Troopers Hill Field is at the top of Troopers Hill,
it covers 1.9 Ha (4.7 acres)
Troopers Hill Field forms the gateway to Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve for many of our visitors.
While our main focus has been on the Nature Reserve, Friends of Troopers Hill have also been involved in many projects to improve the Field since our formation in 2003.
These projects are described below, there is also a section about the earlier history of the Field. Since 2003 the Field has been transformed from a field with very few trees and a rundown play area to a welcoming park that is a much more fitting entrance to the Hill.
There are entrances to the Field from Malvern Road and Summerhill Terrace. There is also a path (public right of way) from the Grade 2 listed milestone on Summerhill Road which indicates that it is 2 miles to Bristol & 9½ miles to Bath; the stone dates from around 1800. From the Field you can walk on to Troopers Hill itself or follow paths into the Woodland.
Replacing the Red Slide 2021
During w/c 23rd August the new slide was delivered and installed, with new safety surfacing under the slide and a final inspection for safety completing the work. A new mound next to the slide reduced the need to take excavated material off site. It was opened for use in September and we held a celebration event and "unveiling" on Sunday 24th October.
This slide replaces the red slide on Troopers Hill Field that was the last remaining part of the pre-1980s play area.
The old slide was much loved and, when it finally had to be removed due to rust in November 2019, local people told us that they would like it replaced with something similar. Bristol Parks Service agreed in principle that this could be done.
As a result, in early 2020, we launched a crowdfunder to raise funds to install a new slide as an addition to the play area built in 2016. Having demonstrated residents' support by exceeding our intial target of £1,000 and agreed the details with Bristol Parks Service, we applied to Ibstock Enovert Trust for the balance of the funding and were delighted to have our bid accepted.
Ibstock Enovert Trust's support for this project followed their support for the path constructed during 2020 (see below).
Susan spoke to Emma Britton on BBC Radio Bristol at the start of the fundraising campaign & then Ali Vowles when it was successful
Emma Britton Red Slide interview, 20th February 2020
Ali Vowles Red Slide interview, 3rd April 2021
Red Slide FAQs, March 2021 >>
Red Slide Press Release, March 2021 >>
New Walnut Trees 2020
Four new walnut trees were planted on the Field on 15th December 2020.
The tree planting schemes in 2016 and in 2011 made a big difference to the Field, creating shaded areas around the edge, while keeping the central area clear. Gaps have been left so as not to obsure the views south across the city.
We do not envisage further large scale tree planting but there is a concern that ash dieback may lead to some of the ash trees planted in 2011 being lost.
Following a suggestion from the Bristol Parks tree officer, and discussions at our meeting in October 2019, it was agreed to plant some walnut trees in the gaps between the ash trees, but set further back into the Field. This will allow these trees to thrive should the ash trees survive, but they will also act as replacements if the disease has its anticipated effect.
Funding for four walnut trees was allocated from 'Section 106' funds by the St George Councillors.
There is sometimes scope for additional trees to replace occasional loses - this can be done through the Council's Tree Sponsorship scheme.
Recent sponsored trees that can be seen on the Field include:
• Cherry (Feb 2020) - to replace one of the whips planted in 2016 that did not survive
• Hornbeam (Feb 2020) - to replace a blown over Norway maple
• Scots pine (2018) - to replace one of the ash trees planted in 2011.
Map showing location and species of trees >>
New Path 2020
In December 2018 Friends of Troopers Hill secured funding for a new path on the Field and to improve the access track as part of our Ways to Nature Project.
The new path is across the part of the Field that gets very muddy in winter. The work to the track involved widening and resurfacing the existing track as well as building a proper turning circle at the end.
The paths were opened for use on 4th June 2020 after delays due wet weather in winter 2019/20 and then the Coronavirus crisis.
Following on from construction of a new path from Malvern Rd to Suummerhill Terrace in 2013 and the path to the new play area in 2016 this means there is now a smooth tarmac path all the way round the Field - approx 550 metres.
Why is the Field so wet? 2020
Prior to work starting on the path, students from the University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences carried out some research to try and establish why the highest point of the Field is always the wetest and muddiest.
