The starting point for this project was a mass trespass on 24 April 1932. Three groups of young men and women set out to trespass on Kinder Scout, the highest ‘peak’ of the Peak District, arriving by train from the air polluted cities of Manchester and Sheffield. The conflict with police and landowners, the ensuing trial and imprisonment of the ringleader, 21 year old Benny Rothman, was the turning point in a sustained campaign of trespassing, forging the way to greater ‘right to roam’ in the countryside and the creation of the UK’s national parks – of which the Peak District was the first, in April 1951.
“The battle back in 1932 was about access – but in 2019 it is also about preservation. We hope that the art trail that Jeremy (Deller) and I have created will encourage people who wouldn’t normally go into the countryside – it is about trying to get city people to understand the natural world and reconnect with that part of themselves.”
– Jarvis Cocker
“My first encounter with Kinder Scout was an orienteering weekend organised by my school in Sheffield. It was the ‘treasure hunt’ aspect of this, taking us from one place to the next, that got me hooked. I made a connection. This is very important because if you feel part of something then you will respect and want to preserve it, you will love it.
“This is about reinforcing the original trespassers’ message that the landscape belongs to everyone – whilst making the point that the preservation of that landscape has now become everyone’s responsibility.”
The walk started at the Penny Pot café next to the station at Edale where walkers played artist Ruth Ewan’s A Jukebox Trying to Change the World, an archive of over 3000 songs connected to protest, including ‘The Manchester Rambler’ by Ewan MacColl, which was inspired by his own experience of the 1932 trespass.
Surprises included fortune cookies with phrases from ‘Reservoir 13’, a novel by Jon Mcgregor, set in the Peak district; a collection of lightboxes in a Methodist Chapel by INSTAR, who worked with schools and a ‘cinebarn’ curated with a show reel of film clips, by Jarvis Cocker.
Part of the National Trust’s People’s Landscapes programme 2019, which invited people to look again at the nation’s landscapes, to see beyond the ‘green and pleasant’ and to find the dramatic, sometimes hidden, histories that lie beneath our feet. Funded by Arts Council England and Art Fund
Partners who have supported the project include the Peak District National Park, Moors to the Future, Network Rail, Friends of Edale Station, Penny Pot café, OPUS Sheffield, Manchester Picadilly Station, Edale Parish Council, Edale Methodist Chapel, Ramblers Association, local land owners, farmers and the Edale community.