Dr Fletcher said the cry among the working people was that there was nowhere to go. Working people came to him with the cry, "We are driven out of Highgate and are obliged to go to Highgate New Town."
If the Muswell Hill Road frontage was sold there was no question but that roads might be cut right through the woods in the direction of Hornsey, but if the Commissioners could not get the land from the Charity Commission they could not cut the road.
He was very sure the cottages could be put into a fit state of repair. He was asked by the poor people, by the police and by a number of the working classes to represent these two points, that cottage accommodation was very sorely needed in Highgate and that if they once allowed the land to be sold, there was no telling where the hand of the builder would be stayed.
(Loud and prolonged cheers).
Numerous other people spoke and the Commissioner summed up by saying that he took it that the prevailing opinion was in favour of retaining the cottages but the meeting should draw no conclusions from what he had said (Groans).
Others said that the Trustees of the Charity had failed in their duties by letting the the cottages fall into disrepair
Mr H.R.Williams, the Trustee who had written to the paper earlier, said that he had it on the best authority that the Church Commissioners would make no roads whatever and they would not be benefitted one iota by the actions of the Charity Commissioners. Others were far less trusting and the meeting closed after nearly three hours.
Drawn from Hornsey & Finsbury Park Journal & North Islington
Standard report, 15 June 1895).
Another article from an unknown and undated paper says:
|'We are faced with the fact that in Highgate and Muswell Hill there are
a number of persons who want the Churchyard Bottom Wood and will not be
happy until they have got it - while nobody appears willing to spend a
farthing to pay for it. Everyone says it would be a fine thing to have
the wood as open space, but everybody thinks it is the duty of someone
else to make it one. The Islington Vestry has 'resolved' on the subject,
but the Islington Vestry does not offer a penny piece towards the purchase.
--- There is no more difficult problem for the community or the individual
to solve than how to gain possession of other people's property without
paying for it.'
TIME IS SHORT
Paying for it was indeed the problem as Churchyard Bottom Wood became the subject of intense local and national debate. A joint committee was formed to raise money to save the wood. On 20 November 1896, C.F.Cory-Wright, Hon Treasurer, wrote to The Standard, a daily paper at that time, appealing for help.
He reminded everyone of the danger of losing the wood and said it could only be saved by buying it. The Church Commissioners would sell for £25,000 and an extra £5,000 would be required for fencing and drainage, making a total of £30,000. This was too much for Hornsey Council to raise but they had already voted £10,000 towards the total. The woods were of inestimable value to all of North London so he appealed to public bodies and private people to raise the remaining £20,000. He warned that the present offer from the Church Commissioners was open only to the end of 1898. After that the builders would move in.
Church of England Record Office