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

12      Fisherman

13      Horse and pony riders

          and hunting

l4      Educational groups

15     Botanists

16    Geologists

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.

By  Med Snookes

A handbook for Locals and Visitors