The Fight For The South Downs - Robin Crane

The Fight For The South Downs - Robin Crane

Brown Dog Books
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The Long Struggle to protect one of Britain's most treasured landscapes 

Those who have a deep affection for Britain’s countryside will be totally absorbed by this extraordinary history of environmentalists’ efforts to conserve the glorious South Downs. After describing the special qualities of the area and earlier attempts to safeguard it, the story of a twenty-year campaign to secure National Park status for this special part of England is recounted. Strong forces opposed, but the South Downs Campaign, which eventually grew to represent 159 national, regional and local groups, won through and the national park was established in 2010.

Author Robin Crane chaired the meeting of seven people who founded the South Downs Campaign in 1990. He remained chairman until the South Downs National Park was finally designated.  From the outset the campaign was run by a team of both volunteers and professionals. The Campaign for National Parks, The Ramblers Association, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sussex and Hampshire CPREs were the lead organisations.   Margaret Paren, who took a prominent role in the last half of the Campaign has edited this book.  She chaired the South Downs National Park Authority for its first ten years.


After seven years as a regular army officer Robin Crane joined Guinness as a maltster. This led him to Lincolnshire where he became actively involved with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. A film he made for the Trust resulted in the BBC Natural History Unit recruiting him to make programmes for the “World About Us” series.

He moved to Sussex in 1967 where he established his own production company and made environmental, scientific, equestrian, training and public relations films which won several national and international awards.

He became chairman of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and then chairman of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation In 1999 he was awarded the CBE for services to nature conservation.

Meanwhile in 1990 he chaired the first meeting of the South Downs Campaign. He remained as chairman, treasurer and fund-raiser until the South Downs National Park was confirmed. In recognition of this work he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Sussex in 2010.


Margaret Paren. a retired senior civil servant, has kindly edited the book as well as writing most of the accounts of the Public Inquiry. She was awarded an OBE for her work as vice-chairman of the South Downs Campaign in its later years and was chair of the South Downs National Park Authority for its first ten years.