- NATURIST GROUPS
- United Kingdom
NEWS UPDATE 2ND DEC 2009
LETTERS PAGE CAMDEN GAZETTE
Find a compromise on nude bathing area
02 December 2009
That the City of London Corporation has decided to give further thought to the request for greater use of the greater use of the naturist area at Highgate Men's Pond is to be welcomed, though what is really needed is the removal of this cumbersome obstruction of a divisive barrier.
I have used the pond for many years as a regular swimmer and had never witnessed anything that justified it being placed there. The whole facility has great potential for extension and development if the large areas of shrubbery that adjoin were to be cut back and adapted, and the area can easily be screened off from public view.
There had previously been no discord between naturists and textiles, and I am sure, that with the right approach, a more satisfactory accomodation that would please everyone could be arrived at. - John McPartlin, Fitzjohn's Avenue, NW3.
NEWS UPDATE 24TH NOV 09
BEFORE I START DUE TO LIMITS OF SPACE HERE i HAVE BEEN MOVING MUCH OF THE BACKGROUND STUFF TO:
http://www.clothesfreeforum.com/showthread.php?t=14658 - THREAD:
Celebrities back plans to expand naturism on Hampstead Heath
FINALLY SINCE I STARTED THE PETITION WAY BACK IN MAY 2008 - THE COMMITTEE HAS CONCEDED THAT THE NATURISTS MUST BE HEARD!
ALL THE OPPOSITION - NONE BOTHERED TO ATTEND THE MEETING - HAD ASSUMED THAT MY PETITION WOULD BE REJECTED - HOW WRONG THEY WERE!
MY NEXT PLAN IS TO CREATE A HAMPSTEAD HEATH NATURIST SWIMMERS GROUP - THAT WILL BE RECOGNISED BY THE CORPORATION.
IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED IN JOINING THE GROUP DO GET IN TOUCH
AND A BIG THANK-YOU TO ALL MY SUPPORTERS - I COULD NOT HAVE GOT THIS FAR WITHOUT YOU!
FULL DETAILS FOLLOW
Talk about David & Goliath!
At the meeting of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee on 23rd Nov- a precedent has I believe been set in motion - which ultimately will be of benefit to all naturists in the UK - as I have always maintained - this campaign is much more than just a lump of concrete 13m x 8m.
I was furiously taking notes - so will try to sum up!
Significantly - and acknowledged by the Chair - it is rare for members of the public to attend such meetings - so the attendance of five supporters including Chris Lamb and a graduate studying journalism was welcome - also to note that to my surprise none of the opposition were present - they had obviously concluded that there was no point, assuming that the recommendation of the report to reject every aspect of my petition would be endorsed.
HOW WRONG TO MAKE THAT ASSUMPTION!
The Chairman Michael Wellbank acknowledged that within the last few days a detailed response to the report into the petition had been received from Malcolm Boura of British Naturism & myself - amounting to 13 pages in total - and that our point of view should be heard - consequently a final decision on my report would now be deferred as he could not expect all members of the committee to discuss our response at the meeting.
Michael then made it clear that members of the committee could make comment - but not in any way express an opinion as 'this could prejudice the outcome.'
Simon Walsh ( well from the contact list the only Alderman - but that needs to be verified from the minutes ) made clear - that on a recent visit by the committee to the facility he was appalled by how 'rather squalid' the entire enclosure was ( a lady member agreed with this observation ) - and that in Austria "facilities for naturists were much better" - Simon suggested that a non gender specific naturist facility on the heath should be considered - he also challenged the chair that unless the petitioners had the opportunity to address the Swimmer User Group then inevitably they would yet again reject - the chair then agreed that we will be invited to speak - and agreed that the existing facility was 'squalid'
OK - it adds another year! - there will be two further meetings of the HHCC - June 2010 - early Nov 2010 - before the FIRST decision is now made about my petition! but hey I never doubted this would be easy! - the fact that Simon Lee the Superintendant of the Heath ( author of the report ) made a personal phone call to me on Sunday - and publically thanked me & my supporters for attending I feel is significant.
Also to note that during the preamble given by Simon on the origin of the partition - it is noteworthy that the Swimming Facilities Forum was created as a consequence 'due to the contentious issue' it is significant that the six groups created all excluded the naturists!
Simon also re-iterated
"No interest group can claim exclusive use of any part of the Heath, conditioned only by limitations on access to facilities for which charges are made."
Maybe now it will be realized that since 1994 when the partition was put up - the City has been in clear violation of this principle - of course there is a simple solution - to remove the barrier and make the entire compound 'clothing optional' as it was pre 1994.
Simon expressed concern that any proposal to retain a division lends itself to 'occasional' unsavoury behaviour that distracts the lifeguards from potential lifesaving - my opinion is that the answer is to remove the divide - the larger space would surely self police?
Furthermore it was decided that provision of disabled access was a priority - this is significant - a separate ramped access NOT via the enclosure to the toilet facilities seems logical and practical - then going right back to the barrister! anyone wishing to use the toilets could avoid being affronted by the view of naked flesh - by using the seperate access.
DESISION ON FATE OF MY PETITION DEFERRED.
THE PETITIONERS WILL BE INVITED TO ADDRESS THE HHCC.
IT GIVES US MORE TIME TO PREPARE OUR CASE.
THE CITY IS IN VIOLATION OF A PRINCIPLE AS PREVIOUSLY STATED.
THE HHCC IS TO CONSIDER A NON GENDER SPECIFIC AREA FOR NATURISTS ON THE HEATH ( this could set a precedent for all major parks in the UK to follow - like the German model )
The last point is I believe the most significant!
