Category Archives: 1900’s

Whiteway Colony in the Cotswolds

whiteway colony

A group of socialists bought 41 acres of land in the Cotswolds in 1898 and then burnt the deeds… Pretty radical stuff and one of the only ones still keeping many of its ideals alive today, largely as they have no choice!

We’d like to visit Whiteway Colony very much indeed – if anyone knows someone who lives there please do give them a nudge 😉

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteway_Colony

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/3310858/What-a-carry-on-in-the-Cotswolds.html

The Land – The Liberal’s Land Value Tax song

“The song became a Liberal radical anthem in the aftermath of David Lloyd George’s “people’s budget” of 1909 which proposed a tax in land. During the two general elections of the following year, ‘The Land Song’ became the governing Liberals’ campaign song.” (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Land_%28song%29)

Sound the blast for freedom, boys, and send it far and wide,
March along to victory, for God is on our side,
While the voice of nature thunders o’er the rising tide:
“God made the land for the people”.

The land, the land, ’twas God who made the land,
The land, the land. The ground on which we stand,
Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?
God gave the land to the people.

Hark! The shout is swelling from the east and from the west!
Why should we beg work and let the landlords take the best?
Make them pay their taxes for the land, we’ll risk the rest!
The land was meant for the people.

The banner has been raised on high to face the battle din,
The army now is marching on, the struggle to begin,
We’ll never cease our efforts ’til the victory we win,
And the land is free for the people.

Clear the way for liberty, the land must all be free,
Britons will not falter in the fight tho’ stern it be.
‘Til the flag we love so well shall wave from sea to sea,
O’er the land that’s free for the people.

Hey Ho, Cook and Rowe by Peggy Seeger

This song by Peggy Seeger is about the St Pancras rent strikes in 1960

HEY HO! COOK AND ROWE! (Or The Landlord’s Nine Questions)
In 1960, the local council of the Borough of St. Pancras raised the rents of municipal flats.    Many working people found it difficult to meet the increased financial burden imposed upon them by these rents and, under the leadership of two “desert rats”   (Don Cook and Arthur Rowe), they organized a rent-strike which in a matter of two or three weeks became a national topic of conversation. The council’s bailiffs were sent in but were repelled after a preliminary skirmish and from that time on the rent strike took on the character of a military siege.

The tenants barricaded the buildings with barbed wire, old pianos and junk of all kinds, and from sympathisers the country over came a constant supply of canned food. The television coverage provided Britain with one of its most popular daily shows. An army of the police finally battoned their way through demonstrators to find that their only possible point of entry was through the roof. A group of intrepid police officers effected an entry and were greeted with the offer of a cup of tea from the strikers’ general staff.

See also http://www.ccradio.org/programmes/StPancrasRentStrike.html
http://www.islingtontribune.com/reviews/features/2010/oct/feature-st-pancras-rent-strike-1960-50-years
http://www.andrewwhitehead.net/nw5-and-around.html (at the bottom of the page)

HEY HO! COOK AND ROWE!
(or: The Landlord’s Nine Questions)
Words and Music by Peggy Seeger

As true a story I’ll relate
(With a) HEY HOI COOK AND ROWE!
How the landlord told Don Cook one night,
(With a) HEY HO! COOK AND ROWE!
You must answer questions nine
(With a) HEY HO! COOK AND ROWE!
To see if your flat is yours or mine
(With a) HEY HO! COOK AND ROWE!

CHORUS:
Hey, ho, tell them no
With a barb-wire fence and a piano,
Took a thousand cops to make them go,
Three cheers for Cook and Rowe!

What is higher than a tree? (With a, etc.)
And what is lower than a flea?
My rent is higher than a tree,
And the landlord’s lower than a flea.
(CHORUS)

What goes on and never stops?
And what is gentler than a cop?
The tenants’ fight will never stop
And the devil is gentler than a cop.
(CHORUS)

What is stronger than a door?
And tell me what a roof is for?
Barb-wire is stronger, here’s your proof,
The bailiffs came in through the roof.
(CHORUS)
Will you get off my property?
Or will you pay the rent to me?
We’ve settled in as you can see,
Now, won’t you stop for a cup of tea?
(CHORUS)

O, now I’ve lost my board and bed,
I’ll barricade the streets instead.
So all you tenants, settle in,
Keep up the fight, you’re bound to win.
(CHORUS)

Edward Thomas writing about the state of the land and rights of access

southcountryEdward Thomas writing about the state of the land and rights of access taken from ‘The South Country’ (1906).

