Alfred Wainwright was born at 331 Audley Range, Blackburn on January 17th 1907. His father Albert and mother Emily were from Penistone in Yorkshire. Albert was a stone mason. They already had three children - Alice, Frank and Annie. Alfred went to the local Board school. In 1919 he went to Blakey Moor Higher Elementary School, where Jessica Lofthouse, who was also to find fame as a writer, was a pupil. He did well at school and was top of the class.
Although the mill was the obvious destination for people of his background, Alfred got a job at the Town Hall, first of all in the Borough Engineer's office and then at the Treasurer's. He proved to have an aptitude for figures and studied hard to pass his accountancy exams. In 1941 he went to work in the Treasurer's Department at Kendal. This meant a drop in salary, but he was already in love with the Lake District and now would have it on his doorstep. In 1948 he became the town's Borough Treasurer.
Alfred had married Ruth Holden on Christmas Eve 1931. Their son Peter was born two years later. In Kendal the family lived at 19 Castle Grove. Later Alfred bought a plot of land and had a house built. He spent his spare time drawing, producing Christmas cards which were printed and sold. In 1952 he began work on his Lakeland guides. This was Book One, The Eastern Fells. A further six volumes were to follow. They were all penned by his own hand in Indian ink - drawings, maps and text. He felt sure a commercial publisher would not be interested, so with the help of Kendal Librarian Henry Marshall, he self-published.
The venture was a success. The books were reprinted many times. By 1963 50,000 copies had been sold. The Westmorland Gazette had been the books' printers from the very beginning. In 1963 Wainwright severed his connection with Henry Marshall and put the business of publishing his books in the hands of the Gazette.
In 1967 Wainwright retired from the post of Borough Treasurer. In the same year his marriage to Ruth effectively ended. Also in the same year he heard he was to be awarded an MBE. In March 1970 Wainwright married Betty McNally. The 1970s was a productive decade for Wainwright. He'd already added Fellwanderer, The Pennine Way Companionand A Lakeland Sketchbook to his series of pictorial guides, now came further Lakeland Sketchbooks, The Outlying Fells, A Coast to Coast Walk, and a series of Scottish Mountain Drawings. The books were earning substantial sums, but not for Wainwright; he donated all the proceeds to animal charities.
Photographs courtesy of Kendal Museum
It was the need to raise enough money to fund an animal rescue centre that caused Wainwright to depart from his life-long aversion to publicity, and to accept at last an offer from a London based publisher. In 1983 Michael Joseph Ltd were producing a series of books on British landscapes and were seeking an author for the Pennine Way volume. Wainwright accepted, provided they also did a book on the Lakeland fells. The books were a success, a success boosted when Wainwright finally agreed to appear on television, first of all on a regional programme, and then on a national series about Lakeland landscapes. A further three series followed and in the last one they took Wainwright back to Blackburn, filming him at Ewood Park and under the shadow of Darwen Tower.
Wainwright's eyesight failed him at last and he was no longer able to draw. In January 1991 he fell ill and was taken to the County Hospital in Kendal, where he died on January 20th at the age of 84.
In his book Ex-Fellwanderer Wainwright summed up his life: "I have no complaints, none at all. I have had a long and wonderful innings and enjoyed remarkable immunity from unpleasant and unwelcome incidents. Events have always moved to my advantage. So much could have gone wrong but hasn't. I never had to go to be a soldier, which I would have hated. I never had to wear a uniform, which I would also have hated. I was never called upon to make speeches in public nor forced into the limelight; my role was that of backroom boy, which suited me fine. I never went bald, which would have driven me into hiding: I see so many men who have lost their hair and seem not to care a damn, but to me it would have been a major tragedy. Most of all I have enjoyed perfect health, despite smoking like a chimney since the age of sixteen. I have never had a serious illness, never had an accident, never had an operation.... So, all told, I have enjoyed a charmed life. I have been well favoured. The gods smiled on me since the cradle. I have had more blessings than I could ever count."
Wainwright's later books, the books of photographs, are fine guide books, but it is the earlier pen-written guides that will be his everlasting legacy. When you study them by your fireside, planning expeditions, you capture something of the fervour that drove him to create them. Even with the rain lashing the windows your heart leaps in anticipation. You can picture yourself at the foot of the fells, lacing up your boots. And afterwards, at the end of your day, when you're relaxing with a drink at your elbow, you can use them to retrace your steps, to live the experience again, but this time without the physical exertion. In many ways these are not mere guide books, they are devotional works, inspirational works. For devotees of the Lakeland Fells, the Dales and the Pennines, they are psalters, breviaries. And it's not difficult to see Wainwright at work, as though in the scriptorium of a stern and reclusive order, penning his elaborate drawings and designs as did the monks of old.