We now should seek endorsement from the HHCC to set up a 'HAMPSTEAD HEATH NATURIST SWIMMERS GROUP' that can become part of the Swimming Facilities Forum - I have quite a number of supporters that would be eager to join! - AND as endorsed by Chris Lamb - it should be non gender specific!
I will write to Simon Lee about the formation of such a group - and hope Malcolm Boura of British Naturism can add gravitas by also making the same request.
I later called Andrew Welch of British Naturism and was very heartened by the conversation - to sum up:
1) I have asked Andrew to email a statement that I can forward to my supporters - I have over 700 LEGIBLE email addresess - to encourage them to join the British Naturists - yes he accepts that naturists don't usually wish to align with any group - thus being the 'nature' of what we are about - but if it gives us more credibility by joining BN - and forming a 'Hampstead Heath Naturist Swimmers Group' then so be it!
2) I expressed hope that through Andrew's media contacts there would be an opportunity to get a national debate on naturism started - it cries out for a slot on the Jeremy Vine R2 Show - but hey one step at a time!
Finally I offer my sincere thanks - on behalf of ALL my 1061 signatories to my petition & other supporters for Malcolm Boura's communications with the HHCC - the email & letter have been crucial - actually it also prompted me to spend four hours compiling a response to the report - otherwise today the fate of my petition would have been sealed.
Hoping that we can rely on your continued support - advice - involvement.
07525 344 995
ps in this week's editions of the North London papers there will be plenty of opposition letters - Robert Sutherland Smith ( along with others ) of the 'Chairman United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath' - is guaranteed to vent the usual venom and with the usual 'homophobic' overtones - always implied - so I will encourage my supporters to counter attack the following week - this story has plenty of mileage - have so many column inches been used for a tiny patch of concrete!
One I am saving for Robert - how can you justify the word 'UNITED'
NEWS UPDATE 20TH NOV 09
Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 19 November 2009
More evidence of hostile attitude to naturists in the UK
• A REPORT, Response to Petition to Extend the Nude Sunbathing Enclosure at Men’s Bathing Pond, was recently presented to the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee for “discussion” (‘No” to naked Pond bathing, November 12).
It will no doubt seal the fate of my petition at a public meeting to be held at the City of London Guildhall on November 23 at 1.45pm.
I urge supporters to attend; we cannot speak, but our presence will send a message.
All interested parties, namely the Swimming Facilities Forum, were consulted with the notable exclusion of any naturists, consequently all are united against my 1,061-signature petition; not even one square inch is conceded.
If we had been consulted some of the absurd findings could have been addressed. For example, a larger area for naturists could only be justified for 18 days of each year during the summer on days deemed sunny!
A complete separation is now being considered as the spectacle of nude sunbathers “can be offensive to some people,” which speaks volumes about the hostile attitude to naturists in the UK, so completely at odds with the rest of Europe.
Ideally I would prefer a reversion to the pre-1994 “Berlin Wall” but my petition was based on compromise – the “barrier” has merely created a division between “them” and the “minority club”.
My last hope is that the committee will read this letter and listen to our side of the debate before making a final decision.
NEWS UPDATE 19TH NOV 09
MADE FRONT PAGE OF TWO LOCAL PAPERS!
Nudists lose extra sunbathing space on Heath
19 November 2009
THE campaign to double the size of the nude sunbathing area on Hampstead Heath looks to have been derailed after a damning report by the City of London Corporation.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for a large part of the changing area at the men's swimming pond to be given over for nude sunbathing - which has already informally commandeered a smaller section of the area.
The campaign was backed by Julian Clary and human rights protester Peter Tatchell but the corporation has now recommended the application be rejected, saying the swimmers' groups they questioned, including the United Swimmers Association, the Highgate Lifebuoys and the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association, were universally opposed to the idea of more nude sunbathing space. Naturist Michael Peacock, who has spearheaded the sunbathers' campaign, was furious and branded the report a whitewash.
He said: "They took standings from all the users except the naturists. They have not even acknowledged that we exist. We are treated like lepers. We are an embarrassment to them."
Mr Peacock also took offence at the report's suggestion that the sight of nude sunbathers could be offensive to some people - particularly parents with children who use the swimming facility.
"Why should a child be offended by seeing the clothes we were all born in? Where's the tolerance," he said. "Why not put a roof over our heads in case the birds are offended by naked flesh?
"If we had been consulted then some of the absurd findings in this report could have been addressed. For example, the claim that 'recreationalists' would be denied the right to play badminton on the same plot of land - surely on cooler days and winter periods it would not be an issue?"
Meanwhile, Robert Sutherland Smith, chairman of the United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath, was delighted by the news.
He said: "The swimming ponds are obviously for swimming. That's why they are there. In the changing area that this group wishes to claim, more than 75 per cent is needed by people to get changed for swimming. That's its function.
"My personal position is that it is distasteful for grown men to sunbathe naked in this area. It would be appalling if after 100 years of tradition people were not able to go swimming because of a lack of facilities.
"Refusing this group permission is doing the greatest good for the greatest number."
A City of London spokeswoman said: "Following wide consultation with swimming groups, it has been recommended to the Hampstead Heath Management Committee that the petitioners' proposal, to approximately double the area available for nude sunbathing, at the expense of changing accommodation, should not be agreed.
"The primary purpose of the Men's Bathing Pond is to provide swimming facilities, and nude sunbathing is an ancillary activity. The City of London has a duty to ensure the needs of all groups are considered and to achieve a balanced approach."
The Heath Management Committee meeting at which the final decision will be made about the nude sunbathing area is being held on Monday (November 23).
Nudists lose bid for bigger sunbathing area on Heath
18 November 2009
A CHEEKY bid to increase the size of the nude sun-bathing area on Hampstead Heath has been rebuffed - amid complaints from naturists that they are being treated like lepers.
