This section of the project is looking at how the green spaces were used, either officially or unofficially. This means looking at big events such flower shows and annual celebrations in the Arboretum, race meetings, cricket matches, political meetings and religious gatherings on the Forest and similar organised events elsewhere. It also means looking for evidence of informal but ‘approved’ activities such as promenading, picnicking and family outings. However, the intention is to look for evidence of ‘un-approved’ activity; this could be criminal or anti-social abuses of the space, but it could also be activities that are simply contrary to the views of influential groups such as the Temperance Movement, pastimes not considered to be ‘rational recreation’, or long-standing but unofficial actions like digging up for Forest for sand.
The focus of the project is from the creation of the spaces following the 1845 Enclosure Act to the beginning of the First World War, and the work requires a lot of documentary research, from Council papers to newspaper reports, photographs, images, plans and informal records such as diaries. If anyone is interested in researching just one of these areas, then please get in touch.