The Society celebrates the work of Alfred Wainwright, fellwalker and guidebook writer, and his love of the upland landscapes of England and Scotland.
Photographs courtesy of Kendal Museum
A scheme to make Sunnyhurst Wood a public park was first aired in 1887 as a way to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, but it was not adopted. The scheme resurfaced in 1900 and the Mayor Alderman John Tomlinson adopted it as a means to celebrate Edward VII’s coronation.
The opening ceremony took place on Thursday afternoon, 2nd July 1903, followed by a garden party. At 3.30 the company assembled at the gateway in Tockholes Road and the woods were delared officially open.
There can be few places in the country with such a dramatic juxtaposition of town and country. The moor seems to hover over the town centre rooftops. Some of the distant streets seem to be standing on their end like ladders to reach it, remiscent of medieval paintings showing ladders reaching to heaven, and the moorland is heaven. Heaven it must have been to the people of Darwen at the height of the Industrial Revolution, when Darwen was described as the dirtiest town in the country.
Imagine climbing away from the throbbing roar of machinery, the stink of open sewers and the acrid smoke from a thousand chimneys. Imagine the slow accession to peace - the only sound the coming and going of your breath and the sigh of the wind. A good walker could put the town behind him in fifteen minutes, ten minutes more and there wouldn't be a building in sight - just the level moor ruling a golden line against the blue yonder.
Where to go? Which horizon to head for? Or should you just stay where you are, listen to the skylarks and watch the bog cotton bob in the breeze? Chances are non of the options would be available. Back in the 19th century old rights of way were being extinguished, footpaths closed, folk turned off the moor. Chances are gamekeepers would manhandle you and send you back where you came from. Fresh air and freedom were not for the likes of you, for you it was the slum, the grind of the mill day in day out until you were no longer fit for work, and then it was the harsh regime of the workhouse, until your lungs choked with cotton fibres gave up on you at last and you received your reward - a pauper's grave.
The Freedom of Darwen Moors was granted by Parliamentary Order, obtained in August 1896, and taken possession of by the town by public demonstration on the 8th of the following month. From time immemorial this common, which contains 280 acres of moorland, over which the Lord of the Manor has the sporting rights, has been open and unenclosed, and the tenants have had the right of pasturing their cattle upon it.About 1867 the shooting rights were let to Mr. Ashworth, who still holds the rights, and from that time there have been systematic attempts to exclude the public from it.Soon after the passing of the Commons Preservation Act in 1876, the late Thomas Ashton, Mr. Oldham and others started an agitation for inducing the Town Council to apply for a Provisional Order constituting them the conservators of the common.
Legal advice tendered by Mr. F.G. Hindle that the Lord of the Manor should be approached in a friendly spirit was not taken by a few, who were for forcibly proclaiming their right, with the result that four of them were proceeded against in the High Court in 1878, and the result was that after long negotiations the Lord of the Manor agreed to the formation of footpaths on the Moor, but the recognition of it as a common was left in abeyance.
Twelve years later Mr. Ashton again took action, and shortly after his death, in 1894, his three sons also took up the matter as a token of respect to their father's memory,with the result that after considerable negotiation by their solicitor, Mr. F.G. Hindle, and the Town Clerk on behalf of the Corporation, a payment of £150 was made to Mr. Ashworth on his consenting to throw entirely open to the public immediately 55 acres of the common, it being at the same time agreed that 250 acres should also be thrown open upon Mr. Duckworth's death. The Order was obtained as stated at the beginning of this paragraph, and was celebrated with much rejoicing.
Taken from Darwen Year Book 1901.
The images above are maps showing the location of Darwen Moors.
The text below is a transcription of the original document, provided by
1878 A. 114
In the High Court of Justice
Master of the Rolls
Edmund Ashworth ( the younger) and
the Reverend William Arthur Duckworth Plaintiffs
Richard Ainsworth Joseph Hay James Fish
Ellis Gibson and John Oldman Defendants
Victoria by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith To Richard Ainsworth Joseph Kay James Fish Ellis Gibson and John Oldman and their workers agents and servants We for carrying into effect a judgment made by the Chancery Division of our High Court of Justice on the Twenty second day of February one thousand eight hundred and seventy nine by the Master of the Rolls in this Action Do hereby strictly enjoin and perpetually restrain you the Defendants respectively and each and every of you and every of your workmen agents and servants respectively under the penalty of two thousand pounds – to be levied upon the lands goods and chattels of you and every of you from sporting over Darwen Moor at Over Darwen in the County of Lancaster in pleadings mentioned being part of the waste of the Manor of Over Darwen whereon certain public rights of highway and certain private rights of Common are alleged to exist and from infringing upon any right or rights to sporting belonging to the plaintiff Edmund Ashworth the Younger exercisable upon the said Darwen Moor and from inciting any other person to sport upon the said Moor or infringe the said right or rights of sporting upon the said Darwen Moor But without prejudice to such rights of highway and Common respectively (if any) exercisable over the said Moor.
