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Past battles to save Hampstead Heath remembered as latest ‘threat’ looms

Helen Marcus outside St Stephen's in Pond Street after giving the talk. Picture: Polly Hancock Helen Marcus outside St Stephen's in Pond Street after giving the talk. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
3:37 PM

The long and tortuous history of Hampstead Heath and how it survived repeated threats of development was revealed in a timely talk by the vice-president of the Heath and Hampstead Society.

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Retired opera singer Helen Marcus explored the remarkable background of one of London’s most prized assets during the talk, How The Heath Was Saved, at St Stephen’s, Rosslyn Hill, last Thursday.

It covered the dramatic 40-year fight to stop Lord of the Manor Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson building on the Heath in the 19th century, which was followed by London County Council’s attempts to “tidy up” the space.

The Heath and Hampstead Society is currently battling the latest proposals for major works on the heath – the City of London Corporation’s controversial £15million dam building project.

Mrs Marcus told the Ham&High: “That was part of my purpose in giving the talk – people need reminding just how hard people fought not just to save the Heath but to keep it wild and to stop the authorities messing about with it. There’s absolutely a parallel with today.”

St Stephen’s donated the use of its premises free of charge, meaning proceeds from ticket sales will be put towards the Heath and Hampstead Society’s attempts to raise £100,000 to fight the City’s dams project proposals in the High Court.

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