Naturists campaign for ‘naked sunbathing rights’ for Hampstead Heath’s lady swimmers

A supporter of the naturist movement has branded the City of London corporation “sexist” for allowing men to strip off on Hampstead Heath while only allowing women to go “topless”.

Retired archivist John McPartlin, 66, said in a letter to the Ham&High today: “The only place in the whole of London where public naturist sunbathing is possible is at the men’s outdoor pond on Hampstead Heath. At the ladies’ pond only topless sunbathing is permitted.

“That women who would like to acquire an even, all-over tan, the same as the men, are not able to do so is a real equalities issue, one would have thought.”

Mr McPartlin, who lives in Creighton Avenue, Muswell Hill, has written to Hampstead Heath boss Sue Ireland at the City of London Corporation pointing out the inequality of this rule.

He told the Ham&High: “It is not fair at all. Naturists just want to be themselves.

“They are not doing any harm.

“Ladies should be allowed to be nude in a beautiful, secluded area of the Heath.

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“It seems rather sexist not to allow this.”

The retired University College London library archivist took up the issue after volunteering to be photographed nude on Hampstead Heath for a project by photographer Anastasia Trahanas.

Ms Trahanas has been travelling around the country photographing naturists and others for her art project Naked Britain.

She said: “John contacted me after hearing about my work. He wants to be photographed naked on the Heath.

“He is a supporter of the naturist movement and is very passionate about it.’’

She would like to photograph naked women at the ponds for the project.

“It seems very unfair they are not allowed the same freedom as men,” she added.

The photographer had welcomed apparent moves by The Sun to drop bare breasts from Page 3, stressing that her topless photographs are completely different.

Speaking before the newspaper’s U-turn, she said: “Page 3 objectified and sexualised women. My art is not of a sexual nature and shows the natural beauty of people when they are naked, at their most vulnerable.”

Mr McPartlin said: “I am writing to the City of London Corporation, which administers the Heath, one of the requirements of which is that it does so in the interest of all Londoners.

“It has not been helpful in the past, but that may have to change.”

He also supports a petition on The Naturist Action Group’s website, urging the corporation to allow naturism on Hampstead Heath.

He said: “Naturist Action Group has suggested a number of quiet places where it believes such sunbathing could take place without affecting other users of the Heath.”

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: “We have to balance the needs of a range of visitors to the Heath’s swimming ponds and the current arrangements have evolved over a number of years. We are yet to see a demand for a designated nude sunbathing area from the swimmers at the Kenwood Ladies Pond.”