The Friends of Holland Park
In the late 1970s, a beauiful and semi-wild park in West London was slowly dying and in danger of being entirely lost owing to the ignorance and neglect of its municipal guardians, the Greater London Council (GLC). Without urgent action, Kensington would have lost many acres of natural managed woodland and the loss to tarmac and grass of the gardens of Holland House, formerly the home of Charles Fox, of the Holland family and the Earls of Ilchester.
Four of us who lived nearby decided to fight the GLC scheme and founded the Friends of Holland Park in order to draw attention to the threat to one of London's most important and most loved amenities. Through the press and a series of high profile events we were able to lobby local support and to persuade the GLC to nurture and sustain the area instead of destroying it.
The fact that Holland Park exists today as perhaps the most delightful and intimate of London's parks is almost entirely due to local volunteer effort in Kensington in 1978-79.
By Christopher Long
The Friends of Holland Park was conceived by Steve Rettig, an ecologist and wildlife specialist. Its founding members were Steve Rettig (President), Sarah Davidson and the author, Christopher Long (Hon. Secretary).
Until World War ll Holland House, built in the C17th and C18th and surrounded by exceptional Dutch gardens, was still the property of the Ilchester family. Damage to the house from fire caused by German incendiary bombs resulted in the London County Council demolishing, quite unnecessarily, most of the house. The remains of the house, its Orangery, other out-buildings and garden then became public property as a park, under the control of the LCC and, later, the GLC. From the mid-1980s it has been the responsibility of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
© (1977-1980) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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