Dame Helen Ghosh and Tim Parker's review of the year

Volunteers tree planting

We are delighted to present the 2016/17 Annual Report. It describes another year of success. We welcomed more visitors to our places, opened for longer and provided more inspiring and informative experiences in our houses, countryside and along our coastline.

More support generates more income, which in turn means more investment in our charitable purpose of conservation and access. During 2016/17 we spent more than ever before on the conservation of our places.

Highlights

At Knole in Kent we opened a state-of-the-art conservation studio, one part of a multi-million pound programme of conservation, the largest in the National Trust’s history.

At Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire we restored the glasshouse with the installation of 7,400 hand-blown panes, and at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland, previously unseen parts of the demesne on the shores of Strangford Lough were opened to visitors with a new network of walking trails and archaeological wonders to explore.

The glass panes in the glasshouse at Quarry Bank
The glass panes in the glasshouse at Quarry Bank
The glass panes in the glasshouse at Quarry Bank

These projects are part of our ambition to look after our properties even better and to reduce our backlog of conservation work. This work is described in more detail in our strategy launched in 2015, Playing our part. That strategy also describes our ambitions to address the biggest conservation threat facing the nation – the degradation of nature. We are working to create a healthier, more beautiful natural environment, often hand-in-hand with partner conservation bodies on landscape-scale projects.

Working towards our strategy

During 2016/17 work began in earnest. We produced a new vision of the Yorkshire Dales which will guide our stewardship of that beautiful part of the country. In a well-publicised initiative we also recruited a tenant to our farm on the Great Orme in north Wales for an annual rent of just £1 with the requirement that it is farmed for nature. It will take many years to realise our ambitions. But there will be notable successes along the way such as an increase in wildlife populations already apparent on our farms.

Water vole at Malham Tarn
A water vole perches on a wooden post
Water vole at Malham Tarn

The contrast between our work in the countryside and the Edge City project in Croydon couldn’t be greater. There – as part of our strategy ambition to connect people with places that mean most to them – an innovative project put the spotlight on one of the most important examples of the post-war ambition to build a new society. You can read about this example and others in this report, including ones designed to provide visitors with more experiences that move, teach and inspire them.

Examples in 2016/17 include our work with artists to transform the presentation of the collection at Croome Court and our celebration of the work of landscape designer ‘Capability’ Brown.

Conservation challenges

A word about Clandon Park. Those who witnessed it will never forget the ferocity of the fire that raged through the property in April 2015. The fire was a disaster but we are determined to ensure the next chapter of Clandon’s history is a positive one.

The interior of Clandon Park
Clandon Park, Surrey
The interior of Clandon Park

The best conservation minds in the National Trust have devoted themselves to creating innovative ideas for the house. An architect’s competition was launched in 2017 and the winner will transform those ideas into plans that will see the house transformed and prosper once more.

That the National Trust has achieved so much is, as ever, down to the wonderful work of our staff and volunteers and the generosity of our members, visitors, donors and partners. On behalf of the Board of Trustees we thank you for all you have done and continue to do.