If you’ve been to Parc Slip Nature Reserve recently, or follow us on social media, you might have noticed that the previously named Northern Wetland Hide is now called The Nigel Ajax-Lewis Hide.
The hide’s namesake is the longest serving staff member of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, having worked for the trust for over 30 years. He has been instrumental in many projects over the years, but arguably his biggest and earliest project was the creation of Parc Slip Nature Reserve.
As is common in most areas of South Wales, Parc Slip Nature Reserve has a long industrial history associated with coal. It has been mined for coal since the nineteenth century. At first there was a deep mine, Parc Slip Colliery, which is infamous locally because of the fatal disaster on the 26th August 1892. Tragically 112 men and boys died in the disaster, eradicating whole families from the local area.
These men are still remembered today by their descendants and the memorial that sits where the entrance to the mine would have been. After the colliery closed in 1904, the site was left derelict with old coal tips still left behind. In the 1960s, British Coal Opencast took over the area, removed the old coal tips and mined what remained of the coal reserves through opencast mining until the 1980s.
Thirty years ago on the 15th November 1989 a younger Nigel Ajax-Lewis, still a fresh face at the Trust (known then as the Glamorgan Trust), secured an agreement with British Coal Opencast that once the land had been backfilled the Trust would create a nature reserve where wildlife could thrive and people could enjoy and appreciate nature.
Today, the 300 acre reserve boasts several different habitats, including woodlands, wetlands and meadow, and is home to great crested newts, adders, and glow worms. Since its creation over 20 species of dragonfly and over 130 bird species has been recorded here.
To say thank you to Nigel for creating a wonderful wildlife haven for all to visit and for his other achievements and work for the Trust over the years, we renamed the hide after him on the anniversary of the agreement for Parc Slip Nature Reserve to be created. The hide overlooks the Northern Wetlands pond which Nigel created many moons ago.
Nigel continues to dedicate his life to the protection and monitoring of wildlife.