Our History

Milestones in our History

Sketch of old windmillSandgate Conservation Society has been in existence for over 40 years. Below are some of the key events in its history.

The 1960s

June 1967 – The District Plan showed Sandgate Park allocated for housing. Local residents started to campaign to save the site as an area of woodland and a nature reserve. If it was not for the vision, drive and dedication of these local residents Sandgate Park would not exist for us to enjoy today.  Very special mention needs to go to three of these people in particular: Dr. Roy Armstrong; Lt. Cdr. Peter Bazire; and Bernard Johnson.

The 1970s

Group of volunteers in the 1970s

Oct. 1971 – Following campaigning from local residents, Chanctonbury Rural District Council asked Ready Mix Concrete Ltd (RMC) to designate 16 acres of Sandgate Park as a nature reserve.

May 1972 – The first meeting held to discuss maintaining site as nature reserve.

March 1974 – Land was transferred from RMC to the local council.

April 1974 – A meeting of local authorities and wildlife organisations agreed to form a committee to promote the establishment of Sandgate Country Park.

June 1974 – A public meeting agreed to establish a committee to care for Sandgate Park. The Sandgate Area Conservation Committee was formed in July.

Sept. 1974 – The ad hoc Sandgate Area Conservation Committee formalised and became the Sandgate Preservation Society.

Nov. 1974 – Sandgate Preservation Society held its first committee meeting.

Feb. 1975 – The Society held its first work party on Sullington Warren.   These have continued regularly since then.

May 1975 – First Annual General Meeting held.

May 1977 – Horsham District Council published its management plan for Sandgate Park.

April 1978 – The name of the Society’s regular work days changed to field days. This name has endured ever since.

Windmill shaft Miss Clark-Williams1978 – The Society mounted the shaft of the old windmill on a plinth in its original position on Sullington Warren.

Also that year, a plaque was unveiled on Round Seat on one of the tumuli at Sullington Warren. This commemorates the 37 years that Miss Clarke-Williams was the Secretary of the National Trust Local Committee from 1935.

Miss Clark-Williams led a high profile national campaign which succeeds in saving 28 acres of Sullington Warren from housing development. The land was purchased on behalf of the National Trust in 1935.

The 1980s

April 1981 – Roy Armstrong was appointed Sandgate Preservation Society’s first President.

June 1982 – An additional area of land containing 2 ponds was given to District Council by developers which substantially increased the size of Sandgate Park.

June 1983 – Founding Member Peter Bazire died suddenly. This was a great loss to the Society

1984 – The Society celebrated its 10th Anniversary

April 1985 – Society membership rose to 600 households

May 1985 – Thirty Five acres of Sullington Warren transferred from the District Council to the National Trust. This now enables the National Trust to manage the 63 acres as a single unit.

April 1986 – Don Filliston succeeded Martin Pilcher as Chairman of the Society.

April 1987 – Two hundred members of the Society wrote to the District Council in protest about proposals to build 50,000 new houses in the district.

Oct. 1987 – The Great Storm devastated South-East England.  The Great Storm destroyed over three million trees in the South-East of England as well as causing damage to thousands of houses and buildings.  Substantial damage was done to whole of Sandgate Park and to parts of Sullington Warren.  Sandgate Lane was blocked by fallen trees for three days.

Nov. 1988 – The Probation Service provided labour to enable the Society to run additional weekly storm clearance field days.

Nov 1989 – Following the storm clearance work most of the footpaths at Sandgate Park have been re-opened.

The 1990s

April 1990 – A sister organisation, Storrington Conservation Society, was launched to take care of sites in the neighbouring parish of Storrington.

Spring 1992 – Horsham District Council completed its management plan for Sandgate Park

Oct. 1993 – Founder member Roy Armstrong, the Society’s first President, died aged 93. To facilitate the eventual creation of a Country Park, Roy donated part of his beautifully landscaped garden to Horsham District Council to further increase the size of Sandgate Park.

Feb. 1995 – Tony Jenner, who had been National Trust Warden for Sullington Warren and Warren Hill,  died aged 68. Tony had been involved with the Society ever since it was formed in 1974 and started the work days at Sullington Warren. Tony was a great friend of the Society and helped in very many ways, including leading walks and contributing to our newsletters.

