One hundred years of anarchy
Centenary guided tour in front of Whiteway House Picture C.Coates
In the summer of 1998 in the small Cotswold settlement of Whiteway a unique centenary was celebrated. As the crowd of intrigued onlookers followed the colony historian on a guided tour of the 40 acre site behind the veneer of late 20th century life the ghosts of anarchists past could be sensed hiding in old sheds and quiet corners of this mature anarchist arcadia.
Long gone are the wide open fields of the Dry Ground and the Wet Ground, replaced by a patchwork of gardens and allotments set amongst a canopy of mature trees. Long gone are the heady days of Tolstoyan anarchism when all talk was of building a community free from restraint and injustice where everyone would share work, love and comradeship. Long gone also is the spartan simple life where the 'Most ideally minded they wouldn't use any money, just living from earth product, for instance for want of matches, they had to save time and light getting up therefore very early in the morning when the sun rises, and went to bed a sunset time. Lit the fire primitively helping themselves with two bricks and so. We never had bread, and used to eat raw wheat in the hollow of the hand. No salt, no sugar, nothing of this kind....' Carmen Maurice C1914
In a hundred years the colony has seen it's share of comings
and goings. Not just people; the early settlers, immigrant anarchists,
Spanish refugees & wartime CO's, but with each decade the particular
ideas and fads of the era; the no money period, vegetarianism, rational
dress, naturism, free-love unions. Some of the 'fads' have endured mainly
because the outside world has caught up with Whiteway and what once seemed
extreme now passes without mention. Many of the early buildings have gone,
the huts put up when 'individual living' started; William Sinclair's hand-made
brick & thatch hut. Some of the original timber clapboard houses have
been extended and converted beyond recognition. Today houses have all
the conveniences of modern living; piped water having arrived in 1949
and electricity in time for Christmas 1954.
Whiteway Colony Hall 1998 Picture C.Coates
Two books have been written chronicling Whiteways history.
A Colony in the Cotswolds in the 1930's by Nellie Shaw one of the original
colonist and more recently an account by Joy Thacker a local woman who
moved to the colony in the 1960's. In a century of colony life Whitewayans
it would seem have been through the whole panoply of community activity
practiced or dreamt of by communards before or since. As well as their
smallholding and self-build activities there was; Protheroe's Bakery,
the Cotswold Co-operative Handicraft guild, Whiteway Modern School, the
Co-operative Gardening Group, the Whiteway Youth Club and the Whiteway
Wanderers football team. On top of that various individual ventures; Lillian
Woolf's wholefood shop, the temporary home for Freedom Press, numerous
small businesses, craftworkers and artists................