Controlling the plants on The Derry Walls

The 17th century Derry Walls are the largest State Care monument in Northern Ireland. Open to the elements, they attract many challenges for their successful upkeep and presentation as a major tourist attraction. One challenge is the treatment of weeds and vegetation that are unsightly and damaging to the Walls.

Treatment of weeds and vegetation

The Derry Walls that encircle the historic city centre of Derry/ Londonderry stand up to eight metres high and measure almost one mile around. The masonry walls offer the potential to support a diverse but typical wall plant community which is of benefit for wildlife and attractive to visitors. Guidance in The Derry Walls conservation plan ensures that existing botanical interests are identified, managed and protected in an appropriate manner.

In a number of locations rampant weed growth, particularly buddleia, is causing physical damage to the masonry walls. Seasonal weed growth is also widespread at joints and margins throughout the exposed aggregate concrete walkways.

The work to treat weeds and vegetation has largely been carried out by the Conservation Works Team of the Historic Environment Division (HED) in accordance with best conservation practice.

Examples of work done

Examples of the work done recently by the Conservation Works Team to remove vegetation from The Derry Walls can be seen below.

Ferryquay Gate and Shipquay Gate

Other examples where vegetation has been removed include:

  • Castle Gate
  • Bishop's Gate
  • New Gate
  • Magazine Gate
  • Butcher’s Gate

Wardens trained to treat vegetation

In order to improve the presentation of the Walls, HED works closely with City Centre Initiative (CCI) in Derry – the dedicated city centre management organisation. Its wardens patrol the Walls daily to detect incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour. HED is developing a partnership with CCI further by training its wardens to remove unsightly vegetation from the Walls and carriageway.

Reacting to this new training, Niall Doran, City Centre Warden, City Centre Initiative said: ‘I have been working as City Centre Warden with City Centre Initiative since 2014. Part of my role has been to monitor the Derry Walls and highlight any issues I may come across and provide a visual presence for locals and visitors on the Walls.’

‘One of the main issues presented on Derry Walls over the past few years has been excessive weed growth on the carriageways/ gates and irregular treatment and maintenance to keep the weeding under control.’

‘Thanks to further investment by the Department for Communities over the past year, we now have three part time City Centre Wardens who regularly treat and maintain the weeds on the carriageway and this has made a significant impact on the visual presentation of the Walls.’ 

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