Green-fingered friends protect jewel in town’s crown
Left, Friends of Tincombe leader James Jenkins monitors pollution in the stream; right, volunteers Karen Roberts, Cathy Parson and Jo Allen work on a willow dome at Tincombe.

Left, Friends of Tincombe leader James Jenkins monitors pollution in the stream; right, volunteers Karen Roberts, Cathy Parson and Jo Allen work on a willow dome at Tincombe.

5th May 2021

By Suzanne Cleave

Tincombe is a little gem in Saltash’s crown, and a newly formed volunteer group has taken on the challenge to make it more accessible to everyone.

Located in the area of St Stephens, Tincombe covers around five and a half hectares and includes fields, an old quarry and a nature reserve.

The land is owned by Cornwall Council, but their aim is to create community groups that can take ownership and have their say on what should happen there.

James Jenkins, who leads the Friends of Tincombe group, said: “Any interested group that wants to come up with ideas of what local people want to do in that area is put forward to the council and they’ll agree or not agree.”

The group has received permission to install benches and received £200 funding from Cornwall Council for the work. They have also been allowed to put in various plants and start work on a willow dome. The group will then maintain the work going forward.

The Friends are made up of all ages, each with their own interests and talents. Some members have made bird boxes and hedgehog boxes to be placed out later in the year.

The Friends of Tincombe started in November last year. They had an initial meeting with a council representative and Cormac the following month, and the project has gone from strength to strength ever since.

James said: “Last summer a friend of mine who has a family said how it’s lovely down at Tincombe, but there’s nowhere to sit. I started looking closely at the area and saw that it had gone downhill. That’s when we decided to get involved.
“It’s definitely been a good way for people to ‘get local’ and people have appreciated the community more due to being more isolated in the way people have been thinking. It gives us space. A lot of people have got involved and I think it’s definitely helped with people’s mental health.”

James described Tincombe as a ‘gem’ and has noticed a lot of new people going there to explore. “You get more people asking for directions to Tincombe on Google!
“In the six months we’ve been going, the group has got off to a very good start. There’s an awful lot going on. We’ve got a strong community but we’re always looking for more volunteers.”

From the beginning, the group’s focus has been on wildlife and the community. All ages are involved, and the Friends group are trying to reach the younger and older areas of the community that might not necessarily see posts on social media.

A link has been made with Saltash Scouts, and the Friends group will help the scouts use the space to help them complete their badges and learn more about wildlife and nature.

Recently, the group got together to start forming a willow dome, which will eventually be used by schools and scouts. The willow was kindly donated by one group member and they harnessed the gardening expertise of another, Adrian White, who is the lead gardener, to create the dome.

The willow dome will grow and eventually be large enough for six to seven adults to sit inside. Other plans include work towards a forest school-type seating area and a possible playscape in the area where the swings used to be.

James encouraged anyone interested to visit or get involved. Details can be found on the Friends of Tincombe Facebook page. He added: “It gives locals a sense of ownership and more respect for the area and really feel part of it.”