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Villagers use 1,200 ecobricks to make a bench

Hampstead Norreys effort brings together community

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters

charlie.masters@newburynews.co.uk

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07964 444701

Villagers use 1,200 ecobricks to make a bench

Hampstead Norreys residents have kicked off a season of sustainability events with an ecobricking workshop.

On Tuesday, volunteers gathered behind the village’s Church of England Primary School to build a recycled bench.

The ecobricks – bottles packed with plastic waste – were donated by the public to the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop and Café.

A concrete base had been laid a week prior on the school grounds.

Volunteers set layers of cob along the base, placing ecobricks on top of them for structure.

Community organiser Lesley Ravencroft, who represented the community shop at the event, said: “The ecobricks have been made by this community and communities all over the place – Cardiff, Surrey…

“People have been ramming the plastic in – we now have over 1,200 bricks and that means we have taken 400 kilograms of plastic out of the environment.

“Today, this is, as far as we know, the first time in the UK such a large [ecobricking] project has been made with cob.”

Cob – a substitute for handmade bricks – is produced from a mixture of clay and straw.

At hand to assist volunteers was building consultant Ken Neal.

Mr Neal is a self-styled cob expert, having constructed his own Greenham house from the material.

“When we built our house, we had no previous experience with cob,” he said.

“I’d spoken to a few cob builders, and a few academics, but I’d never actually done it.

“It’s not technically difficult, it’s just [about] learning the little wrinkles that make working with cob easier.”

The workshop attracted a number of prominent local residents.

Among them was the Reverend Wayne Lautenbach, vicar of St Mary’s Church.

He praised the “perseverance” of volunteers, saying: “I’ve been supporting Lesley in the trials with all the paperwork, getting [the ecobricking] organised and trying to get the quality up to where it is.

“It’s brought the village together, and that’s been incredible.

“I first came across [ecobricking] when I first started here.

“I was in the shop, having a meeting, and the staff said: ‘Have you seen our ecobricks?’

“Part of why I’m here today is supporting them, but also seeing how [ecobricking] works in reality.”

Heavy rainfall delayed the completion of bench, with volunteers intending to return to the project tomorrow (Friday).

The initiative comes ahead of GreenFest, a day of eco-themed lectures and exhibitions which will commence in Hampstead Norreys on September 7.

To learn more about GreenFest, visit tinyurl.com/yxzl4pto

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