Episode 38: Carbeth Hutters

The Carbeth Hutters in Scotland have initiated a community buy-out for their 90 acres of Land.

In Wales, land is one of the biggest obstacles to natural living. In Scotland, it's even more difficult, as patterns of land ownership put the land in the hands of the wealthy few. However, land buy-outs are helping to give ordinary people access to land.

More info on the Carbeth Hutters of Scotland.

Following an initiative by William Ferris and a Mr McMilan, 3 huts are erected on Carbeth Guthrie Estate. Ferris is a significant figure, becoming a vice-president of the Camping Club of Great Britain and Ireland, vice-chairman of the Scottish Council of Physical Recreation, Chairman of the Scottish Rights of Way Society, Scottish Ramblers Federation and members of the Scottish Tourist Board. A few people are allowed to camp in tents on certain other parts of Carbeth Guthrie Estate. Ferris assists Allan Barns-Graham with huts at Carbeth from 1920-43.

5 huts are erected on the estate. At any one time in the 1920's, there are believed to be around a dozen campsites.

Carbeth Swimming Pond or 'Lido" is developed.

There are 106 huts on the Estate.

Ground rental for 191 huts is recorded at: Lochwood (8 huts), Cuilts Road (58 huts), Drymen Road (18 huts), Clachan (11 huts), Carbeth Lower Hill (40 huts), Mid Hill (26 huts), Upper Hill (18 huts), South Boundary (6 huts) and Lochside (6 huts).

Carbeth Hutters Association is formed.

Carbeth Hutters Community Company is formed.

The Carbeth Hutters Community company was finally successful in buying out landlord Allan Barns-Graham for the sum of £1.75 million. A loan from the Triodos bank eventually made the buy-out possible after years of fundraising.
Guardian: Carbeth Hutters Buyout

Here in Wales, one of the biggest challenges to natural living is the acquisition of land. Now in Scotland, that challenge is exaggerated because of the land ownership patterns. In Scotland, the majority of the land is owned by the wealthy few. This workshop is modelled on a traditional hut design. This design is native not only to Wales but also to Scotland.
Hi. I'm Fran. I'm a hutter at Carbeth. Ah, it's good to be here! Come away on in and I'll stick the kettle on! I've been coming up to Carbeth probably for about 15 or twenty years. Sitting around the fire, hanging out, trying to get a hut. Sniffing around. Can I have that hut? Whose hut is that? Loving it and thinking I wanted to be here. So I got this about 7 years ago now. And we built a hut. Basically, there was the remains of an old hut. And it was two old ladies that had had it for years. And yeah, we built it. My family, my friends.
My name's Tam. I've been up here for about 5 years. It's taken a long time to get it to this condition which is not too good, but there's a lot of work involved in it. Because basically the land was just all wild the hut was derelict. Ten years ago we were in the middle of the rent strikes. And it got pretty nasty at that time as well. People were getting burnt out of their huts. It was really aggressive, volatile situation. Now he doesn't like us marching through the estate. He tried to ban the march here last year. He didn't get it banned. He doesn't like us making a noise in the estate, so let's disturb him!
What do we want from feudal landlords? Freedom! Barnes-Graham. Out out out!
All these wee huts were built for the people of Glasgow and the people of Clydebank to get them away from the city during the war. And we have carried on through generations. Well, a hutter is somebody that's dedicated to their hut. They'll keep their hut going, keep it maintained Winter, Summer, Spring Autumn. They're here all the time. Very involved in the place, very proud of the place. I think the Carbethers, we're of the pioneering stock. I mean, the caravaners, they go into a caravan that's all set out, beautifully furnished, but we start from nothing. Nothing has changed here since I came here in 1946. Nothing has changed. The grass has got a bit longer. But outside of that, nothing to merit the rent rise. Well, he's put the rent up by £150 and he's told us that it will be up again next year by another £150. And by the time we pay that plus our Sterlingshire County Council rates, it's going to be well over £1000. Now my sister has a caravan in the Lake District and for £600 a year, which is everything, she has running water, and she has sewerage, there's a shop on the site. There's a reception desk, where you can leave telephone calls. A 24 hour reception. Och, you name it, and they have it. All for £600, less than what we are paying a year. So we feel it's a bit unfair. There's no amenities, there's no electricity, there's no police patrols, there's no street lighting. These are all things that you would expect in a community, but we've just got a piece of land of him. The cabins, these belong to all of us. We own the cabins. He just gives us the land to put them on. He's wanting £1000 a year, eventually. Which we all think is over the top. So the situation now is we've got the opportunity to buy the land. Through loads of negotiations and years and years of to-ing and fro-ing with the land owner. We're at the point where we're in the middle. We've got an option period to try and buy the land. So we're in the middle of that. We've got to raise £1.75 million to purchase. It is really unique, because there are no other community buy-outs where the common people are getting the land. So it's exciting. And most of the community land buy-outs have been in the highlands and islands so this is really unique. And really really exciting and interesting. So people are interested in it. There's this campaign about at the moment, the "thousand huts" campaign", which is born from the interest in hutting, and trying to get more people into huts all over Scotland. So that's just been launched. And that's writers and journalists and activists who are seeking to look at planning law, building regulations, to try and make it easier for people to have huts in the woods or in the countryside or wherever. And I think Carbeth is a benchmark for that and also a jumping off point to launch this campaign.