Lammas Walk

Received this by email. I did a beating of the bounds around the Leyton Marshes Lammas Land when I first moved to the area – wonderful way to connect with the landscape in a ritualistic perambulation. Walthamstow Marshes is a similarly blessed spot and deserving of such veneration.

The Lammas Lands Defence Committee invites you to join us for our annual Autumn Walk around Walthamstow Outer Marsh on
Sunday 1 November.

Meet us at the Lee Valley Ice Centre car park, Lea Bridge Road at 2.15pm (Buses 48, 55, 56). Or meet up for lunch first at the nearby Princess of Wales.

The walk will take about 2 to 2 and a half hours and will end at the King’s Head Bridge near the Ice Centre.

Please wear sensible flat waterproof shoes or boots!

More information from Katy 0790 415 9398 or Laurie 0208 539 3330.

Barry Buitekant

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Common Land in Leyton


I ventured down to Marsh Lane Fields, to the Lammas Lands – open, free, unfenced common land from the time of the earliest 6th Century Saxon settlement of the ‘Tun by the Lea’ – Leyton.
“Outside the tun lay the land of the settlement, some of it plough land or arable, some grass land or pasture. This land was not broken up into fields by hedges but formed a great open expanse. Moreover, none of it belonged to any one person in particular. The pasture land in the same way was the property not of one but all. A part of it was fenced off until the hay harvest was over to prevent stray cattle from damaging the growing grass. But when the hay had been gathered the fences were removed and the land was left open to the flocks and herds of the villagers.”
– The Story of Leyton and Leytonstone, W.H. Weston

This of course means nought to the London Development Agency (or is it the Orwellian sounding ODA) who have now fenced off one end of the ancient Lammas Land and driven a road across it – colonising it more effectively than the marauding Danes who harried this area in the 9th Century. It’s a depressing sight, this green metal enclosure where allotment holders grow their veg in what appears as a horticultural penitentiary. We will claim it back eventually I imagine – when the running and jumping and flag-waving has finished, we just have to bide our time and remember that it belongs to us and always will.

Have a look at this vid I shot a while back about the protest to save Marsh Lane Fields

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Marsh Lane Land Grab – appeal for help

I received this by email from the New Lammas Land Defence Committee.

“As we expect you already know, on 12th June the LB Waltham Forest’s Planning Committee granted approval for part of our former Lammas Lands at Marsh LaneFields on Leyton Marshes to be fenced off from public use in order to relocate some of the Manor Gardening Society allotment-holders from Eastway Allotments in LB Newham.

About a third of the plot-holders at Eastway have, sadly, given up; others are still trying to get permission to remain where they are, which we also believe they should be allowed to.
This was the third major land-grab of open spaceoutside the currently designated Olympics site.

What happens next at Marsh Lane Fields will influence what happens in the future elsewhere in green open spaces surrounding the actual site – especially in the part of Leyton that falls in the Borough of Newham (where Major Road Open Space has been fenced off for relocating a Gypsy Traveller community) and Hackney Wick (where yet another part of Hackney Marshes on Homerton Road has been taken for families from another displaced Traveller community) as well as in other parts of Waltham Forest.

Any help would be very welcome indeed – if we were to give up without a squeak it wouldn’t be much inspiration to others in the future – however, this is not a likely prospect and we are preparing to fight this all the way !

We would welcome any offer of help, even if just over the coming week or so when we are all so very busy and the deadlines are so urgent?

The situation is serious and we really do need to work at it NOW if we are to save our Lammas Lands on Leyton Marshes!

For a view from the allotment-holders’perspective (bearing in mind that not all hold exactly the same opinion about what course to take) please see their www.lifeisland. com website, or visit the Games Monitor website which has in-depth analysis from a number of perspectives.

There is also a nascent NLLDC website under construction at www.lammaslands.com but there’s very little on it at present and it has not yet been officially launched.
For more information please contact marshlane@umbilical .demon.co. uk

Many thanks for any help you can give us!!
New Lammas Lands Defence Committee.
Also have a look at this short video I made about the Lammas Lands back in December when the threat first emerged.

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Marsh Lane Fields Celebration

Marsh Lane Fields has again been saved, and this time without a riot.
I got an email announcing the victory this afternoon:

“Last night the Borough of Waltham Forest’s planning committee turned down an application by the LondonDevelopment Agency to fence off about a fifth of Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton to relocate allotment-holders(who don’t want ot move!) from a lovely 85 year oldsite at Bully Point in Newham.
The campaign against this was led by the Lammas Lands Defence Committee,with a lot of help from other interested groups in the borough. We had already planned a rally on the marshes on Sunday before the announcement that lastnight’s planning cttee meeting would be deciding the application, and we therefore propose to hold a PARTYon the fields. So bring party stuff – champers,ribbons, etc. – if there’s any snow we can build asnowman or have a snowball fight! And please bringpolo mints, carrots or apples for the horses thatgraze there – they’ll appreciate it immensely this time of the year when it’s muddy and the grass doesn’tgrow very fast.”

It nice for a change to celebrate a victory against rapaciuos development.
I was worried that my video about the campaign would become an obituary piece.
There’s a good piece on Indymedia about the victory too

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Save Marsh Lane Fields – video

I’ve cut together some footage of the demonstration on Marsh Lane Fields in December. The video hopefully explains the issues, but in short the Olympic Destruction/Development Agency are planning re-locate the Manor Gardens Allotments in Hackney to one corner of Marsh Lane Fields.

The issues/objections are:
– the re-location of the allotments onto land that was used as a tip after the war will involve the removal of vast amounts of earth which will cause enormous disruption to this tranquil corner of Leyton (think of the diggers, trucks etc.). It’ll turn this quiet lane into a rat-run.

