SEAFORD: Celebrations set to mark South Downs milestones

CAMPAIGNERS will be marking two important events in the history of the South Downs with a celebratory five-mile walk on Friday (April 1).

The South Downs Society will gather on the Seven Sisters to mark the South Downs National Park Authority coming into full operation.

The authority will take on the park’s important planning and access duties.

The second cause for celebration is that 85 years ago a landmark campaign to stop the building of a new town on the iconic Seven Sisters ended in victory for residents.

Robert Cheesman, chairman of the South Downs Society, said, “The campaign for a National Park for the South Downs has taken more than 60 years, and on April 1, a critical element of those many years of work falls into place.

“On this day, the National Park Authority becomes fully operational and takes on its legal powers.

“For more than 80 years, we have called for the South Downs to be safeguarded, and as the National Park Society, we look forward to helping the new Authority achieve its goals of protecting the National Park, and helping the public to enjoy this very special part of Britain.”

Two years ago it was confirmed a South Downs National Park (SDNP) would be created, stretching from Beachy Head to the edge of Winchester, taking in areas including Seaford Head, Hawks Brow and Chyngton Farm.

The Friends of Seaford Head had campaigned for land south of Chyngton Way to be included in the SDNP but failed.

However, one campaign relating to the iconic area 85 years ago had a positive outcome.

In 1926 members of the South Downs Society found out that developers had purchased the Crowlink Estate on the Seven Sisters and proposed building a new town there.

The society had just 28 days to raise £17,000 to buy the land back and protect it for the nation.

Thousands of people joined the organisation’s campaign, including Rudyard Kipling, and after a massive public rally on the Seven Sisters, the money was raised, and the land purchased and donated to the National Trust.

To celebrate the victory and the SDNP Authority coming into full operation the public are being asked to join in the five mile walk which starts at 10.15am from the East Dean Village car park just off Gilberts Drive.

The walk is a steady climb to the Sarsen Stone Memorial, which pays tribute to the campaigners of 1926, and then goes along the Seven Sisters to Birling Gap where there will be a stop for refreshments.

Charles Peck, vice chair of the National Park Authority, will be present to celebrate the day.