Labour History Review

The Northern Rambler: Recreational Walking and the Popular Politics of Industrial England, from Peterloo to the 1930s

Labour History Review (2013), 78, (3), 243–268.

Abstract

This article analyses the nature and development of a grassroots popular culture of countryside appreciation, based on rural walking and access to unenclosed land, in northern England, covering the period between the emergence of footpath preservation societies in the 1820s and the controversies over access to Kinder Scout in the1930s. It has particular reference to Lancashire and the ‘Dark Peak’ in north Derbyshire, where activities of this sort were particularly widespread, especially on the upland moors. It examines the relationships between rural walking, enjoyment of open spaces and the freedom of the ‘open air’, popular science, political meetings and traditions, and campaigns to safeguard and extend access to uncultivated land. These themes are set in the context of the Lancashire ‘cotton towns’, especially but not exclusively, as the ‘first industrial society’ and the birthplace of modern commercial leisure, and the article pulls together evidence from a variety of primary and secondary sources to develop an overview and reinterpretation of these important and often neglected social and political phenomena.

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Author details

Walton, John

Walton, John