Tree Stories: Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green
Richard Morrish, Chartered Landscape Architect:
Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green
Sometime in 2003, a man rang and said: ‘Would you like to come and help us with our community project in King’s Lynn? We need to put in a grant application.’ His name was Roger Turff, a semi-retired journalist who lived on Queen Street in central Kings Lynn. Roger had been asked by a local Councillor to develop a community-led project for Harding’s Pits, about five acres of open space in South Lynn that is owned by King’s Lynn Borough Council.
The history of this space is quite extraordinary. It is thought to be named after a 19th century Victorian entrepreneur, engineer and farmer called William Derisley Harding who developed the brick pits. In WWI, requisitioned warhorses grazed here before heading to the Western Front in France. In the 20th century, it became a municipal rubbish dump. Then in the 1960s, the dump was capped off and it was used as a fairground winter retreat for the fairground travellers. All the people of South Lynn had used the space for generations and there are lots of good stories about Harding’s Pits. I met one lady who said she had conceived one of her children there. The Council had tried to sell the site to supermarket developers in the mid-1990s but there was a lot of opposition because although it was basically a wasteland, locals revere this space. Local people had all used, or abused, it for many years and they didn’t want it to be developed.
Woodland Trust Charter Champions GroundWork Gallery is one of more than 50 Charter Champions for the Woodland Trust’s Trees, Woods and People Charter. The Woodland Trust aims to produce a new Charter ‘to influence policy and practice and celebrate the role that trees and woods play in our lives’. The Charter will launch on 6th November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.
Throughout 2017, the Woodland Trust and its Charter Champions are collecting stories about what trees and woods mean to people; and building a picture of their value to everyone in the UK.
Pippa Lacey, November 2016