The Neptune Story

Places of outstanding beauty like Rhosili Bay, Stackpole, and the stunning, secluded beaches of Ceredigion, Llŷn and Anglesey, are only in our care through the success of the Neptune Coastline Campaign, a special fundraising campaign launched in 1965.

A view across an area of rippled sand at Whiteford Burrows, Gower Peninsula, Wales ©National Trust Images/David Noton

A view across an area of rippled sand at Whiteford Burrows, Gower Peninsula, Wales
©National Trust Images/David Noton

In the 1930s, at a time when the Trust’s protection of the coast in Wales extended to a mere eight miles, historian Charles Trevelyan visited Pembrokeshire and was shocked at how development was threatening the beauty of the coast. He said “It is urgently desirable that the coast should be preserved in its natural beauty”. It took until the mid-1960s to launch the appeal with the purchase of Whiteford Burrows on Gower. Since then, our protection of the very best of the Welsh coast has increased to a total of 157 miles, which is approximately one mile in every ten.

The idea of a coastal preservation appeal was first officially broached by Christopher Gibbs, the then Chief Agent, at an Executive Committee meeting on 16 March 1962 when it was proposed that a campaign might be launched “for money to buy land or covenants for the protection of the English and Welsh coasts” in conjunction with the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

Originally named EnterpriseNeptune, the first official function of note was held on 12 November 1964. This was a small dinner at the Fishmonger’s Hall which aimed to bring the project ‘to the notice of the leaders of industry and commerce.’

The appeal was brought to the attention of Trust members at the annual National Trust gathering at the Royal Festival Hall on 8 March 1965 and to the attention of the public at large on 23 April 1965 when a series of beacons and bonfires were lit on high points throughout the country by various youth organisations to signify the commencement of the campaign.

The official launch of the appeal took place at a luncheon at Mansion House on 11 May 1965 when Prince Philip, who had consented to become patron of the appeal, gave a speech to 250 selected guests enlisting their support. As a result of this function a number of sizeable donations were received (in addition to a contribution of £250,000 which had already been given by the Treasury), and Neptune had made a promising start.

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