Finding The UK’s ‘Lost’ Playing Fields – Carnegie UK Trust And Fields In Trust launch #FieldFinders Campaign

February 19, 2015

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A nationwide campaign is asking the public to identify over 900 ‘lost’ playing fields originally protected as public green spaces by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s charitable trust between 1927-1935.

The #FieldFinders campaign was launched today by The Carnegie UK Trust and Fields in Trust to protect as many as 3,000 football pitches, tennis courts, playgrounds and other recreational green spaces from urban development.

The sites are ‘lost’ because their exact locations were never centrally recorded, but under the original terms of the Carnegie grants it was in fact intended that they would remain protected from development.

#FieldFinders is hoping the public can help to locate the Carnegie playing fields so that better legal protection can be put in place, preserving the legacy of the original grants and protecting the spaces for future generations.

The #FieldFinders campaign calls on people around the country to locate Carnegie playing fields in their area by submitting images or suggested locations using a dedicated web portal.

Members of a specialist Fields in Trust team will then cross reference submissions with any surviving documentation and begin the process of  improving legal protection of the site to keep it safe for generations to come.

Douglas White, Head of Advocacy at Carnegie UK Trust said: “When these grants were made it was a significant sum of money for outdoor recreational spaces across the UK. A requirement of the grant was that the playing fields should remain public areas for the benefit of the community in perpetuity. We want to find as many of these fields as possible and ensure that they remain legally protected for the local community.”

Investigative ‘Field Finders’ are also being encouraged to share images of the sites  using their social media profiles, specifically Twitter and Instagram, to share pictures, using #FieldFinders to help spread the word of the campaign and encourage their friends in other locations to join the hunt.

Each confirmed location where legal protection can be added will then be given the chance to win one of two £5000 prizes to make improvements to facilities such as children’s play areas.

A pilot study by Fields in Trust, looking at London, Surrey, Kent and Middlesex identified 107 grants in these areas and 14 of these Carnegie playing fields have now been confirmed, including Coram’s Fields in central London. The list of established grants will be available online alongside case studies of the newly confirmed sites to help inspire others to get involved. As each location is rediscovered and more details added, the list will be updated to reflect this.

Kathryn Cook, Partnership & Communications Manager of Fields in Trust who will be working to improve the legal protection to the sites if this is required, said: “Many playing fields in built up areas offer the only green space and safe playing area for children and families. They are places to relax, play sports or hold community events. Ensuring they are around for future generations is an utmost priority.

“We need the public to share as much information as possible about the spaces they believe to be Carnegie Playing Fields via an online form on our website where you can also view examples of Carnegie Playing Fields that we have already found.  Of course if you have any photos, do share them with us!  This is a very important but labour intensive job and we really need the support of local communities to help us protect these valuable assets for the long term.”

#FieldFinders will have their names associated with the parks they have rediscovered alongside the online list so their efforts are recorded and the thanks of future generations can be given.

The best of the photographs will be added to an online gallery where people can view photographs of the past and present.