stanton gate lnr stanton-by-dale

Grid ref: SK482383

Owner: Erewash Borough Council

Designated LNR: 1999

Main partners: EBC, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Size: 0.8ha

Main habitat types

  • Marsh
  • Hawthorn scrub
  • Neutral grassland

The name Stanton derives from two Old English words stan meaning stone and ton meaning a group of dwellings. It is unclear whether the stone in this case refers to the nearby formation known as the “Clouds” or some now lost memorial stone.

In recent years there has been a growing awareness that ex-industrial sites provide habitats with consequent flora and fauna which would otherwise be rare in the locality.

Stanton Gate, acquired from British Steel by Erewash Borough Council in 1993, is such a site. Although there is some evidence of the Romans carrying out iron smelting in the area, the major iron and steel activity dates back to 1788 and the foundation of the Dale Ironworks. Very quickly, canals such as the Nutbrook and Erewash were created to serve the works and the coalfields of the area. Canals were the major transport system for the first half of the 19th century until the advent of the railways. A canal loading bay, used by narrowboats to take away the goods from the ironworks, is clearly visible.

During the last war this was an important despatch point for Stanton’s bomb cases. These were taken to explosives filling factories elsewhere and then essential supplies were returned on the same barges.

The building of the Ml in 1966 was a major influence as it completed the process of cutting the site off from the rest of the surrounding industrial area.
The site is, therefore, mainly man-made with considerable variations in levels, hydrology, geology, nutrient status and soil compositions. The range and levels of trace elements are very significantly different from those produced by agricultural or more neutral industrial processes. A very dry central mound of industrial residues (some of which are visible on the ground) dominates it. Between the mound and the bordering Erewash Canal is an area of low ground with areas of standing water.

The whole area can be separated into 3 distinct habitat types. As the transition from one habitat to another usually provides the needs of a wider range of species than a pure habitat, Stanton Gate is consequently a very rich source of flora and fauna species within a small area.
The flat top of the mound is composed mainly of semi-improved neutral grassland and scattered scrub supporting a wide range of fine-leaved grass species. These include Red Fescue, Yorkshire Fog and Soft Brome, all interspersed with a herb layer dominated by Common St John’s Wart, Oxeye Daisy, Kidney Vetch (usually found on limestone areas of north Derbyshire) and Hawkweed.

The mound is also an excellent place to see the nest hills of Yellow and Black Ants.

A band of dense scrub around the top of the bank is dominated by Hawthorn, which grades into a large patch of bramble. All the trees and shrubs in this area (including Ash and Sycamore) are relatively young and undergoing natural progression. The age and density of the scrub give good cover for nesting birds such as Whitethroat, Wren, and Willow Warbler. To the south, scrub is more scattered with a rich collection of ruderal herb species, including Stinging Nettle, Hedge Bindweed and Great Willowherb. Amongst the wide range of insects supported by this habitat are butterflies such as Small Skipper, Meadow Brown and Common Blue.

Running parallel with the canal is a bank of semi- improved grassland mixed with scattered scrub and a marshy area. Species present here include Mouse Hawkweed and Male Fern. Trees are represented by Elder and some planted Field Maple, Rowan and Hazel. The marshier part of this area supports ruderal herb cover with Hemp Agrimony and Purple Loosestrife being amongst the notable plants. The area is home to dragonflies including Brown Hawker, Blue Tail Damselfly and Broad bodied Chaser as well as Frogs and Common Newts.

Situated beside the Erewash canal off Moorbridge Lane which links the main Sandiacre to Ilkeston Road and the northern area of Stapleford.

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