Campaign for ‘naked sunbathing rights’ on Hampstead Heath, Ham&High

Naturists are campaigning this summer to be able to enjoy the Heath. By Anna Behrmann

The Project Naked photoshoot on Hampstead Heath. Photo: Natansky

The Project Naked photoshoot on Hampstead Heath. Photo: Natansky

A core group of naturists, who are part of the Naturist Action Group, hope to be able to sunbathe around Hampstead Heath, as well as in a designated area around the mixed bathing ponds.

There is a small area in the open compound of the men’s bathing pond where naturists sunbathe, but there is no equivalent space in the women’s or mixed ponds.

Muswell Hill pond swimmer, John McPartlin, who is part of the Naturist Action Group, said that a small group already take part in naturist sunbathing unofficially at Cohen’s Field, near Athlone House, during the summer, and have done for some time.

The retired librarian told the Ham&High: “I cannot be sure if the park constabulary are wholly unaware of this, or if they do know about it, but just do not intervene as there are no complaints.

“We want this activity to be given formal recognition and for a designated area to be set aside for the benefit of those who would like to acquire an even all-over tan during the warm summer.”

The naturists took part in a picnic on Hampstead Heath in 2015, followed by a photoshoot with some models in two “discreet areas”, with the photographs by Natansky, a photographer operating from Guerilla Galleries in East London.

Mr McPartlin said: “Others passing by at the time of the photoshoot not unnaturally enquired as to what was happening, but did not express any disapproval and did not seem to mind these things taking place, so this would seem to be an activity of which there is already a general acceptance.”

Naturists Carlie Newman, Steve Harrison, John McPartlin and Harvey Allen will be carrying out informal polls with clipboards on the Heath to see if they have the public’s support.

Mr Allen, who helps organise the Naked Bike Ride, said: “Hampstead Heath is supposed to be for the use of all Londoners.

“By stopping naturists, they’re actively stopping some groups of Londoners from using it.”

In their 2017 annual report, the Naturist Action Group, chaired by Reg Barlow, wrote that they are currently pursuing a “slowly, slowly approach” in order to get recognition by the Hampstead Heath management.

They are organising a summer visit for naturists to the Heath.

The author of the report wrote: “Our work at Hampstead Heath may benefit from an interesting development in Paris.

“There, two French naturist bodies are in official talks with the city’s politicians, who are receptive to the idea of an official naturist open space.”

The Corporation of London, which runs Hampstead Heath, failed to provide a comment.

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