Saving the People's Forest
Open spaces, enclosure and popular protest in mid-Victorian London
Author: Mark Gorman
Price: £16.99 (free postage)
“Saving the People’s Forest invites the reader to return to a London which was vastly different from the city it is today when the inhabitants of Bethnal Green kept rabbit hutches and pigeon lofts in their backyards and grew flowers wherever they could; a time when watercress harvesters still lived in Shoreditch. The countryside remained a constant presence in the lives of East Londoners and one which they were determined not to lose altogether. How different London might have been without the passions and determination of these people. And how wonderful that due to the efforts of the author Mark Gorman, their story has been preserved.”
About the book
“Mark Gorman's book on the campaign to save Epping Forest fills in all sorts of historical gaps and ought to be essential reading for anyone trying to build a cross-class and multicultural environmental movement in this time of climate crisis.” Luke Turner (writer, editor and curator)
“This book is… a well-researched study of a topic (the effects of the Enclosures Act) which has resonances widely in local history.” Steve Pollington, Essex Journal
“[Mark Gorman] provides an inspiring account of the ability of popular protest to overcome established and entrenched rights in the face of what appeared to be immovable opposition – it is clearly of considerable historical interest, but also, perhaps, an important message for our own times. Although the City of London rightly gets the credit for its legal action towards saving the forest for the public, it is unlikely that anything would have been achieved without the mighty groundswell of public support and direct action.” Michael Leach, The Local Historian
“Without the campaigns to preserve urban open spaces in the nineteenth century, London’s landscape, and that of many other British cities for that matter, would look very different. Saving the People’s Forest tells the story of just one these local campaigns, but highlights how these campaigns link to broader themes of rights, land, urban growth, and political reform.” Hannah Awcock, Landscape History
“This is a nicely produced and illustrated volume from the University of Hertfordshire Press. Moreover, it draws together some key themes in the history of public access struggles, demonstrating their importance for a mid-century culture of platform politics existing in defiance of liberalism.” Antony Taylor, Cultural and Social History
“[T]his local history study is academic in tone and content, though broadly accessible to non-specialists like me – and a valuable examination of an inspiring, if largely forgotten, example of successful environmental protest.” Ian Sinclair, Peace News
The growth of nineteenth-century London was unprecedented, swallowing up once remote villages, commons and open fields around the metropolitan fringe in largely uncontrolled housing development. In the mid-Victorian period widespread opposition to this unbridled growth coalesced into a movement that campaigned to preserve the London commons. The history of this campaign is usually presented as having been fought by members of the metropolitan upper middle class, who appointed themselves as spokespeople for all Londoners and played out their battles mainly in parliament and the law courts.
ISBN: 978-1-912260-41-6 Format: Paperback, 176pp Published: May 2021
Contact us at UH Press if you have any queries or would like to find out more about this book.