In the history of wildlife conservation and birdwatching in the UK, few dates stand as proud as 6 March 1926 and the 90th anniversary of the UK’s oldest Wildlife Trust is cause for a celebration.
It was on 6 March 1926 when 435 acres of marsh at Cley
were bought by a group of twelve gentlemen subscribers led by Dr Sydney Long. Cley Marshes had long been famous for its birdlife and the group agreed to create a trust and give the marshes to it to be preserved, in Sydney Long’s words, ‘as a bird-breeding sanctuary for all time’ (Eastern Daily Press, 15 November 1926). This was Norfolk Naturalists Trust, known today as Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
To celebrate reaching its 90th anniversary of protecting Cley Marshes and many of the county’s other most important wildlife sites, Norfolk Wildlife Trust will be going back to the roaring twenties on Sunday 6 March at Cley Marshes visitor centre. Staff will be dressed in 1920s outfits, a gypsy jazz band will play in the centre and 90th anniversary archives will be on display. The centre is open from 10am to 4pm.
For this day only, entry to the nature reserve which is normally £5 for non-members, will be at the 1920s price: just 9p.
As Sunday 6 March is Mothering Sunday, a vintage-themed afternoon high tea will be available, with a delicious assortment of cakes, finger sandwiches and small scones on cake stands.
A new public hide has been constructed on the East Bank, offering a sheltered place to rest and gaze over the marshes and reed bed. It has been made possible thanks to support from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of NWT’s Cley to Salthouse: A Living Coast project. It is just one element of improved facilities on the nature reserve which also include new circular footpaths and the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre.
Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce said: “We are proud of our role saving Norfolk’s wildlife over such a long time and are delighted to share the spectacle of Cley on 6th March with as many people as possible and hopefully bring a flavour of the 1920s back for everyone to enjoy.”
6 March 1926 was significant not only because Cley’s habitats and wildlife were preserved; it was the foundation of a County Wildlife Trust movement, with Norfolk the first of the 47 Trusts that exist today across the UK.