Their report can be sen via the links below; they concluded that it was due to a thick layer of clay holding the rain water in the soil, there was no evidence of a leaking pipe or a spring bringing water up from below ground.
Troopers Hill Field - Investigating the presence of standing water:
Executive Summary Full Report
Trees, benches & logs 2017/18
We often get requests for memorial trees and benches to be placed on the Field.
In 2017 working with Bristol Parks, we found space for an extra tree and an additional bench - located so that it would be at the side of the new path when it was constructed. Read more about the memorial bench here (pdf).
Sadly, Bristol Parks decided in May 2017 that the remaining logs on the climbing structure installed in 2009 had to be removed. They were initially cut down to a low level and then rest of the structure was removed and the area topsoiled.
We are surprised that the logs lasted as long as they did. The mounds that were built around the log structure to form a kind of maze are still in place; some were reshaped as part of the works for the new path in 2020.
2016 - New Play Area
Working with Bristol City Council we led a project to construct a new play area on Troopers Hill Field.
Having been successful in raising funding for the project; we selected Wicksteed Playgrounds to carry out the construction.
Funding was from Suez Communities Trust for the £50,000 fenced under 5s play area and access path and Veolia Environmental Trust for the £25,000 activity trail for slightly older children.
Taken together and including some additional costs that were covered by the the money allocated by the Neighbourhood Partnership this meant an investment of over £80,000.
More Trees - 16 February 2016
Seven extra trees were planted in Troopers Hill Field at a tree planting event organised by One Tree per Child Bristol on Tues 16th February 2016.
There are six wild cherry trees to infill the wide gaps between the existing ones and a hornbeam tree to complete the double avenue of trees along the east side of the field. Pupils from Air Balloon Hill Primary School helped with the planting.
Final Tree planting plan (pdf) >>
There was an opportunity for local people to sponsor these trees so that larger trees (of the same species) would be planted instead, two trees were sponsored under this scheme. Friends of Troopers Hill were especially pleased that one of these was planted in memory of Pete Harris - a great friend of Troopers Hill.
The proposal to plant extra trees was reported in our Autumn 2015 Newsletter and Friends of Troopers Hill agreed to support this idea at our meeting on 10th September. Bristol City Council then carried out a consultation on the plan which closed on 16th October, as there were no objections it was agreed that the planting would proceed in accordance with the draft plan.
Consultation version of the plan (pdf) >> | More Consultation Details >>
For more information on this or any other tree planting plans in Bristol contact:
One Tree Per Child
Brunel House, St Georges Road, Bristol, BS1 5UY.
T: 0117 922 3365
See details of the 2011 Tree Planting in the Field >>
New Path - 2013
One of the most requested improvements for the Field had been for a surfaced path to be installed to link Malvern Rd to Summerhill Terrace.
When the new trees were planted in 2011 space was left between the cherry trees and the hedge to allow for a path to be constructed. Then (following a suggestion at the Friends of Troopers Hill meeting in October 2012) a request was made to the Environment Sub-Group of the St George Neighbourhood Partnership for Section 106 money to be allocated to this path; the Sub-Group supported the idea.
The allocation of funds was approved at the Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on 11 December 2012. Friends of Troopers Hill were delighted that the Sub-Group and our local Councillors agreed to support this project.
The work on the path started on 14th February 2013 tarmac was laid on Mon 25th March and the bench added on 3rd April. The work was managed by the Council's Landscapes Team.
Path construction February - April 2013:
The proposed route of the path in late summer 2012:
Stepping Forward - 2012
In 2012 work was carried out on The Field as part of our Stepping Forward Project.
The project included the installation of a new Interpretation Board near the Summerhill Terrace entrance and a seat at the top of the steps leading down into the wood below one of the red benches. A seat in this location was requested by a wheelchair user who wanted somewhere for her daughter to sit while she admired the view through the trees.
There is also a new sign with information for disabled people about access to the hill fixed to the fence at the end of Malvern Rd.
We have also installed some land-drains to dry out the area near the slide which becomes very muddy in wet weather. This work has been carried out by Classic Landscapes Ltd who also did the work to the steps on the hill itself.
In the corner of the Field is one of the waymarkers for the new Woodland Trail.
