Open Spaces Society (OSS)

Reference: SR OSS; SR 2OSSDate: 1808 - 1967; 2006Extent: 20 boxes
Drawing of a clapper stileLord Eversley, the former Liberal MP and minister, founded the Commons Preservation Society in 1865. The aim of the society was to save London commons for the enjoyment and recreation of the public. Its committee members included such important figures as Octavia Hill, the social reformer, Sir Robert Hunter, solicitor and later co-founder of the National Trust, Professor Huxley, and the MPs, Sir Charles Dilke and James Bryce. Most of the society’s members initially came from the south east, so their interests focused on London.

In 1899 the Commons Preservation Society amalgamated with the National Footpaths Society, adopting the title Commons Open Spaces and Footpath Preservation Society. The shortened name, Open Spaces Society was adopted in the 1980s. The society promoted important pieces of legislation, including the Commons Acts of 1876 and 1899. Today, its principal task is advising local authorities, Commons committees, voluntary bodies, and the general public on the appropriation of commons and other open spaces. It also scrutinises applications that affect public rights of way. It has no branch organisation but works with local and regional bodies. Its membership, therefore, is small. The society also publishes a quarterly journal as well as a wide variety of literature.

Contains administrative records, legal reports and papers, publications of the society, publications of other organisations, parliamentary papers, maps, photographic transparencies, and social and personal records.

More information

Associated collections

Bernard Selwyn (D SEL)

Bernard Selwyn was the Vice President of the Open Spaces Society. He was a chartered surveyor with the Greater London Council. He was a member of the executive committee of the Open Spaces Society (1982-2006), the parliamentary agent (1993-2005) and the spokesman for London.

A full description is available on our online database.

A handlist for the whole collection can be found here.

  • Looking for a specific item?

    We are regularly updating the collections that we publish on our website but if you are after something specific that you can't find online, then drop by for a visit or feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you.