Bridewell Appeal - You did it!

Wales has a new Nature Reserve!

Thanks to everyone who has supported our Bridewell Appeal, we are delighted to announce that we have raised the funds we needed and Bridewell Common will very soon be in the care of Gwent Wildlife Trust. 

In March this year, we launched our appeal to raise £250,000 which, together with funds from the generous legacy left to us by Pat Gorvin, would enable us to purchase Bridewell Common, which is linked to Magor Marsh Nature Reserve. We appealed for your support to help us protect these 81.45 acres of ancient marshland on the wildlife rich Gwent Levels and our members, grant funders and other supporters responded so generously. Thank you.

Work at Bridewell Common initially will be about making the site safe for future visitors. This will focus on tree safety work and creating an accessible route across the land. Further information about this is in our winter Wild About Gwent members' magazine and we will be updating our website with this shortly.

Thank You!

About Bridewell Common

The man-made landscape of the Gwent Levels is home to an abundance of wonderful wildlife, from unique water beetles to water vole, warblers, egret and other birdlife and fabulous aquatic plants like the water plantain, with its delicate white flower and the stunning yellow flag iris. 


What makes Bridewell Common so special?

Our plans for enhancing Bridewell Common

Will Bridewell Common be affected if the proposed M4 Black Route goes ahead?

 What makes Bridewell Common so special?

Connected Landscape for Nature to Thrive

Bridewell Common sits adjacent to our most-visited Nature Reserve at Magor Marsh, which has been in our care for more than 50 years. Now we want to transform and enhance Bridewell Common to create a new Nature Reserve, to complement Magor Marsh and increase access for people and wildlife to this wildlife-rich area.

Bridewell Common comprises 81.45 acres of land on the Gwent Levels, sitting within one of the largest surviving areas of ancient grazing marsh, drainage ditch and reen systems in Britain. It is the largest of its kind in Wales and has been likened to the Amazon Rainforest for its biodiversity.

The Wildlife Trusts’ vision is for people close to nature and land and seas rich in wildlife. The nature reserves we save are vital refuges for wildlife but they alone are not enough if nature is to thrive everywhere. So we strive to create “Living Landscapes” where wildlife habitats are bigger, better managed and more joined-up.

Gemma Bodé, who manages our Gwent Levels Landscape programme, said, “Bridewell Common is such an important piece in the biodiversity jigsaw that is the unique and precious Gwent Levels. Having these two conservation-managed landscapes so close together will perfectly complement each other and will allow for more endangered wildlife to flourish over a larger area.”

A Wonderful Wild Place for People

Every year, thousands of people of all ages from all over south-east Wales visit Magor Marsh to explore the diverse habitats, amongst millions of creatures including rare bugs and beetles and endangered mammals like otters and water voles. We welcome walkers, bird-watchers, photographers, nature experts and amateur enthusiasts as well children coming to learn outdoors, pond-dip or enjoy time with their families in wonderful nature. Bridewell Common will provide a fabulous, expansive, wildlife-rich space for more people to enjoy.

“Sadly, more and more of our important green spaces and wildlife havens are being squeezed out of existence on the Levels. So, when presented with the opportunity to purchase Bridewell Common, we felt we had to secure this important area for protection and enhancement in perpetuity, to the benefit of both wildlife and people. By supporting our appeal everyone can do their bit to help.”

A Haven for Important and Rare Wildlife

The fields of Bridewell Common are separated by a series of waterways known locally as ‘reens’ which create this area’s unique historical features and offer a perfect habitat for insects, many rare like shrill carder bees and a multitude of birds, mammals and amphibians. This man-made landscape is home to a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates (bugs living in water!) including around 150 endangered species such as the beautiful silver water beetle. The waterways host the world’s smallest flowering plant, Wolffia arrizha, and our largest native reptile, the grass snake. Plants like water plaintain, with its delicate white flower thrive in the clear waters alongside floating-leaf plants like water starworts and frogbit.

Our recent wildlife surveys carried out on Bridewell Common have found it is already home to a wide variety of creatures including critically endangered water voles, butterflies, dragonflies and birds including snipe, stonechat and reed bunting. Our conservation work will encourage much more.

Our plans for enhancing Bridewell Common

The area has not been intensively farmed over the years, but has been neglected. To restore this landscape to its full potential, substantial conservation management is needed on the land and the drainage ditches, in order to make it a home for wildlife on a par with Magor Marsh.

Once purchased, our experienced reserve staff will work closely with volunteers, experts from other organisations and the local area to develop a future management plan for the land. One of the main priorities will be working towards enhancing the dry, scrubbed over field ditches by clearing scrub and re-casting (removing silt and leaf litter). This will enable them to flourish and provide habitat for water-dwelling wildlife. We’ll work towards increasing the variety of flora and fauna in the meadows through grazing, wildflower seeding and traditional hay-cutting techniques. We will also attend to the fabulous pollarded Willows, a wonderful feature of the landscape, some of which are already beautifully maintained with others being in danger of toppling. Their survival will mean the continuation of a vital habitat for insects, birds like tree sparrows and our wonderful water vole.

If you have ever visited Magor Marsh Nature Reserve, you will know how special and vital that reserve is for wildlife, as result of the conservation work by Gwent Wildlife Trust and our loyal volunteers and supporters. Given time and funds we now have this unique opportunity to create another nature reserve on the Gwent Levels and make Bridewell Common as special for wildlife and people as Magor Marsh is.

Will Bridewell Common be affected if the propsoed M4 'Black Route' goes ahead?

A few people have called in with concerns about whether the site would be directly affected by the proposed M4 development. This map shows the approximate location of the proposed 'Black Route' and its proximity to  Bridewell Common. Numbered (1,2,3) sites to the West of the map are the Bridewell Common 'Lots' we are seeking to purchase. 

Map showing Bridewell Common and Proposed M4