Diggers Occupation April 1999 350th Anniversary St Georges Hill, Surrey





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Published on Mar 17, 2009

Kinokast - Diggers at St. Georges Hill - The Land Is Ours (TLIO) April 1999
Back again to grace your computer screens The Diggers of 1999.
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For I took my spade and went and broke the ground upon George-hill in Surrey, thereby declaring freedom to the Creation, and that the earth must be set free from intanglements of Lords and Landlords, and that it shall become a common treasury to all. Gerrard Winstanley.

The Diggers 350 celebrations proved another great success. The ground on St George's Hill was broken once again to show that the land belongs to all of us, and not just to the wealthy few. Some 400 people marched from Weybridge to the site of the original Diggers' encampment - now a posh golf course - where a rally was held. This was followed by the occupation of an unused plot of land by around 150 people, who set up a camp, and erected a stone commemorating Winstanley and the first Diggers. The plot was owned by the local water company (and so was public land until recent privatisation) and lay at the heart of the St George's Hill Estate, which is one of the most (literally) exclusive areas of land in the country, complete with gated entrances and security guards.

The camp remained for a fortnight,' complete with a marquee, the TLIO yurt, and a vegetable plot.

The camp was open to visitors, and many people came to view the stone and to see how the camp was run. Local people were very supportive, and there was good coverage in the local press and in The Guardian. The police were quite fluffy: the camp had its own liaison officer for what they called Operation Hannibal. Even the security guards were OK for the most part. There were, just a couple of incidents over access to the site, and an alleged assault on one of the Digger squatters (see below).

The camp was eventually evicted. After a sympathetic hearing in the High Court, the eviction date was delayed for a couple of days, and the latter-day Diggers left in a procession, with music and banners, and carrying the memorial stone. This was an important action which showed that ordinary people like us can really put land rights issues in the public eye. Remember, the stone is still looking for a permanent, safe, accessible home on St George's Hill, so the campaign still goes on.


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