Revealed: celebrations mark 150 years since Hampstead Heath was saved
A programme of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the Hampstead Heath Act has been unveiled today.
The landmark legislation, which passed through Parliament in June 1871, protected the open space for the public to enjoy.
And the City Corporation, which manages the site as a registered charity, is working with The Heath & Hampstead Society and other partners to launch a year-long initiative starting this spring.
Together they aim to raise awareness of the Heath’s important biodiversity by revealing its varied wildlife, plants, trees and conservation projects to visitors using colourful new interpretation signs.
COVID regulations permitting, an outdoor exhibition will be launched on the Heath in June to showcase the site’s history and the significance of the 1871 Act.
And a series of public events will be held, including a celebration on 29 June, when the local community will be invited to join Heath staff and elected Members along the boundary protected at that time.
More details of this and other exciting events will be announced shortly.
In the meantime, a Historic Postcard Project, which also forms part of the celebrations, shows visitors past images of the Heath using an interactive online map.
The hashtag #Heath150 will be used to promote these celebrations, events and activities throughout the year.
A social media campaign, called ‘Love The Heath’ will be launched at the end of March, asking people to share their love for the site – their memories, old photos, stories and favourite locations, using the hashtag #LoveTheHeath. You can also your story via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hampstead Heath is one of London's most popular open spaces, attracting almost 10 million visits a year.
Situated just six kilometres from Trafalgar Square, the beauty spot is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, and recognised for containing some of the best examples of the capital’s habitats, including rare and important species which are of particular significance within a heavily built-up area of London.
Anne Fairweather, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said:
“We are proud to be the guardians of Hampstead Heath, the most iconic of London’s open spaces.
“The Heath is treasured by local communities, Londoners and international visitors alike, and we very much look forward to celebrating with them - through our planned exhibitions, events and our #LoveTheHeath social media campaign – and we want to hear your stories.
“For centuries it has been used by people enjoying a wide range of pursuits, and the Hampstead Heath Act 1871 effectively protected the open space forever.
“And today the Heath continues to play a leading role in the physical and mental health of Londoners and provide a lifeline during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Jeff Waage, a Trustee of The Heath & Hampstead Society, said:
"The Heath & Hampstead Society is delighted to work with City of London Corporation, English Heritage and the Marylebone Birdwatching Society in creating these interpretive signs to promote learning, enjoyment and protection of Hampstead Heath's distinctive habitats and wildlife.
“Much of the Heath's biodiversity is now under pressure from growing numbers of visits and activities. The pandemic has reaffirmed the importance to us of experiences with the natural world. These seasonal signs will support these experiences and show easy ways that visitors can join with City Corporation and our other partners to care for nature on the Heath.”
The City of London Corporation has managed Hampstead Heath since 1989, when it took responsibility for the care and management of the site from the London Residual Body (LRB), following the dissolution of the Greater London Council (GLC).
Hampstead Heath is a registered charity, funded by revenue generated though services, grants, donations and over £5m a year from the City Corporation.
The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile, investing more than £40m a year.
These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Notes to editors
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
About Hampstead Heath
Staff and volunteers look after over 450 ancient and veteran trees, creating and managing wildlife habitat which support more than 650 types of fungi, 400 species of beetle and 27 species of butterfly. The site, which has a wide range of sports and leisure facilities and more than 55 historical features, monuments and archaeological sites, has been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award annually since 1998. Since 1989 the City Corporation has worked with London’s schools, with its outdoor education programmes now reaching almost 8,000 students per year. The programme was adapted during the pandemic and still managed to reach thousands of children and families. The organisation has created a wide-ranging sport offer on the Heath, hosting the British 10,000m Championships and the European Athletics 10,000m Cup in partnership with Highgate Harriers. The Heath also provides world-famous outdoor swimming facilities including the iconic Lido and three swimming ponds. The Ladies’ Pond and the Men’s Pond are the UK's only single gender lifeguarded open water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year.