SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Changes in the Land

Changes in the Land: Indians and the Ecology of New England is a 1983 nonfiction book by historian William Cronon. In this work, Cronon demonstrated the impact on the land of the disparate conceptions of ownership held by Native Americans and English colonists. English law objectified land, making it an object of which the purchaser had ownership of every aspect. Native American law conceived only the possibility of usufruct rights, the right, that is, to own the nuts or fish or wood that land or bodies of water produced, or the right to hunt, fish or live on the land, there was no possibility of owning the land itself; the second innovative aspect of Cronon's work was to reconceptualize Native Americans as actors capable of changing the ecosystems with which they interacted. Native Americans could, in Cronon's recounting, alter the nature of the forests or exterminate species; because their technological capabilities were limited and, native populations were small, their impact on the land was limited.

For these reasons, "the shift from Indian to European dominance entailed important changes". Ecosystems are never inert without human interaction, some ecological changes are due to climatic changes, disease and natural fire; these changes are more negligible, Cronon showed how the Native Americans and Europeans both distinctly altered the environment. However, the “Indian” relationship to the ecosystem was decisively less volatile. Having a far greater familiarity with the New England ecosystem, Native Americans understood the cyclical nature of the seasons, they responded to the need for food. Without agriculture in the North, Indians depended on this understanding of the ecosystem since they lived chiefly as hunters and gatherers; the northern Indians' refusal to store food for the winter was seen in Chapter Three as the great paradox of “Want in the Land of Plenty.” Europeans could not understand the Indians willingness to go hungry during the winter. Cronon felt the best evidence of an extant symbiotic relationship between the Indians and the environment was the early naturalist’s depictions of the extraordinary abundance of trees, fish and mammals.

While the Native Americans altered and manipulated the environment, their controlled burning had a reciprocal ecological benefit for both the Native Americans themselves and the indigenous animals. Thinning the canopy and forming an edge effect attracted more game, helped re-populate game, increased the rate at which nutrients returned to the soil; when Europeans arrived, New England was not a pristine forest. Https://web.archive.org/web/20090503105113/http://oz.plymouth.edu/~lts/wilderness/cronontxt.html

Chittening

Chittening is an industrial estate in Avonmouth, England, bypassed by the A403 road, near the River Severn. It lies within the city boundary of Bristol, in Avonmouth ward, but used to be beyond it, in historic Gloucestershire, on former marshland at the southern end of the Vale of Berkeley. Chittening was once a farm, first recorded in 1658 and 1702 as Chitnend; the name is from Middle English or Early Modern English chitte ` young of an animal. Chittening was in the ancient parish of Henbury in Gloucestershire, it was added to Bristol in the early 20th century. During World War I, the Ministry of Munitions built a filling factory for artillery shells on the site, farmland commandeered by the military for its closeness to Avonmouth docks and to the site of the National Spelter Company's chemical works in St Andrew's Road, Avonmouth the National Smelting Company. At Chittening, Nobel Explosives filled shells with chloropicrin, derived industrially from picric acid. In defiance of the Hague Convention on weapons, the German army used mustard gas against Allied troops on the Eastern and Western Fronts in 1917, the British minister of munitions, Winston Churchill, ordered supplies to be manufactured in Britain for use in retaliation.

Having first used captured German gas in late 1917, gas produced at factories in Manchester and Runcorn, from June 1918 three filling factories, at Banbury, ROF Rotherwas at Hereford, Chittening, were supplied with freshly manufactured mustard gas by the National Smelting Company. By November 1918, with unskilled female labour, Chittening had produced 85,424 mustard gas shells, but at a human cost of 1213 notified cases of associated illness, including at least two deaths which were attributed to influenza; the story of the women who filled the shells at such great personal risk has been told in the stage play Gas Girls. Rather late in the day, a small hospital and surgery were opened on the site around the time of the Armistice. One building survives from the World War I factory: the headquarters of Brandon Lifting at 7 Worthy Road. There is the shell of a despatch shed, the stub of a railway line that once entered the works complex; the original internal railway system of the smelting works was operated by two-foot gauge four-wheel battery-driven locomotives built for the Ministry of Munitions by the forerunner of Brush Traction of Loughborough.

Two of them, maker's numbers 16302 and 16307, still exist. At the end of the war three, including these two, were acquired by the General Estates Company Ltd as surplus to wartime requirements and sold in 1922 to the Hythe Pier Railway in Hampshire, where they were converted from battery-driven operation to a third-rail electric system operating at 250 volts; the present industrial estate developed after World War II, under the management of the Port of Bristol Authority. In 1951 a factory producing carbon black was built to the north-east of the estate, operated until 2008 when its closure was announced; the site has since been cleared with the exception of three storage tanks. The estate is now organised around a structure of named roads: the spine, Worthy Road, the peripheral Greensplott Road and Bank Road, all named after farms whose land disappeared under the industrial development. A selection of the current businesses operating from the site can be viewed online, they include specialists in transport and logistics and vehicle hire, lifting gear, pallet distribution, sectional buildings, industrial cleaning, damp control and vehicle repairs.

Between 1917 and 1964, the Chittening site was served by Chittening Platform railway station on the Henbury Loop connecting Avonmouth with Filton Junction. It is now served by St Andrews Road railway station in Avonmouth Docks, a mile and a half or so to the south; the closure of the earlier platform was immortalised in the song "Slow Train" on an album released in 1964 by Flanders and Swann. Chittening Warth is an area of salt marsh beside the Severn Estuary, just beyond the sea-bank to the west of the industrial estate. At low tide the mudflats there are visited by large numbers of birds, including dunlin, Eurasian curlew, Eurasian oystercatcher, common redshank and whimbrel. In some winters there are large populations of field voles. A catalogue of sightings is maintained by the Severnside 200 Club