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Newsletters
 
October 2017
 
 
 
 
 

 

  • The Formation
  • Continuation
  • Logo Motion
  • Preservation
  • Recreation
  • Dedication
  • Presentation & Perspiration
  • Precipitation
  • Gratification
  • Nomination
  • Generalisation

Early in 1974, rumours abounded that many Forestry Commission camp sites in the New Forest were either to be completely closed or severely restricted in capacity. 
Regular campers at the time were very dismayed at this and a petition was organised to air their feelings.
“The Forest Campers Association” was formed to enable campers to stand up and be counted to help protect our rights to keep camp sites open in the New Forest, and those few members formed the nucleus of the Association, which has continued to the present day.

Meetings were arranged at different Forestry Commission sites and subscriptions were £1 for husbands and 10p for wives, who did not have any voting rights (male chauvinism!)
Funds were built up by paying 10p to attend meetings, and this fund enabled the Association to bring pressure on the Forestry Commission, Verderers and anyone else, to enable things to be changed at camp sites.
Negotiations were made with Bashley Park for the Association to rally there during the winter months and this enabled meetings to continue and the Association to grow.
Incidentally, our first rally at Bashley in November 1974 was the start of winter camping at this venue. Site fees were £1 per unit per night!


Our first logo represented the padlocked forest. In 1977 when we changed the name of the Association from 'The Forest Campers Association' to 'The New Forest Caravan and Camping Association' our present logo was adopted.
original logo         new logo  

All through our early years our main aim was to keep pressuring the Forestry Commission and Verderers to update camp sites and allow more pitches to become available, and the amount of correspondence at this time was enormous.  Local newspapers, caravan and camping magazines and Local Radio  and MP’s were all contacted, to bring the facts to people interested in maintaining the level of camping within the New Forest, and the support received was considerable.
We cannot say all our aims were met but we certainly influenced some of the decisions taken, e.g. getting Setthorns open at week ends during the winter, and eventually open all through the year;  Aldridge Hill did not close completely as was originally planned; on several occasions  the Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest came to speak to us at Bashley and Aldrige Hill;  and subsequent improvements at various camp sites included extra water taps, improved disposal facilities, better drainage and access to sites.

A degree of success!

 

Our first Dinner and Dance was held at the 'Spinning Wheel' West Wittering on December 7th 1974. The menu - soup, main course, sweet, cheese and biscuits, and wine was all for £3 per head!
The Dinner Dance became an annual event held at various locations. For many years a few members would put on a bit of 'Nonsense' during the interval, these skits included - the Morris Men, The Muppets, The Nutcracker Suite, Arabian nights and many more. These were always received with great hilarity, not to mention the fun the 'stars' had during rehearsals. The Dinner Dance was held at Bashley Park in the winter for many more  years to come.
In the early days the profit from this event funded the Children's Party- how prudent we were in those days.
In 1977 we had a Silver Jubilee Party at Roundhill Rally site, fancy dress games, tea etc., all organised for the children, and each one was given a Silver Jubilee Crown Piece. The teas were provided by the Mums and Dads.

A rally has been held on the last week end of each month, and members receive a monthly newsletter, thus keeping them up to date with all relevant matters. These practices still continue today.

At each monthly rally some type of event was organised – some of these were:

  • The Footslog organised by the Venture Scouts
  • The Christmas raffle
  • The Dinner and Dance
  • Children's Party
  • Games Evening
  • Easter Bonnet Parade
  • Tramps Supper
  • Treasure Hunts
  • The North Petherton Carnival each November
  • The August Bank Holiday Bash
  • Also a number of barbecues and competitions throughout the year

The August Bank Holiday event was originally organised for the children, it was their week end. Sunday was 'race day' followed by a tea with everything donated by parents. This has now evolved into a general 'fun' weekend for everybody.
Various cups were presented including the darts trophy, Children's cups and the 'Footslog' shields.
Our gavel and stand, donated by a member, is made of wood from H.M.S. Victory and another member donated our first two purpose made flags.
So many items have been freely donated to the Association, that it is impossible to list them all. In the early days when funds were minimal, these gifts were greatly appreciated. 

We feel one memorable Rally held at Decoy Pond deserves special mention. It started with excellent weather, and a whole pig was roasted on a spit for 12 hours. A scrumptious barbecue was held. Gradually the weather deteriorated and down came the rain. We were all sloshing around in the mud. The entrance/exit to the site was on a gradient, and every vehicle, and van had to be pushed out - no four wheel drives then!
The last members to leave  were absolutely drenched and covered in mud;  they, and everyone else heaved a sigh of relief when homeward bound. We have never been back to Decoy, I wonder why! 

Membership has gradually increased over the years, and we have a limit of 150 units.
In 1980 we applied to the Department of the Environment for an 'Exemption Certificate'.
Once this was granted we were able to hold rallies in farmer’s fields for a 5 day period. Our first rally held under the Exemption Certificate was at Gorse Farm, Blissford, and this site has been used on numerous occasions since then and many happy week ends have been spent there.

Our financial year ran for many years from the 1st March to 28th February and our Annual General Meeting was held in April. This gave the Treasurer a clear month for the accounts to be prepared for Audit. The Audit is carried out by two members not connected with the Committee. Nomination forms for the various officers are made available a couple of months prior to the A.G.M.

For many years our members have assisted on the New Forest 'Clean Sweep' operation, clearing rubbish from various locations in the Forest. This was organised from Ocknell camp site during September. Reduced camping fees were the order of the day for helpers, and the Forestry Commission gave us 2 bags of charcoal each time for our barbeque.
When the Caravan Club of Great Britain applied for permission to develop 'Black Knowie' for 100 pitches, Aldridge Hill campers were shocked when permission was given, as this reduced the number of Forestry Commission pitches available at Aldridge Hill. Our Association protested, but to no avail.

One of our very early members moved to Canada and she retained her membership and liked to receive the newsletter to keep her in touch with events.
An ex member who now lives in Perth, Australia will always be remembered for his Easter Bunny outfit, another member for being  a good 'Bag lady' with her fag ends etc. and another member  made such a good tramp many members did not recognise him!
Our Very first barbeque was held at Beaulieu Heath, a Forestry Commission site, where they provided huge logs for the fire.
For many years we attended the Netley Marsh Steam Rally, where we held a stall to raise funds. On one occasion we entered a float in the Lee on Solent Carnival. Jumble sales,  Bring and Buy Sales, raffles and barbeques have all helped to swell the funds. You can see that activities have always been, and still are very varied.
One memorable New Year at Setthorns saw a very few hardy members with caravans and awnings welcoming in January 1st.
With snow on the ground, fairy lights in the trees, music, festive food etc., evening dress was worn, and to cap it all, (or rather bottom it all) Wellington boots as mud in awnings was inches thick, - great fun.

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