You can buy a lovely edition of the book from Little Toller here – http://littletoller.co.uk/bookshop/nature-classics/the-south-country/ or see a digital version here – https://archive.org/stream/southcountry00thomuoft/southcountry00thomuoft_djvu.txt

CHAPTER XVI

255-7 THE END OF SUMMER KENT BERKSHIRE — HAMPSHIRE SUSSEX THE FAIR

The road mounts the low Downs again. The bound-less stubble is streaked by long bands of purple-brown, the work of seven ploughs to which the teams and their carters, riding or walking, are now slowly descending by different ways over the slopes and jingling in the rain. Above is a Druid moor bounded by beech-clumps, and crossed by old sunken ways and broad grassy tracks. It is a land of moles and sheep.

At the end of a shattered line of firs a shepherd leans, bunched under his cape of sacking, to watch his black- faced flock dull-tinkling in the short furze and among the tumuli under the constant white rain. Those old roads, being over hilly and open land, are as they were before the making of modern roads, and little changed from what they were before the Roman. But it is a pity to see some of the old roads that have been left to the sole protection of the little gods.

One man is stronger than they, as may be known by any one who has seen the bones, crockery, tin and paper thrown by Shere and Cocking into the old roads near by as into a dust-bin; or seen the gashes in the young trees planted down Gorst Road, Wandsworth Common; or the saucy “Private” at the entrance to a lane worn by a hundred generations through the sand a little north of Petersfield; or the barbed wire fastened into the living trees alongside the footpath over a neighbouring hill that has lately been sold.

What is the value of every one’s right to use a footpath if a single anti-social exclusive landowning citizen has the right to make it intolerable except to such as consider it a place only for the soles of the feet? The builder of a house acquires the right to admit the sunlight through his window. Cannot the users of a footpath acquire a right, during the course of half-a-dozen dynasties or less, to the sight of the trees and the sky which that footpath gives them in its own separate way?

At least I hope that footpaths will soon cease to be defined as a line — length without breadth — connecting one point with another. In days when they are used as much for the sake of the scenes historic or beautiful through which they pass as of the villages or houses on this hand or that, something more than the mere right to tread upon a certain ribbon of grass or mud will have to be preserved if the preservation is to be of much use, and the right of way must become the right of view and of very ancient lights as well.

By enforcing these rights some of the mountains of the land might even yet be saved, as Mr. Henry S. Salt wishes to save them.^ In the meantime it is to be hoped that his criticisms will not be ignored by the tourists who leave the Needle Gully a cascade of luncheon wrappings and the like; for it is not from a body of men capable of such manners that a really effective appeal against the sacrifice of *’ our mountains ” to commercial and other selfishness is like to spring.

And those lone wayside greens, no man’s gardens, measuring a few feet wide but many miles in length- why should they be used either as receptacles for the dust of motor-cars or as additions to the property of the landowner who happens to be renewing his fence ? They used to be as beautiful and cool and fresh as rivers, these green sisters of the white roads — illuminated borders of many a weary tale. But now, lest there should be no room for the dust, they are turning away from them the gypsies who used to camp there for a night.

The indolent District Council that is anxious to get rid of its difficulties — for the moment — at the expense of a neighbouring district — it cares not — will send out its policemen to drive away the weary horses and sleeping children from the acre of common land which had hitherto been sacred — to what? — to an altar, a statue, a fountain, a seat? — No! to a stately notice-board; half-a-century ago the common of which this is a useless patch passed on easy terms to the pheasant lords. The gypsies have to go. Give them a pitch for the night and you are regarded as an enemy of the community or perhaps even as a Socialist.

