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60 years in the New Forest

1949 The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act provided the framework for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as creating the Countryside Commission (later the Countryside Agency).  Also in this year, the New Forest Act saw an adjustment of the New Forest boundary – the perambulation – with conservation being emphasised and the establishment of a new Verderers’ Court.
1950 Flying ended at Beaulieu Airfield.  Beaulieu was one of several New Forest airfields which played a vital role during the Second World War.
1951 Fawley Oil Refinery was rebuilt and extended; it is still the biggest oil refinery in the UK.  The first refinery was built at Fawley in 1921.
1952 Palace House, Beaulieu, opened to the public for the first time in April.  Lord Montagu placed a few of his father’s collection of cars in the front hall and it was from this that the Motor Museum began.  
1953 The Atlas of Forest Rights was published.  This is a map held by the New Forest Verderers which shows the common rights attached to various property.  Also in 1953, landslips were reported along the New Forest coastline of the Solent caused by storms, heavy seas and ferocious winds.
1954 Marine artist David Cobb moved to Brockenhurst and put up a ‘flat pack’ house in just nine days: it cost him £2,100, and £600 for the plot.
1955 The New Forest and Hampshire County Show moved to its current site at New Park, Brockenhurst.  The show began near Cadnam in 1921 with just one tent and the livestock tied to a single rope, and made a £15 profit!
1956 Sir George Meyrick retired after almost 40 years as Master of the New Forest Hounds.  Hunting was restricted by an outbreak of rabies and the Second World War during his leadership.
1957 Self-confessed white witch Sybil Leek introduced the witchcraft theme to the village of Burley. She claimed to be a high priestess witch and started one of the first covens in the Forest named the 'Horsa' coven.
1958 Renowned horse artist Lucy Kemp-Welch, whose most famous work ‘Colt Hunting in the New Forest’ was bought by the Tate Gallery, died on 27 November aged 89. As a child she made sketches of the free-roaming ponies in the New Forest during rambles with her father.
1959 Parts of the New Forest were designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  Also in this year, 2,000 acres of Open Forest were enclosed to provide plantation and grazing.
1960 The New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society started to publish its own stud book to register stallions, mares and youngstock.   Nowadays New Forest ponies are so popular that many are bred outside the Forest and there are flourishing studs of registered ponies as far away as Australia.
1961 The Unknown Forest was shown by the BBC and was a huge success.  Naturalist and world-renowned wildlife filmmaker Eric Ashby spent over four years gathering footage in his native New Forest for this landmark production, using no controlled settings and filming badgers and foxes in natural light.
1962 The coldest Christmas in the New Forest since 1897 with heavy snowfall which started on Boxing Day and which did not thaw until March.The New Forest Association and RSPCA distributed around 28 tons of hay to livestock over the period.  Also in this year the New Forest cicada was re-discovered.
1963 The New Forest Verderers’ data shows that 313 livestock were killed in road accidents this year – the highest number on record.  This was before any of the main roads across the Forest were fenced.   The perambulation of the New Forest was fenced in this year.
1964 The New Forest Act 1964.  Cattle-grids were introduced on New Forest roads for the first time, and the A31 was fenced.  The railway line across the Forest from Brockenhurst to Ringwood was closed under Beeching and the stations at Ringwood Junction and Holmsley were shut.
1965 Commons Registration Act 1965: the New Forest was excluded from the registration provisions of that Act.  The registration authority refused to accept registration of common rights exercisable over any land within the boundary of the Forest as defined by the New Forest Act 1964.
1966 Queen’s House at Lyndhurst was adapted to provide office accommodation for the Forestry Commission.  It is the only surviving major building of the Charles I period in the whole of Hampshire.
1967 The New Forest formed part of the South Hampshire Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which covered 7,700ha.  The A35 road was fenced.
1968 Patrick McNair-Wilson was elected MP for the New Forest on 7 November and went on to represent the area for almost 30 years: a review of the parliamentary boundaries led to the New Forest being divided into East and West constituencies in 1997.
1969 The New Forest became a National Nature Reserve. A ‘Minute of Intent’ was signed by the Forestry Commission and Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England), recognising the importance of working together. The New Forest Badger Group was founded to monitor the population of badgers and has provided information about some 400 badger setts in the Forest.