Winter 1996 – Over 700 native trees were planted in Sandgate Park to replace some of those lost in the 1987 storm

March 1997 – Long service certificates were presented to Don Filliston and Ken Guiver by Sullington Parish Council for the contribution they had made to caring for the local environment.

May 1997 – Members attending the Society’s AGM agreed to become a charitable unincorporated society and to change the Sandgate Preservation Society’s name to Sandgate Conservation Society.

The 2000s

Spring 2001 – The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain closed nearly all footpaths  for several weeks. This meant that both Sandgate Park and Sullington Warren were closed and our field days were cancelled.

July 2001  Founder member Bernard Johnston died aged 89

Feb 2002 – Sandgate Conservation Society made a submission to the Countryside Agency encouraging them to include Sandgate Park, Sullington Warren, Warren Hill and Washington Common within the boundary of the proposed South Downs National Park.

April 2002 – Betty Bazire stepped down after completing 22 years as a committee member. In recognition of this she was made a Honorary Life Member.

April 2003 – Ken Guiver completed  25 years as Care and Reclamation Officer for the Society at Sullington Warren. During this period Ken led hundreds of projects at the Warren and made a significant contribution to the conservation of the site.

December 2003 – Society Chairman, Don Filliston honoured by HRH Prince Charles, with the award of a MBE for services to conservation.

April 2004 – Joint Sandgate Conservation Society and National Trust submission to South Downs Public Enquiry made.

Long Serving Chairman - Don FillistonGeoffery MooreApril 2005 – Society’s membership grows to 900 households.

Don Filliston retired as Chairman of the Society after 20 years.  Geoffery Moore was elected as new Chairman of the Society.

September 2006 – Horsham District Council held a public consultation prior to revising the Management Plan for Sandgate Park.

June 2007 – South Downs Planning Enquiry report recommended the inclusion of Warren Hill and Washington Common within boundary of proposed National Park. The Society made representation to further consider the inclusion of Sullington Warren and Sandgate Park within the National Park boundary.

Ken Guiver

August 2007 – Ken Guiver was given special recognition for completing 30 years as a Committee Member of the Society.

Shawn and Charlie Dimmock

November 2009 – Sandgate volunteer, Shawn Streeter (aged 14),  was awarded the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers’ (BTCV) Green Hero Award for his services to conservation by TV personality Charlie Dimmock.

The 2010’s

The Warren in the snowJan 2010 – Cold snap hit Sussex. Over 200 mm of snow fell on Storrington over night on Jan 5th. This caused many of the pine at Sullington Warren trees to shed their branches. The snow was followed by several days of freezing temperatures which meant that stayed for over a week. This provided local children with an great opportunity to get their sledges out and really enjoy themselves.

Audrey AlgarMay 2010 – Geoffrey Moore stood down as Chairman after five years at the helm. Our incoming Chairman, Audrey Algar presented him with a thank-you gift at the Society’s Summer BBQ.

April 2011 – South Downs National Park came into being, unfortunately excluding Sandgate Park and Sullington Warren but including Warren Hill and Washington Common.

Jacinta White

September 2013 – Jacinta White became the new Chairman of the Society. She warmly thanked Audrey Algar for her hard work while she was Chairman. Also, Ken Guiver stood down from the Committee after serving as a Committee Member for 37 years. Ken was warmly thanked for the significant contribution that he had made to both Sandgate Conservation Society and the wider community.

March 2017 – The land between Millford Grange housing development and Sandy Lane opened to the public as the first part of Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park. With the simultaneous opening of a path across the adjacent National Trust owned field to Georges’ Lane there was now a continuous off-road path from Hampers Lane to Georges Lane and therefore a safe walking route between Sandgate Park and Warren Hill via Badgers’ Holt.

March 2018 – Don Filliston died at home on 24 March aged 89.  Don was the Society’s President. In 2003 he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for ‘Services to Conservation in West Sussex’.  On his retirement from the chair of the Society in 2005 he was awarded Honorary Citizenship of Storrington and Sullington by the Parish Council.  Tributes to Don appeared in local media including the West Sussex County Times under the headline “A kind man who tried to bring sunshine and happiness to everyone”.  The song “Bring me sunshine” was played at his funeral.

May 2018 – Jacinta White stepped down as Chairman.  Bill Cutting succeeded Don Filliston as Honorary President.


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