‘Stunning’ Skegness nature spot was nearly turned into a housing development

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust chief executive Paul Learoyd, LCC Coun Colin Davie, author Barrie Wilkinson and Trust chairman David Cohen.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust chief executive Paul Learoyd, LCC Coun Colin Davie, author Barrie Wilkinson and Trust chairman David Cohen.

An event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Gibraltar Point having become a national nature reserve has been held.

Celebrations at the nature spot on Monday included speeches by representatives from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the site, and Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), which owns the land.

Skegness author and long-serving volunteer Barrie Wilkinson signs copies of his book 'The Story of Gibraltar Point'.

Skegness author and long-serving volunteer Barrie Wilkinson signs copies of his book 'The Story of Gibraltar Point'.

Gibraltar Point is the trust’s first nature reserve, established on December 10, 1948, in partnership with LCC. Known for its impressive views and diversity of wildlife, it now forms part of a 1,000 acre internationally important nature site, attracting over 250,000 human visitors each year - and thousands more birds.

Visitors joined in the special celebratory event, which included talks on the history and importance of the reserve, and a display of bunting made from 70 individual flags created by members of the public to illustrate wildlife at the site, and the trust’s work.

Skegness author Barrie Wilkinson launched his new illustrated book ‘The Story of Gibraltar Point’ at the event - which is the culmination of decades of work and research.

Speaking to the Standard, Barrie said: “The book charts the history of Gibraltar Point from the mid-1700s to present day. I first began researching the site back in 1968 and used to give slide shows about it.

One of Barrie Wilkinson's photos of Gibraltar Point.

One of Barrie Wilkinson's photos of Gibraltar Point.

“The book took me about 8-10 years to compile, and at one point I didn’t believe it would ever be finished.”

He explained that back in the 1930s, before it was bought by the council, the vast nature spot was in danger of being turned into a housing estate with 400 bungalows.

“The developer built four there but ran out of money, so the council bought a chunk of the land in 1937. After the war, in 1948, the council leased the land to the wildlife trust, which was then known as Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union.”

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said: “The sand hills to the south of Skegness had long been recognised as an area that was important for wildlife and were included in a national list of sites ‘worthy of preservation’ as early as 1912. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that action was taken to protect Gibraltar Point from development. A speedway track and a seaside resort were amongst the proposals. Luckily, Lincolnshire County Council saw the threats and acted. The Sandhills Act of 1932 enabled the council to control development of Lincolnshire’s coastal sand hills and acquire them if necessary. In 1937, they bought most of Gibraltar Point to safeguard it against development.

“By the time the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust was launched on December 2, 1948, negotiations were already underway for the establishment of a nature reserve at Gibraltar Point. On December 10, 1948, Lincolnshire County Council signed a landmark agreement with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The Trust would manage Gibraltar Point as a nature reserve, not only for wildlife but for people too.”

Describing the celebratory event as ‘superb’, Barrie added: “It was a really lovely day. When the sun is out here, like it was that day, you can’t beat Gibraltar Point for its stunning views, and the visitor centre is the perfect place to relax, have a coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.”

‘The Story of Gibraltar Point’ is available to buy now, from Gibraltar Point visitor centre, and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s HQ in Horncastle. The limited edition hard back is priced at £25, with the paperback version costing £15. To order a copy in the post call the trust on 01507 526667.