More than 1,000 people - including Julian Clary and Peter Tatchell - signed a petition calling for an expansion of the concrete enclosure reserved for naked sun worshippers at Highgate Men's Pond, off Millfield Lane.
But a report by the City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, has dashed their hopes.
Michael Peacock, 50, who organised the petition, said: "This is a complete whitewash. The only group who weren't consulted were the naturists. All we've got is a 13 metre by eight metre lump of concrete surrounded by sheets of metal. It's akin to being in a microwave on a hot day, but they've not conceded one square inch.
"They're basically saying we have to put up or shut up. I feel like we're being treated like lepers."
Mr Peacock is urging campaigners to attend a meeting at the City of London Guildhall on Monday when a final decision will be made by the Corpor-ation's management committee.
"Germany has nudist areas in most major parks," he said. "Prague has a population of 1.2 million people and seven facilities for naturists. Yet London has six million people and all we've got is this tiny strip of concrete.
"For 100 years people sunbathed naked by the Men's Pond without any problem until the 'Berlin Wall' was put up in 1994 to segregate us. Now a complete separation by the addition of a door is even being considered."
A City of London spokesman said: "Following wide consultation with swimming groups, it has been recommended that the proposal - to approximately double the area available for nude sunbathing - should not be agreed.
"The primary purpose of the Men's Bathing Pond is to provide swimming facilities."
Robert Sutherland Smith, chairman of the United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath, said: "I don't think anybody is campaigning to get rid of nude sunbathing. We accept it is part of life's rich tapestry, but Mr Peacock wanted 75 per cent of the changing area for his small group.
"The ponds are for swimmers. The City of London has based its decision on the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, and we believe that is fair.
NEWS UPDATE 16TH NOV 09
The first DECISION about my petition will be made by the Committee to be held at a public Meeting City Of London Guildhall Monday at 1.45pm - Monday 23rd Nov
SUPPORTERS: PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ATTEND!! THE VISUAL PRESCENCE WILL BE CRUCIAL - ALTHOUGH THEW PUPLIC CANT SPEAK - IT WILL SEND A STRONG MESSAGE - I INTEND TO HAVE PRESS COVERAGE OF THIS ALL IMPORTANT MEETING - THE ROAD TO GET THIS FAR HAS BEEN QUITE A STRUGGLE - SO I DON'T WANT ALL MY HERCULEAN EFFORTS TO GO IN VAIN!
NEWS UPDATE 15TH NOV 2009
What follows is a summary of just a small selection comments collated since the petition was handed in - as a whole so many highlight the stark difference in attitudes towards naturism in the UK & the rest of mainland Europe - do check out other comments in the 'view field'.
NEWS UPDATE 8TH OCTOBER: No idea about this one I actually handed the petition over in June!
> Petition delivered for male nudity on Heath
08 October 2009
NUDE male sunbathing on Hampstead Heath could be a lot more noticeable if the City of London Corporation gives in to a petition handed in this week.
More than a thousand people have signed the demand to increase the space allocated for naked men to be more than doubled from 97sq metres to 207.5 sq m.
The petition says: "This change will more accurately reflect the existing and potential demand for this facility."
The demands were noted at the Hampstead Heath Management Committee meeting on Tuesday (October 6) and are currently being considered.
NEWS UPDATE 2ND JULY 2009:
Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 2 July 2009
Association represents every swimmer
• I AM a great admirer of Peter Tatchell. (Drop the gay hang-up about nudism: let’s live and let live, June 25)
I admire his support for the cause of individual liberty; his fight for the civil rights of gay people against unfair treatment and persecution.
I particularly admire the way he puts himself in harm’s way for that cause, fearlessly enduring physical assault by the likes of Mugabe’s bodyguard and the Moscow police. I have no hesitation in designating him as a hero of our times.
I am not, as he wrongly concludes, campaigning against naked sunbathing or gay men.
I am pleading the cause of swimmers and swimming at the Highgate Pond against an outrageous – I hope he does not mind my borrowing the word – demand which unreasonably, unfairly and disproportionately requires that swimming after more than 100 years at Highgate, becomes an activity significantly subordinate to nude sunbathing, for which, Michael Peacock (Nudists go stark raving mad over their lack of space at Men’s Pond, June 4) audaciously demands exclusive use of more than three quarters of the available changing area; a proposal unreasonably described as “modest”.
Nor was my letter (Swimming is healthier than baking in the sun, June 11) a value judgment on sexual orientation or sexual activity but manifestly an argument about economics and proportion.
Substitute the words “Morris dancers” for the word “gay” in my analysis and you see the clear sexual neutrality of my argument.
For example, if the exclusive nude sunbathing area of the Highgate Pond was instead exclusively used by Morris dancers and it was promoted in the national and international Morris dancing media as a Morris dancing meeting place, bringing more Morris dancers than the capacity for them, you would have the same economic outcome; an oversupply of Morris dancers in relation to the space available.
If those Morris dancers then unreasonably, unfairly and inappropriately, disproportionately demanded that swimmers, runners, floor gymnasts and aging shuttlecock players be displaced, we would come to the same outrageous outcome.
“Morris dancer” is mentioned six times not in prejudice – there obviously is none – but because it is necessary to the analysis of an economic problem.
The swimming ponds of Hampstead Heath are indeed a slice and cross-section of London life as Mr Tatchell reminds us.
The United Swimmers Association reflects that diversity by representing every swimmer regardless of creed, colour, religion, occupation and sexual identity – if anyone ever notices?
Indeed, one of its three founders was incidentally and immaterially gay. The problem is that Mr Peacock’s exclusive club does not reflect that diversity.
