24th April 1932. Trespassers Will ‘Not’ be Prosecuted.
The Kinder Scout ‘trespassers’ were never charged with trespassing, but with the more serious charge of Riotous Assembly; the Act which made it an offence to trespass after being warned had been repealed.(1)
Today in 1932 the so-called mass trespass on Kinder Scout, near Edale, in the Derbyshire peaks, took place led by Communist Benny Rothman.
There they were to meet the Praetorian Guard of loyal gamekeepers and it did not take long for hostilities as the 400 ramblers converged on the purple-tinged moors belonging to the Duke of Devonshire and Water Companies.(2)
Heading towards the summit, the ‘trespassers’ organised by the Manchester Area Committee of the British Workers’ Sports Federations, were confronted by gamekeepers and following the inevitable scuffles, six young men were arrested and charged with offences including riotous assembly, breach of the peace and assault.
Six were sent to prison, including Rothman, who got four months, at Derby Assizes. He later said, after leaving Leicester Prison, he was a stone heavier and had learned shorthand.(3)
Rothman said the newspapers had a ‘field day’ with its reporting: The News Chronicle had headlines, ‘Six Men Detained and Moorland Slopes Battle’, and ‘Fierce struggle between ramblers and keepers.’ Rothman later recalled, that ‘there was little confrontation or violence’.
In the 1930’s many people were trapped by debt, unemployment and poverty, by the daily summons of the factory hooter, trapped by the city. Thousands left Manchester and other urban areas, on foot, by rail and bus, for the three cheap pastimes: cycling, rambling and camping.
Railway Companies such as the London Midland Scottish (LMS), advertised antique railway coaches for hire in quiet sidings with picturesque surrounding, anything to escape the dire urban, industrial landscape.
Walking in the countryside spawned the name ‘hiking’, with a government increasingly concerned by the poor physical condition of its citizens; national fitness campaigns were launched as with Prunella Stack’s, League of Health and Beauty.
The decade saw the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) and The Ramblers Association.
Rothman became a hero for the ‘Right to Roam Movement’, which in 2000 was enshrined in The Crow Act.
(1) Mr Justice MacKinnon at Chester Assizes, 1933.
(2) Then only 1% of the 150,000 acres was open to the public.
(3) He died at 90 in 2002.
Ref: wikipedia.org/mass_trespass_at kinder_scout./Pic Image.