CleanSteve

By CleanSteve

Meeting GOT trustees at their Longney orchards

Anne M., who is one of my fellow trustees of Stroud Preservation Trust, was approached by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT) a few months ago. They had acquired four ancient orchards from a farmer who wanted to ensure they were maintained as traditional fruit orchards rather than being grubbed out for use as commercial farm crops. Three of the four orchards were adjacent to the eastern bank of the tidal River Severn. 

Their dilemma was that on the river bank there was an isolated old and derelict brick building, which was becoming totally overgrown making it nearly impossible to see any of the building at all. They have expertise in growing and maintaining healthy fruit trees but not old buildings.

We agreed to do a bit of research prior to meeting the GOT trustees at the site and then over lunch in a nearby pub we’d discuss what options might be suitable. I took this picture as we approached the building, just about forty yards ahead and to the left of Ann’s red woolly hat. 

We all now agree it was one of the varied designs of ‘fish houses’ built on the river’s bank to support the people involved in the different types of fishing practices, most of which have now ceased entirely. My research has been fascinating and I now realise that this local fishing industry predated the earliest written records, from 1247AD, when the King’s estates controlled the fishing rights and the vitally important supply of fish. In fact it seems there are Roman remains of walls and banks, very close to these orchards, which likely are early forms of flooding controls. 

We came to no immediate conclusions but the chances are slim of raising sufficient money to fully rebuild the fish house to its former ‘glory’. But there might be other simpler options which acknowledge the building's historical importance. We shall have further discussions. I did Blip a similar fish house on the other side of the river last week.

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