Witness Hugh Mac Calmont Earl Cairns Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain the nineteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy nine. E Romilly CRM
This writ was issued by Cunliffe Beaumarch and Davenport of 43 Chancery Lane in the County of Middlesex, Solicitors for the plaintiffs
To all to whom these Presents shall come I Frederick Thackeray of Darwen in the County of Lancaster Send Greetings
Whereas a Provisional Order for the Regulation under the provisions of the Inclosure Acts 1845 to 1882 of certain lands called or known as Darwen Moors hereinafter referred to as “the said Common” situated in the said Borough of Darwen
in the County of Lancaster has been confirmed by the Commons Regulation (Darwen Provisional Order Confirmation Act 1896) and the said order contained provisions (1) for the improvement of the said Common (2) for the benefit of the neighbourhood and (3) for the preservation and protection of the rights of the Lord of the Manor of Over Darwen and his lessees and tenants with respect to the said common and provided that for the purpose giving complete effect to the said order there should be invested in the Award to be made in pursuance of the said Acts such provisions not inconsistent with such Acts and the reservations in such order contained for the protection of the rights of the Lord of the Manor and his lessees and tenants as the Board of Agriculture should think desirable and proper.
And whereas I the said Frederick Thackeray have been duly appointed the Valuer in the matter of the said Regulation and have made the Declaration required by the said Act and have drawn up and sent to the Board of Agriculture my Report in writing in the matter of the said Regulation with a map thereunto annexed and have in all other respects complied with the provisions of the said Acts.
And whereas all such objections as have been made to my said report having been heard and all such enquiries having been made in relation thereto as the Board of Agriculture have thought fit the said Board have authorised and directed me to cause and be drawn up and engrossed on parchment my award in the matter of the said Regulation.
Now know ye that in pursuance of the provisions of the said Acts and by virtue of the powers and authorities in me vested I Frederick Thackeray the valuer as aforesaid do make and declare this to be my award in the matter of the said Regulation and to this my award I have annexed the map referred to by my said Report on which Map the said Common is delineated by a tint of green colour.
And I declare that in my pursuance of the said Provisional Order the following Provisions have effect, that is to say
(1) for the improvement of the said Common
The Corporation of Darwen are to be the conservators of the said Common and as such conservators are to have powers to ____________
(a) Drain, manure and level the said Common, and
(b) Plant trees on the said Common, or in any other way add to the beauty of the said Common and
(c) Make bye-laws and regulations for the prevention of or protection from nuisances or for keeping order on the said Common and for preventing malicious or wanton destruction of property therein including the regulation of the exercise of lawful rights of common subsisting thereon such bye-laws and regulations being subject to any such confirmation as to by law required and ________________
(d) Generally manage the said common _______________
(2) For the benefit of the neighbourhood_______________
(a) There are reserved (subject as hereinafter mentioned) a right of free access to the common and a privilege of playing games and enjoying recreation thereon at such times and in such manner and on such parts of the said common as may from time to time be prescribed by any bye-laws and regulations to be made by the conservators and confirmed as by law required, and the conservators may cause any part for the time being prescribed as aforesaid to be temporarily inclosed with posts and chains or other open fences ___________
(b) The conservators are to have power to repair and maintain the existing bridle-paths and footpaths and to set out make and maintain new carriage-roads bridlepaths and footpaths over the said Common.
