Our History

Our History

South West Lakes Trust is an award-winning charity, established, in April 2000, to manage, provide and promote public access, recreation and conservation on and around inland waters in the South West of England.


In the late 1990s South West Water carried out a review of the leisure, recreation and conservation provision across their reservoir sites. Some of the buildings and facilities were in poor condition and the customer experience was suffering as a result. With little core funding to support any improvements, the concept of a charity managing these assets under a contract was proposed and accepted. Evelyn Stacey, then Leisure Services Manager for South West Water, led the creation of the charity and the transition to South West Lakes Trust managing these sites. Supported and advised by a newly formed Board of Trustees, many of whom are still serving on the Board today, Evelyn took on the role of Director of the Trust and led the newly formed team on an exciting, and very successful, journey.


Since 2000, we have been awarded nearly £12m of grant funding to deliver fantastic projects across the whole region – benefitting people of all ages and abilities; local communities and the natural and built heritage. This is one of the biggest indicators that operating under a trust model proved to be the right decision.

All the lakes currently under our stewardship are owned by South West Water – many of which are operational reservoirs, supplying drinking water to communities and visitors across our region. We work in partnership with South West Water to encourage people of all abilities and backgrounds to enjoy spending time at the lakes. The Trust ensures that the land and buildings within our management are maintained and improved, keeping our visitors safe and opening up the accessibility of our countryside. This way of operating still remains unique in the water industry but we have demonstrated how, by working closely together, we have been able to benefit the public and environment by investing external funding, community volunteer time and our passion into making the lakes what they are today.


In 2010 we took over the running of the Wheal Martyn Trust. Set in 26 acres of woodland, on the outskirts of St Austell, the UK’s only china clay museum is in the grounds of two former working china clay pits and provides visitors with a fascinating insight into china clay – how it was mined, what it was used for and what it meant for the families who lived in the area. This was our first venture outside of reservoirs and has proven to be a wonderful extension to our charitable work. We have been able to work with many new partners in the St Austell area and across the whole of Cornwall, increasing awareness and opportunities for local people to better understand their industrial heritage and to get involved by helping to tell the story of china clay to a much wider audience.

2014 - present

In 2014 we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise under the ‘Sustainable Development’ category for the second time and four of our flagship sites currently hold ‘Gold’ awards under the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Evelyn Stacey retired in 2015 and Andy Parsons, who had previously worked for the Trust as Head of Operations between 2007 and 2012, returned to take up the role of Chief Executive.

Today, the Trust continues to flourish and has recently developed five core Campaigns which it will be promoting over the next few years.