In 1992 Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council wanted to build tramlines for the new rapid-transit system through Nottingham Forest recreation ground. Through a private bill, they proposed to drive more than half the 650-metre double track across open space. I am glad to say that the Open Spaces Society, Northampton Civic Society, activist Chris Thompson and others saw it off in parliament. The tramlines were resited on the adjacent Mount Hooton Road.
The forest, roughly 122 acres, is a unique open space in the heart of Nottingham, once part of Sherwood Forest. The 1845 inclosure act designated the forest as an open space and this was confirmed in the award of 1865.
Thus it was in 1865 that the citizens of Nottingham congregated on the forest to celebrate the planting of the Inclosure Oak by the secretary of the inclosure commissioners, Edwin Patchitt (who later became mayor). Coincidentally, that was the year in which the Open Spaces Society was founded as the Commons Preservation Society, campaigning for open spaces like the forest and ensuring that when inclosures were made, sufficient land was left for the people.
The acorn had been collected from Windsor Great Park when people from Nottingham Corporation visited the Great Exhibition in 1851.
So 150 years later, another group of citizens congregated on the forest to celebrate the planting of the second Inclosure Oak, grown from an acorn from Sherwood Forest. The event was organised by June Perry of Friends of the Forest, who is a tireless defender of Nottingham’s open spaces.
We set off from the pavilion in a procession, led by the Sheffield City Giants, War and Peace. They were made in 1992 in Sheffield by a Catalan giant-maker, in the tradition of giants. They are 14 feet tall and weigh nine stone.
They performed some dances, then Councillor Dave Trimble, the council’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, introduced the ceremony, speaking of the city council’s pride in its open spaces. I made a little speech about the role of the Open Spaces Society over the years, and I ‘planted’ the young oak tree which will stand opposite the Inclosure Oak.
I was followed by Tom Huggon (champion for open spaces) and my good friend Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner and champion of freedom to roam.
It was a great honour to plant this tree, exactly 150 years since the first one, and to celebrate this wonderful open space with those who use and enjoy it. I just hope that in 150 years time my successor at OSS will be back there planting another oak. You can watch the video here.