– it will involve the enclosure of Lammas Land that has been open, common grazing land since it was drained by Alfred the Great in the C9th. This is both a disaster locally but also on a larger scale it represents yet more common land being enclosed.

It’s instructive to note the two historical precedents of the 19th Century when the authorities intervened, both here on the Leyton Lammas Lands and in nearby Epping Forest, to fend of the advances of land grabbers and keep this vital open space in common ownership. But both these landmark rulings were triggered by the actions of a few.

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The Virgin of Aldermanbury

Here’s an image to savour when stuck in the traffic choked City shoulder to shoulder with pin-striped city boys scuttling between the towers of glass and steel:

“There was a time just after the great fire of December 1940 when all the land between St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside and St Paul’s Cathedral was wasteland. On sunny days office girls in summer frocks sat talking or reading in the long grass, which was criss-crossed by paths bearing such famous names as Old Change, Friday Street, Bread Street, and Watling Street. Traffic continued to run, of course, along Cheapside and Cannon Street, but everywhere between these two thoroughfares grew long grass and wild flowers. Occasionally one would come across a mason chipping stone as peacefully as if he were in the middle of a Yorkshire moor, and he would have made a very pretty subject for a seventeenth-century print. The only landmark to remain standing was the tower of St Augustine’s, Watling Street, which nestles up against the gardens of St Paul’s Churchyard.”

This is from ‘The Virgin of Aldermanbury’ by Mrs Robert Henrey (1958). The book opens with this description of the City of London during the second world war:

“From the bastion of the Roman Wall at Cripplegate, to Moorgate, are patches of bracken as tough stalked and as delicately leafed as you will find in Richmond Park…Take a deep breath, for ragwort scents the air, and from the walled and suspended gardens come breezes laden with the perfume of white and mauve lilac in full bloom.”

I was out on Sunday with the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee to protest at the proposed digging up of a corner of this Marsh Lane Fields to make way for the Hackey allotments being concreted over for the London Olympics. The logistics of the move would see the shady Marsh Lane widened to make way for earth-movers and tipper trucks, and the fencing off of land that has been held in common since it was drained by Alfred the Great in the 9th Century. By the time of the Olympics in 2012 the wild flower haven where horses graze beneath the pylons would seem as exotic as Mrs Henrey’s description of the City.
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Save Marsh Lane Fields

There is a spirited campaign to save Marsh Lane Fields which is under threat of development by the LDA for the dreaded 2012 Olympics.
I received this message the other day on the excellent Games Monitor email list:

“the (planning) application has been readvertised in WF Guardian of 30/11,with closing date for objections (etc) of 20th December. Presumablysomething has changed….. NLLDC are attempting to find out what; if anyone knows, please advise.-
NLLDC will be putting in a formal objection asap with more details to follow – and probably questions asking for more info on the proposals.- we hope lots of other people will put in objections too.
Further, we hope there will be other people and/or groups with interest in ML fields who will be willing to get together to coordinate the planning law type objections –
LDA (or EDAW on their behalf seem to be insistently refering to the areaas “ML playing fields”, despite the fact the area is “Open SPace” and has not been marked out with football pitches for several years (and even then was never supplied with goalposts etc). This is clearly another weaselwords attempt to give a misleading impression of the area – given that”playing fields” have a lower level of protection under planning law than”open space”.
Incidentally, does anyone know exactly how long it was since the area they want to steal was marked with footy pitch white lines??- detailed onjections under planning law are being drawn up with help of expert advice (!) and we are likely to call a get-together of parties interested in coordinating objections very soon. Please get in touch on Monday, or by email, asap if that is you/your group.- There will also be work in leafletting local area – how many don’t know there is a threat? – lobbying, press/publicity for what is going on , etc.
All help welcomed!- we even have a theme song! – ayone with musical talents who’d like to join us singing this, either on fields or outside meetings, etc??”
Here’s the details of the planning application for anyone wishing to place an objection. I’ll certainly be adding my voice to the campaign to save what is one of the most special parts of London.
Anyone wanting to get involved should email: marshlane@umbilical.demon.co.uk
These applications have been received by the Council. You may view any of the applications at our reception at Chingford Municipal Offices, 16 The Ridgeway, London E4 6PS between 9 am and 5pm Monday to Friday. A Duty Planning Officer will be available between 10.00am and 4.00pm to explain the plans to you and answer general enquiries. Outside of these times staff may not be available without an appointment. Any comments you wish to make about any of the applications should be submitted within 21 days of the above “End Date”. Please write to the above address quoting the application number. Please note that all files, including correspondence, will be open to the public when a decision has been made. Due to the number of letters received regarding planning applications, it will not be possible to acknowledge your letter. We will inform you of the final decision.
http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/plan-apps12nov06.pdf
End Date 16 November 2006
Application number 2006/1627
Development Description
Provision of an allotment site on the lower plateau at the Western end of Marsh Lane playing fields and to the South
of Marsh Lane. Development to comprise:
a) 81 individual plots, communal plot and ancillary sheds/buildings, storage and drop off area.
b) Associated earth works raising the level of the land with perimeter planting and fencing to a height of 2meters.
c) Associated environmental improvements outside the curtilage of the allotment site comprising improvements to cycle
and footways and landscaping.
Full planning
Development Address
Marsh Lane Playing Fields
Marsh Lane
Leyton
London
E11 3PA
Applicant Address
The London Development Agency, One Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LN
Agent Details
Matt Sharp The Johnson Building, 77 Hatton Gardens, EC1N 8JS
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