The Open Spaces Society (“OSS”) (its full name is the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society), founded in 1865, is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. In its early years it rescued many important areas of common land, such as Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and Epping Forest, from enclosure and ensured their preservation for the public benefit. Some of the OSS’s founders went on to create the National Trust.
Throughout its history the OSS has helped to secure vital laws to protect metropolitan commons, control fencing and list commons on registers. A further success story is that the charity was able to secure a public right to walk on urban commons and, 75 years later, on all commons throughout England and Wales.