Diggers350 Press Releases

Latest press information is available on the diggers350 email list archive as we have email on site but no immediate means of updating this website. An archive of press releases will be maintained below.

  • Press release: 30 March 1999
  • Press release: 4 April 1999
  • Press release: 5 April 1999
  • Press release: 8 April 1999
  • Press release: 13 April 1999
  • Press release: 15 April 1999


    4 APRIL 1999 :Occupation

    DICTATED AT 13.55 ON 4 APRIL 1999 
    300 Diggers reposess St George's Hill
    On Saturday 3rd April 1999, 300 activists marched to St
    George's Hill, Weybridge, Surrey to erect a memorial stone to
    The Diggers, 350 years after the initial occupation of this
    once common land. Following the rally to the original Diggers
    site, the activists marched to a nearby part of the hill to
    establish a communal settlement in the spirit of the original
    Diggers.  The activists have been negotiating with Saint
    George's Hill residents association, Saint George's Hill Golf
    Club and North Surrey Water (alleged land owners) in their aim
    to erect a memorial stone to commemorate the 350th anniversary
    of the historic Diggers encampment.
    The handcrafted memorial stone has been temporarily erected on
    the newly occupied site and activists have pledged to stay
    until a permanent and publically accessible home has been
    agreed and established.
    The activists have recently become aware that in 1952 land
    elsewhere on the hill was donated to Elmbridge Council with
    public right of way. However public access to this land has not
    been secured. Activists are also questioning the legalities of
    original enclosures of common land on Saint George's Hill and
    Contact: Tony Gosling or Annie Merry 0961 460171.
    Background info: www.tlio.demon.co.uk/diggers.htm
    There is an acre of land for everyone in Britain. Millions of
    homeless, tenants and mortgagees still struggle while the
    priviliged 'own' more 'stolen' land than they could ever use.
    The Diggers are committed to changing this.
    "For action is the life of all, and if thou doest not act, thou
    doest nothing' -- Gerrard Winstaley, 1649.
    DICTATED AT 19.18 ON 4 APRIL 1999:
    A meeting was held this afternoon with Mr Newberry from the
    residents association and a representative of the landowners,
    North Surrey Water. As a result, North Surrey Water agreed to
    donate an appropriate site on the hill for the memorial stone,
    subject to access details being finalised with the residents
    association. North Surrey Water have accepted the historical
    importance of this occupation.

    Back to Press releases Index

    5/4/99 Campaigner attacked

    Surrey Police are investigating an unprovoked assault that took
    place at the Diggers' encampment on the St George's Hill estate.
    The incident happened around 4pm on Monday April 5th at the
    entrance to the camp. A man known to be a local resident got
    out of a black four-wheel drive vehicle and attempted to remove
    some information boards at the gate. Mark Brown from the
    Diggers camp asked him to stop, and was punched in the face and
    knocked to the ground. The man then climbed back into the
    vehicle and reversed at high speed towards a group of people by
    the entrance to the site. No-one was injured by the vehicle.
    This incident is reminiscent of events 350 years earlier when
    the original Diggers were attacked by elements of the local
    Mr Brown said: "We are here in the spirit of the Diggers but I
    never expected history to be repeating itsel so literally."
    The camp welcomes visitors. Many local residents have visited
    and are supportive but this is the only incident of this type.
    Witnesses to the incident included former residents of the
    estate Dr Mario Capozzi and Heather Kershaw, now living in
    Weybridge [phone number 01932 859553]. Further details can be
    obtained from the camp.
    Camp contacts: Tony Gosling or Annie Merry 0961 460171.
    Background info: www.tlio.demon.co.uk/diggers.htm or www.oneworld.org/tlio

    Back to Press releases Index

    PRESS RELEASE: 30/3/99



    Diggers 350: The Earth is a common treasury for all



    In 1649 to St Georges Hill,

    A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the peoples will,

    They defied the landlords, they defied the law,

    They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs


    Leon Rosselson – The World Turned Upside Down


    On 3rd April 1999, a “ragged band” of today’s dispossessed will be marching from the churchyard at Walton on Thames to St. George’s Hill, the site where the Diggers first camped on 1st April 1649. The march is the cornerstone of a series of events commemorating the Diggers, drawing attention to contemporary effects of land poverty in the UK and across the world.


    Digger celebrations kick off with a public meeting on 1st April at 7pm in Weybridge Library Hall, Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey – guest speakers include Scottish Land Reformer Alastair MacIntosh and there will be entertainment from, amongst others, Leon Rosselson, writer of the much-loved contemporary song about The Diggers: `The World Turned Upside Down’.


    On Saturday April 3rd there will be a colourful Diggers pageant. Marchers and minstrels will make their way up St. George’s Hill where they hope to unveil a Diggers memorial stone. The march begins at 12.30 at The Centre, Hepworth Way, Walton-On-Thames.


    We come in peace they said, to dig and sow,

    We come to work the land in common,

    And to make the wastelands grow

    This earth divided, we will make whole,

    So it can be a common treasury for all






    The Diggers, with their visionary leader Gerrard Winstanley, are one of the most inspirational groups in British history. In 1649, shortly after

    the beheading of Charles I at the culmination of the English Civil War, they occupied common land at St George’s Hill in Surrey and began to raise crops and build shelters. “The Earth”, Winstanley wrote, “is a common treasury for all.” In defiance of landlords, enclosures and Cromwell, they stood up for the right of everyone to the fundamental resource – land.


