Earlier this spring (2012) we ran a work day at Flatford with the intention of conserving the views as they would have been at the time John Constable was painting them. These practical days were run in conjunction with a team from the National Trust and volunteers from both the National Trust and the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project as well as members of the general public.
We were working on the lock island at Flatford which has been over grown and in need of some clearance for a while and was threatening to overwhelm the northern side of the lock area. The day began with a quick introduction to the Managing a Masterpiece scheme of projects by Chris Burton and then a short talk by David Piper the National Trust Warden for the site.
David outlined how we would be clearing as much of the scrub from the island as possible, which would require a rather large bonfire. Normally this would have been fine at this time of year but the day was unseasonally warm and sunny.
We were also planning to build a hurdle fence along the north side of the lock hiding a chain-link fence and some Environment Agency equipment linked to the automatic lock controls. Interestingly the same sort of hurdle fence was in evidence from some of Constable's paintings.
Neil Catchpole from Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project then gave a safety talk and we cracked on with the work at hand. We were really pleased with the turn out with over 30 volunteers attending on just the first day.
Everyone worked really hard and we left the island much improved and a brand new traditional fence on the northern side of the lock in keeping with the key goals of work to conserve painters views.
We would like to thank everyone involved a especially David and Neil who kept everything running smoothly as always. And of course all the volunteers who worked so hard and left the island looking so good.