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The Gower Commoners Association

The Gower Commoners Association was formed on the 24th March 1949 at a meeting of the Clyne, Fairwood and Pengwern Commoners Association held at the Gower Inn, Parkmill.

Colonel F.S. Morgan in took the chair, the minutes read

he stressed the advantages which would accrue by amalgamating these different Gower Commoners Groups in Gower into one organised body.  The result of such an amalgamation would firstly strengthen the position of each individual member of the proposed new association in cases where the need arises to deal with local authorities etc and secondly the financial position of a united Commoners Association could be such as to make possible a real fight should any legal issue arise’.

Mr T.H. Flitcroft then proposed that a Gower Commoners Association be formed and this proposal was seconded by Mr W Woolley.  After a unanimous vote the Gower Commons Association was created.

The meeting then identified 10 commons from which three representatives would be invited to attend. Those commons were;

  • Clyne
  • Fairwood
  • Pengwern
  • Cefn Bryn
  • Llanrhidian Marsh
  • Rhossili
  • Llanmadoc
  • Hardings Down
  • Ryers Down

 

The rules of the Association were agreed with the objectives of the Association being:

  1. To develop the most efficient use of the common land in the area, having due regard to agricultural and other interests

  2. To assist in the implementation of the Commons Registration Act and subsequent legislation

Key moments in the history of the Gower Commoners Association

1949, 24th March

Formation of the Gower Commoners Association

1955, February 28th

Extraordinary meeting to discuss the Swansea Corporation (Fairwood Common) Act.  This saw the establishment of the first Commoner’s Publicity Group to raise people’s awareness of the Bill.

1959, 15th May

The Chairman explained that he had ‘called the meeting in matters arsing from the Swansea Corporation (Fairwood Common) Act under which the Corporation has to pay compensation to owners of land carrying grazing rights for loss of future rights and who lodged the necessary claims’. 

1960, 25th April 

Cattle grids were first proposed for Gower. ‘Three grids were proposed for Fairwood and two for Cefn Bryn but the cost of £800 was considered too dear and nothing was done’  Colonel Morgan

1964

Proffesor Alun Roberts to carry out a report on the Gower Commons on Behalf of the Nufield Foundation

1965, 23rd February

‘The Chairman opened the discussion on the Commons Registration Act 1965 by explaining the purpose behind the act which concerned the registration of common land and the registration of commons rights by the commoners’.

Also, The Duke of Beaufort accepted the offer to become the president of the Gower Commoners Association

1966, 21st June

The Duke of Beaufort visited with the Gower Commons Association and attended a supper at the King Arthur where 21 members met his Grace.

1966

Mynydd Lliw Commoners were affiliated with the Gower Commoners

1967, 9th March

The Deputy President, in his opening address informed the members that the Gower Commons were registered on 2nd January and were the first commons to be registered under the new commons registration act.  ‘This was the first step in a new era that was a beginning for common land and commoners of this country and providing there is a strong Association the prospects for the future were favourable’ (over 150 members present)

1967, 9th March

Mr Methuen-Campbell addressed the meeting on the acquisition by the National Trust of large areas of common previously owned by the Penrice Estate.  ‘He was sorry that these lands had passed out of his families ownership but he felt that the Trust would be able to afford them better protection’.

1971, 29th March

The Association had been invited to be represented on the County Councils Prince of Wales Committee and the Executive had appointed the Chair to represent them.  He was pleased to report on the achievement of the Gower Crusaders in gaining the Prince of Wales Award.

The Chair could assure the members that the Association was becoming well known in the Principality for their efforts in attempting to preserve commons.

Mr Jones commented that the presence of motorbikes on common land was a nuisance – it was agreed that it was a very difficult problem to control

1981, 19th February  

‘The Secretary informed the members that Sites of Special Scientific Interest had been declared on a number of commons.  Mr Austin pointed out that Nature Conservancy Council permission was required before any contemplated scheme could be commenced which might affect the SSSI, and felt that this was the thin end of the wedge’.

1987, 7th September

The Secretary reported that he had received from Swansea City Council The Gower Management Plan Consultation draft.  

1985, 11th November  

Bracken first identified as a management problem. ‘Mr Robinson informed the meeting that he had been looking into the problem of bracken.  He believed that bracken had increased threefold since the war and is now a major problem.  In the past there were more heavy horses on the common which kept down the bracken’

1988, 25th July

Mr Barrow reported that he had lost 22 lambs and 6 ewes from the common
This is the first record of significant losses of livestock through impact with vehicles on Fairwood Common.

1992, 30th November  

The Honorary Chairman introduced Mr Brain Pawson to the meeting who then gave a talk on the Tir Cymen Scheme. 

1994, 28th March

The Honorary Chairman reported that he had attended meetings of the Cefn Bryn Management Committee.  He congratulated them on their achievement in joining the Tir Cymen Scheme.

1994, 5th October

A joint visit to the New Forest to examine how the Commons are managed there.  ‘Traffic claming measures were of importance, including a 40mph speed limit which was strictly enforced’

2000, 7th August

Gower Commons Initiative five year project commences after securing £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

2005, 17th May
HM The Queen announced in her speech to Parliament on 17 May 2005 that "a Bill to modernise the management of common land will be introduced."

2005, 27th June

The Commons Bill was taken to its first reading in the Lords and published the following day.  The Gower Commoners Association had been working closely with the Defra Team on the content of the Bill.

2006, 30th June

The newly formed Welsh Forum of Commoners hold their first ever field meeting on Gower, with over 100 commoners attending from across Wales.

2006, 4th July

Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Charles and Lady Camilla met with members of the Gower Commoners Association and wished the project ‘Life in Common’ well.

2006, 19th July
The Common Bill was given Royal assent on Wednesday 19th July 2006 to be known as The Commons Bill 2006.


Chairs of the Gower Commons Association 1949 – 2006

1949   1959   Colonel F S Morgan
1961   1962   Mr Eaton
1962   1987   Mr Linsay Eccles
1987   1992   Mr R Robinson
1992   1998   Mr J Ellis
1998   2006   Mr J Barrow
2006             Mr P Lanfear

 

Stuff to add in

Evening Post Article 7th January 1935 ‘Swansea as a great Airport’
Leet Courts Notice   8th November 1937
Gower’s pioneering Management partnership
Residents urged to shape future of Gower Peninsula
Cows see the light to Glow with Health
Web Page on Cattle Collars

 

 

Issues Past and Present

Fairwood airfield

the secretary reported that he had been approached by a committee putting on an Air Display on Fairwood Aerodrome and they wished to have the Commoners permission to do so……It was then brought to the attention of the meeting that these had been Car and Motor-cycle racing and the flying of model aeroplanes on the common and that this trespassing was disturbing stock grazing the common’.  1950

Rubbish Tipping

Miss Williams complained of continued and considerable rubbish tipping on the common.  She reported having pulled out over 30 oil drums from the cattle stream, a tea chest full of turkeys entrails, another full of bones and the whole swarming with rats.  Mr Eaton reported having written to a man whose name he found among the rubbish that unless he removed same within three days he would prosecute……The rubbish was removed’.  1960

Off road driving

A letter was read out concerning the riding of motorbikes on Fairwood Common and whether there was anything the Association could do about this.  The members were most concerned at the problem and felt it would not go away until somebody was prosecuted.  The difficulty is that Motorcyclists ride on the common without number plates and, indeed, a number of them are too young to be riding on the open road.   It was felt that the sooner the prosecution was brought the better as this would discourage other motorcyclists’ 1984

 

   

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