Frances Annie Place becomes Wilder

© Laura Mellor

Last week work finally started on the development of Frances Annie Place as part of our Wilder Portsmouth initiative. A group of local school girls, and winners of our Wilder Futures Competition, Coco, Lucy, Robyn and Eve had highlighted the area of scrub and planned to make it a more attractive place especially for nature.

In July 2019 Lucy Piper, Coco Preston-Diggles, Robyn Mellor and I won the Wilder Futures competition. We were given £400 to make our wilder dream a reality and the opportunity to speak at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Wilder strategy launch. 

Frances Annie Place before changes were made

© Laura Mellor

Since May 2019 we have had designs on a small patch of land near our street in Portsmouth. Frances Annie Place is a relic of the old railway line between Fratton and Southsea. It was featureless and neglected with some patchy grass and a scattering of litter.

Our plans were to create a wildflower meadow full of pollinators in a small plot of land near where we live called Frances Annie Place as well as adding a hedgehog home and a bird box. However, in August 2019 we discovered there was asbestos in the ground at Frances Annie Place, meaning we could not disturb the soil, putting a temporary stop to our plans. In January 2020 after months of surveys and inspections by the council we were told it would cost £50,000 to remove the dangerous chemical. This was not achievable with our or the council's budget, so we had to change our plans.

The new plan was to put raised beds in the area and grow wildflowers that only require throwing onto the ground rather than sowing in the soil. On Wednesday 11th March the planters that were kindly made for us by Landport Adventure Playground arrived at Frances Annie Place and filled with two tonnes of clean topsoil.


On Saturday 14th March we made a trip to the Waterfront Garden Centre to buy pollinator-friendly flowers and shrubs in the morning and we spent all afternoon planting them in the raised beds and scattering the wildflower seeds. The next steps are to put the hedgehog home in its place and attach the bird house to its position. We're also hoping to add some moss graffiti! It has been a difficult journey but we are hopeful that our project can thrive despite the many complications leading up to this point. You can follow us on Instagram @frances_annie_place

Eve Mellor

Friends Eve, Lucy, Robyn, and Coco celebrate planting at Frances Annie Place

From from left to right: Eve, Lucy, Robyn, Coco

© Laura Mellor

Wilder Future team walking into sunset

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