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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Volunteers wanted for World War II project

Airfields, spy schools, bombing ranges, bunkers and D-Day preparations have shaped the New Forest National Park into what it is today.

Now for the first time thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding a two year project will bring the complete history of World War II in the New Forest to life.

‘There are over 280 World War II sites within the New Forest that we know about that include 12 airfields, mock submarine pens and the construction site for Mulberry Harbours on Beaulieu River and the remains of the D-Day embarkation at Lepe - but there is more to be discovered,’ said James Brown, World War II Project Manager. ‘We are asking people to look in their garages and lofts to see if they have any photographs or records. We are also asking anyone who remembers being stationed or evacuated in the New Forest to come forward and share their memories.

‘The team has already heard a number of anecdotal memories including someone who visited the target planes on Ashley Bombing Range to acquire bits for his model airplanes; and army officers having to be careful of rumoured spies around the Forest.

‘We are also looking for people to get involved and become volunteers. If you would be interested in recording the memories of the people who were in the New Forest during World War II or getting involved in field walking and surveying World War II structures and remains let us know.’

The New Forest Remembers: untold stories of World War II team will be at the New Forest National Park Authority’s Volunteer Fair at Lyndhurst Community Centre on Saturday 3 March from 10:30am - 4pm for those who are interested in learning more or who are keen to get involved.

If you are keen to become a volunteer in this project visit and complete an expression of interest form.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Keeping traditional building skills alive in the New Forest

Building techniques such as timber-framed buildings, cob walling and lime plastering are still very much in demand in the New Forest.

Now thanks to funding from New Forest RDPE (Leader) programme* the New Forest National Park Authority has secured £20,000 to offer subsided training courses for these types of skills and techniques.

Kathryn Boler, the New Forest National Park Authority’s External Funding Officer, said: ‘The New Forest has a rich cultural heritage with a wide range of historic buildings which require specialist skills to maintain and alter them. There is a high demand from property owners for craftsmen with traditional skills and an understanding of how to repair and look after these buildings.

‘The heavily subsidised courses will offer workshops for local building companies and architects who wish to specialise in this type of work. It is important that historic buildings are well restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

‘The training also opens up new avenues for local craftsmen, allowing them to be more competitive and take on new areas of work.’

Steve Haley from Pennington went on a Lime Plastering course at Highbury College, Portsmouth. He said: ‘I read about the traditional skills funding in a local newspaper. I am pleased to say that my trip to college after almost 50 years was a pleasant experience.

‘I have worked on several period buildings in the New Forest using traditional building skills and it’s good to know there is subsidised training out there. I found the tutor extremely informative and they helped me perfect my lime plastering technique. I enjoyed the course so much that I am now going on a four day course to learn more about traditional lime plastering at West Dean College near Chichester.’

Local resident and Architect Julia Tremain has been on two workshops and said: ‘These courses represent excellent value for money. I have found it useful to take a step back from everyday work to look at the wider picture. On the lime plaster course we discussed how the building industry is moving away from the excessive use of cement based products to ones that enable buildings to breathe. This is especially important for old buildings but also relevant to new buildings as we move to more sustainable construction.’

The project provides training at a third of the usual cost and will take place at a number of specialists rural craft centres. The training is for small businesses of fewer than 10 employees, who are based in the New Forest.

If you would like to learn more or to find out what courses are on offer contact Kathryn Boler by email at or telephone 01590 646690.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Shipwreck film nominated for archaeology ‘Oscar’

A film about the shipwrecks in the Solent has been short-listed for an award at The Archaeology Channel’s International Film and Video Festival in Oregon, America.

‘Shipwrecks of the Western Solent’ is a 28 minute film investigating five different shipwrecks in a busy shipping lane in southern England; the Ceres, Fenna, SS War Knight, SS Serrana and MV Margaret Smith.

The film was made by award-winning underwater cameraman Michael Pitts in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority for the New Forest Coastal Heritage project.*

‘Making the film wasn’t as easy as it sounds,’ said Michael Pitts. ‘Maritime archaeology is full of challenges and none more than on the south coast. If anyone has been across the Solent on the Isle of Wight ferry and looked in the waters they will have noticed that they are not crystalline.

‘It took a lot of hard work and after the initial disappointments we soon learnt to dive the right tides and with the knowledge and expertise of our skipper, we finally had enough footage to put the film together.’

James Brown from the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest has a vast coastal history and the aim of the film was to capture a snapshot of this. With the risk of rising sea level and the threat of climate change it is important that we start working on a detailed record of what lies beneath the Solent.

