Cooper's Meadow is a water meadow in the centre of Marlborough owned by Marlborough Town Council. The River Kennet, a rare chalk stream flows through the site and supports a wealth of native wildlife including wild brown trout and kingfisher.
Cooper's Meadow has undergone a restoration project by charity Action for the River Kennet (ARK). This project has resulted in a successfully restored stretch of urban chalkstream and adjoining water meadow, increasing biodiversity and wildlife, as well as creating a natural environment for people to enjoy. The meadow is home to a wide range of plants, insects and animals. Hampshire sheep are provided by ARK for several months a year to promote conservation grazing and improve the floral diversity of the meadow.
Under ARK's guidance large numbers of local residents, ARK volunteers and students from St John's Academy and Marlborough College have worked to enhance the site by restoring the previously barren and eroded riverbanks. Over the seasons a variety of native marginal plants now hold the riverbank together, create habitats that are now used by wildlife including water voles and ground nesting birds. Flowers including Hemp Agrimony, Water mint, Purple loosestrife and are providing a nectar source for bees, butterflies and moths. The back stream, know as the Leat around the meadow had become over-widened with steep unvegetated banks. It was narrowed, made more sinuous and planted with sedges, flag iris and marsh marigold. This again is now an etablished haven for wildlife. These measures along with the Town Council's regular mowing not only conserve Cooper's Meadow for wildlife, they have made the area a beautiful place to visit and enjoy throughout the seasons.
Phase two of the fish easement work in Marlborough enables fish to access a new channel from the Mill Pool to the main river. The sarsen-lined bypass channel provides an additional length of stream and a new spawning habitat. In due course this will be colonised by a range of species that prefer fast-moving water.
The project is one of three which make up ARK's Habitat Improvement. ARK have worked in Cooper's Meadow in partnership with, or advice from: Vaughan Lewis (Windrush AEC), Wild Trout Trust, Marlborough River Restoration Scheme Partnership, Marlborough Town Council, Environment Agency and other funders and advisors.