THE POUND (PINFOLD) ~
Pigs were common place on The Heath in those days.
There were lots of donkeys on The Heath at this time but it is not thought that they were impounded here.
John Stevenson was the elderly common keeper of the manor of St John’s Hampstead.
The theft of turf and gravel was widespread – The Heath was seen as a resource that was open to all.
Stevenson regularly chased cows and their minders off the land and used this pound by Whitestone Pond to keep errant pigs who had been taken on to The Heath by their owners to root about for food.
Starting in July 1834, his spindly writing describes his work as a patrolman, which included working through the night to protect The Heath’s natural resources.
He had the full weight of the law behind him – for seemingly minor offences, such as cutting wood, perpetrators could be transported to Australia.
As his diary notes, he also had a lot of trouble with village boys.
There were said to be 100 donkeys daily on The Heath in 1836. (see Donkeys' Years article)
Soon their popularity inspired cartoonists and attracted Charles Dickens and even, in the early 1850s, Karl Marx, who rode with more fervour than skill.
The Metropolitan Board of Works sought sites for donkey stands when it took over in 1872; 45 were built near the Vale of Health and 60 at the foot of Downshire Hill.
Residents soon petitioned against Sunday rides.
In 1873 the drivers' noisy plying for trade led to their being licensed.
Then, in 1876, their alleged unkindness contributed to the establishment of a Hampstead branch of the RSPCA.