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The History of Gypsies in the New Forest - Part 3


In 1926 the Compound system was started which meant that seven areas were set aside in the forest for the Gypsies to camp without interference but they were no longer to be allowed to roam the open forest and camp where they chose. These sites were at Thorney Hill, Broomhill, Shave Wood, Blackhamsley, Hardley, Latchmoor and Longdown. Movements between these compounds were not restricted but they were forbidden to camp outside of these compounds. The compounds had either an insufficient or nonexistent water supply for the inhabitants and no toilet arrangements.

Living in the compounds interfered with the Gypsy way of life because they had preferred to live in small family units rather than a community; this quickly led to trouble and arguments between families. The compound system also restricted the Gypsy Travellers earning potential because they were no longer able to travel earning an honest living along the way. Rather than live in the compounds some families moved out of the New Forest altogether.

By 1935 many Gypsy Traveller families were camping back in the open forest making sure that their existence was not obvious. They caused no harm and the police usually turned a blind eye having known them from their pre-compound days


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