29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 11


Preserving the Countryside It is pleasant but surprising news to learn that the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society has now been in existence for three-quarters of a century. Seventy-five years ago Hardy's novels had not been written, The Amateur Poacher had not been written, and George Hunt was a small boy in a Surrey town, over which " an air almost of the eighteenth century seems to have lingered." To me it comes as a surprise to learn that in 1865 a group of people should have felt that the rights and beauty of the countryside might, if not watched, slip from the people's grasp. The work of the society they formed has been invaluable ever since, and now the society feels quite rightly that " it would be deplorable if the work which has been carried on for seventy-five years past, and has increased so much in recent times, were now allowed to languish." It faces a deficit of £400 on the current year: a debt which increased subscriptions by parish councils, no less than private help, would do something to lessen.