SUN Group and National Trust state their case
Bournemouth Daily Echo - Jun 1997
On June 20th 1997 the Bournemouth Daily Echo published 500 words from
both Studland United Nudists and the National Trust. On facing
pages we both made our case:
Studland United Nudists - proud of what we believe in
We are National Trust and Studland United Nudists members who, unlike some
anonymous writers, are nudists - proud of it and not afraid to put our name to
the beliefs we hold. For over 70 years, Studland has always had a naturist area.
This was over a mile wide, up from the shoreline to the broadleaf tree line.
We have used the beach since before the
National Trust were left the land in 1982. Since
then it has gone downhill. In the beginning, they had police on horseback,
charging around the dunes over three weekends, through the long grass, where
children were playing and people sunbathing. Now it is National Trust wardens on quad bikes
at excessive speeds, swerving to avoid families sunbathing.
Where it was tranquil, with only the sound of birds and children playing,
this has been drowned out by the drone of a diesel generator, coupled to a
tractor-driven vending unit.
As responsible naturists the beach was self-regulated and did not need the
overbearing tactics the National Trust have adopted. The National Trust are their own worst enemy,
underhanded and devious in their ploys to get what they want. Any procedure for
change is that it is put forward in their mandate for voting on, and given to
all members. This was never done. There was a private meeting between National
CCBN. This was not advertised, no local beach user could have a say. The first
we knew, overnight there were red and yellow topped posts.
A meeting was arranged with about 200 naturists present. We were told they
were a temporary experiment for restricting naturists.
Within weeks 1,200 signatures opposed the restrictions. The
National Trust ignored this.
As a result, Studland United Nudists Group was formed.
A meeting was held with the
National Trust, but whilst waiting to meet them, the National Trust were
on the side boundary with a film crew, making claims that it was the side
boundaries that naturists were objecting to when in fact it was the four-fifths
that had been removed from the rear boundary.
It was put to the
National Trust, who introduced Heather Walk for prudes not wishing to
see nudes, to re-route the walk behind the broadleaf tree line, a natural
screen. They said 'No". We asked if we could use up to the Point, an area
not used at all. This would make it not so far for our elderly and disabled
naturists to walk. Again this was refused.
Recently, Purbeck District Council informed the
National Trust they needed planning
permission for the posts and gave them 14 days to apply. The National Trust ignored them.
At present, the
National Trust are wasting vast sums of money, having police at Studland,
picking out certain naturists and harassing them, causing more bad feeling.
National Trust are continually decimating trees and gorse, disregarding conservation
and, to top it all, disclosed to Purbeck District Council that they intend to
remove the broadleaf tree line, which is approx 100m wide by 2kms.
Naturism is not declining, it is increasing. The
National Trust remain oblivious to this.
Peter and Sue Dangerfield, Bournemouth
The National Trust - Trying to be fair to all beach users
Studland Beach is one of the most beautiful and busiest beaches on the South
Coast. It is owned by the National Trust, the UK's leading conservation charity.
The National Trust aims to balance fairly the demands of all its visitors
(for example: families, horse riders, winds surfers, naturists and dog walkers)
for the safety and comfort of everyone.
Naturist use of Studland dunes started in the 1930s and has grown in
popularity ever since. During the 1970s, the naturists began openly using the
beach as well as the secluded dunes. This led to the Bankes Estate seeking a
bylaw to stop nudists using the area.
In 1982, the Estate passed to the National Trust on the death of the late
Ralph Bankes. The National Trust's ruling council agreed not to try and stop
naturists using the area. This remains Trust policy.
Now, up to 4,000 naturists use the area on a busy Bank Holiday. With around
20,000 people in total on such days, the beach is very crowded.
In 1994, Dorset Police raised serious concerns about the significant
deterioration in the standards of behaviour on Studland beach. There had also
been a marked increase in the number of complaints from visitors about illegal
sexual activities there. Some visitors reported feeling intimidated and were
avoiding certain sections of the beach.
The National Trust took these concerns very seriously and started to tackle
the problems by working closely with the police to prevent illegal sexual
behaviour on the beach. Visitors are now reassured by the presence of regular,
uniformed police patrols at Studland throughout the year.
In 1995, an area was designated for use particularly by those who prefer not
to wear clothes. Clothed visitors are also free to enter the area, which covers
nearly a kilometre (24 acres) of the beach, and is marked by red-topped posts
and information signs.
Naturists are asked to stay within the designated area while unclothed, and
to put on some clothing when outside it. This request is in the interest of
everyone visiting Studland, to enable all visitors to enjoy the beach to the
full. Visitors who prefer to avoid stumbling on nude sunbathers unaware can
follow the 'Heather Walk'. This path is way-marked by yellow posts.
Purbeck District Council has confirmed that it supports the use of marker
posts around the naturist area and on Heather Walk.
The Trust consults regularly with the official representative group of
British naturists, the Central Council for British Naturism, who are very
supportive of the arrangements for naturists at Studland and appreciate the need
to make clear the boundaries of the designated area. The Trust also has support
from other local naturists and the local parish council.
