FENLANDER: �80k appeal launched to create ‘fitting memorial’ to Wisbech pioneer Octavia Hill
AN �80,000 appeal will be formally launched on Monday to transform a historically significant but derelict piece of land in Wisbech into an elegant, landscaped garden for the community to enjoy.
Hoardings currently surround the plot in Somers Road, next to Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House, blemishing a key entrance to the town.
The new garden will be called Centenary Green. It will commemorate the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill, whose achievements as an environmental campaigner led to her co-founding the National Trust, which today protects more than 300 historic properties and keeps 250,000 hectares of land open to all.
She was also the pioneer of affordable housing and can be seen as the founder of modern social casework, championing the provision of open spaces for everyone.
The project is being run by the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, with the backing of the National Trust and Fenland District Council.
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Peter Clayton, Chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said: “Octavia Hill is one of Britain’s great environmental and social reformers. So it is fitting that, to commemorate the centenary of her death, a beautiful new open space should be created, next to the house in which she was born.”
The land has been purchased by the National Trust, with a contributory grant of �55,000 from Fenland District Council. It is leased to the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust for 99 years.
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The Trust now needs support from funding organisations, businesses and individuals to transform the wasteland into Centenary Green, a landscaped public garden of lawns, a paved terrace, planting and seating protected by steel railings.
Receipts and pledges have brought in almost �20,000, but there is still a further �80,000 to be raised by donations, grants or work in kind.
Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Centenary Green. It will be of great benefit both to local people and visitors and it fits in perfectly with our wider vision to regenerate the town. It needs and deserves the widest possible support.”
Richard Powell, regional director for the National Trust in the East of England said: “Octavia Hill still remains one of the most influential figures in social reform and the creation of public spaces for communities. She referred to these spaces as ‘outdoor living rooms’ and we are thrilled to be able to support the Birthplace Museum Trust in creating another outdoor living room for the benefit of the people of Wisbech.”
A fund-raising reception to launch the appeal will be held on Monday at Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House, starting at 7.30pm. Open to everyone, it is an opportunity for people to see the plans for Centenary Green and offer their support.
A series of other events is planned, starting with a fund-raising auction on Saturday July 28 at the Rose and Crown Hotel. Anyone wishing to donate an item for auction can call 01945 476358 or drop items in to the Birthplace House.
• Further events will be promoted on www.octaviahill.org
If you can assist the community effort to create Centenary Green or would like to make a donation, please contact the Trust on 01945 476358.