Provided always that the powers of the conservators to set out and make new carriage roads, bridle-paths and footpaths are not during the period of seven years from the date of the said Provisional Order that is to say the twenty eighth day of May one thousand eight hundred and ninety six if a certain indenture bearing date the seventeenth day of July one thousand eight hundred and seventy seven and made between the Reverend William Arbour Duckworth the Lord of the Manor of Over Darwen of the one part and Edmund Ashworth the younger therein described of the other part and hereinafter referred to as “the said lease” shall so long continue to be exercised without the consent in writing of the Lord of the Manor first hand and obtained except as regards the four proposed new footpaths marked in blue in the map hereto annexed and numbered 1 – 4 thereon (which said 4 new footpaths and also any other new footpaths and also any other new footpaths to be made during the continuance of the said lease are to be made in the months of January and February or June and July only and after giving to the Lord of the Manor one month’s notice of intention to make the same) nor is anything contained in Part II of the said Order or in this award or in any bye-law or regulation to be made under the said order to be construed as giving to the conservators or the inhabitants of Darwen or the general public any right the continuance of the said leave to traverse any part of that portion of the said common which to the South of the road (marked A.B.C. on the said map) leading from Stepback to Coney past the Red Delph (which last mentioned portion of the said Common is coloured light green on the said Map and is hereinafter referred to as the “reserved area” the remaining portion of the said Common being coloured dark green) except by such acknowledged roads and footpaths as may for the time being be in existence to which they are to keep accordingly or to enjoy during the said leave the privilege of playing games or enjoying recreation on any part of the reserved area nor are the conservators during the same period to inclose with posts and chains or other open fences as aforesaid any part of the reserved area ____
3. For the preservation and protection of the rights of the Lord of the Manor and his lessees and tenants______________
(a) The said Order and this award are to be without prejudice to all rights of the Lord of the manor and of all persons claiming under him which are lawfully exercisable to him them or any of them in over or on the soil or surface of the said Common whether in connection with the game or in connection with the mines minerals and other substrata under the said Common or under any lands adjoining thereto or in the neighbourhood thereof or otherwise and to his and their right of breaking and interfering with the surface of the said common for the purpose of searching for winning working getting and carrying away the said mines minerals and other substrata which rights are accordingly reserved and confirmed by and to him and them and may be exercised in as full and ample a manner as if the said Order and this award had never been made ________________
(b) Except as herein before mentioned the said Order and this Award are to without prejudice also for the rights and powers of the said Edmund Ashworth his heirs executors administrators and assigns under or by virtue of the said lease and such rights and powers are reserved and confirmed by and to the said Edmund Ashworth accordingly _________
(c) The conservators by their bye-laws to provide that no public meeting or demonstration shall during the continuance of the said lease take place upon any part of the reserved area ____________
In testimony whereof I the said Frederick Thackeray have to my Award drawn up and engrossed on parchment set my hand this sixth day of November one thousand eight hundred and ninety six.
(Signed) Frederick Thackeray
In Witness and Confirmation whereof the Board of Agriculture have herein to set their Official Seal this Eighteenth day of November one thousand eight hundred and ninety six.
(Signed) Richard Dawson
Authorised by the President
At the left hand side of the front page of the document is the following statement –
“The Board of Agriculture thereby certify this to be a true copy of the Original Award ___________
In Testimony whereof they have hereunto set their Official Seal this eighteenth day of November one thousand eight hundred and ninety six.”
The seal is printed on the parchment.
The image above is of the seal, taken from the original Freeing of the Moors document.
Eric Hatton of Darwen_
Arnold Holden, Borough Librarian of Darwen at the time, wrote this commemorative booklet
The War Memorial at Bold Venture Park in Darwen is situated at the entrance of the park, the pedestal has on its front the arms of the borough of Darwen carved in stone, and on the remaining three sides there are life-sized figures in bronze of a soldier in battle kit, a sailor and a nurse, representing honour, freedom and humanity. The memorial is surmounted by the winged figure of Victory in bronze, the whole being the design of Mr F. J. Rosslyn of London.
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They say you can see the Welsh hills from the top. I've never seen them and I must have been up there a hundred times. More often than not you are lucky if you can see the Lancashire hills; mist and moorland are seldom parted. But whatever you can or can't see from up there, from down below and from many miles away, it commands your attention. You can see it from the M6 north of Blackburn; you can see it from the centre of Preston; you can see it from the hills above Bury; the hills above Chorley and the hills above Accrington; you can see it in the gaps between houses all over the town: Darwen Tower is a beacon that beckons the eye.
It isn't the first, nor the only such landmark; all sorts of monuments flourish on our Pennine hills. There's the tower on Rivington Pike, the Peel monument near Bury, the Snowden memorial above Colne, the tower on the fells above Abbeystead and, of ancient and unknown origin, the tall structures on Gragareth, Lancashire's highest mountain. This urge to build something on the nearest hill surfaced again in Darwen just over one hundred years ago. On one level it was a gesture of loyalty to a monarch celebrating her sixtieth year on the throne, but on another it was a gesture that struck at the very thing that monarchy is all about: the ownership of land and the power and privileges that go with it
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