Octavia Hill in Lytham!

Octavia Hill in Lytham!

The spirit of Octavia Hill (03.12.1838 -13.08.1912) is alive and well on Lytham Green and Granny’s Bay!

It is fair to say that Octavia Hill is by no means a household name today: and yet her influence on our lives here in the UK and beyond has been profound.

A passionate social reformer in her day, she is credited with founding the National Trust, starting the social housing movement, advocating for the protection of public rights of way in town centres as well as the countryside, initiating policies which led to the creation of the Green Belt and pioneering the importance of protecting the mental health and wellbeing of all, in no small part by ensuring we might all enjoy easy access to fresh air and open spaces which remain protected and free from the risk of development.

Her influence, identifying with the harm and adverse consequences of poor housing, sanitation and pollution, in particular for those living and working in the towns and cities fuelled by the Industrial Revolution, played a major role in the protection and creation of green open spaces within easy reach courtesy of the growing rail network: as such, her impact, on the development of Lytham St Annes, cannot be overestimated.

Taking on the challenge she identified so eloquently in her writings and her advocacy, philanthropists, whose names are more familiar to us here on the Fylde Coast, such as the Cliftons and Lord Frederick Ashton gifted to our Council priceless coastal lands and other public realm spaces with the firm stipulation and expectation that these were intended, in perpetuity, to remain open, accessible and unbuilt upon for the benefit of the community and the many visitors who found respite and enjoyment here on the Fylde Coast: and, of course who continue to do so.

We are confident, that were she to be alive today, she would be “an eco warrior”: passionate about the environment and, in particular, focused on protecting our foreshore and Estuary from unwanted spillages, contamination and airborne litter and waste.

That is why we, at Lytham Voice, alongside the Civic Society and others were determined to prevent development of a kiosk and café at Granny’s Bay and that is why we are determined to secure permanent charitable trust status for Lytham Green and Granny’s Bay to ensure that they remain protected and safeguarded from development risk in the future.

Octavia Hill remains as contemporary and relevant today as she was in the 19th/20th Centuries. It is no coincidence that at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show a garden in her memory was chosen as both the RHS/BBC People’s Choice as well as the Children’s Choice.

We at Lytham Voice pay tribute to Octavia Hill: finally, to be recognised for what she achieved but also for what we, as her descendants, must, at all costs, protect and safeguard as her legacy.