You can read more about the Stepping Forward Project via the link below.
Stepping Forward Project Main Page >>
Community Tree Planting 2011 - 20 January 2011
On a wonderful sunny winter's day TreeBristol organised a tree planting day on Troopers Hill Field.
Friends of Troopers Hill were there to help along with a team from Sky Blue, but most of the work was done by children from three local schools - Summerhill, Air Balloon and Two Mile Hill. As well as the trees, we also planted more daffodils on the bank sloping down to the woodland. Click on the links below for more photographs.
We also made a short video of the day:
The planting layout can be seen below. The hornbeams are in locations that trees were proposed in the plans produced for the play area in 2009. The ash trees were selected because their relatively light canopy will not hinder views. The cherry trees should produce a good display of spring blossom once they are more mature, they were planted 5m from the hedge to allow a path to be installed in the future (done in Feb 2013). Three of the trees are 'memorial' trees and members of the families who sponsored the trees were also there on the day.
The original plan produced by TreeBristol was revised (following comments at our AGM) to leave gaps in the row of ash trees at the bench locations and maintain the view line (this revised plan was included in our Newsletter). The plan was then tweaked further (as below) to move the cherry tree at the entrance further from the houses in response to further comments.
Most of the trees are 'standards' six or seven years old. Six of the hornbeam are smaller 'whips' but still protected by a steel cage. TreeBristol will monitor these to see how their growth over the years compares to the larger trees.
This project was carried out as part of TreeBristol's aim to plant 10,000 trees across Bristolís parks, open spaces, public housing areas, highway verges and streets. Bristol City Council's aim is to achieve a 30% citywide tree canopy cover, up from the current c.13%.
Since this planting scheme was carried out TreeBristol have planted two more memorial trees in Troopers Hill Field to replace two trees lost to strong winds, two of the smaller whips that did not survive have also been replaced.
Visit the TreeBristol website for more details of this and other tree planting schemes throughout Bristol. There is also a chance to sponsor a tree. More tree sponsors mean more trees planted.
Tree Bristol can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Play Equipment - 2009
Work was completed on new play facilities on Troopers Hill Field in 2009.
It was very clear from the 2005 survey that the Play Area was the aspect of Troopers Hill Field that most people wanted to see improved. The current play area then consisted of a frame for swings - with no swings - and a slide; by Feb 2009 there was only the slide! There is no fencing to keep out dogs. Many people also suggested that the play area should be relocated. Some wanted it removed altogether.
To get things moving the Friends of Troopers Hill organised a meeting on 28th July 2005 (notes of the meeting) followed by a meeting on Troopers Hill Field with Bristol Park's Play Officer to discuss the options. Unfortunately a later meeting to discuss the way forward had a very disappointing turn out. The situation was discussed at the Friends of Troopers Hill AGM in December 2005 and it was decided that as a group we would take no further action at that time although we were still keen to see the play area replaced.
In 2008 Bristol Parks won £2.65m from the governmentís Play Pathfinder programme to improve childrenís play spaces in Bristolís parks, particularly for children aged 8 - 13 years. Friends of Troopers Hill were delighted to learn that Troopers Hill Field was to be included in the sites for the second year of the project. Following consultation through the summer; work to construct the new play area started on 5 October 2009 and was officially opened on 5th December.
Unfortunately the log climbing structure had to be removed in 2017 as the logs were rotting at their base. It was known that this would be the case when the new play area was being contructed in the Autumn of 2016. the good news was that it lasted until after a much larger play area was completed.
The mounds that were built around the log structure to form a kind of maze are still in place, some were reshaped as part of the works for the new path in 2020.
Troopers Hill Field or Malvern Road Open Space?
Most local people have always considered the area to be part of Troopers Hill and didn't refer to it by any other name, but until recently it was known by Bristol City Council as 'Malvern Road Open Space'. It was this name that was used in the Management Plan.
Friends of Troopers Hill carried out a survey in the Spring of 2005 to get people's views on the future of Troopers Hill Field, click here to see the results.