In my experience, no swimmer is ever uncivil towards or intolerant of another simply because he happens to be gay; nor should they be. Such conduct would be impolite, indefensible and something I would condemn utterly.
I am delighted to assure Mr Tatchell that a cross-section of people still do mix amicably every day as they change in the swimmers’ compound; just as they have always done and just as they do rubbing shoulders on the streets of London.
Only Mr Peacock’s unreasonable proposals are a threat to that.
The implication that swimmers who happen to be gay are not welcomed by other swimmers, is contrary to all truth and observation.
The swimming compound is and has been for more than 100 years, by purpose and design, predominantly to serve healthy exercise and swimming, not nude sunbathing.
The demand to have an “all over” sun tan (as opposed to a 90 per cent or so, togs on, version) strikes me as a wanton misallocation of a scarce resource – the swimming pond – and truly superficial in contrast to the healthy benefits of a swim for 20 or 30 minutes a day with the birds and fish, in the clear waters of Highgate Pond.
That is genuine naturism.
Robert Sutherland Smith
Chairman United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath
Space is inadequate
• I HAD regularly used the Men’s Pond for some time before the intrusive barrier that is the source of contention was installed and had never seen anything that justified the measure taken.
Since then either side of the divide has continued to be used for both swimming and sunbathing, though one side is much the smaller and the fencing takes up a lot valuable space in an area that was already inadequate for users’ needs.
Much of the area adjoining the enclosure is at present just overgrown scrubland.
It remains the reality that the present area being too small to satisfy the demands being made upon it is the real problem, something that seems to be getting lost sight of in the present contention, and were the barrier to be removed, and grassing to replace the bare concrete, and the whole facility expanded, this would, I think, more satisfactorily address the needs of all users.
NEWS UPDATE 29TH JUNE 2009:
Hampstead Heath Management Consultative Committee meeting 7pm > Simon Lee of the Open Spaces Department read out the petition - noted for the minutes - no discussion.
NEWS UPDATE 25TH JUNE 2009: Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 25 June 2009
Drop the gay hang-up about nudism: let's live and let live
Robert Sutherland Smith defends the confinement of nude sunbathers to
a small, cramped enclosure within the changing area at the men’s pond
on Hampstead Heath (letters, 11 June).
He repeatedly makes a big issue of the fact that many gay men swim and
sunbathe there. What’s has people’s sexuality got to do with it? Why
keep stressing gay, gay, gay?
Mr Smith’s professed concern about the health dangers of sunbathing
are touching but patronising. I notice that he is not campaigning for
a nationwide ban on sunbathing. Surely it is up to individuals to make
their own risk assessment and either limit their sun exposure or use
Let’s please go back to square one. Until the early 1990s, the whole
changing area was happily used as a combined nude and clothed
sunbathing area by people of all sexualities. It worked then, why not
In those happier days, when I lived nearby, I was a frequent attendee.
Gay men, orthodox Jews and straight body builders all mixed amicably
together – with the exception of a tiny handful of illiberal straight
men, some of whom seemed determined to force out gay men. Since nude
sunbathing was particularly popular among the gays, they thought they
could achieve this goal by banning naked sunbathing.
They pressured the Heath authorities to hold a consultation exercise.
The results were overwhelmingly in favour of allowing nudism. Despite
this result, Heath officials responded by overriding the democratic
vote and banning nude sunbathing in nearly two-thirds of the changing
area. People without clothes were confined to the present small,
fenced -off enclosure within the changing area. A vociferous, mostly
homophobic, minority was allowed to dictate to the majority. And so it
has remained ever since.
Why can’t we get back the old days, when the whole men’s changing area
was clothing optional? Why can’t gay, straight, bisexual and celibate
men - with and without swimsuits - all share the men’s pond in a
spirit of live and let live?
PO Box 17816
London SW14 8WT
NEWS UPDATE 18TH JUNE 09: Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 18 June 2009
ROBERT Sutherland Smith of the United Swimmers Association does seem to have got his proverbial knickers in a twist about Michael Peacock’s modest proposals to increase the area at the men’s pond where others may divest themselves of theirs (Swimming is healthier than baking in the sun, June 11).
In his missive he uses the word “gay” no less than six times; it’s as if the partition represents a kind of sexual orientation apartheid.
As a regular visitor, I concede that the majority on that side “will never marry” but that’s not the case entirely.
I felt the undertone of the letter was quite pejorative.
Name and address supplied
NEWS UPDATE 11TH JUNE 09: Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 11 June 2009
Swimming is healthier than baking in the sun
• MAY I add an observation or two to Dan Carrier’s article (Nudists go stark raving mad over their lack of space at men’s pond, June 4)?
The shortage of laying out space on the concrete slab in the flesh-frying naked men’s section of the Highgate pond changing compound does not arise from its size but from insatiable excessive demand.
As I understand, Michael Peacock wishes to expand the area given over to gay nude sunbathing, in part, by further reducing the area where everyone else changes to go swimming, running, take exercise or, in some instances, actually to sunbathe in swimming shorts. The remaining area for those of the general population seeking physical recreation and relaxation has already been significantly reduced by the creation of an area for exclusive use by naked prone and supine sunbathers. I understand that Mr Peacock proposes that the minority club he represents should now have more space than majority users have.
For a few weeks in the height of summer the now nude sunbathing area is full of tourists brought to the Highgate swimming and bathing pond, I understand, by its national and international promotion in the gay media as a gay meeting place. To judge by the overflow onto the grassy “gay lawn” area outside, and its attraction as an internationally advertised eighth wonder of the world, there is nothing the City Corporation can realistically do to meet this pent-up, promotion-led growth in demand.
