1995-2004 – The Land Is Ours ‘glorious decade’ of UK land rights actions

TLIO actions

Apr 1995 – Wisley Airfield, Surrey – ‘Land Reform’ activists, led by George Monbiot and joined by the Dongas tribe, decided at the last minute not to occupy St George’s Hill but the Northern slopes of Wisley disused airfield near the M3/M25 junction in Surrey.

Aug 1995 – Earl of Macclesfield, Shirburn Hill, Oxfordshire – Weekend occupation of Chiltern estate where landowner takes extreme measures to stop all footpaths and walkers

May 1996 – Wandsworth – Pure Genius – mystery coach tour from Hammersmith Unemployed Workers’ Centre – 500 The Land is Ours activists occupied 13 acres of derelict land on the banks of the River Thames next to Wandsworth Bridge, highlighting the appalling misuse of urban land, lack of provision of affordable housing and the deterioration of the urban environment. A communal roundhouse was constructed and the site was occupied for six months until being evicted by alleged owners Guinness because the site was due to be ‘scheduled’ by London wildlife trust.

Mar 1997 – Easter Garden, Bristol – reclamation of unowned land, at the SW end of York Street, off Blackboy Hill, during Easter weekend as community space from solicitor claiming adverse possession

Jun 1997 – Holtsfield, Gower peninsula – solidarity weekend occupation in support of chalet dwellers whose new landowner wanted to evict them to make way for luxury housing – the 60 or so ‘hutters’ in 27 holiday homes eventually won their case in the House of Lords to remain

Sep 1997 – Wychwood Forest, Oxfordshire – mystery tour by train from Oxford to Charlbury thence by foot to occupy Newhill Plain on Lord Rotherwick’s Wychwood Forest estate. The Lord was suing Oxfordshire county council for £1.6m for a footpath created in 1989 which went just inside the East edge of his vast 1400 acre estate. Newhill Plain is the location of a traditional Forest Fair which began as a Methodist picnic in the 1790s and took place annually on Wednesday and Thursday of the third week of September just after Oxford’s St Giles fair. It was forcibly extinguished by the Churchill family in 1857.

Mar 1998 – Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire – weekend mystery one coach tour and occupation of beautiful grounds of vacant country estate South of Luton

Apr 1999 – Diggers 350, St George’s Hill, Surrey – On Saturday 3rd April 1999, after a programme of lectures and discussions in Weybridge town, 350 (exactly) activists marched to St George’s Hill, now the ‘Beverly Hills of Britain’, to stay for ten days in a ‘mobile village’. A Diggers memorial stone was erected 350 years after the initial occupation by Gerrard Winstanley and friends at the end of the English Civil War. The Diggers rightly saw the civil war as largely about privatisation of land.

Jul 1999 – Kett 450, David Rice Hospital Norwich – On 10 July 1999 ten land rights activists occupied the 20-acre site of the former David Rice Hospital, Drayton, Norwich. The Land Is Ours set up camp in the grounds of the old NHS mental hospital claiming it as common land, marking the 450th anniversary of Robert Kett’s rebellion, which controlled Norfolk for six weeks against enclosure of common land.

Apr 2004 – Brithdir Mawr, Pembrokeshire – occupation of roundhouses in the nearby Castell Henllys iron age museum to prevent the demolition of Tony Wrench’s Roundhouse in Pembrokeshire National Park, during the Easter weekend

a Landrights campaign for Britain

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