Back in the 1960s, Stewkley was to be totally destroyed to make way for what was planned as Britain’s biggest airport. The battle to defeat the plan, a two-and-a-half year campaign that involved three separate debates in Parliament, was eventually won. To mark the momentous time in Stewkley’s history, and the determined efforts of villagers, the Airport Monument was created in the shape of Concorde, then the fastest of passenger aircraft, and trees planted to create a spinney.
Sadly over the years maintenance of the spinney, sited at a point that would have been the centre of the four-runway airport, tailed off and it became buried in undergrowth. In 2014, Stewkley Parish Council took it over, signing a 99-year lease with the owners, Bucks County Council. Since then, a total transformation of the area has taken place under the leadership of Parish Councillor Keith Higgins and a team of seemingly tireless volunteers. The once-neglected green space has now become a fitting reminder of a time when the village fought the threat of destruction.
The spinney is divided into three “petals” that straddle the junction of roads to Dunton and Cublington. The focus of the work was to fully restore the Monument Petal whilst leaving the westerly Kingsbridge Petal largely to nature.Tthe northern Penton Farm Petal is providing an ideal location for Stewkley Explorer Scouts’ countryside activities.
With a mixture of volunteer days and smaller groups of volunteers and friends, restoration of the Monument Spinney to it original glory has been completed. The Spinney is a healthy growing area, so a lot of maintenance will continue to be regularly needed.
The unveiling of a brand-new sign attracted a crowd of 50 villagers and friends, including seven people from the original planting of the spinney 44 years ago. The signs are a visual reminder of the campaign, using as they do, the image of a pitchfork farmer protecting church, parish and village.
A variety of Stewkley groups can regularly utilise the wonderful space for activities, adventures and learning and, as usual, all events are faithfully recorded and supported by our village newsletter, the Stewkley Grapevine.