Freeman’s Wood-a romantic name for a soulless concrete future

Today I saw something which ashamed me and filled me with glee. It roused me from torpor and filled me with passion. It made me want to hang garlands of flowers around it, spray-paint bold red Anarchy signs next to it. But of course I did nothing. I was a (very vaguely) respectable looking woman with a baby sleeping in a pram and nowadays I don’t fight the state, I just  bitch about it.

But there is something about seeing menacing signs being subverted by the simple means of spray paint that brings out the spring passion in everybody.

Freeman’s Wood does not soar splendidly. You do not gaze at great gnarled oaks here bearing silent stories and majesty. No. In this strip of wildwood betwixt housing estate and derelict mills are spidery old trees, the only trees for miles around but they still whisper and rustle, still change with the season, wild creatures still live their lives amongst them and people, city people, edgeland people, Marsh people walk or cycle past and feel better for just having seen a glimpse of nature.

And now they are fenced off with spiky topped fencing. They are now being felled despite having a Tree Preservation Order being placed upon them.

There used to be a BMX track here amongst the woods, a kids place, made by and for kids. That has been cleared away and fenced off in a place that used to belong to the people. Well, they thought it did. Now Shadow People have claimed it as their own and despite acting illegally by felling the trees are getting away with it. And for more box like housing in areas where people are desperate to sell their own homes.

When Occupy Lancaster occupied the derelict Railton Hotel opposite the train station, a place I have had to apologise and explain about to every non local friend or family member arriving on the train and always ending with ‘but the rest of Lancaster is lovely’, the police arrived at night and in force to the peaceful people trying to make the eyesore habitable (owned by a Shadow Person who apparently live continents away and has not touched the once beautiful building for many years.  Although the splendid rose bushes were suddenly sprayed with weed killer one unhappy day)

Many police came, many people were arrested, a knitting vigil was held outside the building and this was felt dangerous and anarchic enough to have a police car watching the knitting at all times.

But now, illegal destruction is going on in the woods and nobody cares. Well nobody in authority. But somebody has spray-painted slogans, one of which, the common land and the goose, has been a slogan of disenchantment and anger about stolen land for centuries.

And it  is sad the slogan has had to remain in public use. But in some way wonderful because people still are angry and aware enough to use it.  Tradition lingers and centuries old anger against the state still suddenly flings itself against a metallic sign even though we now have mobile phones instead of geese and apathy reigns supreme. But  some stranger somewhere with a can of spray paint knows about the history of common land and about how it can so easily be stolen from the common person.

If you reside in Lancaster, write to the council about Freeman’s Woods. Look at the blog and  website below to find out more. Get angry. And do something.

If you don’t live in Lancaster, the great land grab is still happening and has happened around you.

And now there is not much land to grab anymore.

9 Responses to “Freeman’s Wood-a romantic name for a soulless concrete future”

  • Hannah Says:

    Great post – cracking signs! They look really angry.

  • Michael Says:

    Excellent write up on this sadly neglected area which is now under threat and which the locals seem to have no power to protect. In fact excellent website/blog all round if you don’t mind me saying…

  • tangerinebreem Says:

    Cheers :-) Spilt coke on laptop so not been writing as much but will endevour to get my lazy ass over to the desktop-truly a first world problem…
    The news about Coronation Field is shocking as well-used to live opposite it and never seen a park so well used before. It is the most accessible green space for miles. I suspect if this area was somewhere a bit ‘posher’ there would be more of an uproar.

  • Loaf Says:

    This is a magnificent piece of writing. Thank you. I just wish I’d read it when you first put it online, rather than yesterday.

    There will be a sizeable group o’ folk at the council meeting on Monday 23rd (when the developers’ appeal against the TPO will be heard). It is to be hoped that the Tree Protection Order will be upheld and that the developers (vandals?) will then be forced to address their conduct in authorising the wanton damage to trees.

    This really is a lovely blog – I’ve had a quick scan of what you say on other subjects and particularly enjoyed your descriptions of Skipton (a town on which I’m not so keen) and Ulverston where I used to live and still love :)

  • tangerinebreem Says:

    Thankyou :-) I will hopefully be at the meeting-very concerned about Coronation Field as well-or Spar Park as they all call it around here. Precious little green space here as there is-and plenty of brownfield sites in the area-not there needs to be any more sodding crappy Barrett developments-they are already going to build on the quay.
    Ulverston is lovely isn’t it-it seems to manage being a small town without the normal run of small crappy chain stores and inertia but without being overly poncey. Anyway cheers again :-)

  • Loaf Says:

    Yay. We won!!!

    People 1, developers 0 :)

  • tangerinebreem Says:

    Am delighted to have heard this today despite my outrage at the defence for the plunder-’people can’t see it very well and the trees are like well shit anyway’. Was not able to attend meeting but well done to everyone who turned out and wrote letters and did stuff-now Spar Park will be turned into Barrat homes under my cold dead body…*

    *not legally binding

  • Loaf Says:

    the defence was, ermm, not strong. Their representative tried to frighten with legalese and threats of high-court action, but luckily the Tree Officer held her ground and – with a bit of anecdotal evidence provided by those in the gallery – the councillors voted unanimously to uphold. Satori has blogged here:

    Round one to us, but more battles to come I suspect.

  • Freeman’s Wood | MyInsignificantPointOfView Says:

    […] turns out there is some interesting history behind those woods, and I found it here. I’ll have to go back there with my bike and get some […]

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