Traditional New Forest way of life enters modern era

Pony salesyard

Published Wednesday 23 October 2013

The historic sales yard for New Forest commoners’ ponies is now up to date thanks to a final £48,000 investment for a new roof from the New Forest RDPE (Leader) Programme.

A celebration to officially open the roof on the Beaulieu Road Sales Yard on Wednesday 23 October marked the final stage of a range of improvements over the last three years which New Forest organisations hope will provide a boost for the ancient practice of turning out ponies on to the Forest.

The previous improvements included the installation of mains water and mains electricity, providing wash-down facilities, toilets and removable lighting to bring the yard up to modern health and safety and trading standards.

The funds for these came from the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, the New Forest National Park Authority and a range of other Forest organisations.

The New Forest Livestock Society is responsible for overseeing the premises and organising the pony sales. Chairman Lucinda Lang said: ‘Commoning has been instrumental in shaping the Forest landscape and wildlife habitats and also its cultural history. The continuation of commoning is the only sustainable way of maintaining the nature conservation value and landscapes of the Forest. It is therefore important to develop the sales yard so that it is fit for use for future generations.

‘As well as being necessary for the landscape and economy of the Forest, the sales days at Beaulieu Road are key to the Forest way of life and are one of the main social meeting and networking events for a wide range of Forest people and organisations.’

There are between 500 and 600 commoners active in the New Forest and Beaulieu Road Sales yard is the primary outlet for the sales of their ponies, with about 750 sold each year. The sales yard is also used by other horse-traders and recreational horse owners as well as buyers and spectators, with around 800 buyers and members of the public attending each sale.

Gerald Lewis, Vice Chairman of the New Forest RDPE (Leader) Programme, said: ‘We were particularly pleased to provide financial support for this final stage. The installation of the new roof is a very appropriate way of ‘topping out’ the completion of the Beaulieu Road project and we are sure that the excellent facilities that the Livestock Society has developed here will play a crucial role in supporting the long-term future of commoning in the New Forest.’

New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive Alison Barnes said: ‘This project is a great example of partnership working in the New Forest. So many organisations have worked closely together to deliver this project which will benefit commoners enormously, help ensure the future of the New Forest Pony and provide an economic benefit to businesses who work closely with the commoners.’


Notes to photo editors

(Left to right): Mike Seddon, Deputy Surveyor for the Forestry Commission; Gerald Lewis, Vice Chairman of the New Forest RDPE (Leader) Programme; Official Verderer Dominic May; Chairman of the New Forest Livestock Society Lucinda Lang; New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Julian Johnson and Chief Executive Alison Barnes at the Beaulieu Road Salesyard roof opening.

Notes to editors

About the New Forest Livestock Society

The New Forest Livestock Society was formed in 2002 following the total rebuild of Beaulieu Road Sales Yard. The Livestock Society was set up to manage the yard and have a 25 year lease of the yard from the New Forest Trust which in turn leases the site from the Forestry Commission. Within the terms of the lease, the Livestock Society is responsible for both managing the premises and supervising the sales days. The Society runs five to six pony sales per year at the Sales Yard, and works to improve the economics and sustainability of commoning.

About New Forest RDPE Leader

The New Forest RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) Leader Programme 2008 – 2013 has now closed having awarded grants worth over £1.36 million to the New Forest’s land-based rural businesses and communities.

Another EU-funded Rural Development Programme is due to start towards the beginning of 2015 and, if funding is allocated to the New Forest, it may offer new opportunities for local businesses and community groups. For latest updates, email or call 02380 285368.

About the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship scheme

HLS New Forest is Europe’s largest agri-environment scheme – worth £16m of European money over 10 years. It is a partnership between the Verderers, Commoners, New Forest National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

It aims to fund:

  • The maintenance and restoration of internationally-important habitats for wildlife
  • The historic practice of commoning and the Verderers, who administer the Forest’s agricultural commoning practices which maintain the unique New Forest landscape
  • Work to improve the protection of historic sites
  • Improved access to and education about the area’s unique environment.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608

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