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Creation of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)

by Tony Brophy

The seedbed for the emergence of the British Landscape Industry was created during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe’s Blitz of London in 1940.

The Blitz destroyed large urban areas throughout the entire County of London, in particular the central core, resulting in over 50,000 inner London homes being completely destroyed.

Following World War II, London was presented with a real opportunity to amend the perceived failings of unplanned and haphazard development that had occurred as a result of the Industrial Revolution during the nineteenth-century.

The creation of new housing developments was to be mostly concentrated within areas damaged by the Luftwaffe, the suburban ring and in new satellite towns.

The 1945 Attlee Labour Government set up a New Towns Commission to formally consider how best to repair and rebuild urban communities ravaged during World War II.

The New Towns Act (1946), which led to a requirement for special attention to the ‘landscape treatment’ of New Towns, and thus to the first salaried jobs for Landscape Architects in the public service, cemented this vision and the first wave of New Towns were created;-

Basildon, Bracknell, Crawley, Harlow, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City.

The demand for the delivery of large planting schemes was created and the modern Landscape Industry was born out of the New Towns Act (1946) instigated by the extensive demolition works of the Luftwaffe during the Blitz of London in 1940.

In the words of the Landscape Institute’s longest-serving president, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, in 1946;-

“It is only in the 20th century that the collective landscape has emerged as a social necessity.
We are promoting a landscape-art on a scale never conceived of in history.”

In 1919, after World War 1, Colonel Gavin Jones formed his nursery business in Letchworth offering contracting services.

Jeffrey Bernhard

In 1948, after World War II, Jeffrey Bernhard OBE set up Bernhard’s nursery and landscape business in Rugby.

In the 1960’s an exclusive group of Landscape Contractors formed the British Association of Sportsground and Landscape Contractors (BASAL), aimed to protect the best commercial interests of the group, excluding smaller landscape contractors.

Leading figures in the Joint Council of Landscape Industries (JCLI), Geoffrey Chalk (Gavin Jones) and Jeffrey Bernhard OBE (Bernhard’s), promoted the need for an all-inclusive landscape trade association open to all genuine contractors,  large and small, in the British Landscape Industry promoting training, quality workmanship, proper contracts, fair prices and fair wages.

In 1972 the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) was formed and Jeffrey Bernhard was elected as the 1st BALI Chairman.

Jock Parnham was elected the 1st BALI Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.

Kevin Walter was engaged as the BALI ‘Field Officer’ conducting all the site-inspections for new members, co-ordinating regional meetings and generally marketing the new landscape trade association.

In 1973 BALI became an Associate Member of the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) with BALI Council Members Tony Brophy and Les Bailey attending the ELCA 1973 Annual Conference in Hamburg.

In 1974 BASAL ceased to exist as a trade association leaving BALI as the only organisation representing the British Landscape Industry creating a single voice to lobby Government on landscape industry matters.

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