Hayfield’s recently established Kinder Visitor Centre Group (KVCG) has been awarded a grant of £18,000 by the Peak District National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF). The two year funding is for the Kinder Trespass Archive Project, Hayfield, which will collect and publicise information about the 1932 Mass Trespass and the part it played in establishing National Parks and opening up access to moorland and countryside across the UK.
The project will bring together copies of contemporary articles, official records, and photographs, most of which are already archived in various different places. Oral history work will also be undertaken with any eyewitnesses or participants who are still with us – though sadly there will now be few of these. The group are hoping that families of participants will come forward with memories, letters or photographs relating to the trespass.
A key part of the strategy will be to develop a dedicated web site which, as well as making the historical collection widely accessible, will also enable the group to appeal for more historical material not yet in the public domain. The archive material will be collected by volunteers, led by specialist labour historian Professor Neville Kirk.
"We are delighted that the Sustainable Development Fund has given us this opportunity to gather information about all aspects of the Trespass and the wider access campaign” said KVCG chairman John Harvey. "The estimated 400 trespassers who set off from and returned to Hayfield were mostly from the Manchester area, but another large group from the Sheffield side started out at Edale. We are equally interested in the contribution made by both groups, and by participants in demonstrations and other trespass events over the years.”
The grant is very timely as the 80th anniversary of the mass trespass is being celebrated in April this year. The importance of what happened in 1932 was summed up by veteran politician and Derbyshire resident Roy Hattersley who was a speaker at the 75th anniversary celebrations, organized by the late Sir Martin Doughty. Lord Hattersley called the trespass "the most successful direct action in British history”. 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.”
The Kinder Trespass Archive Project will also produce portable display material that can be used for talks, exhibitions and educational projects. The KVCG volunteers plan to work in partnership with local schools and many other agencies with an interest in this subject matter. Part of the remit will be to publicise guided walks to help people access the local moorlands who might otherwise not have the confidence to do so. The SDF grant will enable the KVCG group to pay for a professional development worker to coordinate the project and the volunteers.
The longer term aim of the Kinder Visitor Centre Group is to raise funds to establish a permanent visitor centre in Hayfield. "The Mass Trespass is an iconic heritage topic of national and regional importance, and merits being developed into a significant visitor attraction” says John Harvey. "The proposed centre will also have an important role in promoting current access opportunities, and in raising awareness about environmental issues affecting our local moorlands. KVCG envisage that the centre will attract extra visitors into Hayfield village, which should help to sustain local businesses. It will be a hub for village information, for voluntary work opportunities, and for other local heritage initiatives.
The SDF grant application was seen as a re-application for a grant of the same amount previously approved for Hayfield Parish Council in 2010. The new Parish council elected in May 2011 decided not to go ahead with a project to turn part of their premises into a Heritage Centre. They also returned two other grants, a total of £96,000, on the grounds that they did not think the particular premises were suitable for the purpose. They did however approve in principle the establishment of a heritage centre elsewhere in the village independently of the Parish council.
"Most of the KVCG committee members were involved in that earlier round of successful grant applications” said John Harvey. "We were extremely disappointed when the new Council abandoned the project. However, with this SDF grant, we are on our way back. It has given us the start we need to achieve our long term goal.”