The Trust has faced opposition from "Studland United Nudists"
who feel that there should be a right to roam naked outside the designated area.
However, the Trust has a duty to ensure all its visitors can enjoy this
wonderful site in safety and without embarrassment.
Mark Harold, Dorset Area Manager, National Trust
Analysis by Colin James
Given the constrictions of a 500-word limit
imposed by the editor, Pete and Sue did pretty well, getting over our case
Let's have a closer look at the National Trust's
contribution. We'll let pass Harold's ludicrous assertion that the
National Trust is a "conservation charity" because as we all know it's nothing
more than a huge money-making operation.
Once again the National Trust is trying to imply that 'naturists' and
'families' are mutually exclusive.
The reference to wind surfers is a
red herring - you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of these who
use Studland in any year.
As for dog walkers, he conveniently forgets to mention
that they intend to ban dogs from next year (as revealed in their new publicity
blurb) - although how they are proposing to place such a restriction on a public
right of way (the Coast Path) is open to question.
This is the first time anyone has accused the Bankes Estate of trying to ban
nudists. Even if such an application was made, it is manifestly obvious that it
was unsuccessful, and therefore not deemed to be necessary.
Local management acting contrary to official National Trust policy
The actual resolution by the National Trust's ruling council was that "The Trust
would not promote new naturist areas, but would not attempt to restrict those
areas where naturism was well established".
In this, the local management
are acting contrary to official National Trust policy.
Of course it is crowded with 20,000 people there. So what is the point of
trying to make it even more crowded, by insisting that naturists confine
themselves to an area in which there is barely enough room
to swing a cat?
The local management of the National Trust are incapable of separating sex from nudity. As we told
them last year, if they think that making people put clothes on is going to stop
them having sex then they are either stupendously naive or unbelievably stupid,
or both. As a writer to another periodical said recently, "Of course you
don't want to be confronted with people having sex in public, but that's an
argument for more bushes, not less sex."
And so to the "designated area". Why should clothed visitors have
privileges that are denied to us? They are free to enter our area, and as we know they do
- in ever-increasing numbers - but we are denied access to their area. We are
expected to dress outside the ghetto, "to enable all visitors to enjoy
Studland to the full". Except nudists. Harold
refuses to accept what is self evident - that once we put on clothes, our
enjoyment ceases, because the whole point of being a nudist is, well, to be
nude! If we've got to wear clothes, why bother to slog all the way to Studland?
And there is the crux of the matter - everything the National Trust has done over the last
fifteen years has been directed at driving us away from Studland.
The purpose of Heather Walk, we are told, is for people who do not want to
see naturists. We have proved on video that this is a downright lie - this
disgusting path passes within twenty yards of the red posts and we have video
evidence that naturists within the red posts are clearly visible to walkers on
the path. The sole purpose of Heather Walk is to encourage people to complain
about naturists, so that the National Trust can attempt even more vicious restrictions, and
justify their appallingly arrogant and insensitive behaviour.
We have said before, and we will go on saying ad infinitum, CCBN represents only
the clubs from whom they derive the vast majority of their income. And what
"other local naturists" are they referring to? The only other group
that can possibly claim to be local is the Wimborne Swim, and we know that most
of them are far from happy with the way the National Trust manages Studland.
As to the
parish council, we made enquiries of that body and were told categorically that
they have had no discussions with the National Trust about the naturist area.
Of course the Trust has faced opposition from us. They have attempted to
impose, without consideration or consultation, a totally unacceptable
infringement of our liberty.
To blame us for a few incidents - of which the only
ones quoted to us were well outside our traditional area, and concerned flashers
and perverts in the Shell Bay dunes near the ferry and grass lurkers near Knoll
Beach - and to put the interests of a minute minority of prudes above those of probably the most
conservation-minded and well behaved group of visitors Studland has ever known
or ever will, is a perversity which is not to be tolerated.
We are not demanding anything new - all we are insisting on is that the
respect our long-established right to enjoy a spectacularly beautiful area of
countryside without harassment or vilification. All they have to do is to
restore the preliminary advisory notices that used to be prominently displayed
at the entrances to the area, which said "Naturists have used the northern
end of Studland Bay for many years".
It is not unreasonable to suggest that visitors, who do not wish to see
nudists, should either go somewhere else - there are 13 miles of beach between
Swanage and Christchurch, and thousands of acres of heathland for their
enjoyment - or that they should be provided with a path BEHIND THE NATURAL
SCREEN OF THE BROADLEAF WOODLAND.
When we suggested this, they pooh-poohed it as
impossible; but there is already a clearly defined path from Shell Bay to the
seaward edge of the Little Sea, and it would only require the erection of a
walkway - similar to although slightly longer than the one they seem to have
found no difficulty building between Shell Bay and the car park - to cross a
short stretch of marshy ground and link up with another path running from Knoll
Beach northward. But of course, if they did that, they wouldn't be able to
justify their vendetta against nudists, would they? That solution would be far
too much like common sense!
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