The Heath & Hampstead Society fights to preserve the wild and natural state of the Heath; to maintain the character and amenities of Hampstead; and to promote the study of local history, natural history and conservation.

The Ponds film – Still Waters Run Deep

After two years’ work including a 12-month filming period, The Ponds – a documentary celebration of the year-round swimmers and the Hampstead Heath ponds – is ready for release.

Co-producers Patrick McLennan and Samuel Smith endeavoured to capture life at the unique swimming ponds over all four seasons, getting to know the regular swimmers and trying to capture the essence of the unique urban swimming spots.


“The cold water unites swimmers in a way you don’t often see in ordinary life,” said Patrick. “We’ve heard a lot of stories over the year: some funny, some sad, many of them heart-warming. There’s a shared bond over the pleasure and benefits of swimming in the ponds that brings the regulars together.

 

“Not for nothing have we subtitled the film the ‘healing waters of Hampstead Heath’.”

The Ponds tracks a group of different personalities at the Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Ponds, giving a revealing perspective of their lives plus an insight into what the ponds are all about, which you’d only otherwise get if you were a regular.

The Heath is captured in all its beauty, from the first shoots of spring when the water temperature hovers around 10-12ºC, through the heat and crowds of summer to the bleak onset of autumn and the shivering descent into winter.

“High points of the film include the excitement of the iconic Christmas Day Races and the winter swimmers breaking the ice,” said Patrick. “The snow scenes in particular have some heart-stopping moments.”

The Ponds (Still Waters Run Deep) will be shown at the Everyman Hampstead from early January. Check the cinema for screening details.

South Fairground Site Public Inquiry

This public inquiry scheduled for 11-12 December 2018 (as stated in our October newsletter) has been postponed until 2019. When the new dates are known, they will be announced here.

Society thrilled that Neighbourhood Plan voted in.

After years of hard work and hours spent consulting, meeting and drafting, the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan has been voted in by an overwhelming majority. 91.5% voting in favour on a 20.5% turnout. The final step is for Camden to formally adopt the Plan, which could take a few months; meanwhile the plan carries substantial weight and should be referred to in planning decisions.

Society battles to save Heath plot from development.

Land left by Harry Hallowes, the so-called Hermit of Hampstead Heath, is in danger of being bought by developers. The charities to whom Harry left the land that he squatted for twenty years have decided to auction it to the highest bidder. Despite Harry’s known wishes that the land be left in its wild and natural state.

Harry’s plot is completely surrounded by the Heath. The Society is bitterly disappointed that the vendors of the plot have rejected a generous purchase offer made by the City of London, financially supported by the Society. Although strict covenants and planning laws prevent the plot being used except as a garden, there is always a risk that, if the land remains in private hands, it will become subject to attempted development, greatly to the detriment of the surrounding Heath.

The Society regards the plot as a natural part of the Heath, and feels very strongly that it should be publicly enjoyed as part of the Heath proper.