent walking and cycling guides through the Discovering Wellington project, and promotes a wide range of heritage and environmental initiatives around Wellington. You can find out more about the group’s work on their website.
Friends of Apley Woods
Apley Woods sits to the north-east of Wellington in what was, until the mid-20th Century, the grounds of Apley Castle.
Now a largely residential area, local people came together to form The Friends of Apley Woods in 2007 to address the decline of the woodland and the deterioration of its habitats. In the years since, they have been working hard with Telford & Wrekin Council, the Small Woods Association and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to restore, maintain and develop Apley Woods, its lake, ponds and meadow. Its volunteers include local residents, young people from across Telford and people with learning and physical disabilities. They work at the site every week, engaging in woodland management tasks and habitat enhancements. The group also runs regular activity days, nature walks and events. You can find out more at their website.