A history of Saltcroft and the Saltcroft seat

In July 2004 Philip Grant wrote:  

The Saltcroft seat was hand-made out of natural wood from Fryent Country Park by a BHCG volunteer at Roe Green Walled Garden between January and June 2004.

It was made to a one-off design, drawn up to use the wood available. The legs are blackthorn (from footpath clearance at Great Cowlays), with cross pieces of oak (coppiced from a plot on Barn Hill). The three seats are slices of poplar trunk, resting on bearers of ash, both woods recycled from part of a load of timber which had been fly-tipped near the top of Longdown.
 
The seat is dedicated "to the Barn Hill Conservation Group volunteers who have helped to look after the paths, hedges, ponds, meadows and woods of Fryent Country Park for twenty years from 1984 to 2004". Although the seat itself was not ready in time, an inscription with this dedication was unveiled at the Group's 20th anniversary party on 4 April 2004.  

Because of the weight of the timber involved the seat was made in sections which could be slotted together. It was assembled on site at Saltcroft on 30 June 2004, and fixed together with wooden pegs and wood adhesive.  

Saltcroft is the name of one of the old fields on Barn Hill, an area which was original woodland in records of 1469. It was listed as a field at the time of a manorial survey in 1547. In the 1790's Saltcroft formed part of the Barnhill Estate owned by Richard Page of Wembley Park, and it was included in the landscaped parkland created by Humphry Repton for him in 1793. By the 1890's the Wembley Park estate had been acquired by the Metropolitan Railway Company as public pleasure grounds, and from 1895 until the early 1920's Barn Hill became a golf course. In 1927 it was purchased by Wembley Urban District Council as a public open space.  

Brent Council now manage the area as part of Fryent Country Park, and under the borough's biodiversity action plan the clearing at Saltcroft is maintained as grassland. There is always at least one BHCG Sunday project at Saltcroft in the autumn to cut the grass and to cut back any other encroaching vegetation.

The new seat is on a flat area of land near the top of the clearing, which was probably one of the greens on the golf course 100 years ago. The seat has already proved popular with dog-walkers who use a number of paths that cross Saltcroft. All being well, visitors to this part of Barn Hill should be able to enjoy the seat for many years to come, until it succumbs to the insects and fungi that have the final claim over all dead wood on the Country Park.