Malmesbury River Valleys Trust
The Trust was formed in 1992 to protect Conygre Mead and other areas of land within the river valleys surrounding Malmesbury.
The word “Conygre” means “rabbit”. Before the Reformation the monks at the Abbey used this area as a food source, principally rabbits, whilst ponds immediately adjacent to the river held fish. In the mid nineteenth century the railway line was built crossing Conygre Mead. The line was closed in 1962. The site was then used as a rubbish dump until 1972 when the land was sold with outline planning permission to a private owner. Fortunately the site was not developed and it was bought by the Trust in 1992 for £25,000. Contributions towards the purchase came from Malmesbury Carnival Committee, the Civic Trust, North Wiltshire District Council, and from the Trust’s own members.
It has since flourished and now provides a peaceful haven of some 2.58 hectares for hundreds of different wildlife species and flora.
The Trust was given the land at Wynyard Mill at Baskerville in
2002. This consists of about 0.5 hectares overlooking the
To preserve, conserve, and protect the land owned by the Trust; its terrestrial and aquatic life and their habitats.
To provide facilities for public enjoyment and appreciation of the wildlife of that land.
To advance public education in the study of and research into the river valleys and their conservation.
The Work of the Trust
Volunteers carry out conservation/land management work on the first Sunday morning of each month. There is always lots to do so we welcome anyone who turns up.
The Trust works towards restoring the river to a more natural state. We consult regularly with the Environment Agency and Wessex Water in an effort to achieve a reduction in water abstraction and reverse the trend towards low flows in the summer months.
Increasingly the Trust has become more involved in the wider aspects of life in the community and has representatives on Malmesbury Conservation Area Liaison Group (MCALG). We are often invited to comment on those planning matters relating to the river valleys in the town and have contributed to the North Wiltshire District Council Conservation Statement and the emerging Core Strategy.
Conygre Mead was granted official status as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 2005 by North Wiltshire District Council and English Nature (now known as Natural England.
This means the Nature Reserve is included in an official listing by English Nature which could attract more visitors to Conygre Mead and to Malmesbury. It also gives the Trust access to grants in order to continue its work.
The Trust holds Schools Weeks each summer which enables young children from the locality to sample the delights of Conygre Mead for a couple of hours and learn about its flora and fauna. This includes various activities from bark rubbing to identifying creatures from the pond and the river. Events are organised by volunteers and organisations such as Wessex Water. Other events such as Moth and Bat Evenings take place in the summer and these are enjoyed by children and adults alike. Just as popular are the Mini Bug Hunts which are held as a daytime activity for young families.
To finance the maintenance and improvement of our two Nature Reserves.
To purchase replacement equipment as and when necessary.
To have a financial reserve to enable us to purchase more land in Malmesbury’s River Valleys.
Fundraising is carried out via subscriptions, donations, grants, sales of our own Christmas Cards, Preserves and other events.
If you would like to join the Trust or contribute to its work please email the Chair who will be happy to talk to you.