1970 The New Forest Act of this year enabled the fencing of the A337 through the New Forest.  It is the Act that requires the Forestry Commission to seek the agreement of the Verderers before providing recreation facilities in the New Forest – for example car parks, toilets or campsites.  The Act also allowed the Verderers to improve Open Forest grazing.
1971 The whole Forest was designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.  Also in this year the New Forest Consultative Panel was formed.
1972 The Forestry Commission began the process of creating car-free areas of the Forest to better manage the environmental impact of tourism by using barriers and creating car parks – initially 142, but later reduced to 134.  Camping was restricted to 12 main sites. Also in this year, the collection at Beaulieu was recognised as Britain’s National Motor Museum.
1973 The driest year of the century in the New Forest led to storms and lightning strikes.  There was only 474mm of rain or 18.6 inches – just 65% of the yearly average
1974 A dry 1973 was followed by a very wet year: a total of 43.9 inches (1122mm) of rain was recorded at Lyndhurst. The monorail at Beaulieu National Motor Museum, Abbey and Gardens was opened (by the Wombles!).
1975 The Countryside Education Trust was established on the Beaulieu Estate to enable children and adults to learn about, understand and care for the countryside.
1976 A blazing hot summer in the New Forest as in the rest of the country, with 14 consecutive days in June on which temperatures topped 90F (32C).  Rivers dried up and heath fires started. More than 8,000 mature beeches and sycamores died due to lack of water.
1977 Year of the Deer, a sensitive portrayal of fallow deer in the New Forest filmed by Eric Ashby for the BBC Natural History Unit, was shown on television.
1978 Up to 10 inches of snow fell in February in one of the most severe blizzards of the century.  The New Forest Show became a two-day event in the summer of this year.
1979 The ninth centenary of the establishment of the New Forest in 1079 was marked by a visit by The Queen in April.  The New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust was founded this year to raise funds for a museum.
1980 George Mundey, a renowned horticulturalist, built a secluded woodland haven in the Forest known as Tinneys Firs. He cultivated rare species of orchids and grew his own orchid, known as the Mundey Orchid
1981 The legal status of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation for the New Forest was reinforced by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  This placed a responsibility on owners or occupiers of land to inform English Nature of any intention to carry out any of a list of potentially damaging operations
1982 Shell UK lost its bid to drill for oil and gas in the Forest at Denny Inclosure, near Lyndhurst.  The Solent Way was established by Hampshire County Council: the New Forest National Park coastline forms part of the 60-mile walk.  
1983 The Forestry Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England) made an agreement to restrict the removal of firewood from certain Ancient and Ornamental woods to maintain biodiversity.  Around 800 runners took part in the first New Forest Marathon and Half-Marathon: the scenic routes around the National Park now attract over 2,000 entrants.
1984 Exbury Gardens was registered with English Heritage as a garden of special historic interest; it is now one of the New Forest’s most popular visitor attractions and a former Garden of the Year,  Also in this year, the New Forest Otter and Owl Centre was founded by the Heap family.
1985 The New Forest Heritage Area was identified and special planning policies adopted to protect it.
1986 A ‘Review Group’ was formed to consider the conservation of the traditional character of the Forest for future generations.  It was the report of this group that led to the formation of the New Forest Committee four years later.
1987 The Great Storm of October had a serious effect on the New Forest, although not as bad as some parts of the south-east.  More than 15,000 trees were lost in the Forest.  The House of Lords approved a controversial private Bill to allow a bypass to be built around Lyndhurst but the Bill failed in the House of Commons the following year.   
1988 The New Forest Centre (then the New Forest Museum) in Lyndhurst  was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.  The New Forest Embroidery, a 25-foot long pictorial history of the Forest, was moved to the Centre in this year.
1989 Ringwood’s weekly livestock market, the main centre for the sale of New Forest ponies and cattle in the Avon and Stour areas, closed.  The New Forest Show ran for three days for the first time.  On the night of 16 December, storms combined with a tidal surge flattened an 800m length of Hurst Spit.
