Supporters in Manning's Pit, photo by Tim Saunders

What Manning's Pit means to us - poems, lyrics, personal comments and memories from those who love the Manning's Pit Fields...  plus activities that have taken place in the fields. 

Many more comments can be found on the North Devon Council website, where several hundred people wrote in to object to a proposed planning application for houses on Manning's Pit.

Snowballing in Manning's Pit

Three boys snowballing in Manning's Pit in 1951.

 This photograph came from the Pilton Story Website.
  The picture link shows the full photograph with a text,
 explaining who the boys were.

A poem from the 1940's by Brian Norman

We were especially thrilled to meet Brian himself at our first Exhibition. He told us the battle took place in  about 1946, when he was a boy.

The Battle of Manning's Pit


Here is the tale of Mannings Pit

One of blood and guts and grit

When, some years ago one August night

Two Pilton boys put up a fight.....

Read the full poem

Martin Kemp's film
(may be temporarily unavailable)
                               shows Brian and John Norman together,
                                    reciting the poem in Manning's Pit.

 Brian Norman's latest poem -
 written in April 2018

Manning's Pit

Past and Present... and Future?

When I think of Manning's Pit

There's one thing I must say

It takes me back to childhood

Where mates and I would play

With Manning's Pit and Tutshill Woods

And paddling in the stream

Is what we all enjoyed so much

And any childhood dream

Read the full poem

Tim Saunders wrote this poem after an evening's Moth watching in Manning's Pit with John and Mary Breeds.

While we all knew Tim was an accomplished artist, we had no idea that he had another hidden talent.

Tim recited his poem on stage at our party in April 2018.

Moth from survey
One of the moths found

Ode to the Setaceous Hebrew Character

Who knew
That you flew

With your pretty wings
And bristles and things

Thinking light thoughts
Among St. John’s Worts

You give us all that
And lunch for a bat

Tim Saunders helping at the Moth Survey in
                  Manning's Pit
Preparing for the Moth Survey

St Mary's Church, Pilton

A letter of support that we received  from Revd Dr Nigel Dilkes, Parish Priest of St. Mary's Church, Pilton,
following our application to have Manning's Pit made an Asset of Community Value.
He makes some very important points.

Message from the Revd Dr Nigel Dilkes

It was great to hear that you are applying to have Mannings Pit fields listed as an Asset of Community Value under the Community Right To Bid Scheme.

In the fight to stop building development on the site, it’s been rightly highlighted that there are positive attributes to the site which should not be lost — landscape value and biodiversity — and there are negative reasons for developing here — traffic flows, flood risks & lack of access to schools etc.

However, the issue that’s foremost in my mind is this: how do we find our connection to the natural environment which is essential to the health and wellbeing of us, both as individuals and as a community?

Each community needs such a space to find that connection. If the very space that serves that function is lost, it undermines any rationale for housing provision. Worse still, it serves to inflict a significant act of psychological and emotional violence on the existing community by depriving it of a resource vital to human flourishing.

That’s why your current move is to be applauded, and I give it my full support.

Ricky Knight, former Town Councillor (like Benjamin Manning) and leader of the North Devon Green Party for many years. He was also a teacher in Pilton for many years.

This an interview Ricky gave after our Protest March in December 2015. He describes how when he was courting his wife, they used to walk up into Manning's Pit.
The same story is told by so many couples, as in the film, The Magic of Manning's Pit.

Pilton Panto

The Manning's Pit Banner makes an appearance
in the 2017 Pilton Pantomime, to enthusiastic applause.

Will it appear again in 2018 ? 
Yes!  See below.

Annie Featherstone, Pilton Resident, has written this poem.

A Designated Site of Scientific Interest... The Bradiford Valley
Have the developers gone completely crazy?
Will an ecological murder be written in the script
NO,  we will save our beloved Manning's Pit!

Horseshoe bats , midges, and worms that glow,
Larvae, dragon flies and meadow blues,
Bumbles bees, tawny owls , marbled whites,
Are they really to be buried in a concrete site?

Song birds will mourn, their demise, and their passing,
The destruction of habitats, from their generations lasting,
Swallows not feeding, nesting, and breeding,
From far away lands,  lost on their returning.

Read the full poem

A.M, a local resident sent us this... she isn't the only one to voice such feelings following a loss.

When my dad died I don't know what I would have done without this walk.
I cried and talked to him out loud where no one could here me .
Twenty years we have had the pleasure of this beautiful place
 and I feel so sad for our loss.

