Foot and Mouth Disease in Cumbria – 2001

Foot and Mouth pyre at Kirkbride

Foot an Mouth pyre at a farm in Kirkbride.
Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

From February 2001 through to September 2001 hundreds of farms throughout Cumbria were struck with foot and mouth disease. The exact numbers of animals affected will never be publicly admitted, but informed guesses suggest some 20,000,000 animals were killed throughout the UK, many of them healthy, in an attempt to stop the spread of disease.
 
This website devoted much effort to trying to bring information from all sources to the public’s attention, since tourism in the area was discouraged and in many areas – forbidden. This had a devastating effect on many rural businesses, who depended on visitors for their income. It included diaries and pictures from people affected by the crisis, and hundreds of links.
 
These webpages have now closed, but four examples and a picture are left for those who are interested:

 
Children were encouraged to send us their pictures and thoughts on the crisis. Many children based on farms were not allowed to leave to go to school.
 

Heart of Cumbria

by Steven, aged 9 – one of many pictures submitted by children affected by the crisis.

 
Great Orton burial site

Great Orton airfield burial site in 2005. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

Great Orton Airfield – the resting place of countless farm animals from the foot and mouth episode, despatched and buried in large rectangular pits, carried out under the efficient auspices of the British Army. The place is permanently monitored for seepage.
 
In total 466,312 carcasses, comprising 448,508 sheep, 12,085 cattle and 5,719 pigs were buried between late March and the 7th of May 2001 in 26 trenches.
 
A hidden wall reaching 12 metres deep surrounds the graves to act as a barrier to any seepage of fluid from the carcasses. Up to three tanker loads of fluid are still (2006) being removed from the site to a waste treatment works every day – 240 cubic metres a week.
 
DEFRA are now trying to promote the site as a tourist attraction – called ‘Watchtree’.
 
Some FMD Links :

 
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