A SHORT HISTORY of WEST CORNWALL FOOTPATHS PRESERVATION SOCIETY
In the early 1950’s the government created the National Parks Act. As a result draft maps were drawn of all known public rights of way and sent to local communities for comment. This was necessary because of the success of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign of the previous war when lots of footpaths had been ploughed out. In this part of Cornwall Mrs Winifred Mary White took up the challenge. She brought the matter to peoples’ attention by writing to The Cornishman in October 1953 and calling for a meeting of like-minded people. 30 responded and a meeting was arranged for 13th November of what was to become the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society. The initial members were tasked with scrutinising the draft maps for anomalies. Fifty five suggested alterations were submitted before the deadline of 31st January 1954. By the end of 1954 the number of members had increased to 80. It was then decided that short walks should be organised to visit and investigate the steady trickle of complaints that were coming in from the public so that they could be accurately reported to the relevant Council.
In January 1954 the Society started its first major ‘battle’ over establishing public rights of way. The Society was shown an historic map of the Prussia Cove area with footpaths that the landowner had sealed against public access. A great deal of canvassing was done amongst local councils, local residents and through the local press. Eventually a case was presented to Cornwall County Council (CCC), but they ruled against it. Therefore an appeal was lodged with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in November 1959 and it was upheld. Alas the obstructions were still not cleared by October 1960. Eventually CCC was persuaded of its responsibilities to resolve the situation and the final signing of documents was completed in February 1964.
Since then the Society has continued to expand to today’s figure of over 350 members and its walks have become more recreational. Nevertheless the Society continues to uphold the aspirations of its founders. Therefore members are asked to monitor the local network and report to the Society any footpaths that they find obstructed by buildings, vegetation or neglect.
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‘HALF A LEAGUE ONWARDS’ The first 50 years of WCFPS