The Football team

This photograph and text also came from the Pilton Story website.

In 1977, to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee, a Men versus Women's football match was held in Manning's Pit, by kind permission of Mrs May. After the event, a barbecue was also held, down near Manning's Pit bridge.

Anne Beer, local artist, has written this for us.

Manning's Pit

...has helped me through the thick and thin of the last ten years. It has absorbed my grief as my husband was dying, the river carried away my tears, the golden buttercups and May blossom uplifted me and the soaring buzzards gave me hope.

To study the tiniest ladybird on a twig and then in one glance to be able to span the vast horizon and see Hartland, and then look over the dunes and estuary, what magic!

Then the joy of letting the dog sniff out a new adventure, a paradise of smells and a mudfull of muck! Meeting up with others or sometimes preferring to be “solo”, lost in though around the familiar yet ever changing beaten track of hundreds of visits.

Memories. The Acorn coffee I made, elderflower cordial, comfrey ointment, blackberry rose hip and sloe jelly, Alexander seeds ground up to make pepper, and the mushrooms.

What next? Concrete sitting on top of our dreams and memories? I hope not, but I thank God for what we have enjoyed and pray for a miracle.

Anne (formerly Lovelock) Beer.

Read it in her own handwriting

Dan Reynolds, former resident of Pilton

Dan Reynolds former resident

Egg Pacing

In the 1980s, several Easter events were held in Manning's Pit,
organised by the vicar.

They included egg pacing (Easter egg rolling) and
an egg decorating competition.

Read more here

Bev Snowden
Pilton Resident, and her children Megan and Oli

Rainbow over Manning's Pit by Bev Snowden
A rainbow over Manning's Pit  - photo taken by Bev Snowden on a recent morning walk

Bev and her children write how they feel about Manning's Pit

"I would like to save Manning's Pit because it is exceptionally beautiful and special. We don't have any other green spaces that we can access easily in Pilton. People come from all over to enjoy it's peace and tranquility. Each time I walk there I see at least three or four other people. That's hundred of people a month who take pleasure in walking around and enjoying its fields, streams, trees and birds. Psychosocially this is so important to the people of Barnstaple and North Devon."

'Because Mannings Pit is a beautiful place where we can be free and have fun.'    Megan Snowden age 12

'I would like a path straight from my house to Manning's Pit with no cars because we love it so much and we can go swimming in the river.'
Oli Snowden age 8

John Lovelock,
Pilton Resident and son of environmental Scientist James Lovelock, who was the the first many eminent people to sign our petition.

John lives close to Manning's Pit and is a member of Abbey Gateway Club which has meetings on Fridays in Barnstaple. He also attends Rose Hill Activity Centre just outside Bideford, you can see him here on their website in his favourite pink trousers in Uptime Funk.

Christine Lovelock
Pilton Resident and John's sister.
Christine and Wendy Robinson founded the Friends of Manning's Pit campaign group in October 2015.

Christine's reasons for caring about Manning's Pit (written in October 2015 at the start of the campaign)

"A town is more than houses, it needs green spaces where people can walk and refresh their spirits. We need housing, but the most beautiful parts of our countryside and towns need to be protected, too. This is the most accessible countryside to the North and West of Barnstaple, the one place where you can walk away from traffic noise and enjoy peace and tranquility. These fields are part of our heritage, as important to us as Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill are to Londoners. If the government relaxed planning laws in London so that those places could be built upon, what an outcry there would be!"

Read more

Sledging in Manning's Pit, 2009

Coming shortly- locals sledging,
video from 2018

Wheneve it snows, it seems as if the whole of Pilton descends on Manning's Pit.

One of the best tales we've heard is the one about the vicar, back in the 60's,
who took an old framed oil painting off his wall, and used it as a sledge because he couldn't
 find anything else more suitable.

Manning's Pit has been described as the "Cresta Run" of Pilton.

Snow in
                Manning's Pit 2010
Locals enjoying the snow in
Manning's Pit   2010

Ray Bunting, Bradiford resident

Two sets of lyrics to use as chants when we March

"Save Mannings Pit, don't develop it,”

What will we get if its sacrificed?,
Save Mannings Pit,dont develop it,
What is it worth if we pay the price?
A walkers right, a paradise,
Where will we go if its sacrificed?
A walkers right, a paradise,
Where will we go if its sacrificed?"

