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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

David Miliband speech - Click to EnlargeEnvironment 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.

Sir Martin Doughty, Tom Levitt and David Miliband at launch of Trespass Trail - Click to EnlargeSpeakers

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.

Mike Harding sings 'The Manchester Rambler' - Click to Enlarge

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.

Ramblers Rally Notice


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

Sir Martin Doughty - click to Enlarge

Sir Martin Doughty

Chair of Natural England

Sir Martin described the moorlands, such as Kinder Scout and Bleaklow, as rarer in global terms than tropical rain forest. Natural England sees these uplands as hugely important.

Farmers used to be given perverse incentives. The National Trust have taken 38,000 sheep off Kinder Scout and are working to re-vegetate this unique habitat. Natural England will provide agri-environment payments to give incentives for uplands to be managed in the right way.

Sir Martin said he would like to think that Benny and the Mass Trespassers would approve of what is going on now, but it took a long time – 75 years.

>> View Video of Martin's Speech

David Miliband - click to Enlarge

David Miliband

Secretary of State for the Environment

David described his naming of a train as a humbling moment, as seen in the many benefits for the generations succeeding Benny Rothman. It is a testimony to the power of popular pressure and government to make a difference to people’s lives.

The tradition of moral reform – ‘Here’s an injustice, let’s sort it out’ – is embodied in the actions of the Trespassers.

Land is a public good that we should all be able to enjoy. When given responsibility people act in a responsible way.

We honour the legacy of the Trespass through freedom of access to coasts.

>> View Video of David's Speech

Tony Hams - click to Enlarge

Tony Hams

Chair of the Peak District NPA

On behalf of the Peak District National Park Authority, Tom praised and thanked the 1932 trespassers for their bravery and foresight – without them there may not have been National Parks, with open access moorland.

Today there are concerns about illegal quarrying and a bypass across the sensitive protected moorlands.

This Park, these moors and access to them, are part of our heritage, our culture, our spiritual, historical and physical well-being – thanks to the Trespassers of 1932 we have been given the opportunity, the duty and the privilege to continue to fight on the key issues.

>> View Video of Tony's Speech

Lord Roy Hattersley - click to Enlarge

Lord Roy Hattersley

President of Friends of the Peak District


Lord Hattersley called the trespass "the most sucessful direct action in British history”.

He recalled how he used to catch the 101 tram from Hillsborough to get out to Fox House as a lad to walk in the Peak.

He added: "If it was not for the trespass, we would not have the right to roam, nor the right to cherish, love and enjoy the Peak District hills.”

Kate Ashbrook - click to Enlarge

Kate Ashbrook

Chair of Ramblers’ Association


Kate paid tribute to the work of SCAM (Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland) and people like Irene and John Bunting from Sheffield - both in their 90s and present at the celebrations.

She mentioned Barbara Castle’s plea to the 70th anniversary celebrations to "grasp the future”.

She said that there were still some things in the CROW Act which were not perfect, including the still unclear situation on semi-improved chalk grasslands in the south of England.

Jim Perrin - click to Enlarge

Jim Perrin

Writer, access activist and friend of Benny Rothman


Jim gave an impassioned speech referring to the fact that the southern Pennines were "ramparts of paradise” to the workers of Manchester and Sheffield.

His friend Benny Rothman was "a playful, wise and humorous man, but there was also a seriousness about him.” He was the "father of the outdoor movement”.

Our land, he added, should only be entrusted to those who had the most care for it and would do it the least harm.


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 beside the named train
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
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 Heritage Centre
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.

On Common Ground

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.

Heritage Lottery FundThe play is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their regional manager Emma Sale said: "This play will involve lots of people in the community and encourage them to reflect and celebrate a local event, which had such long term effects on the fabric of British life. The present public debate includes issues such as responsible access to land, management of the countryside and environmental sustainability. Such issues are at the cutting edge of green tourism and continuing access to heritage, and this play will has the potential to create thought-provoking and original ideas."

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.

Rambler's Room 1932 - Click to Enlarge

New Mills Heritage Centre

Open weekends 10.30am to 4.30pm, weekdays 11am to 4pm (closed Mondays)

Commemorative Mural

Detail from nural ideasA 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).

Natural England Display - Click to Enlarge


Last Modified: 27 Feb 2013