    Today St George’s Hill is the Beverley Hills of Britain, an enclave for the super- rich. London’s most exclusive estate, it boasts an acre of land per house and it’s own private golf course. In the rest of the UK the story is similar – 90% of the land owned by roughly 1% of the population. Even though in most cases our dispossession occurred many years ago, we still meet its effects at every turn:


    *Derelict brownfield sites and offices are left empty for decades by speculators hoping for a windfall whilst hundreds of thousands of families are registered homeless.

    *Allotment sites in cities, which are for man y the only chance of having a close relationship with the land, are being sold off to make way for luxury flats and offices.

    *Group s of people seeking a more sustainable way of life are being thwarted by planning regulations which are biased in favour of high-profit development.


    At the end of the millennium The Land Is Ours is working to restore this country’s land to the benefit of all its inhabitants. We are putting forward a rare positive vision: a future of land for decent secure homes, community food production and a renewed sense of belonging to the land.


    Diggers 350 is a celebration as well as a call to continue the battle begun by Winstanley.


    For further information, contact The Land Is Ours, a landrights campaign for Britain.


    Diggers 350 mobile: 0961 460171

    email: office@tlio.demon.co.uk

    website: http://www.oneworld.org/tlio

    Back to Press releases Index

    DICTATED AT 10am ON 8 APRIL 1999
    The Diggers occupying land on Saint George's Hill today released
    their formal access proposals for the estate -- just as they were
    served an eviction notice. 
    The Diggers proposals include the establishment of a permanent
    home for the Diggers' memorial stone and guaranteed public acc
    to the hill. They also provide for the formulation of a management
    plan for the site. 
    Access rights on Saint George's Hill are under threat and the
    Diggers want rights of way established before the hill is closed
    off to the public for good. There will be an open day at the
    occupied site on Sunday, during which local residents will be
    invited to comment on these proposals. As the Diggers have now
    been served with an eviction notice, this may well be the last
    opportunity for local residents to see the hand-sculpted stone
    in place on Saint George's Hill.  
    The open day will feature interactive drama, story-telling and
    music around the campfire, Diggers soup and other vegetarian
    food, wicker-weaving, games and face painting. There will be a
    children's play area and a discussion about the original Diggers
    350 years ago.
    "To make the present site of the memorial stone off Old Avenue a
    permanent monument to Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers, with
    guaranteed public rights of way to the site and on the hill,
    subject to the agreement of a suitable management plan. This
    plan should take account of: security of the stone, serenity
    of the site, planting of vegetables and flowers, wildlife and
    conservation, information boards and disabled access. 
    The Diggers will leave when agreement has been reached on these
    proposals with local residents, land owners North Surrey Water,
    Saint George's Hill residents' association and the local council." 
    1) The open day will be held at the Diggers site on Old Avenue,
    Saint George's Hill, Weybridge, Surrey on Sunday 11th April
    1999 from 2.30 until 7pm. The site is approximately one mile
    from Weybridge railway station. Drivers are requested to leave
    their vehicles on Old Avenue outside the security gates and
    walk to the community, which is approximately half-a-mile up
    Old Avenue. 
    2) Eviction notice -- The originating summons served at 7.15am
    on Thursday 8th April by agents for the North Surrey Water
    Company, whose land the Diggers are allegedly occupying, will
    be heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court in The
    Strand on Tuesday 13th April at 10.15am. 

    Back to Press releases Index

    DICTATED AT 12.15pm ON 13 APRIL 1999
    The Diggers today lost a court hearing for a possession order for
    the site they occupy on Saint George's Hill. The master said that
    Friday was the earliest date he would allow any eviction, although
    landowner North Surrey Water had asked for immediate possession.
    The Diggers' occupation has been a major victory in the on-going
    battle for statutary 
    public access to Saint George's Hill. The
    fight will now go on a pace until democracy triumphs over the
    power of money.
    The ball is now firmly in the court of the so-called residents'
    association to bow to the overwhelming public pressure for public
    access to historic Saint Georges Hill and to desist in their plan 
    to seal off the hill from the ordinary folk or Surrey and turn it 
    into a super-exclusive millionaires' playground.
    The residents association attended hearing although they were not 
    party to the proceedings.
    In all likelihood the Diggers will be leaving in a better condition 
    than they found it before the first possible eviction date.
    Eviction notice -- The originating summons was served at 7.15am on 
    Thursday 8th April by agents for the North Surrey Water Company, 
    whose land the Diggers are allegedly occupying. It was heard in the 
    Chancery Division of the High Court in The Strand on Tuesday 13th 
    April at 10.15am by Master Muncaster. 
    Camp contacts: Tony Gosling or Annie Merry 0961 460171.

    Back to Press releases Index

    Press release:15 APRIL 1999
    The Diggers left their camp at Saint George's Hill at 2.30 on
    Thursday 15 April after losing a possession orde
    r for the site.
    The land rights activists took the memorial stone to the
    original Diggers to Elmbridge Museum, where it will stay until a
    permanent site has been found for it on Saint George's Hill.
    They have left a temporary wooden memorial planted in the earth
    at their camp on the hill.
    The High Court master ordered that no eviction could happen
    before Friday 16 April, so the Diggers left this afternoon to
    avoid confrontation. They waved banners and were accompanied by
    musicians as they left.
    Eviction notice -- The originating summons was served at 7.15am
    on Thursday 8th April by agents for the North Surrey Water
    Company, whose land the Diggers occupied. It was heard in the
    Chancery Division of the High Court in The Strand on Tuesday
    13th April at 10.15am by Master Muncaster.
    Camp contacts: Tony Gosling or Annie Merry 0961 460171.  
    Background info: www.tlio.demon.co.uk/diggers.htm or
    Pictures of the procession are available from photographer Ben
    White, 0956 141016

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