The gypsies shall be driven from parish to parish, and finally settle down as squalid degenerate nomads in a town where they lose what beauty and courage they had, in adding to the difficulties of another council. Yet if they were in a cage or a compound which it cost money
to see, hundreds would pay for a stare at their brown faces and bright eyes, their hooped tents, their horses, their carelessness of the crowd, and in a few years an imitation of these things will be applauded in a ” pageant ” of the town which has destroyed the reality.

thomas_2099443ba

 

The Super Rich And Us by Jacques Peretti

This is some of the best TV documentary journalism I have seen in a long time.

Hats off to Jacques Peretti – @jacquesperetti – https://twitter.com/jacquesperetti

super rich

Jacques Peretti investigates how the super-rich are transforming Britain. In part one, he looks at why the wealthy were drawn to Britain and meets the super-rich themselves.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04xw2x8/the-superrich-and-us-episode-1

Jacques Peretti investigates how the super-rich are transforming Britain. In the final part, he looks at how inequality was pinpointed as a business opportunity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04yn2yq/the-superrich-and-us-episode-2

A History Of Community Asset Ownership by Steve Wyler

A-History-of-Community-Asset-Ownership_small Steve Wyler-1

A History Of Community Asset Ownership
By Steve Wyler

When my friend Sophie first told me about this book she said ‘Someone has written a book of the show!’

This is a brilliant overview of the last thousand years and what it lacks in a catchy title, it makes up for in compelling prose.

The book can be downloaded free from here as a pdf – http://locality.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/A-History-of-Community-Asset-Ownership_small.pdf or ordered from Locality – http://locality.org.uk/contact/

Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl was on the first Kinder Scout trespass and wrote this amazingly catchy tune inspired by the experience.

From http://www.kindertrespass.com/

In April 1932 over 400 people participated in a mass trespass onto Kinder Scout, a bleak moorland plateau, the highest terrain in the Peak District.

The event was organised by the Manchester branch of the British Workers Sports Federation. They chose to notify the local press in advance, and as a result, Derbyshire Constabulary turned out in force. A smaller group of ramblers from Sheffield set off from Edale and met up with the main party on the Kinder edge path.

Five men from Manchester, including the leader, Benny Rothman, were subsequently jailed.

75 years later the trespass was described as: “the most successful direct action in British history” by Lord Roy Hattersley.

April 2012 saw the 80th Anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout celebrated by a week of walks, talks, and exhibitions, with a launch ceremony featuring Mike Harding, Stuart Maconie, and the leaders of major agencies involved in access to countryside. A new book was published, and commemorative posters are on sale.

The trespass is widely credited with leading to:

  • legislation in 1949 to establish the National Parks.
  • contributing to the development of the Pennine Way and many other long distance footpath.
  • securing walkers’ rights over open country and common land in the C.R.O.W. Act of 2000.

The trespass was controversial at the time, being seen as a working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands for grouse shooting.

George Ewart Evans and Suffolk farming tales

This is a great hour of radio – Ask the Fellows That Cut the Hay – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rv8yk

fellows-hay

In this BBC Archive On Four, historian Alan Dein celebrates the centenary of his mentor George Ewart Evans, collector of Suffolk farming tales. Evans began by chatting to his neighbours over the fireside in the 1950’s and transcribing stories about poaching, shepherding, smuggling and ditching.

The talk was of a hardscrabble life, of leaky roofs and meals of pea soup and pollard dumplings and beef only at Christmas with occasional festivities like the Whitsun fair.

Evans came from a Welsh mining village and he sympathised with the labourers’ stories about the tyranny of the trinity of the parson, squire and farmer. He was a sympathetic listener who asked allowed his community to speak for itself and he captured the stories of people whose traditions had been unbroken for generations, who worked on the land before mechanisation and who believed in magic and folk wisdom and had intuitive understanding of working with animals.

Evans’ eleven books about the working lives and folk stories of Blaxhall are a portrait of every facet of his village and paved the way for books and programmes, both fiction and not fiction, about British agricultural life.

