Ferguson's Gang in Cornwall

Ferguson’s Gang was formed in 1927 by five young women. Their aim was to protect the nation’s rural land and important buildings from the ‘octopus’ of urban development. Through their donations places such as Mayon Cliff and Frenchman's Creek were protected so they could be enjoyed for generations to come.

Ferguson’s Gang gathered huge sums of money which they donated to the National Trust, an organisation they considered to be the most dedicated to preserving England’s heritage. The Gang wore masks to protect their anonymity and delivered their ‘swag’ in creative ways – inside a fake pineapple, cigar or accompanied by a bottle of homemade sloe gin. The stunts were avidly reported in the press capturing the public’s imagination.

Whilst active, all the identities of this group of well-educated, radical women remained a secret. They hid behind colourful pseudonyms such as Bill Stickers, the Bludy Beershop, Red Biddy, ‘Erb the Smasher, Kate O’Brien and Sister Agatha.

Kate O'Brien leapfrogging over Shot Biddy
Ferguson's Gang Leapfrog
Kate O'Brien leapfrogging over Shot Biddy

Saved by the Ferguson’s Gang

Ferguson’s Gang endowed three rural buildings and significant tracts of Cornish coastline to the National Trust:

  • Mayon and Trevescan cliffs, near Land’s End, Sennen, Cornwall 1935
  • Frenchman’s Creek, River Helford, 1946

And further afield:

  • Shalford Mill, Guildford, Surrey 1932 – Newtown Old Town Hall, on the Isle of Wight 1934
  • Priory Cottages, Oxfordshire 1938-46


 

" Save me barrow, me old ring barrow, Take it safe to the National Trust! Save me castle, me old cliff castle, Save us all from the Octopus."
- Bill Stickers