Making a film seemed like a logical part of recording this work, as well as opening the subject up to new and wider audiences. We are delighted to have been shortlisted for an award.’

Richard Pettigrew, President and Executive Director of the Archaeological Legacy Institute, said: ‘We congratulate the makers of this film. The quality of this year’s film entrants was extremely high. We received 90 entries from 22 countries and we only short-list 27 films.’

The film and video festival will run from the 8-12 May. For more information visit

To buy your copy of the film go to

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Love the New Forest? Come to the National Park ‘Volunteer Fair’

People with a passion for the New Forest are invited to a Volunteer Fair showcasing the best of volunteering opportunities in the National Park.

This free event organised by the New Forest National Park Authority will be full of New Forest organisations with a vast range of opportunities and different ways to get involved in Forest life. There is a lot to do at the fair including; talks, quizzes about the New Forest, craft activities and ‘Get to know an OS map’ sessions.

Jim Mitchell, the New Forest National Park’s Interpretation Officer, said: ‘We want to celebrate the great work going on in the New Forest and encourage more people to get involved.

‘Volunteering is good for meeting new people, learning new skills, it can keep you fit and is a great way to make a real difference to the Forest. For anyone with an interest in the wildlife, landscape and heritage of the National Park, come along!’

Diane Hogarty volunteered with the National Park’s Coastal Heritage Project. She said: ‘Volunteering is educational, fun, friendly, exciting, inspirational and very interesting! I now look at the Forest with new eyes. I will definitely volunteer again!’

Organisations signed up to attend the Fair include the Forestry Commission, which are looking for new volunteer rangers, the National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Friends of New Forest Airfields, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society, New Forest Transition, the New Forest Centre, Hampshire Conservation Volunteers, Hampshire Scouts and many more.

The New Forest National Park Authority will also be promoting its new project - 'New Forest remembers: untold stories of World War II'. Volunteers are needed to help record the stories of those who were in the New Forest, either living, stationed or evacuated, during World War II.

The Volunteer Fair will be held on Saturday 3 March from 10:30am–4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre. For more information visit

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New Forest - Beautiful and Majestic

Most of us have our own description of the New Forest, mine happens to be, "beautiful and majestic".  I am so fortunate to virtually live just a stones throw from the forest area.

This massive tract of land covers approximately 150 square miles housing a superb charm of nature, history, pretty villages, delightful pubs and hotels and excellent places of interest to visit.

First and foremost, the forest is a menagerie of wild animals large and small. Because of their popularity the first mention has to be the New Forest ponies. They look so appealing but as we locals are aware they are wild creatures and can be dangerous, try telling that to our visitors, they are warned but still continue to feed them. We residents wouldn't be without them, we are very proud of these animals.

The donkeys are a delight, any food in sight and they'll follow you everywhere.

What is it with me and cattle, I love them. They congregate in the middle of the forest roads, holding up the traffic, they seem to look at me sitting patiently waiting for them to move and I swear they're almost saying "now hang on I was here first ".

We also have pigs roaming around but I have to admit I haven't seen many.

Deer, now you are talking. Very shy beautiful creatures, you need to be a little adventurous - on with the walking shoes and try your hand at stalking very quietly not to frighten them, bit like an African safari. You even might be fortunate to see a red deer stag, ever alert guarding his hinds.

There's always a possibility of seeing these lovely animals at night while driving through the forest, we have many times. Please drive slowly be aware as they can suddenly appear from nowhere.

There are so many animals I could go on for ever, badgers, foxes, rabbits and a beautiful bird population.

Each season in the New Forest seems like a picture gallery. Spring starts with spots of colour. Summer now well and truly in full bloom with scenes of people relaxing, children running freely or paddling in little streams. Now comes autumn with rich mellow browns, soft yellows, reds and here and there splashes of holly with plump red berries.

Come the dreaded Winter, the forest is transformed into a Fairyland. Disneyland eat your heart out.

History of the forest is both interesting and colourful and such a lot of it. We like to tell our guests our very special and popular account explaining the Rufus Stone where on August 2nd.1100 William Rufus hunting with his younger brother Henry, friend Fitzhamon and Walter Tyrrel when at some point it seems William and Walter alone together,  Walter accidentally shot William with an arrow.

Now William was the favourite son of William the Conqueror and had succeeded his father. He was king, but not a popular one - he was hated throughout the land. Tyrrel fled to Normandy, wise man. The point is, was it an accident? William was detested probably that was when rumours started spreading. It was a case of, excuse the pun, did he fall or was he pushed. Note for amateur detectives, on with the deerstalkers out with the magnifying glasses see if you can solve one of Britain's greatest mysteries.

