Back to the future at Watchtree nature reserve

Dec 9 2002

By The Journal


A farmer and his grandson are to take part in a tree planting ceremony at the old Great Orton airfield, where half a million animals were buried during the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Joseph Timperon, whose family used to own the land, his grandson Glenn Doncaster and Patricia MacDonald of the Watchtree liaison committee will join Defra officials this week to replant the "watchtrees".

The ceremony will be held on Wednesday at the site in Cumbria which will be given a new future as a nature reserve.

Watchtree, the former Great Orton airfield, holds the carcasses of nearly 500,000 animals. Prior to becoming a wartime airfield, the land was a farm called Watchtree. It gained its name because, in bygone times, local residents would climb up two large trees to keep a lookout for marauding raiders approaching from the Solway Firth.

Now, to mark the reclaiming of its historic name, two new Watchtrees - a Scots pine and an ash - are to be planted at the site.

Grant Webberley, Defra regional works officer, said: "We are delighted that Mr Timperon and his grandson agreed to help replant the watchtrees.

"This is a remarkable story, and the two trees will provide a fine entrance to the Watchtree Nature Reserve."