fonds YWT - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Archive


  • 1933-[ongoing] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3.5 cubic metres.

173 boxes.

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust was established in 1946 to receive the gift of two plots of land at Askham Bog, York. The land had been purchased in 1944 by prominent confectioners and keen naturalists Sir Francis Terry and Arnold Stephenson Rowntree, following the earlier unsuccessful attempt of the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust to acquire the site at auction.

Alongside Francis Terry as President and Arnold Rowntree as Vice President, the then Yorkshire Naturalists' Trust's first Council was made up of other prominent citizens of York, including Walter Douglas Hincks, Andrew Wentworth Ping and Edward Wilfred Taylor. In 1951, E.W. Taylor succeeded Francis Terry as President. The Trust acquired its second reserve at Moorlands in 1954 and, in 1959, acquired land at Spurn from the War Office.

During the 1960s, the Trust began to build upon the diligence and dedication of the initially voluntary staff with the introduction of a more formal governance structure including the establishment of the Trust's Council, Executive Committee and Management Committee in 1963, the employment of their first paid employee in 1965 and their first Executive Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Fitzgerald Newman, in 1968. By 1970, when E.W. Taylor resigned as President, the Trust had 29 reserves across Yorkshire and over 2000 members. The first of several structural changes began in 1971 with the introduction of Area Groups, a decision that devolved responsibility for immediate conservation work from Trust central offices in York to voluntary committees across Yorkshire. A further review, this time of the Trust's central functions, was proposed by then voluntary Conservation Officer Dunstan Adams in 1972, and was followed in 1974 by a further redivision of the Area Groups based on redrawn Local Authority boundaries and the establishment of two further central committees, the Business Committee and the Scientific Committee .

The continued professionalisation of Trust staff saw the appointment of Stephen Warburton as the Trust's first paid Field Officer in 1973. His appointment marked a pivotal change for the Trust in their development from regional conservation group to national campaigning body. It was under his not uncontroversial influence that the Trust succeeded in winning a significant legal battle concerning navigation rights in the River Derwent in the 1980s and early 1990s. By the end of the case, Warburton's role as Conseervation Officer was supported by a Nature Reserves Officer who managed the practical running of the Trust's then 59 reserves while Warburton continued to focus on wider regional and national conservation issues until his death in 2004.

Today, the Trust is one of a national partnership of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the whole of the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney, and cares for over 100 nature reserves throughout Yorkshire.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited with the Borthwick Institute by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 2013. Further additions to the archive were made in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Foundation papers 1946; papers relating to the governance of the Trust including minutes for central committees 1946-2004, regional committees 1972-2004 and annual reports 1947-2011; papers concerning the running of the Trust including accounts 1946-1963, grant applications 1981-2005, press cuttings 1962-2006; records of Trust sites 1946-2012 including Askham Bog, Moorlands and Spurn reserves; papers relating to general areas of conservation including entomology, biodiversity, botany and ornithology; correspondence, papers and photographic material relating to Trust campaigns and projects such as Water for Wildlife, Living Churchyards and hedgerow retention and including landmark legal cases over navigation rights in the river Derwent and peat extraction at Thorne and Hatfield Moors.


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.
24 hours’ notice is required to access photographic material.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English
  • Latin

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Accession area