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#70People70Years - Ivor Morten

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Photo: In the Annual Report (1983/84) the photograph shows Ivor Morten (left) and Norman Gratton meeting HRH Princess Anne in 1972, at the opening of Losehill Hall - the National Park study centre at Castleton.

Ivor Morten - Board member 1951 to 1980

Ivor Morten was considered to be a very unusual man, known in his time locally as 'Fella' Morten and known by National Park staff as simply 'Ivor' (at a time when members were usually addressed more formally). He was a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society.

He was a farmer and landowner living at Plex Farm, Burbage, near Buxton. He was instrumental in the formation of Buxton Civic Association and negotiated the Association's acquisition of Poole's Cavern and the woodlands around Buxton (which had been Chatsworth owned). He was a Magistrate for many years on the Buxton Bench.

His role with the Peak Park Planning Board began in December 1951 - he was a Secretary of State member. He retired from the Board in May 1980, and he served as vice-chair of the Board.

Ivor's contribution as a member was particularly important during the early years of the Peak District National Park and had a huge influence on how policy and thinking developed. His approach was always "How can we...?" never, "We can't because...". Ivor was a networker and a persuasive speaker. He knew a lot of people at local and national level. He was a ‘solutions’ man, if there was a blockage somewhere then Ivor would talk to people and the problem would be fixed.

Writing in the Annual Report for 1983/84, Theo Burrell, then the National Park Officer (equivalent to CEO now), wrote that Ivor Morten was "the man with ideas, persistence, contacts and a very strong belief in conservation in general and National Parks in particular."

Mr Burrell wrote that Ivor Morten’s approach was unusual: "With landowners, he argued the case of the ramblers, with ramblers he argued the case of the landowner. With farmers his emphasis was on conservation and tradition, with conservationists he would argue the case for farming. With each he tried to develop a greater understanding of the interests of the other and he saw the point of meeting of all of these interests as being the concept of the National Park – an approach very different from the conflicts of earlier years and very different from the tendency of specialist groups to each behave like a club, reassuring each other that their view was the only right one and that anyone who thought otherwise was a sort of enemy."

In the Annual Report, Mr Burrell wrote: "There were three results of Ivor’s approach. Firstly, his work was not always fully appreciated by his own kind because he didn’t necessarily say what everyone else said; ironically not all farming and landowning people may have realised just how effectively he promoted their interest elsewhere. Secondly, because he concentrated on the positive and on reconciliation, new ideas evolved through a wider understanding of different aspirations. Thirdly, because of his timeless, patient and his own often original style he probably had a greater effect on the National Park style of working than any other person. His approach was always "How can we...?" never, "We can't because...".

Mr Burrell also wrote: “Because he inspired others the leadership was not obvious though you couldn’t fail to notice the influence. His real interest was in ideas and results, rather than appearance. All an outsider might see was a man behind the wheel of a clapped out Morris Minor Estate with what he (though no self respecting clerk would have done) regarded as his filing system in the back. The real product of his endeavours didn’t carry an unfashionable car registration number; it is to be seen on the ground in a great many of the achievements of the National Park.”

On his death, Ivor Morten left a legacy for Losehill Hall, which at that time was the National Park study centre, at Castleton. He was a great supporter of the study centre and especially the outdoor education work with young people. His legacy was used to build 'The Morten Room'. Losehill Hall is now a Youth Hostel.


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