Dr Thomas Tuohy (SH 64-67) has sent in some details about an Arboretum he has created in Beckermet, Cumbria.
In 2001 Dr Tuohy, dismayed by the loss of farmland and natural habitat to building development, bought three fields in the centre of Beckermet, in the area known locally as Little Mesopotamia, and began the planting of what has now become more than five thousand trees and shrubs, many of them in hedgerows.
The central area has been retained for sheep, while the plantations and other landscaping features reflect his interests in classical history and culture.
The initial motivation was to plant trees to improve the environment and provide a haven for wildlife and threatened tree species such as ash, horse chestnut, oak and larch. In 2019 the site was granted charitable status as a conservation organisation with the aims of protecting and developing the site as a high value environment for wildlife and the promotion of biodiversity. More on all this, including details of access, can be found online at www.littlemesopotamia.co.uk.
An interesting feature of the site is that Dr Tuohy has dedicated many of the trees in the various sections after his friends and contemporaries at Seascale Preparatory School (1959-1964) and St Bees School (1964-1967).
Since some of the individuals will be unaware of their commemoration, a list of them follows:
Rupert G. Atkinson, Christopher J. Bean, John M. Bell *, David Bryson *, Nicholas J.V. Curry, André J. Dufaye *, D.A. Elston, David L. Farrall, Martin Hazen Field *, Mike Gascoigne, William J. Haigh *, Nigel A. Halfpenny *, Richard J. Hall *, Keven C.E. Haywood, L.T.G. Hughes, David C. Hunter, James S. Jacques *, Anthony C. Lamb *, Nazir Lalani *, Steve F. Moss, Nicholas J.K. Normanton *, Edward W. Phillips and John R. Phillips **, David A. Spira, Roger J. Swales *, Christopher R.C. Tetley * and J.P.S. Walker.
Those marked with an * are from Seascale Prep School and are largely in the Birch Walk in Schifanoia. There is a concentration of some OSBs in the Ephebe's Narthex, a group of Corsican Pines leading into the Platonic Academy, but they are found in other parts of the arboretum too. Two masters have individual trees: A.N.R. Dearle and Sam (and Margaret) Parkinson. Although Thomas has not seen most of these people for over 50 years, he still has vivid and distinct memories of them. He also remembers many others and “would be happy to include their names in a section of the holly hedge, if they would not considered it infra dig to be part of a hedge!”
Dr Thomas Tuohy has asked us to make two corrections to the article in the last edition of the Bulletin (as above) dealing with his arboretum at Beckermet. Firstly, that the soubriquet ‘Little Mesopotamia’ is not a ‘local’ name for the area but one given by him; and secondly, that the site was created to establish an experimental botanical collection of trees which might suitably replace those being lost in the current environment, and not as a haven for threatened wildlife and trees. We apologise to Dr Tuohy for the misunderstanding.