I fear Mr Peacock’s proposals are economically flawed. There would not be enough space to meet the demand from gay naked sunbathers, even if the swimmers, runners and others were driven out entirely. That community I might add, includes the short, the tall, the old the young, gay and straight. In short, a cross-section of all of us.
Apart from being economically unviable, Mr Peacock’s ambition is also wrong in fundamental principle. The changing area only exists because it serves, that rarest of things, the Highgate swimming and bathing pond next to it.
Swimming gave rise to and need for the changing area now claimed by Mr Peacock.
It has existed primarily and unquestionably for swimming and swimmers for more than 100 years. Moreover, whereas swimming is healthy exercise, laying sardine-like on concrete, for hours on end, beneath a burning sun, whatever its charms, is dangerous.
Mr Peacock is in effect asking the City Corporation to associate itself with a cause which is contrary to all medical advice and gives rise to the greater social cost of health care. Swimmers generally come and go in half an hour. Mr Peacock’s sunbathers are there much of the day (a major contribution to the overcrowding) along with their cars that help create total day-long congestion and mayhem in Millfield Lane on the best summer days.
Robert Sutherland Smith
Chairman United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath
NEWS UPDATE 5TH JUNE 09: Ham & High - by Katie Davies - front page - published 4th JUNE
Celebrities back plans to expand naturism on Hampstead Heath
HUNDREDS of campaigners including Julian Clary and human rights protestor Peter Tatchell are backing a scheme to increase the area for nude male sunbathing on Hampstead Heath.
A petition with more than 1,000 signatures will be presented to the new Chairman of the Heath today (Thursday) calling for greater space for the naturists, expanding the small concrete plot they currently use next to the changing room at the men's swimming pond.
The campaign appeared in its early days on the letters pages of the Ham&High last May, when naturist Michael Peacock complained about the lack of space.
Now, a year on, he is hoping he has enough public and celebrity support to free the nudists.
The 50-year-old bather said: "Last year the Ham&High published my letter and a cartoon on the subject and it's all kicked off from there. I, like many others, sent off my comments to the City of London Corporation but they were totally ignored. I decided to try to get something done and set up a petition."
A total of 1,061 people are now backing his bid, which will be presented to the new chairman of the Heath Management Committee, Michael Welbank, at the bathing enclosure this morning.
"I think we are being fair and reasonable but we want the majority of the changing room area moved over for nude sunbathing," Mr Peacock continued.
"I want this to lead to a debate about why there aren't more naturist spaces in the UK. On a hot day there is only space for 28 guys and a lot of men are unable to use it.
"I hope the Corporation will take this debate seriously and expand the space. They could do so much to improve that facility - ideally, one day we'd like the partition removed completely."
But the move is unlikely to go unopposed and looks set to pit the nudists against conservationists and more traditional swimmers who want visitors to keep covered up.
Chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society Tony Hillier said: "I think we would oppose this. No one wants to see nude men out on the Heath and extending the enclosure would be unacceptable. That is building on the Heath and we don't approve of that."
Chairman of the Heath's United Swimmers Association, Robert Sutherland Smith, says the enclosure is often used by gay men as a meeting place and the petition has nothing to do with a debate on naturism.
"The ponds are for swimming and the changing area is for people to change to go swimming - sunbathing is a secondary function," he said. "It is for men to meet other men and it is advertised like that and that is why people are attracted to it.
"We are all grown up and people have different preferences but swimming at the ponds takes priority. This is not naturism - there is no nature around or grass between their toes - they just lie on a concrete floor cooking.
NEWS UPDATE 5TH JUNE 09: Camden New Journal
Camden News - by DAN CARRIER
Published: 4 June 2009
Nudists go stark raving mad over their lack of space at Men’s Pond
Tempers flare in soaring temperatures as long-running debate makes another mighty splash
TRUNKS ON or trunks off? That is the question gripping visitors to the Men’s Pond this week.
As the summer temperatures soar and the pond attracts bumper crowds, a long-running argument over the amount of space given over to naked sunbathing has erupted again.
The campaign for more space, run by naturist Michael Peacock and backed by comedian Julian Clary and civil rights activist Peter Tatchell, has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
Mr Peacock will be handing it over today (Thursday) to Michael Wellbank, the new chairman of the Heath.
The Men’s Pond boasts a simple changing compound and currently there is a section screened off where men can be naked. The other section has a strict “costumes on” rule.
But Mr Peacock believes the set-up is fundamentally unfair.
He said that he was moved to collect the signatures after seeing how many naked men were being crammed into the nude section.
He said: “I love the place – it is wonderful. But the frustration is when the partition went up, it was ill-conceived. It reduced in one fell swoop the area for naked sunbathing by two-thirds and it gets extremely crowded.
“I have seen people turn away in frustration because there are so many people in there. We need more space. In Germany public parks have a naturist area, yet this small patch of concrete is the only place in the whole of London where you can be naked.
“It is simply not big enough.”
The screen was first put up in the 1990s. A barrister who swam regularly at the pond complained he was uncomfortable taking his young son because of people sunbathing in the nude. He threatened to take legal action unless Heath managers the City of London acted – and their response was to put up a modesty screen to spare the blushes of those who simply came to the ponds for a swim, rather than to lounge around naked.
But not everyone believes any change is necessary.
Chris Rocco of the Highgate Lifebouys swimming club based at the pond said he and his members were against increasing the naked space.
He said: “We are all definitely against it. Already half the area is for nude sunbathing. You get dads up there with their kids. I am personally used to seeing people naked but others are not.
“It works at the moment – if they want to sunbathe naked, they can be on one side, while the rest of us can be on the other.”
But Mr Peacock says expanding the naked area could be the catalyst for a renovation plan for the whole compound.
