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Thorney Hill

Thorney Hill, between Burley and Bransgore on the edge of the New Forest has for a long time been associated with Gypsies. When in 1926 Gypsies and travellers were no longer allowed to camp out on the open forest, Thorney Hill was one of the seven compounds. This compound was at the Thorney Hill crossroads on the land to the right of the Burley Road when travelling to Burley and north of Forest Road. Although it was a compound it was never fenced.

Thorney Hill compound was the largest of the seven compounds in the New Forest in 1930 with up to four hundred inhabitants at a time. It was during the 1930’s that mains water was brought to the compound but there was only one tap to serve many families. Most the children at this time attended Thorney Hill School in School Lane.

In 1934 the main families in the compound were said to be Doe, Sherred, Pidgley, James, Moore, Williams, Lamb and Smith these were later joined by Hughes. 

In 1932 Council houses were built backing onto the Burley Road, in 1960 Council houses were built in Brick Lane then in 1961 the houses were built in Whiteland’s.

Around 1960 Hampshire County Council decided to take all the Gypsies/travellers off the forest and erected twenty two second hand prefabricated houses on the site of the compound. This was called ‘The Thorney Hill Close’. Water and electric was provided to the homes and also a Warden and a Social Worker to help the families settle. Tents and caravans were no longer allowed.

As new brick built council houses were being erected the pre-fabricated buildings were taken down one by one to stop squatters moving in. By 1974 there were only four families left in ‘The Thorney Hill Close’ the rest having been settled into council housing.


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