Woburn Sands & District Society | 08 January 2008

About Us

The society, a registered charity, was formed in 1965 to fight against large-scale industrial developments, to protect the rural qualities of the local villages, to put forward the view of its members and to reflect public opinion in the area.

The primary aim of the Society is to preserve the amenities of Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise and the neighboring villages and hamlets, including Aspley Heath, the Brickhills, Husborne Crawley, Salford, Wavendon and Woburn, and to ensure as far as possible that any development is harmonious with their pleasant rural setting.

Any person living in the area described above may become a member of the Society on payment of an annual subscription to cover the Society's expenses. The Society subscribes to the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society and the Milton Keynes Heritage Association.

The area continues to be a target for much ill conceived, large-scale development. The Society represents the views of local residents who may be affected and have found themselves continuously resisting unsuitable development, which would completely change the rural character of their village environment.

These have included a large brickworks, the third London airport, the mining of fuller's earth, transport complexes in open country, a daily helicopter service, a theme park, footpath closures and numerous large-scale developments in small villages.

Air Pollution: The local Fletton brickworks used to cause severe air pollution in the district. By maintaining air pollution measurements for 19 years, by providing accurate technical information about the problem and extensive lobbying, the Society has made a significant contribution to achieving the much cleaner air conditions that we now enjoy. Members of the Society advised on the content and took part in several TV reports and film on air pollutions.

Fullers Earth Mining: The Society members took part in the BBC film "The Estate". They described the environment damage, which would result from fuller's earth mining in the outstandingly beautiful landscapes around Woburn. A sub-committee of the Society spent over four years in research and preparation for a public inquiry into the continued local exploitation and the mining company's appeal in the High Court was unsuccessful.

Local History: A Local History section was formed in 1968 and members began to compile a photographic record of the villages as they were in the early years of 20th century. We show some of these in the photo gallery page of the web site and prints of these can be purchased by using the Contact Us page.


The late Arthur Parker's researches into Woburn Sands have provided a wide and reliable reference source for others. Individually, our local historians have provided a variety of written work. A group working on the 1981 census returns has reconstructed the social and economic life of the district in Victorian times. "The Story of Aspley Guise: the Success of an English Village" has been published by the Society and is available from the Chairman.

The Society organised exhibitions in 1972, 1981, 1990 and 2002 to show some of the archives and other achievements since its formation. The millennium project in 2000 attracted a Community Lottery Award of £5,000 to help stage an exhibition of village pictures and to buy equipment to make a more accessible archive for the future. The millennium booklet is still available at £1. It contains illustrations of sixteen of the old pictures with some local history notes.

Regional and Local Plans: We are asked more and more frequently to make comments on wider planning issues and to attend inquiries. The expansion of Milton Keynes into the open country around the villages is a current problem, as is the proposed expansion of housing in the South East generally.

Rights of Way: Rights of Way have been a major interest in the Society. One of our tasks has been the collection of evidence to show that the main paths in Aspley Wood are public rights of way and must be included on the Definitive Map.

Heritage Centre, Woburn: When the church and pinnacled tower of Old St. Mary's were declared redundant by the Church Commissioners, members of the Society rallied to support the Trustees of the Heritage Centre in their work of restoration. The buildings have been preserved in their historic setting and the church is now a small museum and information centre for visitors.

Our newsletters are issued at least twice a year - more often if necessary - and they keep our many members in touch with the committee's work and any local issues with which the Society has concerned itself. If you are interested in membership, see the Contact Us page.

We meet at the Annual General Meeting, usually in May and always a very pleasant occasion with invited speakers on a wide range of topics.

The success of the Society depends absolutely upon the support and skills of its member. Members are asked to let the officers know if they have any special skills or talent however unusual.

Chairman: Vacant
Vice Chair: Ms Fran Fry
Treasurer: Mr. David Higgs
Secretary Mrs. Andrea Downing

Areas Covered include: Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Aspley Heath, the Brickhills, Husborne Crawley, Salford, Wavendon and Woburn
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