If you are genuinely interested in the New Forest,  have a wander around your local library or go on-line. There must be lots of stories going around our area to do with the forest. Put pen to paper send them in. The Editor of this Blog is waiting.

Guest Post: Many thanks to Ruth Lodge a local New Forest resident. I hope you have enjoyed this post and please do make a Comment below. Share your thoughts on the New Forest with Ruth.


The New Forest by Matthew Conway
Featuring a mixture of history, folklore and stories of interest, this book explores the culture and wildlife of the New Forest. From it deer, which for centuries were hunted exclusively by the Kings of England, to the thousands of trees that were the cornerstone of the English Navy, this fascinating volume illustrates how flora and fauna are interwoven with the forest's heritage, and pays special attention to its wildlife.  As well as providing a backdrop of history, this affectionate look at the forest will inspire readers to explore the area themselves. Read more...

Monday, 6 February 2012

New design guidance for development in the New Forest

A guide that aims to help achieve high standards of design in new development and protect the New Forest’s distinctive character has been adopted by the New Forest National Park Authority.

The New Forest Design Guide is a supplementary planning document that supports the policies in the Authority’s adopted Core Strategy. The guide is intended to help applicants and agents in preparing proposals for new development in the New Forest.

The Guide goes through the design process - from understanding landscape and settlement characteristics, to rural building influences, as well looking at matters such as external lighting and opportunities for wildlife. It will be used to inform planning decisions made by the Authority.

Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the Planning Development Control Committee at New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The Guide aims to inspire applicants to have regard to the features and characteristics of the New Forest’s buildings and settlements that make the National Park a special place. ’

Leo Randall, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Development Control Committee at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The Authority would encourage everyone thinking of submitting a planning application within the National Park to use the Design Guide to help achieve high standards of design.’

The Design Guide aims to:

  • Maintain and enhance the Forest’s rural landscape and built character, while embracing sustainability
  • Seek to retain valued Forest buildings that make a positive contribution to the historic character and appearance of the locality
  • Improve areas where there is the opportunity to reverse the effects of less sensitive development
  • Encourage communities to involve themselves in the design issues relating to the distinct character of the National Park.

To view the Design Guide visit

Friday, 3 February 2012

I remember Old Totton

Ponies on The Green c1955

Let's start with an easy conundrum ....can you remember where 'the largest village in England was situated? Just to help you, a clue, it also housed the smallest pub. You've got the answer I'm sure ..... Totton.

We lived there many years ago, my children completed their education there and fine schools they were too. Eling Infants and Junior always comes to mind, an old building but with excellent teachers run efficiently by the Head and children drawing efforts on the walls it made cosy surroundings.

Let's talk forest ponies. I suppose they felt they were there first and wandered freely on our small estate. When I first moved into our house I was intrigued with them, after all we had moved here from a large city.....Cardiff, no wandering ponies there.

But, here's the crunch, nobody told me they could get over garden walls! I'm not a keen gardener but kept the front garden neat, short grass and seasonal flowers. The ponies certainly did their wanderings at night (never knew that too) and next morning absolute shambles in the front garden. Of course at first I made many excuses for them but then joined my neighbours turned cowboys in the round up, in other words, shooing them off the estate. Anyway  this event helped my introduction to my new neighbours.

Oh dear! Single lane road to Southampton, it used to take an hour.

What an outcry when they built 500 houses in Calmore!

I thoroughly enjoyed living in Totton. You had all the shops you needed and the tradespeople were so helpful, in fact they were more like friends.

Well we had to move on and found a house in the Waterside, it's so very pleasant here. We have so many advantages.The nearby New Forest, a Marina to name a few.

One of the things that really impresses me is the community spirit, curtesy and ever helpful tradespeople and staff in the area.

The ponies are still around but, they seem to enjoy their very own habitat.

We love residing here but keep memories of old Totton after all it was our first home after the Big City.

Guest Post: Many thanks to Ruth Lodge an 86 year young local New Forest resident for sharing her memories of Old Totton with us. I hope you have enjoyed this post and please do make a Comment below. Share your memories with Ruth.

Photo: Francis Frith - Nostalgic photos, maps, books & memories of Britain


The New Forest by Matthew Conway
Featuring a mixture of history, folklore and stories of interest, this book explores the culture and wildlife of the New Forest. From it deer, which for centuries were hunted exclusively by the Kings of England, to the thousands of trees that were the cornerstone of the English Navy, this fascinating volume illustrates how flora and fauna are interwoven with the forest's heritage, and pays special attention to its wildlife.  As well as providing a backdrop of history, this affectionate look at the forest will inspire readers to explore the area themselves. Read more...