1990 A 40mph speed limit was introduced on some roads in the New Forest with the aim of reducing the number of accidents involving free-roaming animals such as ponies, cattle and donkeys.  Also in this year, the New Forest Committee was established with the primary purpose of promoting and co-ordinating measures to ensure the conservation of the New Forest Heritage Area.   Hurricane-force winds were recorded on 25 January and the Forestry Commission estimated that over 30,000 cubic metres of timber were lost.  
1991 The National Parks Review Panel recommended to the Government that the New Forest be formally recognised as a National Park with a ‘tailor-made constitution’.  Also in this year the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner was released; it was partly shot in the New Forest which doubled for Sherwood Forest.
1992 The New Forest Heritage Area was established.  Also in this year, the Forestry Commission produced its New Forest Management Plan 1992-2001.  A Housing Trust was founded to protect the traditional nature of the Forest by ensuring genuine commoners can continue to live in the area.  
1993 The New Forest was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the conservation of a number of species: the honey buzzard, Montagu’s harrier, kingfisher, woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler.
1994 Following public consultation, the Government announced that the New Forest would not be granted National Park-equivalent status and the New Forest Committee would not be given statutory powers for the management of the whole of the New Forest Heritage Area.  However planning protection in the area was extended as if the New Forest were a National Park.  Also in this year, the New Forest Association – the Forest’s oldest conservation organisation and the second oldest in the world - produced ‘An Agenda for the Forest's Future’, setting out the Association's policies and priorities
1995 A pair of Montagu’s Harriers (a very rare ground-nesting summer visitor to Britain) returned to breed in the north of the Forest after an absence of 30 years. A ‘Declaration of Intent’ was signed by the Forestry Commission, English Nature and the Verderers, committing each organisation to working together.
1996 A Strategy for the New Forest was published by the New Forest Committee in April, recognising the European importance of the New Forest and identifying a strategic framework for its conservation and enhancement
1997 The 1996 Strategy led to the setting up of the LIFE II project to restore the historic landscape of the ancient woodlands and heaths through a series of conservation projects.  The centuries-old tradition of hunting fallow deer in the New Forest came to an end in 1997 when the New Forest Buckhounds disbanded.  Hurst Point Lighthouse was modernised : high intensity projectors were installed to mark the channel between the Needles and the Shingles Bank.
1998 Sand lizards were successfully reintroduced in the New Forest, after becoming extinct around 1970.  Forest residents turned out in force for the Countryside Alliance rally in London in March to protest against a private member’s bill to ban hunting with dogs and changes to other aspects of rural life.
1999 Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced the Government’s intention to designate the New Forest as a National Park.  In October the Countryside Agency began work to identify the boundary.
2000 The Millennium Lighthouse at Lepe, also known as the Beaulieu River Beacon, was opened on 8 July.
2001 The Forestry Commission produced its Management Plan for the Crown Lands of the New Forest 2001-6.  Foot-and-mouth disease struck the UK and  the Crown land of the Forest was shut to public access at the end of February and did not re-open completely until the middle of June.  Also this year, Forest Friendly Farming was set up by the New Forest Committee to develop practical ways of supporting farming, commoning and woodland management in the New Forest.
2002 The Designation Order for the New Forest National Park was published under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.  The Beaulieu Road pony sales yard was rebuilt to replace the yard that was originally built just after the Second World War.
2003 The Public Inquiry into the designation concluded.  Also in this year the PROGRESS project was set up by the Forestry Commission and partners to investigate the impact of recreation on sensitive sites and to produce new plans to protect the Forest.  The New Forest Trust, which seeks to secure the future of the Forest for those who live and work in it, was set up in 2003.  
2004 The Parliament Act was invoked to push through the Hunting Act, which banned hunting with hounds.   The New Forest Hounds, formed in 1781, has continued as a trail hunt.
2005 The New Forest National Park was established on 1 March.
2006 The New Forest National Park Authority took up its full powers, including planning, on 1 April.
2007 Markers indicating the New Forest National Park boundary were put up at main entry points into the Park.
2008 The first draft Park Plan for managing the National Park was published in August for consultation.
2009 60 anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

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