Celebrating the history of the Surrey Hills thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Surrey Hills Society has received a ‘Sharing Heritage’ grant of £6,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Surrey Hills Society which is an independent charity, run by its unpaid members and set up to promote and protect the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), has volunteered to produce a booklet in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the AONB in 2018.

The project, titled “The Surrey Hills AONB – 60 Years of Landscape Change” will see the Surrey Hills Society research into the history of the Surrey Hills. The Surrey Hills was officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958, the second landscape in the country to receive that designation.

This exciting project will record why the Surrey Hills was considered so important to receive national protection in 1958 and how the designation has helped to protect and enhance the area including the ways that societal change has impacted on the landscape. An important part of the project will be to engage farmers and landowners who will help to identify how and why the land that they are responsible for has changed over the last 60 years.

The booklet (anticipated to be 48 – 64 pages at A5 with colour and black & white images) will provide a readable history of how the AONB came about and its achievements / benefits to the community. Sections will cover the way that different aspects of the AONB have changed over the 60 years – farming, woodland, broader landscape, built environment & population pressures etc. – and help local people and visitors understand that the countryside changes over time and has not always been as it is seen on a visit in 2018.

Along with the text in this booklet there will be a high pictorial content focused on images from early in 20th century (baseline), 1950’s (i.e. just before AONB formed) and current day. These will support the concept of change over time.

The beneficiaries of the project are from a range of groups since the aim of the booklet is to raise awareness of the AONB amongst a wide swathe of the public. The booklet is seen as opening doors to many individuals and organisations where initial face to face contact or presentations are difficult to achieve. Therefore, individual copies will also be given to all parish councillors, borough & district councillors and county councillors across the AONB area to reinforce the importance of the designation in their decision making. Further personal copies will be provided to high profile individuals who can act as ambassadors / opinion formers / agents of change.

However, another key group of recipients – and the one for which the style of the booklet is specifically designed – is a public who want to know more about the area where they live or spend recreational time. The project will work hard to make the booklet of interest to a notional family of adults in their 30s – 40s with children in their teens and therefore of an age to get out into the AONB and learn more about it. To make the booklet available to them, key outlets will be our promotional trailer and gazebo which attend a number of shows across Surrey plus library copies and via other public access areas.

The intention of the grant application has been to gain sufficient funding so that the booklet can be produced and distributed at no cost to the recipients. To match the cash element which has been sought, skilled Society volunteers will be doing all the research, authorship, editing etc. with the major external costs being design & print, postage and photograph copyright costs. The print run is anticipated to be between 3000 – 5000 (subject to funding) to allow for initial distribution, additional copies for public events plus a stock for further use over the 5 years following publication.



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