Barbara Cartland's son yesterday continued a battle fought by his late mother by leading efforts to save Britain's first permanent Gypsy site, which she established 40 years ago.
The site, named Barbaraville in honour of the novelist, is under threat from plans for a composting plant just a few paces from the residents' front doors. Campaigners say the stench from the plant means it should not be within half a mile of any homes.
Barbaraville, whose well-tended mobile homes have housed the same families for three generations, is a far cry from the Travellers' sites often accused of blighting communities.
Priscilla Davis, 70, has lived at the site near Hatfield, Herts, since its inception in 1964 and brought up her four daughters, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren there.
She said: "Barbara Cartland was our true friend. She stuck with us through thick and thin and started a campaign for us to have somewhere to live. It was all due to her."
Mrs Cartland's son, Ian McCorquodale, who succeeded his mother as a trustee of the charity that runs Barbaraville, said: "There was no chance of education or medical care and my mother thought it was unjust, inhumane and unfair.
"She would have been absolutely horrified that there was going to be this tremendous waste disposal works right next door."
The proposed plant will process more than 60,000 tons of kitchen waste a year, which will then be spread on to the fields to decompose.
Lisa Johnson, 27, Mrs Davis's granddaughter, who has two young children, said: "I'm worried that it won't be a safe environment to bring up my children. They won't be able to play outside and we won't be able to open our windows."
Grant Shapps, the area's Conservative MP, organised a protest yesterday and said: "These are hard-working people who pay their taxes and are being treated as second-class citizens."
A spokesman for Thames Water said: "The proposed recycling plant would provide a sustainable way of reducing the amount of waste that Hertfordshire sends to landfill.
"We will do everything we can to run the plant without affecting residents in the immediate area. Much of the composting process would be carried out indoors, and odour control units would be used to stop smells escaping."