Capacity crowd for wildlife group’s meeting

Ruth Sneath and John Buckledee
Ruth Sneath and John Buckledee

The South Beds Wildlife Trust Local Group held their first meeting at Dunstable Community Fire Station Lecture Theatre, which was full to capacity.

This was a talk about Houghton Regis Quarry, now a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust.

Ruth Sneath, education and community involvement officer, gave a brief outline of the aims of the Wildlife Trust and forthcoming events.

Then the reserve officer for the quarry, Rebecca Pitman, gave an introductory presentation about how the site has been transformed from effectively a dumping ground, with 20 years of neglect, to a wonderful sanctuary for wildlife, with many rare species of flora and fauna, such as the Chiltern gentian, the great crested newt and turtle doves.

John Buckledee gave an illustrated talk featuring many views of the quarry and the Houghton Regis cement works. Included in the presentation were several photos from the Manshead Archaeological Society’s archives of their excavations of a Saxon settlement at Puddlehill which was eventually swallowed up by the quarry.

John had also managed to unearth some early 20th century photographs of the arable farm, prior to the extraction of the chalk and where the quarry now sits. He also showed several photos of Houghton Windmill, which was located nearby at the end of what is now Mill Road.

There were many other fascinating images such as early photos of the cutting and point to point races held at Sewell at or before the turn of the 20th century.

The presentation finished with a Yesteryear item showing a painting by George Shepherd depicting Watling Street with the new cutting and the old coach road clearly visible to the right.The next South Beds Local Group talk will be on Wednesday, January 21. To book places contact sue@tu