75th Anniversary Events
The Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout 75 years ago has been described as the most significant event in the century-old battle for the Right to Roam on Britain’s mountains and moors, a right now enshrined in the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act.
Trespassers are Celebrated
Environment Secretary David Miliband paid a glowing tribute to the 400 ramblers who 75 years ago exercised their right to roam on the Peak District moors, which later resulted in prison sentences for five of them.
Speaking on Saturday 21 April 2007 at the 75th anniversary celebrations at New Mills of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, Mr Miliband said that without the action of the trespassers, the nation would not have the National Parks nor freedom to roam on mountain and moorland which the 22 million annual visitors to the Peak enjoy today.
Confirming the Government’s support for the next step of opening up England’s coastline to public access, he explained: "We sometimes like to think that the thinking of politics is ahead of that of the people. There can be no doubt that in the 1930s, the politics were way behind the people, and the trespassers showed the way forward on access to moorland which is now enshrined in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.”
Mr Miliband’s speech was the keynote of a celebration day of speeches, songs and stories centred on New Mills Town Hall, when about 300 ramblers from all over the country gathered to celebrate the anniversary.
Earlier in the day, Mr Miliband had named a Northern Rail train after Benny Rothman, the Manchester rambler who led the Mass Trespass in 1932. Assisting him in the ceremony at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station was Benny’s son, Harry, and two of his great grandchildren, Harvey and Isabella.
Other speakers at the New Mills event, compered by BBC Radio 2 folk show host Mike Harding, included Sir Martin Doughty, chair of Natural England, who came up with a Trespass Trail walking route based on New Mills. The trail was officially opened by Mr Miliband at the New Mills Heritage Centre alongside a sign which read "Trespassers will be Celebrated – By Order”.
Lord Roy Hattersley, president of Friends of the Peak District; Kate Ashbrook, chair of the Ramblers’ Association; Tony Hams, chair of the Peak District National Park authority and Jim Perrin, writer, access activist and friend of Benny Rothman, were the other speakers.
Music, Drama, Walks and Exhibitions
Sally Goldsmith sang her song 'Trespassers Will Be Celebrated' composed for the 70th anniversary. There was a ‘work-in-progress’ performance of a new community play, On Common Ground, about the trespass, prior to a full performance later in the summer. The event concluded with a rousing rendition of Ewan MacColl’s famous access anthem, The Manchester Rambler.
Throughout the weekend, guided walks led by National Park, Derbyshire County Council and National Trust rangers took many hundreds of walkers along part of the 14-mile Trespass Trail – including a 101-year-old lady who had travelled up from London for the event.
Exhibitions and displays were on show at the Town Hall, Heritage Centre and Central Station.
75th Anniversary Speakers
Introduced by MC Mike Harding, six notable speakers presented their perspective on the 1932 Kinder Trespass and the way forward for building on the legacy:
Martin Doughty - Chair of Natural England and ‘host’ of the event
David Miliband - Secretary of State for the Environment
Tony Hams - Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority
Roy Hattersley - President of Friends of the Peak District
Kate Ashbrook - Chair of Ramblers’ Association
Jim Perrin - writer, access activist and friend of Benny Rothman
Train Naming by Minister David Miliband
Secretary of State David Miliband performed a ceremony to name a Northern Rail train after "Benny Rothman – Manchester Rambler” at Manchester Piccadilly station on 21 April 2007.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs travelled to Manchester with High Peak MP Tom Levit, Sir Martin Doughty, Roly Smith, Mike Harding and Harry Rothman, son of Benny. They returned to New Mills to visit the Heritage Centre and to participate in the celebrations at the Town Hall.
David Miliband with camera crew alongside the train named 'Benny Rothman - The Manchester Rambler'
On leaving the station, the Minister was taken on a short tour over the Millennium Walkway and through the Torrs Riverside Park, before making the ascent to the Heritage Centre.
Sir Martin Doughty, Tom Levitt and David Miliband on the Millennium Walkway
At the Heritage Centre, David Miliband met the new Administrator Angela Fuggle and officially launched the 'Trespass Trail' by Sir Martin Doughty and Roly Smith. He then took a brief tour of the Heritage Centre to see the Exhibition of a typical 1930s Manchester rambler's room and the other exhibits. Roly Smith presented the Minister with a copy of his book 'Kinder Scout – Portrait of a Mountain' - winner of the Libraries Association Alan Ball Award in 2002.
David Miliband at New Mills Heritage Centre
Community Play - 'On Common Ground'
High Peak Community Arts celebratied the 75th anniversary of the Kinder Trespass with an original community play 'On Common Ground' created and presented by local people.
On Common Ground is a celebration of the struggle of ordinary people to gain access to the countryside we take for granted.
Using music, multimedia and jump-cuts through time and space, the performance - devised with the New Mills community - explores the history of the struggle and takes us into a future of imagined consequences.
Central to the show is the remarkable story of the Kinder Trespass, when a large group of young ramblers from Manchester and Sheffield defied police and local landowners to roam across the High Peaks of Derbyshire.
75th Exhibitions and Displays
Rambler's Room - New Mills Heritage Centre
During the 75th Anniversary week and with help from High Peak Community Arts, the Heritage Centre staged a recreation of the ‘typical front room’ from which the ramblers might have set out in 1932: an opportunity to think about why access to the countryside was felt to be so important at that time from the ‘same’ situation as the ‘trespassers’ and to read and hear about reaction to the story, at the time and since.
New Mills Heritage Centre
Open weekends 10.30am to 4.30pm, weekdays 11am to 4pm (closed Mondays)
A mural was commisioned by Northern Rail and Hope Valley and High Peak Transport Partnership to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Kinder Trespass.
As part of the inspiration behind the 'story mural', the artist has considered the lives, backgrounds and lifestyles of the ramblers of the 1930s.
The textile industry and cotton mils of Manchester and New Mills were dominant in the lives of many. The mural will weave modern and historical images with seams and threads of text and colour.
The mural can be seen in the waiting room at New Mills Central Station
Building on the Legacy - New Mills Town Hall
Displays by national, regional and local organisations concerned with "building on the legacy” – that is protecting and promoting responsible access to the countryside of the Mass Trespass and beyond.
The 75th event day exhibitors presented an opportunity to find out more about and get involved with the continuing campaigns and activities of bodies like the Peak District National Park Authority, the Ramblers Association, The National Trust, Derbyshire County Council Countryside Services, Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland, the British Mountaineering Council, Natural England, Moors for the Future, and Friends of the Peak District (Campaign to Protect Rural England).