He added: “At the Ladies Pond they have a very nice grass bank over-looking the pond. Here we have a concrete and metal box which is like a microwave.
“It would be nice to have a view made over the ponds, with a few shrubs to stop the binocular brigade having a peek.”
A spokeswoman from the City of London Corporation said: “The petition will have to go through the due consultation process and will be considered by the Consultative Committee and then the Management Committee before a decision can be made.
“As always on the Heath, different needs and interests need to be considered in the appropriate way before a decision is made.”
NEWS UPDATE 4TH JUNE 09: 11am Handed over my 1061 signature petition to Michael Wellbank recently appointed Chairman of the Heath at the Ponds - with press coverage by the Ham & High > front page! "Heath needs more naked space" 4/6 - Camden New Journal > "Nudists go stark raving mad over their lack of space at Men's Pond" p5 & The Pink Paper 11/6
NEWS UPDATE 1ST JUNE 09: GR8 NEWS! - The Corporation Of London have after nearly four weeks of discussion finally given me a date to hand in the Petition - to Michael Wellbank the recently appointed Chairman of Hampstead Heath Management Committee - Thursday 4th June 11am at Hampstead Heath Men's Pond - Highgate Ponds Millfield Lane London N6.
NEWS UPDATE 14TH May 09: Celebrities petition for naturism
Pink Paper - By Matt Aston 14th May 2009.
Gay celebrities are among more than a thousand campaigners who are calling for the “cramped” nudist section of Hampstead Heath to be extended.
Gay celebrities are among more than a thousand campaigners who are calling for the “cramped” nudist section of Hampstead Heath to be extended.
Comedians Julian Clary and Scott Capurro, along with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, have signed up to the campaign to increase the capacity of the dedicated space for naturists near the men’s pond on the heath.
Campaign co-ordinator Michael Peacock says that the “tiny” space is smaller than many private gardens in London and is the only gesture to naturism in the city.
“What I am seeking,” he said, “is a modest increase in the nude sunbathing area. Of course, I would love to go blue sky and have the enclosure opened out to the pond and the grassy bank outside.
“But I am a realist and have to accept that this is not Germany where most major parks have naturist areas. Our attitude in the UK towards naturism is completely at odds with the rest of the western world.
“So our objective is realistic but at minimal cost.”
The campaign petition, which will be presented to the Corporation of London later this month, has attracted backers from around the world.
Jim Vail from Canada said he signed up because “naturist facilities are a significant factor in my decision-making when it comes to choosing a tourism destination. I would be more inclined to visit often if the facilities were more attractive.”
Dr Jeremy McMullin from Edinburgh said he is a frequent user of the men’s pond. “I have been for 10 years now and I believe that naturism should receive more support from city authorities,” he added.
However it might not be too difficult for the authorities to solve the problem, suggested local sunbather Nicolas Pittortou from Highgate. He said: “The changing area to the right of the entry is very large yet only ever used for changing, whilst the naked sunbathing area is tiny in comparison and constantly full. The solution would be simple; just swap the use of the spaces around.”
NEWS UPDATE 9TH May 09: PETITION COMPLETED! 1061 signatures collected > 183 online + 878 hard copy.
GR8 Result - my thanks for all your support & many interesting comments which will be collated - it just goes to prove how this tiny facility is not just for Londoners but is used by visitors from all parts of the globe!
You are still welcome to sign however any signatures collected post 9th May 09 will not be included in the final total.
Now formal handover of the Petition is to be organized.
NEWS UPDATE 23RD April, 09: Keep up the support!
Recently Julian Clary - Scott Capurro have signed.
NEWS UPDATE 18TH Nov: MESSAGE OF SUPPORT SENT BY PETER TATCHELL AS FOLLOWS:
"I support the petition to extend the nude sunbathing area. It is
currently too small and overcrowded. If people want to sunbathe with
swimming trunks, they have the option of doing so on the grass lawn
outside the enclosure. This option is not available to those who
prefer to sunbathe au naturel. Giving over greater space to nude
sunbathing makes sense."
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner.
ALSO! - SPECIAL USER GROUP 'support naturism in the uk!' set up on Facebook - please check out - AND JOIN!
NEWS UPDATE 29TH Sep: 875 sigs - keep signing & adding comments!
also the Camden New Journal published ( 18th Sep ) almost in full my 11 point response to Roberts opposition to the petition - his input was manna from heaven! as follows:
MY RESPONSE 12/09/08
Before responding to Robert's comments I wish to thank the Camden New Journal for highlighting my petition - the debate is welcome!
Sorry Robert I respect your opinion but must address some comments which are quite erronous as follows:
1) Since I started the petition in May there have been quite a number of theories on why the partition was put up - no doubt many are based on mythology including Robert's but the majority informed me about the barrister - of course if Robert has documentary evidence to back up his allegation then please post it here!
2) The comment about the clothed area on hot days being 'uncomfortably full' does not reflect reality! - my response is based on FACTS - on previous petition days I have noted the occupancy of the naked & clothed areas as follows:
DATE TIME NUDE CLOTHED
10/05/2008 13.40 34 8
05/06/2008 13.20 21 8
05/06/2008 14.00 29 18
09/06/2008 16.25 21 8
15/06/2008 14.15 11 3
15/06/2008 16.30 19 12
13/07/2008 12.45 23 7
22/07/2008 12.50 17 7
22/07/2008 14.40 29 9
24/07/2008 14.30 33 23
24/07/2008 16.30 37 18
26/07/2008 12.25 26 7
28/07/2008 12.30 26 20
28/07/2008 14.50 33 17
30/07/2008 13.00 26 6
So where is your evidence Robert?
