Shepherd’s Bush Green in 1870

The following article appeared in the West London Observer on 26th March 1870:

‘The enclosure of this open space which is regarded by the inhabitants of Hammersmith, more particularly those who reside in the immediate neighbourhood of the Green, as one of the lungs of the parish, would effectually remove an intolerable nuisance which has existed for many years, and add an ornament to the locality, as well as to give a recreation ground for the people.

It is notorious that on certain days in the year the Green is invaded by gangs of rough fellows who disturb the neighbourhood for hours together with their riotous proceedings.

Very little short of a fair is held on those days. There are to be seen the favourite games of “Aunt Sally” and “Three Sticks for a Penny”, donkey riding, costermongers with their barrows loaded with nuts and oranges, and other characteristic features of a country fair, with the exception of the swings and Richardson’s show.

Until last year or so the police had no power to prevent the holding of fairs. They were held in spite of the police and the inhabitants. No locality which possessed a field was safe from the periodical visits of the fair people and all their followers.

The inhabitants might go to bed in peace, but only to rise in the morning to find a neighbouring field converted into an open fair, and that was not all, for they were obliged to endure the din and clatter for several consecutive days without being able to obtain any redress.

It is not many years ago that these periodical scenes of disorder caused considerable annoyance and trouble to the owners of the “dismal swamp,” who made many applications to the magistrates sitting at the old “one and twenty steps,” and also at the new Court in Vernon Street, for assistance to remove the trespassers, but they were powerless at that time to render them any assistance.

The little village in Blythe Lane has now completely shut out the possibility of holding these fairs, besides the legislature has invested the police with ample power to remove them.

Although the police are empowered to suppress unlawful fairs, yet they have no power, so it would appear, to clear Shepherd’s Bush Green of the Good Friday and Easter Monday sports

There are besides the Sunday scenes, which are frequently a disgrace to public decency, and a scandal to the authorities who allow them to continue.

The “Kensal New Town Society” would greatly oblige the quietly disposed inhabitants of Shepherd’s Bush if they would condescend to pay a visit to the Green some fine Sunday.

They would be fully recompensed for their trouble, we feel assured for they would find numbers of persons breaking King Charles’ law by following their usual calling on the Lord’s Day.

The question of enclosing the Green was incidentally discussed at the last meeting of the District Board, but no action was taken in the matter.

It is hoped that Mr G. Brown and Colonel Haly, whom we rejoice to find had recovered from his illness and was able to be in his place at the last meeting, will not allow the question to drop, but will take the earliest opportunity of having it shaped in some way for the consideration of the Metropolitan Board.’

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for sending me the article)

3 thoughts on “Shepherd’s Bush Green in 1870

  1. I also read elsewhere in another publication that in the late Victorian era gambling used to widespread on Shepherds Bush Green.

    Interesting article this.

  2. “as one of the lungs of the parish”

    How times change. 3 months ago it was revealed that the Green was THE most polluted ‘open space’ in London.

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