In the survey we found that those who did differentiate had several names that they used including 'Troopers Hill Park'; 'Top of the Tump'; 'Troopers Hill Flat' and many more. The most popular names though were 'Troopers Hill Field' or simply 'The Field'. The use of Troopers Hill in the name is also historically correct since the area was part of Troopers Hill Farm; it was purchased by Bristol City Council on 24th March 1932 for use as allotments.
It was agreed at our 2005 AGM that we would use the name Troopers Hill Field from then on. Friends of Troopers Hill were therefore particularly pleased in April 2007 to be told that the new sign at the entrance to the Field would be as shown here. Bristol Parks also now use Troopers Hill Field as the official name for the site.
Restoring a View - 2006
Provision of benches was the second most requested improvement in the 2005 survey and two concrete foundations existed from previous benches. Provision of benches is also included in the Action Plan for Year 3. Following discussions at our meetings it was agreed that if benches were to be installed, then we should also try to re-establish a view.
As recently as the early 1980s it was possible to see across Bristol from Troopers Hill Field and it was a popular spot to watch the balloons. Since then trees have grown up and you have to walk on to Troopers Hill to get a view.
We agreed with Bristol Parks that we could cut down a small number of the trees in Crews Hole Woodland to create a sight line. The trees were cut down in June 2006, having been checked for nesting birds in accordance with the Council's protocol. An area of bramble was cleared at our Work Parties in Dec 06 & Jan 07 to create a new glade in the edge of the woodland.
On the day of our September 2006 meeting a new bench was installed looking towards this area fixed to existing foundation. A second bench was also installed further down the field, again on an existing foundation. A path through the glade into the Woods was created during 2008, click here for details.
This project has been funded by donations received from a local resident and Cromadex, part of Akzo Nobel. See Friends' Funds for details. Bristol Parks paid for the installation of the benches and organised it through their contractors.
New Gates - 2004/05
At the beginning of 2004 there was no restriction on access on to Troopers Hill Field by motorbikes. On occasions they had then been able to get on to the Hill itself. One of the priorities of the 2004 Action Plan was therefore to get gates and fences installed to prevent this.
The photos below are before and after shots to show the results. The gates are designed to allow pushchairs through and can also be opened by key to allow whelchair access. All the work was funded by Bristol Parks and installed by their contractors.
The fence & gate at Summerhill Terrace (where there was no fence only bollards) was completed in September 2004. The new gate & fence at Malvern Road followed in August 2005.
History of the Field
Troopers Hill Farm
The area that is now Troopers Hill Field was originally part of Troopers Hill Farm. During the First World War much of the Farm became used as allotments - and the area to the east of the Field still is, in fact it is believed to have been used as allotments for longer than any other current allotment site in Bristol. 'The Farm' allotments are managed by the Bristol East Allotments Association.
The allotments were purchased by Bristol City Council on 24th March 1932 from Mr C W Rabbits and the whole area continued in this use through the Second World War.
There are public rights of way across the Field leading from the path to the Grade 2 listed milestone on Summerhill Road. These routes are shown as paths or tracks on the very earliest Ordnance Survey maps and predate the residential development of the area. Opposite the milestone, was Summerhill House - Home to William Butler who manged the Tar Works at the bottom of the Hill.
Malvern Rd Tip
In the 1960s the Field became part of Malvern Rd Tip along with the area that is now Troopers Hill Woods. An access track was installed from Summerhill Terrace - the tip was used for building rubble, not for domestic waste.
Westerleigh Home for the Elderly
Also in the 1960s, part of the Field was used to construct 'Westerleigh Home for the Elderly' which is now East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre.
There are some 1960s photos of Westerleigh taken by the Council's Public Relations Office, presumably at the time it was opened, in the Bristol Archives:
Outside View - Foyer - Bedroom - Resident's Lounge
Pre-1980s Play Area
When the tip closed the Field was leveled off and much of it covered with a clay cap. It was then topsoiled to be used as a recreation ground.
Play equipment was installed (in 1980 or earlier) with a slide, swings and roundabout - these can be seen in the photos below taken in 1981 and also in the bottom of this set of photographs. This play equipment was gradually removed as it became worn out or damaged, the Red Slide survived until 2019.
Part of the Field was used to construct 'Westerleigh' which is now East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre.
© Long-tailed tit by Abi Stubbs