The earliest history of the Fant Wildlife Area can be discovered by looking at its geology. The fossils found on the site and in the surrounding area show that Fant was once submerged under water. Fossilized Bivalves and Ammonites have been found in the Maidstone Area.
In 1834 the remains of an Iguanodon and a Woolly Mammoth were found in west Maidstone. Experts believe that our ancestors hunted Woolly Mammoth. These hunters would have been the first people to live in our neighbourhood!
The Iguanodon was a large plant eating Dinosaur. It weighed as much as 4.5 tonnes, and could be up to 7.5metres long and 4.5metres high.
The steep banks on the north side of the Fant Wildlife Area indicate that the site has been quarried for Ragstone in the past. It is known that the Romans took Ragstone from Maidstone when they occupied this part of England. The Romans took the stone by boat to London via the Medway and the Thames. So perhaps the Romans once lived in our neighbourhood.
No one is certain what the name Fant means. It could have come from the word ’ffaunt’ which was used in the year 1380. The name Fant is first recorded in 1780. In the 19th Century the Fant Wildlife Area is shown on old maps as ’Gardens’. The land to the east is still orchards today.
Until 1995 the Fant Wildlife Area was part of the large allotment garden owned by Maidstone Borough Council. The soil is naturally fertile. During the Second World War, when food was scares, the whole site would have been used to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. Over the years the site has been abandoned by gardeners and has become covered in impenetrable Blackberry bramble and nettles. In 1996 Maidstone Borough Council offered the site to the local community to management for Wildlife.
The Fant Wildlife Group was started in August 1996.
In 1996 Maidstone Borough Council invited members of the local community to take over the management of an area of wasteland situated between Upper Fant Road and the River Medway. Following a series of local meetings the Fant Wildlife Group was formed with the purpose of managing this site to encourage wildlife.
Since 1996 the Fant Wildlife Group has been seeking to lease the Fant Wildlife Area from Maidstone Borough Council in order to secure the site from building development.
The wildlife on site was first surveyed in 1996 by Eric Philp. He recorded 35 types of bird and over 70 varieties of flowering plant.
Since the Fant Wildlife Group started to manage the area, paths have been cut through the site from Roseholme to Unicumes Lane. During National Pond Week 1997 a new pond was created.
Thanks to the help of volunteers from the local community railway-sleeper bridges have been built over the streams and areas of open grassland have been developed.
In 2003 the Fant Wildlife Group worked with volunteers from the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership to build a pond dipping platform. Since then children from local primary schools regularly use the pond as an educational resource.
In 2003 volunteers from the Princes Trust helped the Fant Wildlife Group to construct steps to the highest point on site. From this new area you can enjoy a panoramic view of the site with Maidstone town centre in the distance.
The woodland walk was created by volunteers from Princes Trust in the summer of 2004. Bark chippings were laid for the main path and a bench was constructed. Since then bird a bat boxes have be placed in some of the larger trees and native bluebells have been planted.
In November 2006 children from St. Michael’s C of E Infant School planted native trees which were donated by O2.
In the spring of 2007 a new entrance to the site was created from Roseholme Park. This work allowed wheel chair users to access the main pond.
In May and June 2007 the site was surveyed by Bramley Associates, ecological consultants. 112 species of plant and 83 invertebrate species were recorded. Since 1996 the number of bird species recorded at the Fant Wildlife Area has increased to 50.
© Fant Wildlife Group Reg Charity Number: 1088852