THE austere aftermath of World War Two saw the continuation of the ploughing up of the Downs. To deal with the chronic food shortage, the old chalk grasslands largely made way for wheat and other arable crops.
But as Peter Brandon in his book Sussex (Robert Hale) put it: ‘By the 1950s, though, there were many who felt that change had got out of hand.. The introduction of artificial fertilisers made cereal growing independent of sheep dung, and Southdown sheep flocks, already reduced before the war, declined rapidly.’
Their timely warnings went largely unheeded. It is a miracle we have any Downs left at all.