THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
7. The Malvern Hills Conservators and the Common
The MHC is a body which was set up to administer the
open land on, and adjacent to the hills, by ‘The
Halvern Hills Act of 1884. One of
the main objectives of the Board of the MHC is to
maintain the lands as open to the public for all time.
The Church Commissioners approached the Conversators in
1961 to see if they wished to acquire, by purchase, the
nanorial rights to the high ground on the east side of
Svinyard Hill. (At this time the Commissioners owned
the manorial rights to the whole of the area which is
included in Castlenorton Common}.
This purchase of 11 acres of high ground was completed in April 1952. Subsequently the Commissioners offered the anorial rights to the rest of
the common, another 5&0 acres, and this purchase was
approved at an open meeting in November 1966. Since
than the board has tried to manage the cummun in
balance between the needs and rights of the commoners,
and those of the increasing numbers of visitors. A
brief examination of the work and problems of The MHC
in relation to the commons may help indicate the_
pressure on the area today.
First, there 1S the shner number of visitors to the
common, and the variety of interests they follow. Here
is a list of some of then:
l Sponsored walkers (up to 2000 at a time}
2 Informal or casual visitors (Up to 900 people per
day in summer.
3 Hang gliders
4 The Territorial Army
5 Adventure Scouts
6 Army cadets
7 West Malvern Field Centre
8 Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme
9 Orienteering Groups
10 Radio controlled glider clubs
11 Kite flying clubs
13 Horse and pony riders
l4 Educational groups
17 Swimmers and Canoeists
in the Gullet
l8 Golfers and other ball games
The problems caused by these visitors have to be dealt
with in a manner most likely to suit most parties - a
job that Solomon himself would find taxing!
Litter is not only unsightly, it can be dangerous
to animals, and can cause fires. The general 'wear and
tear’ of the turf by visitors and their cars is another
source of concern, but, fortunately, most of this sort
of damage repairs itself over the winter or after rain.
Then there is the problem of acting as a means of
communication and mediation between members of the
general public and the residents of the common — trying
to sort out the validity of complaints, and to reach an
understanding between the person who wishes to practise
golf, or exercise his dog, and the commoner who is
trying to look after his stock, or just a local
resident who lives here because he likes the peace and
doesn't want to hear a 'ghetto-blaster’ just over his
hedge on a summer Sunday afternoon.
To help with these tasks, there are two full time
wardens and a number of voluntary wardens, who try to
help the public to enjoy the area without causing any
Some of the people who come to the area from outside
sometimes grumble about the lack of acilities here,
only one ice-creas van allowed for the whole area, and
no public toilets! This is deliberate policy, in order to
preserve the nature of the common, rather than let
it gradually become like a town park with tarmac car
parks and swings for the children.
The idea of a charge of parking is to help defray the
costs of the upkeep, and the "no unauthorised vehicles"
signs etc are to prevent too many people going to the
wrong areas, for instance those tracks which are dead-
ends, and are maintained by residents themselves. It
also makes sense, from the commoners view, to have
parking for the visitors concentrated in a few areas,
rather than allowing them to scatter indiscriminately
over the whole area. The erection and maintenance of
these signs is one of the management tasks.
Included in general maintenance are such jobs as mowing of certain areas, not really for hay, but rather to
replace the grazing animals, which helps stop the
coarser grasses from taking over. Similarly the
clearing of scrub and trees in order to maintain the
diversity of vegetation, and the open nature of the
common. Some general drainage work is necessary from
time to time, as water-courses get clogged up and
sometimes larger works are carried out.
The mill-pond at Golden Valley (which is leased from
Upon RDC), was thoroughly cleaned out between 1970 and l972.
The spoil was spread in two areas, to the SW and N of the pool, and after careful levelling and re-seeding, it is now almost impossible to distinguish fromthe rest of the common.
The MHC is thoroughly committed to the preservation of
the common and the conservation of its wildlife, but
will be faced with more and more problems in the future
if the number of grazing animals continues to decline.
More clearance of scrub, and mowing of grasses will
obviously be necessary, as the ‘natural’ controls are
lost. The thistle problem illustrates this point.
A certain number of thistles are desirable, because
they do support a number of birds and insects but they
can take over areas completely if left unchecked, to
the detriment of other plant species. At the moment
mowing of thistly areas in late autumn is sufficient
to control them, because there is still enough help
from the cattle and sheep, which will browse on young
thistles, and also trample them. However in the future
it may become necessary to also mow them in the early
park of the year or to invest in subsidised grazing, or
even to spray them, all of which are undesirable, but
inevitable consequences of the changes which are taking
place. It is hoped that enough people will graze enough
stock for a long time year.
A handbook for Locals and Visitors