Cooper’s Meadow is an old water meadow in the centre of Marlborough with a stretch of chalkstream running through it. Since 2015 it has been owned by Marlborough Town Council.
In 2009 Action for the River Kennet ran a project to restore the river, repairing major bank erosion and planting thousands of native plants. The purpose of the project was to bring wildlife back to the meadow, whilst ensuring it was a pleasant environment for people to enjoy.
The meadow contains a playpark and is well used by residents and visitors for dog walking, picnicking and enjoying the river. The meadow is home to a wide range of plants, insects and animals and provides food for many birds. Conservation grazing helps to preserve this diversity.
Cooper’s Meadow Chalkstream Habitat and Water Meadow Restoration. Final Report 2009.
In 2013 ARK constructed a new fish pass from the main river Kennet to the mill pool. The pass allows fish to bypass the hatch structure at Town Mill.
Our volunteers monitor the river’s health once a month by conducting a riverfly survey. We also record watervole and are delighted to report that they have returned to the meadow since the work has been completed.
The site is owned and managed by Marlborough Town Council. The land within the meadow is intermittently grazed by either Belted Galloways Cattle or Wiltshire Horn sheep provided by ARK. The animals graze during the spring, summer and autumn to prevent nettles, thistles and meadowsweet from dominating the vegetation. Since grazing was introduced the number and diversity of wild flowers has increased and the meadow is moving towards becoming a flower-rich water meadow.
Management of the site is the responsibility of Marlborough Town Council. We welcome their assurance that grazing will continue and look forward to working with them to ensure that the chalkstream and meadow are managed to maximise the site’s biodiversity and wildlife value, as well as remaining a lovely place for people to visit in the heart of Marlborough.