Bats resurrect social club at Tophill Low nature reserve

whiskered bat

whiskered bat

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An East Yorkshire social club where last orders were called in the 1970’shas been resurrected as a thriving meeting place once more – by hundreds of tiny bats.

The winged socialites had descended on the disused building at Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low Nature Reserve near Driffield to meet, roost and give birth to their young – which are being born now as we enter into spring.

And the presence of over 500 of the mammals in the structure has led Yorkshire Water to recreate the once-popular thriving night spot inminiature form for the mammals.

In 1959 the building was opened as a social club for workers at theYorkshire Water treatment works, which supplies drinking water to Hull,

offering patrons a bar, pool table and even a cinema. It became a renownedlocal haunt hidden in the lanes of Watton Carrs, near Cranswick, and was a long way off the track of the licencing officer in its heyday.

It was a buzzing hub of activity until it was closed in the early 70’s as a result of increased automation on the neighbouring water treatment works.

Despite being reincarnated as a visitor centre in 1993, it was deemed the building needed to be demolished last year as repair costs were deemed to be too high.

However, some of the night time revellers remained in their very own ‘lock in’ - 200 soprano pipistrelle and 120 common pipistrelle bats plus their young in a tiny section of the roof.

Richard Hampshire, Warden at the Yorkshire Water-owned Tophill Low Nature Reserve, said: “It’s great to see the old social club getting a third lease of life and it’ll prove to be the perfect home to some of our large colony of bats.

“We won’t be restricting licencing hours this time so the venue will be open to the miniature revellers for years to come. We’ve quite a lunch menu with 536 species of moth recorded by volunteers since 1993, and bar snacks in the form of several million insects which arise from the reservoirs annually .

“We’ve even saved bat droppings from the old building to make it smell familiar.”

Bat roosts are heavily protected by Natural England and Driffield-based ecologists Wold Ecology drew up designs with input from East Yorkshire Bat Group to offer the animals a more stable home in the old boiler house. This allowed the demolition of the larger building, while keeping them as an asset for Yorkshire Water’s flagship nature reserve.

Tophill Low is currently undergoing an £8 million investment by Yorkshire Water in a treatment plant which will remove nitrates from the raw river water which supplies the site. Material from the excavations is being used to create new breeding islands for avocets and terns saving costs on landfill and helping wildlife.

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