The Trust’s history from 1997

The Environment Group was formed from the Vision for Halesworth conference held in November 1997 and it was agreed “Its one priority was to pursue the purchase of 35 acres of grazing marsh behind the Folly as public open space”

A year later exhibitions and information were displayed in the Library and an empty shop in the Town Centre and a questionnaire was distributed via the Community News – 500 of these were returned with only 2 people in opposition.

In 1999 the Holden Brothers of Harleston agreed to sell their 14 hectares of grazing marsh for £80,000, funding was sought and four members of the Environment Group agreed to form a Trust with Arthur Forrester as chair.

It was agreed the total cost of the project would be £130,000 to include for fencing; culverts, bridges and ditching; pollarding willows; information boards, leaflets and waymarking; work on New Reach and Halesworth Lock.

Funding was received from –

  • European Regional Development Fund East Anglia Objective 5b – £65,000
  • The Countryside Agency Millennium Greens (Lottery Funding) – £22,000
  • Suffolk Environment Trust – Landfill Tax – £20,000
  • Suffolk County Council – £6,500
  • Waveney District Council – £3,000
  • Halesworth Community Council – £3,000
  • Halesworth Town Council – £500

In 2000 the Trustees held their Inaugural Meeting, Charitable status was received and a Business Plan was produced.

The Trust Deed was provided as part of the terms of the Grant Aid from the Millennium Greens’ Initiative.

In 2001 The Trust purchased 10 acres of Lester Kent’s land, between Blyth Road Industrial Estate and the Town River for £22,500, which enabled access to Blyth meadow under the railway bridge.

David Pratt from Ubbeston started to graze his cattle on parts of the Green.

As a condition of the Millennium Greens’ Funding ‘Free Spirit’, a sculpture by Patrick Elder, was erected on the Picnic Site (now Scrub Triangle). Unfortunately it was broken in two in 2006 and half was later recovered when the New Reach was dredged. Patrick managed to salvage this and it was donated to Richard Woolnough, Trust’s Chair at the time.

The Trust was awarded a Probert Community Initiatives Award.

In November 2002 oak trees were planted at the end of Lester’s Piece to screen the Industrial Estate, now the containers are situated amongst them.


In January 2003 trees were planted along the fenceline of Lester’s Piece to screen Hammonds and the Industrial Estate.

The Trust’s first mechanical aid was purchased – an Allen Scythe.

The UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans purchased Lester Kent’s two acres of land by Six Arches, together with a strip of land along the railway embankment to the crossing at Mells, to create part of their national Cycle Network Route 1 which connects Dover to the Shetland Islands. The Trust agreed to manage the land.

Permission for a Right of Way under the north arch of Six Arches was granted by licence from Railtrack.


In 2004 slips from pollarded willows in Blyth meadow and other trees were planted in Two Acres to screen the Sewage Treatment Plant but ensuring the view of Six Arches was retained from Bramfield Road.

In 2005 the ditches in Folly meadow and Lester’s Piece were restored.

In 2006 the Volunteers enjoyed their first Outing with a walk to and a meal at the Huntingfield Arms.

Barn owl boxes made by Mike Culling, one of the Trustees, were erected in Blyth meadow.

An article in August’s Community News stated that “The Trustees were delighted that the Six Arches link was officially opened by Graham Elliott of Sustrans following their Annual Meeting on Sunday 9th July. This footpath connects the Green with Swan Lane and provides an attractive circular walk. It has been made possible by the purchase of a small field (Two Acres) by Sustrans as part of their improvements to National Cycle Route No.1.  Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity, working on practical projects so people can choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment.”

In October Arthur Forrester resigned through ill health and Richard Woolnough was elected Chair.

In June 2007 a few volunteers took part in the Lions Carnival Parade.

The Rights of Way team from Suffolk County Council diverted Footpath 14 further along the edge of Blyth meadow to avoid several bridges, including the one over Halesworth Lock, which had become dangerous.

In February 2008 Arthur’s Wood was planted with mostly native trees.

The Trust received a Breathing Places grant from the Big Lottery Fund which enabled them to plant the Community Orchard with apple, pear, plum and cherry trees bought from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project.

The grant also supported a Community Arts Project in April when James Holloway and his Mouth to Mouth Theatre Company performed Black Shuck on Folly meadow to an audience of over 400 – a musical tale of smugglers, King’s men and the river.

In May Trees for Cities planted a black poplar in Folly meadow on behalf of Festival Republic, organisers of the Latitude Festival in Henham.

Further Breathing Places funding was used in June 2009 by holding an Open Weekend in Folly meadow with various displays and nature trails all over the Green. More than 250 people attended, including lots of young people, who got very involved with all the activities on offer.

Wilfrid George, a former resident and chemist in Halesworth, purchased a length of the old Southwold Railway line in 1966. It runs for over 350 metres east from Bird’s Folly and in order to safeguard its long-term use by the local community Wilfrid George gifted it to the Trust. The Official Handover was celebrated in November.

The Olympic Open Day held in June 2010 was a great success with many people/families attending despite the cold weather. All enjoyed the simple fun of the day and all activities like pond dipping, weaving a willow ‘croconewt’, making birds’ nests and the Olympic Games – Longest jump; Strongest crush; Slowest creep; Fastest short run and Fastest long run.