Welcome to the Friends of Alney Island website

We hope you will find this website a useful place to find out more about this part of Gloucester.

The Friends of Alney Island is a society set up to promote the conservation of the Island.

Alney Island is managed by Gloucester City Council and is a recreational amenity for those who enjoy the countryside in the city.

The article below, from The Citizen, gives a broad view of its attractions, and of our aspirations...

Issue: Where and what exactly is Alney Island?

WHERE is Alney Island? Ask that question of any visitor or even resident of Gloucester and you can expect answers as diverse as "South of the Azores" to "Is that the name of the new roundabout at Spa lights?".

No, the answer is that it is just a mere hop, skip and a jump to the west, away from Gloucester Cross (albeit that the jump is achievable by bridge). It is one of the largest river islands in the UK.It is more than 56 hectares of open, well-maintained nature reserve and leisure activity space containing a constantly changing wetland, woodland and grassland area with well-marked and sign posted pathways and informative interpretation boards.It is a facility available to Gloucester folk which other cities would welcome with pride.But currently it is under-used and in need of promotion.

A Friends of Alney Island Group has been formed with this aim in mind and, in order to score a few brownie points and encourage extra membership, a working group has been meeting on the island every fourth Friday of each month this year.They give any help that they can to the city council wardens that manage and maintain the area.Litter picking and light de-forestation have been achieved so far, but even more satisfying has been the socialising among the team.New members are always welcomed.

Much of Alney is periodically flooded giving it its unique ability to support a wide variety of habitats and species.But, historically, in dry periods it has formed an excellent arena for city events, a large and flat grassy area within easy walking distance of the city centre.Every year until 1839 horses raced on the meadows by Over Bridge and the Gloucester Races were revived for three years in the 1860s on Mean Ham – north of the railway line.As well as the racing, there were drink and food booths, dancers, musicians, boxers, acrobats, merry-go-rounds and many other boisterous fairground activities.

The Oxlease and Castlemeads sections of the island were used several times for large agricultural shows, most notably in 1909 for the four-day Royal Show, a huge event visited by King Edward VII.In more recent times, successful battle re-enactments have been held.It is hoped that such events can be repeated in the future.

As well as promotion of the island, the Friends are monitoring and, where appropriate, encouraging a City Fathers' plan to develop the Castlemeads Ham section of the island into an eco-park.Earlier this year students of the University of Gloucestershire prepared a master plan showing a variety of their ideas which included observation towers, board walks, wetland enhancement and even sound installations.

A new access bridge was perhaps the most controversial discussion point.The design brief for the park was to enhance existing habitats in an appropriate and sympathetic manner but also to form an exciting and "iconic" landscape which will be a destination in its own right, used by visitors and local residents.

Anyone wishing to join the Friends can contact Don Stockwell at dhstockwel@talktalk.net.

For general enquiries, email  alneyisland@yahoo.co.uk.


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