The Trust's Estates in Gloucestershire
The Fairford Park Estate
The core of the Fairford Park Estate, which is situated in an attractive area of the southern Cotswolds on the edge of the Cotswold Water Park, was purchased by Ernest Cook in 1945 from the Barker family; at the time it extended to about 2,500 acres.
Further land was purchased by the Trustees in 1966 (Court Farm), 1967 (Hooks Farm at Southrop Airfield), 1975 (Homeleaze Farm) and in 1982 (Donkeywell Farm). At present the estate extends to about 4,200 acres, comprising five let farms which are mainly arable with grazing land along the River Coln Valley, together with 260 acres of woodland, let cottages, let fishing and a let shoot.
As Fairford is central to the main estates owned by the Trust, its headquarters are located in the former stable and coach house yard of the former Fairford Park House.
Fairford Park House was used as an American field hospital during the war and later part of the park was occupied by displaced Polish people until the camp closed in 1959.
Sadly, as was the case with many other houses after the war, the cost of restoring the house to its former condition was considered by Ernest Cook and his then agent John Hill to be financially prohibitive, so the house and some adjoining land were sold to the Gloucestershire County Council. It is now the site of Farmor’s Comprehensive School, a primary school and a nursery, so local children can spend all their school years on the same site.Back to top of page
Trust showcases River Coln restoration
A stretch of the River Coln, on the Trust’s Fairford Estate in Gloucestershire, has been restored to its former glory and will soon be teeming with trout.
The restoration was showcased at a recent open day hosted by ECT in partnership with the Cotswolds Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency, the Wild Trout Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. The event attracted some 70 guests, including local landowners, farmers and anglers.
Its aim was to show how landowners can take relatively easy steps to improve river habitats, and to demonstrate the value of working in partnership with river organisations and agencies.
The open day included a walk along the River Coln to see the improvements. Last autumn the Cotswolds Rivers Trust worked with ECT to carry out a range of measures to improve the habitat along a half-mile stretch of the river.
The work has transformed a previously straight, uniform section of water into a meandering river with ideal habitat for fish. Work included adding gravel to the river bed where trout can spawn, creating a series of pools and turning an old mill race into a fish pass, allowing trout to swim upstream past a weir.
Launching the event at Fairford Community Hall, ECT’s Chief Executive Nicholas Ford said: “Looking after the River Coln is very important to us, and we’re delighted with the work that’s been carried out by the Cotswolds Rivers Trust. It has resulted in a tremendous improvement to the river habitat.”
A presentation by the Environment Agency outlined the human impact on our rivers and the Agency’s role in their restoration. Under the EU Water Framework Directive, the UK’s rivers are expected to gain ‘good ecological status’ by 2015.
Andy Thomas, conservation officer of the Wild Trout Trust, gave a rough guide to enhancing river habitats. And John Field of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust talked about the Cotswold Rivers Living Landscape project, which aims to reconnect and restore rivers throughout the Cotswolds to good health.
Vaughan Lewis, the Cotswolds Rivers Trust’s ecological advisor, said: “The event was very successful in highlighting the fact that Government agencies and voluntary sector organisations are here to provide advice to those interested in river restoration – and strong partnerships can help deliver positive outcomes.”Back to top of page
ECT scoops nature award
The Ernest Cook Trust has won a major award recognising its contribution to nature in Gloucestershire.
ECT won the top award of ‘Outstanding Contribution to Nature by a Gloucestershire Business’ at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s 2012 Nature Works business awards, held at the House of Commons on October 31st 2012
The award was presented to Nicholas Ford and Anthony Bosanquet by Sir Henry Elwes, President of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
Nicholas Ford said: “We are honoured to receive this prestigious award in this, our Diamond Jubilee year. It recognises the work of the Ernest Cook Trust and our tenant farmers, both in caring for the land we own, and in educating children about the importance of the natural environment.
“Our education work is expanding rapidly – in the past year 13,000 schoolchildren visited our Gloucestershire estates alone. We also donate £1.6m a year to a range of education projects, many of which help teach children about nature and the environment.
“Some of our 17 Gloucestershire farm tenants are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly farming, so this award recognises their achievements as well as ECT’s.”
Ten awards were made to Gloucestershire businesses, leaders, landowners and organisations, with ECT winning the overall award for its outstanding contribution.
Charlton Kings Infants’ School – a regular visitor to ECT – also won a commendation in its category, ‘Nature Works Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Inspiring and Educating about the Natural Environment’.
Dr Gordon McGlone, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: “Over 50 businesses have joined us at these awards, all of which have directly made a positive difference to Gloucestershire’s nature.”Back to top of page