Kate Ashbrook took a little walk along the Thames – reblogged from her Campaigner Kate blog.
While champagne and caviar were being quaffed at Henley Regatta, 25 years ago today (8 July 1990), representatives of the Open Spaces Society exercised their rights of passage through the hospitality tents.
The tents and enclosures, which were leased by Palmer Jeffrey and Company Corporate Hospitality, were pitched across public footpath Fawley number 12, on the Buckinghamshire bank of the River Thames. The public had the right to walk through the tents and over the champagne-laden tables, but the path was also blocked by walls of canvas with no openings.
The culprits were Simmons and Sons, the Henley estate agents, who pegged out the tents and enclosures over the path.
I walked the path a number of times during the regatta, accompanied first by a camera crew from Television south, and then, on the afternoon of Sunday 8 July, by a photographer from the Bucks Free Press. He had his camera ready when the tents’ lessees threatened to throw me in the river. It was a hot day and a plunge would have been refreshing, but I warned them that they would be filmed assaulting me. So they refrained from doing so.
Bucks County Council considered prosecuting Simmons but decided against it when it received an abject apology. As far as I know, Simmons didn’t obstruct the path again.
I was pleased to get local and national publicity for my walk (below are articles from the Bucks Free Press, South Oxfordshire Chronicle and Evening Standard). The Henley Standard did not report it.