‘Friends of Epping Forest’ Milestones

11th February 1969 – Representatives of eleven local organisations, societies, and amenity bodies met in the historic Lopping Hall, Loughton. Friends of Epping Forest was formed and a steering committee of six was elected. Ken Hoy agreed to be Chairman and John Haywood, from Woodford Green Athletic Club, agreed to serve as Secretary.

8 May 1969 – Meeting in the Council Offices in Loughton about ‘problems of damage caused by horse riding in the Forest’. Representatives included Essex County Council, The Essex County Sports Association, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authorities, and other ‘interested parties.

Late 1969 – Following visits to the Forest, the subsequent report (1969) from Colonel Sir Authur Noble, the Minister’s representative, concluded that excessive damage to the Forest floor was occurring. It recommended that the Conservators City of London continues to construct their system of surfaced rides and that they take powers to restrict riding where and when necessary to protect the forest and that a system of licensing and registration, dependant upon accepting a ‘code of practice’ be introduced to identify riders. A further recommendation was that further problems should be solved by joint consultation between the Epping Forest Committee of the City of London (Conservators of Epping Forest), and the Friends of Epping forest, representing all users of the Forest.

Early 1973 – Friends of Epping Forest reformed to meet the potential threat presented by the M16 (previously called D Ring-road, later M25). The original Constitution of the Friends of Epping Forest was amended to meet the new basis of membership, while aims and objectives remain the same: to provide a consultative link between the Conservators of Epping Forest and members of the public who had at heart the preservation of the Forest. Also to promote measures likely to be of benefit to Epping Forest and to take action against measures which could be detrimental to it.

July 1973 – Different groups of resident organisations from Nazeing and Roydon right across to Abridge were all alarmed and some coordination was achieved initially by involving the existing Northeast Metropolitan Greenbelt Amenity Societies (NEMAS). But in the Epping Forest area groups were particularly concerned about the Forest and formed themselves into a Federation of Epping Forest Amenity Societies (FEFAS) under the banner, ‘Alliance Against the M16’.

The first major public activity of the ‘Alliance’ in which the Upshire Preservation Society figured prominently, was the organisation of a large open public protest meeting, in front of the Winston Churchill statue on Woodford Green at 3.30 pm on Sunday, July 1, 1973.

November 1973 – The government published a report where the details of the route of the new M16 showed that it was planned to cross the Forest ridge in a short ‘cut and cover’ tunnel’ under the Bell Common cricket ground. The proposals included a large interchange which the A11 (now B1393) to be situated immediately to the west of the tunnel. The Public Inquiry would be many months ahead, but The ‘Alliance’ began planning for a team of specialist consultations and other experts to be engaged for evidence to be prepared and written.

December 1974 – Summer 1975 Longest road inquiry at that time. It was one of the first Public Inquiries to take place into a Motorway and Epping Forest and Upshire were national news.

July 1975 – It ended that the ‘Alliance’ had to await the Inspector’s Report. All the fundraising activities and support from local landowners and farmers had eventually raised over £22,000.

1976 – Inspector Report published, that he had been persuaded to reject the Epping ‘Bell Common’ interchange proposal and recommend a full interchange with the M16/M25 and M11 instead. That was what was finally built, and the old A11 through the centre of the Forest would not take the motorway traffic towards London. The A11 was to be demoted to the present B1393.

1979 – The Friends gave support to the Upshire Village Preservation Society in the protest against Epping Forest land being given to the Department of the Environment (Doe) for the road construction. We appeared before a select committee of the House of Commons during July 1979. Although our petition was finally dismissed, the MPs on the House of Commons Committee had recommended that no further road construction should take place on Forest land. DoE made a concession and it was agreed that all trees, scrubs and all grass and wildflower seed used in the landscaping of the motorway should be indigenous to Epping Forest.

May 1976 – the Friends, together with the Leyton Society and the Wanstead Residents Society formed a body called the Link Road Action Group (LRAG) as the threatening road in the south of the Forest was called ‘Hackney to M11 Link Road. This leads to another public inquiry, parliament, and another petition.

1978 – The Centenary Walk: the ‘Friends’ and West Essex Ramblers organised the first ‘Centenary Walk’ in celebration of the passing of the Epping Forest Act of 1878 that ‘saved’ the Forest, and is still celebrated as a popular annual event.

8 May 1982 – the Centenary Celebration: The ‘Friends’ initiated and organised a public event to celebrate the centenary of Queen Victoria’s famous 1882 visit to Chingford and High Beach; the occasion when she declared Epping Forest “…open to her people for all time It was a combined effort when we involved 32 other local organisations. The event began when a look-alike ‘Queen Victora’ arrived in her carriage, followed by maypole dancing, country dancing, highland dancing, folk and Morris dancing, pipe bands, fancy dress parade, gymnastic displays, tug-of-war competition, archery, kite flying… It was estimated to have attracted some 10,000 people.  

‘Epping Forest Centenary Trust’ Milestones

1978 – Epping Forest Centenary Trust (EFCT) was founded by Alfred Quist, retiring Superintendent of Epping Forest, with Sir Willam Addison, Sir Arthur Noble, Bernard Ward, and Terence Mallison.

1980 – The Banquet and Pageant: EFCT continued to raise funds and awareness by holding a Banquet and pageant and with competitions for school children about the forest, at the Porter Tun Room in the City of London, for 485 supporters, local and from the city, in the presence of HRH the Duke of Gloucester, the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.

1984 – Conservation Projects: The conservation project worked with nine schools over the course of a year, on pr9ojects including pond clearance and removal of non-indigenous plant and tree species. In 1986 His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, “Ranger of Epping Forest”, visited the Conservation Project.

1986-1989: The first wheelchair path – over a period of 3 years the Trust initiated, funded and built the Wheel Chair Path at High Beach

1996 Winter Wonderland Week: an annual programme, run in collaboration with the Field Studies Council, to provide free of charge opportunities for groups with special needs to visit the Forest and take part in activities.

1989- Celebrating 800 Years. The Scouts at work in the Forest. The Trust was involved in setting up the ‘Scout Project 800’, a major conservation project, celebrating the 800th year of the Mayoralty of the City of London. Scouts from all over the UK took part in conservation projects throughout the Forest.

1999 – The Environmental Awareness Project was initiated, with 1,773 children visiting in the first year. the project developed programmes to engage children’s groups in activities that raise their awareness and appreciation of Epping Forest

2005 – The North Farm Wildlife Refuge Project: to turn an area of agricultural land, surrounded by housing estates, into a number of different habitats through the work of young people. The Trust planted over 1,500 trees to create an area of coppice woodland and native hedgerow.

2018 – Epping Forest Heritage Trust was founded following the merger of the Friends of Epping Forest and Epping Forest Centenary Trust.