Discover New Forest Knowledge

One of the volunteers at the centre helping digitise the library s resources, New Forest Knowledge, OPOF

Published Wednesday 10 August 2016

A Heritage Lottery funded project is creating an online gateway to a wealth of information about the New Forest.

New Forest Knowledge will allow the public to browse online the extensive collections held by the New Forest Museum and Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library in Lyndhurst.

The project is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Partnership Scheme, called Our Past, Our Future, led by the New Forest National Park Authority with 10 key partners. It aims to preserve the Forest’s heritage and improve the way it is managed through the increasing pressures of modern life.

A team of 20 dedicated volunteers, based at the New Forest Centre, have been digitising historical documents such as maps, photographs and manuscripts to be included in the portal. New Forest Knowledge Project Officer Dr Kath Walker said: ‘We would like to thank our excellent team of volunteers for all their hard work. They are doing an invaluable job.’

Over 2000 items have been digitised since March, surpassing the project’s initial expectations and rediscovering some of the wonderful ‘hidden gems’ in the collections. Fascinating items so far include a copy of renowned New Forest painter, illustrator and craftsman Heywood Sumner’s ‘A Guide to the New Forest’ containing personal, hand-written letters.

Katherine West, New Forest Knowledge Digitisation Officer, said: ‘We are hoping to have a map-based search element so users can see how different objects are distributed across the Forest.

‘We also hope that community groups will work with us to make it a really fantastic resource.’

The gateway will become a hub of information and activity, as users can not only browse content, but contribute to it. Users will include members of the public, researchers, university students, history and archaeology groups, plant and animal wildlife groups and conservation groups.

The gateway is currently in the development stage and project officers Kath Walker and Katherine West are calling for suggestions from prospective users about how it might best deliver the wealth of information it will contain.

Suggestions for the gateway should be sent to Project Officer Dr Kath Walker at

To find out more about New Forest Knowledge, visit their Facebook page and anyone wishing to become a volunteer can ring the Centre on 02380 283444.

The Library is now open at the following times:

Wednesdays 10am - 4pm

Fridays 10am - 12.30pm

If you want to access the library outside of these times, please ring the office to make an appointment, giving seven days’ notice so the appropriate volunteer members of staff can be on hand to help.  


Notes to Photo Editor:

One of the volunteers at the Centre helping digitise the library’s resources.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest Centre and Christopher Tower Reference Library

The New Forest Centre and Christopher Tower Reference Library is a visitor centre, museum, reference library and art gallery conveniently located in Lyndhurst. The New Forest Centre aims to inspire its visitors to celebrate and conserve the New Forest. It does this by collecting, conserving and interpreting its collections and by providing educational activities and information to a broad range of audiences. In doing so, it acts in ways that are ethical, ecologically sensitive and intellectually accessible and affordable. It is owned and run by the New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust (reg. charity no: 279373).

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 Contact:

Beki Mole, Communications Assistant, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646639


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