21 Dec 2018

HISTORIC DOCUMENTS - No. 3


Conditions of Access

In our third look into the history of Darch’s Wood, we go back to May 1976, which was days after the Amenities Society took ownership of the wood. 

The bequest of the woods was that they be preserved as a local amenity and enjoyed by the residents of the locality, (specifically residents of Cross in Hand and Waldron).  The committee had to decide how to honour the bequest, and the initial proposals were as follows:

1.      The wording of notices should preserve the private nature of the woods and notices should not give the impression it is a public park. 

2.      Notices displayed at the entrances would read ‘These woods are private but may be enjoyed by local residents if they observe certain conditions.’

3.      The following should be prohibited:  Horse riding, mechanically propelled vehicles, fire lighting, cycling, camping, caravans, playing of musical equipment, radios, musical instruments, removal or breaking down of wood, trees or shrubs, and the dumping of litter.

4.      No trees, shrubs or plants to be felled, damaged, uprooted or transplanted. 

5.      Residents were urged to safeguard their valuable natural amenity and to report any contraventions of the prohibitions.

6.      Access to the wood was to be granted on the understanding that the owners took no responsibility for any damage, loss or personal injury sustained by any person however caused, and members of the public traverse the woods entirely at their own risk. 

7.      Members of the committee would be issued with identification cards to provide a form of authority to request the identity of persons contravening the prohibitions.

Items 6 and 7 are particularly amusing as even in the less litigious 1970’s, landowners had a legal duty of care to the public, and we shudder to think what might happen had a committee member displayed a card and demanded to know who someone was. 

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