The Trust’s Estates in Gloucestershire
The Slimbridge Estate
In contrast to the other Ernest Cook Trust estates, the Slimbridge Estate is a relatively modern creation: it was based on an original purchase in 1945 of 1,109 acres in the parishes of Slimbridge and Gossington out of the sale of outlying portions of the Berkeley Castle Estate. The Berkeley Estate had for years been a famous sporting estate although the last Earl of Berkeley, who died young, was more interested in the sciences.
Ernest Cook extended the estate further by purchasing Breadstone Farm and Wanswell Court from the Berkeley family; the current ECT holding comprises 2,480 acres.
While most of the other Trust estates are predominantly used for arable cropping, the Slimbridge Estate is mainly grassland and includes two of the Trust’s six dairy farms. These farms produce milk which, in one form or another, ends up on the shelves of supermarkets. The estate’s farms also demonstrate the wide variety of countryside businesses supported by the Trust generally.
The woods are an important feature of the Slimbridge Estate – of all the Trust’s estates, this has proportionately the largest area of woodland – and this is managed to combine the production of quality oak in conifer nurse crops with ecological biodiversity. While the UK has seen an increase in timber diseases such as Ash Die-Back and Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, the Trust monitors its woodlands constantly for signs of disease.
The Slimbridge Estate is home to the Redwood Outdoor Education Centre, which offers a wealth of resources for schools, including woodlands, a wetlands area, a meadow, a large pond and wildlife area, and toilets with a reed bed sewage system. Click here to find out more about how the Trust helps children learn from the land.