Owning The Earth by Andro Linklater

owning the earthOwning The Earth
By Andro Linklater

I’m only a little way into this book but am already enjoying it thoroughly. Highly readable and informative.

It brings a global perspective to the story and compares what happened in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland with other European countries and those further afield.

I will update when I’ve finished it.

The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson

eptThe Making of the English Working Class
by E.P. Thompson

Considered a definitive text for many years this book is dense, academically rigorous and utterly superb.

I needed a dictionary, wikipedia and a notebook to get myself through the first quarter but once up to speed with the authors style and concepts, it was as compelling a read as I have ever had.

This book has the advantage of being widely respected across all academic and historical fields in a manner which some of the other books I have read are not.

The Painful Plough by Roy Palmer

ppThe Painful Plough
by Roy Palmer

The full title is ‘The Painful Plough: A Portrait of the Agricultural Labourer in the Nineteenth Century from Folksongs and Ballads and Contemporary Accounts’ which pretty much does the job.

It tells the story of Joseph Arch, a farm labourer who went on to start one of the first agricultural labourers unions and eventually to become an MP.

A superb piece of work and a huge source of inspiration for the concept of the show ‘Three Acres And A Cow’.

A Ballad History of England by Roy Palmer

rp---bhA Ballad History of England
by Roy Palmer

Roy Palmer has spent much of the last thirty years hunting for ballads and using them to weave together a people’s history of England. He has mastered the art of this in a number of excellent books of which this is a great starting point.

This book is utterly superb and should be bought without hesitation. Each song has a melody and words, along with a page or two giving its historical context.

The Sound Of History by Roy Palmer

sound of historyThe Sound Of History
By Roy Palmer

This is an amazing book. Not specifically about land but it has a chapter on the topic.

I cannot stress enough what a legend this man and his writings are. This is not the first book of his you should read but it is certainly one you want on your reading list.

This Land Is Our Land by Marion Shoard

marionThis Land Is Our Land
by Marion Shoard

The definitive book on land both past and present, although it has sadly not been updated since the 80’s.

It gets a bit heavy going in places but the first third, which is a history from Roman times to the present, is totally gripping and a must read for anyone interesting in land and land rights.

I had to take quite a few breaks whilst reading it as sections of it made me really angry and/or sad.

The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain by Harry Hopkins

The Long Affray by Harry HopkinsThe Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain
by Harry Hopkins

Published in 1985, this life changing book was given to me by Sam Lee.

“A beautiful telling of the age-old battle between peasant and landowner where for the price of a rabbit or a pheasant men were murdered, transported as convicts and executed.

This ancient struggle over game was not just about food for the poor poachers and their families, it was about social rank and the power of the landed gentry, the burgeoning class politics of the time and the harsh realities of rural life.”

A People’s History Of England by A.L. Morton

A People's History Of England by A.L. MortonA People’s History Of England
by A.L. Morton

A leading Marxist historian, book written in 1938. Recommended reading by Roy Palmer.

A.L. Morton’s wikipedia page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._L._Morton

An absolutely riveting, disturbing and fascinating read which turned my world view of history on its head.

Books on Peterborough and The Fens

pboroHere are the books which Hazel Perry brought along to the workshops localising the show for Peterborough…

Free Thinkers and Troublemakers: Fenland Dissenters / Harry Jones / Published by the Wisbech Society & Preservation Trust / ISBN 0951922076

Peterborough: A Story of City and Country, People and Places / (Peterborough City Council, published by Pitkin) / ISBN 1-84165-050-1

From Punt to Plough: A History of the Fens / Rex Sly / The History Press / ISBN 978-0-7509-3398-8

Peterborough (Britain In Photographs) / Lisa Sargood / Budding Books / ISB 1-84015-247-8

Peterborough Through Time (A Second Selection) / June and Vernon Bull / ISBN 978-1-84868-990-9

The Lost Fens / England’s Greatest Ecological Disaster / Ian D Rotherham / ISBN 978-0-7524-8699-4

Peterborough / HF Tebbs / ISBN 0900891300