National Trust of England Established (1895)

The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty was incorporated on January 12, 1895.  It has become the largest and most influential preservation organization in England, in a sense the British equivalent of the U.S. National Park Service.  According to the Trust’s 2020-21 annual report, the trust protects 780 miles of coastline, 250,000 hectares of land (1.5% of the entire land surface of England), more than 500 properties (structures and nature preserves), and nearly 1 million catalogued historical artifacts.  The Trust’s properties hosted more than 20 million visits during the year.

The National Trust owes its existence to the efforts of Octavia Hill, a pioneering social reformer of the late Nineteenth Century.  Hill came from a family of advocates for the poor, and she followed in their footsteps.  On behalf of fellow reformer John Ruskin, she managed a set of broken-down tenements in what is now the Marylebone section of London, where she rented to poor women and also provided them with job training, actual jobs and cultural exposure.  By the 1870s, she housed and watched over the social development of 3,000 tenants.

But she also realized that the poor needed parks and open spaces.  Actually, she understood that everyone needed such spaces, and that they were fast disappearing as London developed.  She reasoned that “a few acres where the hill top enables the Londoner to rise above the smoke, to feel a refreshing air for a little time and to see the sun setting in coloured glory which abounds so in the Earth God made” was a tonic for the harried life of the salesperson as well as the foundry or textile worker.  And she particularly abhorred the reality that city parks were becoming increasingly gated, available only to those who could afford to live around their perimeters.  One of her first projects was to stop a portion of Hampstead Heath, the renowned London park, from being developed.

Ken Wood, an area of Special Scientific Interest in Hampstead Heath, London (photo by Dudley Miles)

So, together with colleagues Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, she organized the National Trust as a public charity.  The trust’s purpose was to “promote the permanent preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest.”  Anyone who has visited a park or country estate in England owes much to the passion and persistence of Olivia Hill.

References:

National Trust.  2021.  National Trust annual report 2020/2021.  Available at:  http://www.nationaltrustannualreport.org.uk/. Accessed January 9, 2023.

YMCA George Williams College.  Octavia Hill, housing and social reform.  Available at:  http://infed.org/mobi/octavia-hill-housing-and-social-reform/.  Accessed January 11, 2017.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 17
Sombath Somphone, Laotian Environmentalist, Born (1952)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 18
World Pangolin Day
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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