3) 'Clothed & naked enclosures are about the same size' excuse me! I have taken detailed measurements of both areas and can confirm that the naked area is 97sq metres the clothed area is 170sq metres - and your response Robert?
4) 'Mr Peacock speaks selfishly for a clubbish, minority interest, not an open, majority one.'
I did not use the word 'clubbish' the reporter posed this as a question - how can my petition be regarded as speaking for a minority interest? - this is an absurd allegation.
5) 'The enclosure given to men for lying naked together beneath the sun now lacks capacity, so why not take all or part of the separate enclosure traditionally occupied by changing swimmers, shuttlecock players and non-naturist sunbathers in swimming togs and give it over to Mr Peacock’s sun-loving naturists?' - absolutely I could n't agree more! - HOWEVER I am a realist and although would welcome reverting the entire enclosure back to nude sunbathing, I wanted to consider those that did not wish to see naked men - what I have proposed is not 'blue sky' as many wish for but quite modest and ironically would achieve the objective that the barrister wanted - a COMPLETE seperation of the two areas.
6) 'but I do find lying naked on a towel on a hard concrete floor inside an all-male metal framed compound an odd definition of “naturism”. Where is the “nature?” - I agree with you yet again - when circulating the petition many have commented why can't the grassy bank outside the enclosure also be a naturist area? - well unfortunately this is not Germany where parks in most cities have naturist areas - so why are our attitudes to naturism so different ( & why should they be? ) in the UK? - & yes if my petition achieves its objective we will still be shielded away from prying eyes laying on hard concrete surrounded by metal - but I have to accept the realities of the British attitude towards naturism.
7) 'The steel and concrete construction was designed for changing swimmers, not naturists.' So was it a figment of my imagination that pre 1992 the entire enclosure was a nude sunbathing area?
8) 'Shuttlecock' a minority have not signed the petition for that very reason - so ok is it not conceivable that on this very tiny heath provision could not be made elsewhere for this pursuit? - I ask the question what is the primary function of the enclosure - is the clothed area to be retained purely on the basis of a game of shuttlecock that often causes much irritation to the nude sunbathers have to listen to tat de pong tat de pong? - a facility for shuttlecock in London is not unique - the naturist area is! - even if my petition is successful it will still be much smaller than many private gardens in the city.
'The competition for space on hot days, between changing swimmers and shuttlecock players is sometimes acrimonious.' - point taken Robert so lets solve the problem by locating a shuttlecock area somewhere else.
9) 'The truth is that it was requested by a large body of users who did not appreciate the sight of sexual acts in public' - so tell me Robert what evidence do you have to support this allegation? - was it one mass orgy of sex before the petition was put up?
10) 'I note that Mr Peacock urges people who have never been to or seen the Highgate Pond to sign his petition. He will no doubt get thousands of signatures' - to date ( 3rd Sep ) I have collected 640 signatures AT the mens pond - the online petition which I recently started has so far collected 57 signatures - if Robert bothers to check out the online version he will note from the comments that many ARE users of the facility - besides why should n't anyone that supports naturism support my petition?
11) 'But such protesters are without credibility.' Since when does a petition become a protest?
NEWS UPDATE 19TH Sep: check out 'nudist pond protest shows naked ambition' in www.pinkpaper.com page 8 - issue 961 - 18th Sep - shame its lifted word for word from the original Camden Gazette article.
748 sigs - the comments are brill - keep em coming - it all helps add to an INFORMED debate.
NEWS UPDATE 14TH Sep: 725 sigs - the comments added on the petition are much appreciated!
It is my intention to let this run for one year untill May 2009 - I am seeking a group of guys who are prepared to articulate a good argument - when the petition is presented - and to face the press - if anyone is interested please mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
Believe me there will be plenty of opposition - so I will need plenty of support.
Check out http://www.thecnj.co.uk/camden/2008/091108/forum091108.html
Very interesting forum article in the Camden New Journal 11 Sep - the response from Robert is not untypical of the opposition already expressed.
NEWS UPDATE 11TH Sep:
CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL PUBLISHED 11 SEP 2008
Division at the Men’s Pond: is it an unnatural situation?
Calls for more nude sunbathing space on the Heath have divided opinion. Are naturists discriminated against? Or are their’s the demands of a clubbish minority interest?
IT is time that naturists in this country got more vocal. If you visit a park in Germany or in many cities in Europe, you will find a large naturist area where you will find men, women, and families sunbathing naked.
This should be a right for people who wish to get an all-over tan in the company of others.
But at the male nude sunbathing enclosure at Hampstead Heath Men’s Pond in north London, on hot sunny days the small enclosure is packed to bursting, preventing many from using the facility.
The poor ladies can only go topless.
This is the only gesture towards naturism in London – yet in the enclosure we are cooped up, shielded from the outside world, as a result of an attitude towards naturism that is dictated by traditionalists.
Next door, the area allocated to clothed changing – which is
42 per cent larger – is typically less than one third occupied.
Making inquiries about the partition that separates the two areas within the enclosure I learned that in the early 1990s a prominent barrister complained to the ‘authorities’ that neither his young son nor himself should be exposed to the spectacle of seeing any naked men.
At that time the enclosure was totally allocated to nude sunbathing.
Despite a survey that found that most people objected to this partition, up it went – and all it did was create a division.
Nudity is still on view – you cannot miss it as you walk to the changing rooms. But the space is limited to 30 guys at a pinch. This must change to reflect demand. So I appeal to anyone that supports naturism (you don’t have to be a user of the facility, or resident in the UK ), to sign my online petition.