"We don't need more homes in Pilton,
We don't need no more of those,
No dug up countryside, we ask you,
Builders leave them fields alone, Hey builders,leave them fields alone.
All in all don't just brick up it all,
All in all don't just brick up it all."

Zsuzsa Reynolds, Pilton resident and one of the founder members of the Friends of Manning's Pit.

Text of statement
Rosie Usher

An artist who has visited Manning's Pit many times and put a painting in our 2017 Exhibition

Kingfisher Tale

Save my home...
They all moan....
Their name our call....
To small roof leaks...

It needs a lick of paint...
My home is perfect...
It's just the right size...

My water doesn't come out of the tap
My water comes straight fromt he sky.
So ask me why you are trying to take it away,
My home, my Manning's Pi


Pilton Panto 2018

A resounding cheer went up each night when the Manning's Pit Banner appeared.

It goes without saying that virtually all of the cast support the campaign to save Manning's Pit.

Pilton Panto 2018

Our online and paper petitions.

Children on Manning's Pit bridge in the 70s.
Children on Manning's Pit bridge in the 1970s

Children playing by Manning's Pit bridge 2016
Children playing by Manning's Pit bridge, 2016

Gymnastics in Manning's Pit
Gymnastics in Manning's Pit

                in Save Manning's Pit jacket
This little dog loves
Manning's Pit
(as does its owner)

Our Petition

Over 3400 people have signed our online petition, which has unfortunately had to be closed for technical reasons.  If you have not been able to sign you can still send us your comments and endorsements to add to the list of signatures.
 When we did our survey of Pilton and Bradiford we found that quite a large number of people preferred to sign a paper petition instead, and we have hundreds of signatures on that as well. The population of Pilton Ward is about 5000, but that of course includes children who have not signed, and perhaps elderly people who were too unwell to do so, so we can say with some certainty that there are very few people in Pilton who do not want to save Manning's Pit.

There are so many comments that people have made that it would take ages to transcribe them all, but here are a few:

I'm signing up because my father (who is 90) used to watch the kingfishers there. My husband and brothers used to swing over the stream there
as boys. I walk the dog there regularly. Manning's Pit is a Barnstaple treasure.
  L.M. Ashford

I've grown up in Pilton...In the 60s and 70s we had the freedom to play and explore in the fields, flying kites, tadpoling, picking wild flowers, laying in the grass looking up to the sky and enjoyning the nature around us.. a place for summer days, sitting on the wooden bridge with our legs dangling over throwng sticks in the steam, a beauty spot we were proud to show off and shared by many generations for hundreds of years...
T.S. Bishops Tawton

Manning's Pit has always been a favourite place to take my family on walks together. We even carved our names on the dead tree trunk by the swing because we loved it so much there...
M.J/ Barnstaple

...Manning's Pit is the therapy centre where we can all go to think and enjoy nature...
D.F. Barnstaple

I used to go there as a child. So many residents in this town went there as children. I spoke to a taxi driver last week who was upset about it. He takes his children there as his parents took him there as a child....
R.S. Barnstaple daughter has just started her Duke of Edinburgh's award and the team use Manning's Pit as a training area, and it's really the only left close to the school..
L.T Barnstaple

Manning's Pit was a favourite playground during my childhood in the 1950s and it will break my heart to see it developed and despoiled. I visit the site often and it remains a special haven of peace.
T. H. Thornbury

I grew up with Manning's Pit as a place to go for walks, picnics, nature walks from our primary school and to play...
D.G Barnstaple

My scout grouphave been using Manning's Pit to have lots of fun and games and it would be a shame if it disappeared... B.C. Barnstaple

Of the many happy days and nights in the fiftys spent having fun with friends. .. Manning's Pit is so beautiful and natural... it must be saved for the children of the future
R.H Ramsbottom, UK

I spent many happy childhood days exploring Manning's Pit, Bradiford Water and adjoining Tutshill Woods. Enjoyed watching brown trout and sticklebacks lazing in the shaded waters... it shold be protected from such development.
J R, Plympton-Wyoming, Canada

My family and I have lived in this area all our lives. Although we no longer live in the Pilton area, we still love to return to Manning's Pit for a peaceful walk's such a necessary part of life and God given right to have these beautiful green open spaces in which to feel that one can breathe again away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life... a little piece of quiet in the magic that is Manning's Pit...
G.C. Barnstaple

More comments to be added.

Supporters in Manning's Pit