The Clousden Hill Free Communist and Cooperative Colony was an anarchist community in Northumberland (GB) which existed from 1895 to 1902. It was formed by followers of Peter Kropotkin, and was the first explicitly anarcho-communist community in Great Britain.
The colony was started by a group of Kropotkin’s followers who wanted to put his theories into practice by forming a 20 acre farming community organised on anarcho-communist lines. Two of the main figures in the foundation of the colony were Frank Kapper and William Key, who had met at a Cooperative Congress, and who claimed to have been influenced by the Owenite, E.T. Craig, who had been a member of Ralahine Commune.
Aims of the colony:
Kapper and Key formulated a prospectus for the new colony which listed its aims. The prospectus combined both the ideas of Robert Owen and those of Kropotkin. It was addressed “To all Friends and Sympathisers of Land Colonisation”. (The English Land Colonisation Society had been formed to help resettle unemployed workers and their families in self-sufficient, agrarian communes.)
The objects of the colony were:
1). The acquisition of a common and indivisible capital for the establishment of an Agricultural and Industrial Colony.
2). The mutual assurance of its members against the evils of poverty, sickness, infermity, and old age.
3). The attainment of a greater share of the comforts of life than the working classes now possess.
4). The mental and moral improvement of all its members.
5). The education of the children.
6). To promote or help any organisation to organise similar colonies.
7). To demonstrate the superiority of Free Communist Association as against the Competitive Production of today.
8). To demonstrate the productivity of land under intensive culture.
The ideas of intensive culture of land combined with industry occur in Kropotkin’s book, Fields, factories and workshops, and the idea of Mutual Aid is also one developed by Kropotkin. Personal improvement and education are important Owenite ideals.
The community ran an intensively cultivated market-garden on the 20 acres. They were supported by local members of the Cooperative Movement and of the ILP. After internal conflicts, the colony as such came to an end in 1898, but two members carried on the market-gardening as Clousden Hill Cooperative Nurseries until they went bankrupt in 1902.
“The Rise of Ethical Anarchism in Britain, 1885 – 1900” by Mark Bevir, University of Newcastle.
Clousden Hill at “Utopia Britannica” Source:”Roses and Revolutionists” by Nigel Todd, Peoples Publications, 1986.