* Michael Peacock is petitioning the City of London to expand the naked sunbathing area at Hampstead Heath Men’s Ponds. His online petition is at www.go petition.com/petitions/ male-nude-sunbathing-at-hampstead-heath-mens-pond.html
AGAINST: Robert Sutherland Smith
I HAVE read Mr Peacock’s views on the needs of naturists. On the face of it his cause, as I understand it, seems reasonable. To summarise: more “naturism” on Hampstead Heath or, more precisely, at the Highgate Pond.
The enclosure given to men for lying naked together beneath the sun now lacks capacity, so why not take all or part of the separate enclosure traditionally occupied by changing swimmers, shuttlecock players and non-naturist sunbathers in swimming togs and give it over to Mr Peacock’s sun-loving naturists?
As a cold water, winter pond swimmer, I may not be in the best position to criticise the eccentricities of others, but I do find lying naked on a towel on a hard concrete floor inside an all-male metal framed compound an odd definition of “naturism”. Where is the “nature?”
The steel and concrete construction was designed for changing swimmers, not naturists.
His campaigning also distorts facts.
The changing enclosure for swimmers is not 42 per cent larger than that used by the “naturists”. They are about the same size.
Nor is true that on hottest days the swimmers’ changing area is “typically less than one third occupied”. On the contrary, on the hottest days it is always uncomfortably full.
The competition for space on hot days, between changing swimmers and shuttlecock players is sometimes acrimonious.
Nor is it true that the barrier is the result of the protest of a single anonymous barrister on the basis of his prudery about naked men.
The truth is that it was requested by a large body of users who did not appreciate the sight of sexual acts in public; part of a colourful tradition which evidently not everyone enjoys.
I note that Mr Peacock urges people who have never been to or seen the Highgate Pond to sign his petition. He will no doubt get thousands of signatures, but such protesters are without credibility.
I have been told by a friend (who happens to be gay) that the reason the “naturist” compound is full on hot days, is because it is advertised as a place to visit in the worldwide gay press. No doubt a splendid example of globalisation!
But what about the rest of us; the mainstream Londoners who wish to swim? Or those retired old buffers who like to play a game of shuttlecock? Or the sunbathers who like to keep their trunks on when they sunbathe?
Mr Peacock speaks selfishly for a clubbish, minority interest, not an open, majority one. He and his plainly spurious petition should be given polite consideration but nothing more.
* Robert Sutherland Smith is Chairman, United Swimmers Association of Hampstead Heath
NEWS UPDATE 8TH Sep: 685 sigs
Brill interview filmed at the ponds - with gr8 humour! - featured on ITV1 London Tonight 6pm - Mon 8th.
To be interviewed live by LBC Radio 97.3fm at 7.35am ( ahh!! its against my religion to get up b4 10am ) on Tue 9th Sep.
NEWS UPDATE 5th Sep: 668 signatures - some of the online petition comments are brill & much appreciated - it also helps to widen the debate!
Go to facebook page michael pondlife ( pondlife is an affectionate term for the mens pond naturists! ) loads of pics & news items on there inc a wicked cartoon from the Ham & High.
NEWS UPDATE 4th Sep: I have made FRONT PAGE of the Camden Gazette - with photo of me naked apart from my petition! - to view ( until 9th Sep ) go to: http://www.camdengazette.co.uk/content/camden/chronicle/default/default.aspx
NEWS UPDATE 3rd Sep: Peter Tatchell the prominent LGBT human Right Campaigner signed the hard copy sheet version of my petition on 3rd September - THANK-YOU PETER FOR YOUR SUPPORT! - Peter was involved in a Direct Action Outrage protest held at the ponds in 1994 - web link: http://www.petertatchell.net/direct%20action/sexual%20apartheid.htm
As a regular user of the male nude sunbathing in the enclosure at Hampstead Heath Men’s Pond in North London, I have observed that on hot sunny days the small enclosure is be packed to bursting, preventing many from using the facility – however the area allocated to clothed changing area which is 42% more in area, is typically less than 1/3 occupied.
Making enquiries about the partition that separates the two areas within the enclosure I was informed by a number of sources that in the early 1990's a prominent barrister complained to the 'authorities' that neither his young son or himself should be exposed to the spectacle of seeing any naked men - at that time the enclosure was totally allocated to nude sunbathing and access to the male toilets was and still is via the enclosure.
The authorities took this complaint very seriously and commissioned a survey asking the question: "do you support having a separate area within the enclosure allocated to nude sunbathing?" - my understanding is that of the 850 responses - 600 said NO - despite the survey findings the partition was put up.
In my opinion the partition was ill conceived - and the most crucial point of all, did not achieve what the barrister was seeking - as you enter the enclosure and look to your left the 'spectacle' of naked men is still apparent – ironically my petition if adopted will achieve his objective!
This tiny area is smaller than many private gardens in the city and is the only location in London allocated to male nude sunbathing - now its time to redress the balance between providing an area for nude sunbathing that reflects CURRENT and POTENTIAL demand for this facility.
So I appeal to anyone that supports naturism ( you don’t have to be a user of the facility, or resident in the UK ), to sign my online petition to be presented to the Corporation of London.
If you have previously signed (over 600 so far) the sheet version, then thank-you for your support there is no need to sign this on-line as I wish to avoid duplication of signatures & maintain credibility! Date Commenced: 10 May 2008 ( sheet copy version ).
On Line version created 27 Aug 2008.
Note 1: Ref attached plan please note the dotted line represents the existing separation between nude ( presently to the right hand side of the enclosure ) and clothed areas.
Note 2: For your information the area of the complete enclosure that caters for male nude sunbathing and clothed changing area is 9m x 32m - the proposal does not seek an expansion in area of the enclosure - merely a change WITHIN the facility - see plan.
Note 3: If you want any more info - or represent the press ( coverage is welcome! ) then either email me email@example.com or call 07525 344 995