AEW&DFPS

Some History

'This Society has shown a wonderful fighting spirit'

Manchester and its surrounding area has been at the forefront of the outdoor movement for the last two hundred years, giving birth to some of the very first societies for the protection of long-used public footpaths against the encroachments of industry and of expanding road, rail and canal systems. The Manchester Association for the Preservation of Ancient Public Footpaths was formed in 1826 and The Hayfield and Kinderscout Ancient Footpaths Association in 1876.

On the 16th of August 1894 a meeting held at the YMCA Hall, Peter Street, Manchester created The Peak District and Northern Counties Footpaths Preservation Society, its first Managing Committee, which had representatives from all of the Peak District counties, including a ‘Robert Burn’ from Wilmslow. After formally incorporating, two years later, the older Manchester Association, it has pursued its vigorous and energetic defence of public rights of way ever since (shortening its name to The Peak and Northern Footpaths Society in 1968).

The inaugural meeting of The Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and District Footpaths Preservation and Field Naturalists Association was held on the 6th of October 1913 and on the 14th of January of the following year the name was simplified to its present form. Prominent in the minutes of the Society’s meetings of that time were: Dr Hopkinson, Mr Pilkington, and Mr Roby (all suggestions for the office of President); Mr J Farish (Vice-President, who ‘...had contributed the first ten shillings towards the formation of the Society...’), Mr Steel (Secretary), Mr Hobkirk (Treasurer) and Mr C Bilsborough.

In 1921 the Society affiliated to The Peak and Northern, whose minutes of that period declared that ‘..Members can rest assured that any complaints (about footpaths) will receive the greatest attention, for this Society (Alderley and Wilmslow) has shown a wonderful fighting spirit since its inception in 1914, and has done much good work in keeping open many a public footpath....which would otherwise have been lost...’ Subsequent records show that the Society has continued its activities with the same enthusiasm right up to the present day, being involved, for example, in negotiating the substitute paths needed as a result of the expansions at Woodford and Manchester Airports and of the building of the new Wilmslow by-pass. 

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