Flanshaw, 300 million years BC

Monday, 27th February 2006

coal forest
From a pencil drawing by a girl in year 3, St Michael's school (I added the colour).

quarry face
The old quarry at Flanshaw, Wakefield

Rocks by Joshua, St Michael's school.

Leaf (prunus sp.?) by one of the children from St Michael's school

Yorkshire Rock
My book 'Yorkshire Rock - a journey through time' features a double page spread showing what I imagine it would have been like to wander through the coal forests of 300 million years ago.tree

Flanshaw quarry face

This morning, for World Book Week, I'm leading a couple of 45 minute workshops, encouraging children from a local school to try keeping a nature diary. We're at Flanshaw Library, so to start with, I take them to take a look at the city of Wakefield's only RIGS site (a RIGS is a Regionally Important Geological Site), the old Westgate Brickworks quarry, which is right behind the library.

I ask them to look at the rocks - sandstone, shale and coal - and imagine the scene 300 million years ago, with a great river flowing from mountains to the north and primitive trees resembling giant ferns and palms towering over us.dragonfly Our part of the earth's crust was then on the equator. Giant dragonflies zoomed around while giant amphibians (like newts but 3 metres long) were swimming in the lagoons or hauling themselves out on the shore.

giant newtI point out that there was once a colliery just across the road and a brickworks where Morrisons supermarket now stands. You can still find old bricks with the name 'WESTGATE' stamped on them.

I ask the children to pick up a leaf or twig as we walk back around the library and, when we're back inside and we've handed out the pencils, stickers and pocket-sized nature diaries, I give them just five minutes to draw it. It's a cold but sunny morning so next I get them to draw one of the trees they can see through the window. sycamore leafAgain for no more than five minutes.

Finally I ask them to use their imagination to picture what it would have looked like, right here, 300 million years ago. Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk