Nicholas Albery

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Nicholas Albery (28 July 1948 – 3 June 2001)[1][2] social inventor and author, was the instigator or coordinator of a variety of projects aimed at an improvement to society, often known as the alternative society.


While a student at St John's College, Oxford, Albery became involved with psychedelic and spiritual movements in San Francisco, dropped out of college and joined the anti-university in London.[1] He died in a car accident, on 3 June 2001.[3]

Underground London in the 1970s[edit]

After a period in Haight Ashbury he returned to the UK and became involved with the newly started BIT Information Service, quickly becoming a driving force in the development of wider activities for BIT so that it became one of the first Social centres. Around 1972-73, at the peak of its activities and with the momentum given by Nicholas, BIT Info-Service ran 24 hours a day, with "BIT-workers" coming up at around 10 PM to take the night shift until around 8:00 AM the following day.

The "Windsor Festival case"[edit]

In 1974, in the aftermath of a violent attack by police on the Windsor Free Festival, Albery, playwright Heathcote Williams and his partner Diana Senior successfully sued David Holdsworth, the Thames Valley Chief Constable, for creating a riotous situation in which the police attacked the plaintiffs.[4]


Nicholas was a Minister for the Free State of Frestonia in North Kensington[5] and a Green Party candidate in Notting Hill.

Social innovations' activist[edit]

In 1985, out of BIT Information Service, he founded the Institute for Social Inventions. From small beginnings (a network of inventors, a quarterly newsletter), the Institute grew into a full-fledged organisation under his leadership: producing an annual compendium, running social inventions workshops and promoting creative solutions around the world. The Institute included Edward de Bono, Anita Roddick and Fay Weldon among its patrons.[1]

The Global Ideas Bank, which he founded in 1995 as an offspring of the Institute for Social Inventions, was first established online, and new features were added: online submission, voting systems, categorisation, a message board, and so on.

Promoting "natural" death[edit]

Albery and his wife, the psychotherapist Josefine Speyer, became interested in ecological approaches to death and funerals, and in breaking the taboos that surround death in western societies. In 1991, with Christianne Heal, they founded the Natural Death Centre, offering advice on DIY burials.[6] The much-patronised centre provides midwives for the dying, death exercises, recyclable coffins, etc.[7]


Nicholas Albery founded the self-organising Saturday Walkers' Club in the mid-1990s.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: Nicholas Albery: Irreverent free spirit who put his socially innovative ideas into action". Guardian. 8 June 2001.
  2. ^ "Nicholas Albery - Obituaries, News". The Independent. 8 June 2001.
  3. ^ "Natural Death Centre .org - Who we are". 2001-06-03. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  4. ^ "Alan Dearling's "Not only but also..." memoirs of Free Festivals" (PDF).
  5. ^ "The Notting Hill Squatters". Vice (magazine)
  6. ^ "Nicholas Albery - Obituary". The Telegraph. 13 June 2001. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Natural Death Centre .org - The Natural Death Centre". Retrieved 2014-07-25.
  8. ^ "Time Out Book of Country Walks & Saturday Walkers Club". 2011-03-03.
  9. ^ Albery, Nicholas, ed. (2005). Time Out Book of Country Walks: 52 Walks Within Easy Reach of London: Vol 1 (Revised Updated ed.). Time Out. ISBN 1-904978-88-6.

External links[edit]


  • Beam, Alan (1976) "Rehearsal for the year 2000: (drugs, religions, madness, crime, communes, love, visions, festivals and lunar energy) : the rebirth of Albion Free State (known in the Dark Ages as England) : memoirs of a male midwife (1966-1976)" - an account of the early years of BIT with most names changed to protect the innocent.