Environment

Historic north Belfast wood to get £50,000 facelift

Throne Wood is to undergo a major facelift of works to be completed in the spring

An historic north Belfast wood is to get a major facelift thanks to funding of almost £50,000.

Throne Wood, at the foot of Cave Hill will see improved pathways, interpretation panels and pond enhancements as part of the £48,000 funding boost from the Alpha Programme, with works due for completion in the spring.

An area used as an outdoor classroom by the neighbouring primary school, Hazelwood Integrated, is also in line for a face lift.

Planted in the early 1800s Throne Wood is owned by the Woodland Trust and it is hoped the work will encourage more members of the public to visit the beauty spot

The wood belonged to a house marked on the 1830 Ordnance Survey map as The Throne. The renowned poet Sir Samuel Ferguson, revered by WB Yeats, lived here for a time in the 1820s. Only faint traces of Throne House remain.

The wood also holds heart-warming memories of Sheila the baby elephant, from nearby Belfast Zoo, the subject of a new feature film.

During the Second World War a number of the zoo animals were shot on orders from the Ministry of Public Security, with fears for public safety if the animals should escape during bombing.

But baby Sheila was spared and taken under the wing of zoo keeper Denise Austin who, without the knowledge of the head keeper, walked the calf every night to her home on the Whitewell Road via Throne Wood. Every morning the baby elephant was returned to the zoo.

Rosie Irwin, the Woodland Trust's site manager, encouraged others to visit the "wonderful natural resource" on their doorstep

"This is a truly special wood, but something of a secret," she said.

"We want walkers, nature-lovers and families to have a chance to visit and appreciate this wonderful natural resource.It really is a breath of fresh air in a very urban setting," she added.

Warren Bell from Alpha Resource Management on behalf of the Alpha Programme added: "This lovely mature woodland offers an oasis of beauty and tranquility close to the northern edge of Belfast's suburbia. It has a wonderful mix of wildlife, including spring flowers, ponds and open glades."

Throne Wood can be accessed via the Antrim Road in north Belfast.

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