National Hedgelaying Society
"Committed to conserving hedgerows through traditional skills
Miss Valerie Greaves 1927- 2013
History of the Society
Hedge laying declined after the 1939 -1945 war due to many factors such as the availability of labour, the introduction of machines to cut hedges, wire fences and changes in agriculture that placed emphasis on production. By the 1960's hedges were declining at an alarming rate. Lack of maintenance meant that hedges became tall and gappy with nothing at the bottom; in effect a line of trees. Many hedges were grubbed out to make larger fields that could be more efficiently managed by larger machinery. In the early 1970's three hedge layers Mr Fred Whitefoot, Mr Clive Matthew, and Miss Valerie Greaves realised that soon the valuable skills of hedgerow management that had been acquired over hundreds of years would be lost forever. These founder members conceived the idea of setting up a National Society to enable the skills to be documented, and passed on to others. Competitions were organised all over the country. A National Competition is now an annual event. The Society has over 500 members; some are professional contractors whilst others practice hedge laying as a hobby, helping out as volunteers at many national nature reserves and conservation site. Legislation was introduced in 1997 to protect hedgerows. The decline has now been halted and many miles of hedgerow are being restored under farm environment schemes. Maintenance of hedgerows is now part of good farming practice and the skills of the hedge layer are in great demand.