Fred Cleary – Founder
The pattern of both Fred’s commercial and philanthropic activities in his life (1905-1984) was by influencing the future of a building or a piece of land at a crucial time its history, and transforming it into something very special for the benefit and pleasure of everyone who comes upon it.
Fred’s humble family origins in Crouch End, London provided his impetus to start out on his career, working as a chartered surveyor whilst slowly building the foundations for his company ‘Haslemere Estates’ which in the 1950s-80s then successfully set about refurbishing many of the City of London’s fine old buildings at a time when it was the norm to demolish and replace with modern characterless glass clad structures.
Meanwhile in 1975 Fred purchased and refurbished an old rectory building in the neighbouring village of Ringwould. This became Rippledown, an environmental education centre for children. The pioneering work of the centre is now nationally recognised with the centre having guided over 40,000 young primary school children – mostly, like Fred, from Inner London – into engaging with the natural world, whilst also for many providing them with their first experience of being away from home. The centre’s work lies at the heart of the Bay Trust’s activities, running courses to help us reconnect with the natural systems and approaches to living that can guide us to a more sustainable future on this planet.
Fred’s work in grasping the opportunity to use land or property to fulfill a wider community vision started in inner London. In particular he sought to create green and restful spaces in the City, often working with World War II bomb sites earmarked for development – his books ‘Beauty and the Borough’ and ‘The Flowering City’ detail the extent of his philanthropy, with his tireless work in this area resulting in his nickname ‘Flowering Fred’. Office workers today enjoy their breaks in these oases of the natural world within the City which are also now designated as sites of importance for nature conservation and biodiversity. Shortly after Fred’s death in 1984 the Corporation of the City of London opened a new garden, close to St Paul’s Cathedral, in his memory – The Cleary Garden.
* The initial charity formed by Fred Cleary’s bequeaths was named the St. Margaret’s Bay Trust. This amalgamated with Ripple Down House Trust in 2009 under the new name of The Bay Trust.
Ongoing environmental work
The Pines Calyx is a natural progression of these ideas and the ongoing environmental focus of the Trust (the garden has been run organically since 2001). The construction of the building commenced on the centenary of Fred’s birth in April 2005 and was formally opened in October 2007. It is a healthy and sustainable venue designed as an optimum environment for living, learning and working. The building has to date received eight regional, national and international awards and is recognised as an exemplar of sustainable design and is Europe’s most sustainable conference and events venue.
The building was also conceived of as a catalyst for a range of collaborative initiatives in fostering more sustainable communities within the emergent low carbon economy, building upon the activities at Rippledown. Today, some of the local community founded initiatives that the Trust is supporting and participating in include a community farm, an affordable housing scheme, a new local rural enterprise group and a programme for reducing the locality’s carbon footprint and individual household energy costs.
The Trust is managed through a dedicated team of environmental professionals, ably supported by a range of volunteers, a Patron and board of Trustees whose chairman is Alistair Gould, grandson of Fred Cleary.