Beverley Pastures

At the Forum’s recent Annual Meeting we were treated to an excellent talk about the Beverley Pastures by Barbara English and Kieran Sheehan.  The history of these five ancient commons, their natural history and the ongoing campaign to ensure that they remain in perpetuity Common Pastures in the true sense was enjoyed by all those attending, so much so that it was agreed that a visit to the lesser known but more biologically diverse Commons should be arranged for later in the year!

I suspect that many people on their way to the East Coast will travel through the Westwood or Hurn and not really be aware of their historic significance nor the biological importance of their near neighbours at Swinemoor, Figham and Lund or “those at t’other side of the tracks” as they were described yesterday!

140330 Beverley Pastures front cover

There is a super little book which provides an excellent account of the Beverley Pastures, written by Barbara English.  It was published in 2013 to mark the 5oth Anniversary of the Beverley and District Civic Society.  A veritable bargain at £5.99 and certainly a useful starting point for anyone interested in the area.

To supplement the published detail there are a number of useful websites and blogs to keep community campaigners and activists alert and up to speed with happenings.  The Beverley Commons Blog (BCB) is an absolute must, BirdNerd provides site information for the ornithological interest of Swinemoor and the Dartford Waffler writes occasional posts from visits to the site.

Swinemoor, Figham and Lund Commons were, like Thorne & Hatfield Moors, once far more extensive.  As ever, over time they have been encroached upon and lost to developments of one sort or another.  It seems that like many other areas there appear to be times when adherence to procedures and legislative compliance could be better and as a consequence there is a need for vigilance by local community activists to ensure that there is open and transparent conduct of business by local planning authorities and other public bodies.  There is an interesting section in the book which explains about the Pasture ownership and governance and in terms of ownership an interesting explanation is to be found on the BCB.  The battle to ensure in perpetuity the rights of common, remind us of Wm Bunting’s battle here at Thorne.  It was interesting to discover also that Emeritus (University of Hull) Professor English had many years ago met ‘WB’, a ‘small world’ as they say?

It is interesting to observe that one of the images accompanying the Wikipedia definition of Pasture Land is that which shows Beverley Minster in the background!  Common Land and the fight to keep it is rich in social history and is often linked to rural areas and local people’s rights many of which, these days, have been lost to hearth (turbary etc.).


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