History of FotQ

Origins and Foundation

There were earlier public campaigns to prevent the enclosure of the Common Land of the Quantocks but Friends of Quantock was founded in 1949 specifically to oppose proposals to fell the oak woodlands and plant conifers on the Northern Hills.

After the 39-45 war there was a great demand for timber and the government encouraged the felling of unwanted trees and the planting of fast growing softwoods. In 1949 a landowner at the northern end of the hills began to fell the oaks in Hodders Combe as marketable timber and at the same time offered the Forestry Commission a long lease on 1200 acres of moorland above East Quantoxhead to plant conifers. This provoked a public outcry and following a meeting called to oppose it, Friends of Quantock came into being with the Bishop of Bath & Wells as the first President. As the objections to the felling grew, the County Council imposed a two month temporary tree preservation order on Hodders Combe and at the first meeting of the new society, the Chairman announced that this order had been made permanent. Eventually in 1951, following continued pressure, the landowner withdrew his offer to the Forestry Commission.

Early Years

In 1956 the Quantocks became the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England but Friends of Quantock remained the only body acting as watchdog on the hills until The District and County Councils formed the JAC (Joint Advisory Committee) in 1975 and appointed the first Quantock Warden in 1976 who patrolled the hills on horseback. Since then Friends of the Quantocks have continued to work closely with the management of the Quantock Hills National Landscape (formerly the AONB).

In 1970 Friends of Quantock took a lead in opposing plans to build an 18 hole golf course on the hilltop. Over the years we have campaigned against casual vehicle use, litter, overhead power lines, overnight camping, new quarries, and deer poaching while constantly monitoring Planning Applications, Rights of Way and local development. We have funded and promoted wildlife studies and surveys, the restoration of ancient wells, ponds, statues and standing stones and published books of walks and old photographs. We have spoken for the Quantocks at Planning Committees and Public Enquiries, on Television and on Radio always seeking to encourage the public to value and protect the beauty and tranquility of the Quantock Hills.

The 21st Century

In 2013 the County Council decided to dispose of their considerable landholding on the Quantocks. Great Wood was sold to the Forestry Commission which already had a 999 year lease but the council proposed that two areas containing nearly 400 acres on the open common should be put up for public auction. Friends of Quantock led the objections, voicing concerns about what might happen to the land. Following negotiations the council agreed to transfer both areas to Friends of Quantock for £1 each for the society to hold on behalf of the people of Somerset.

Friends of Quantock became The Friends of the Quantocks in 2022, continuing a proud history of fighting for the Quantocks as the independent conservation charity for the landscape of the hills.