History and publications

Immediately below is a timeline showing some of the highlights of our work over more than a century. Much of this information comes from our annual reports, which can be found further down on this page. Here you'll also find links to publications by the PNFS and others.

1894 – Founded

We were formed officially as The Peak District and Northern Counties Footpaths Preservation Society at 7pm on Thursday 16th August 1894 in the Young Men's Christian Association Hall, Peter Street, Manchester. One of the founding members was Manchester barrister Richard Pankhurst, husband of the famous suffragette, Emmeline.

In the same year Gladstone was serving his last term as prime minister, the Manchester Ship Canal was opened by Queen Victoria (pictured), both Tower Bridge and Blackpool Tower were completed, and large numbers of people were travelling to the countryside by steam train.

The front cover of The Illustrated London News showing Queen Victoria opening the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894

1896 – Snake route created

One of our first major achievements was gaining agreement for public access, on the route over Kinder Scout between Hayfield and the Snake Inn, from local grouse moor owners. Our actions helped the Snake packhorse route become a public right of way forever. In 1896/7 our first (wooden) signpost was planted on this route.

Kinder Scout in winter

1905 – Two firsts

Our first cast iron signpost was erected in Carr Meadow near Hayfield in Derbyshire and we appointed our first Footpath/Signpost Officer, who served until the outbreak of WWI in 1914. Our 1905 Annual Report (see Annual Reports below) states "During the past year the council have appointed one of their members Mr Thomas Mower to be the Inspector of Footpaths of this Society."

A close-up of the part of the report which records Thomas Mower's appointment

1940 – All signs are removed

Just a few months after the start of WWII in 1939, all signposts were taken down by county surveyors with the intention of dissorientating any invaders.

A distant horizon and sky

1943 – All signs are reinstated

All signposts were returned to their original locations as fear of an invasion evaporated.

A distant horizon and sky, now with a cast metal sign in the foreground

1968 – Rebranded

At the AGM it was agreed to shorten the Society’s name from The Peak District and Northern Counties Footpaths Preservation Society to Peak and Northern Footpaths Society.

A 1960s couple and their dog on a hike

1994 – The first hundred years

To mark our centenary in 1994, in July of that year we published A Century of Footpath Preservation.

Download
The front cover of the book, A Century of Footpath Preservation

1998 – A notable move

We moved from our makeshift home in Hazel Grove to a new head quarters on Turncroft Lane in Stockport. Our offices and workshop there are named 'Taylor House' after Derek Taylor in recognition of the contribution he made to the Society.

Taylor House from the street

2024 – Going strong

We're the longest surviving regional footpath society in the UK, with more than 1,400 members, 563 signposts (including 8 fingerposts and 5 plaques), 2 toposcopes and 47 bridges.

A large number of people in single file walking down a grassy hill in summer

Here are some other publications about the Peak & Northern Footpaths Society and our work. Click/tap any of them to download a PDF of that publication.

The links below will download an abridged version of that year's annual report (PDF). If you'd like the full version of any of them, please contact us. Anyone with an interest in seeing the original reports can apply to the Archives and Local Studies department of Manchester Central Library. Phone 0161 234 1980 or email archiveslocalstudies@manchester.gov.uk.

2020 2021 2022 2023    
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983
1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953
1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947
1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935
1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1918
(see 1919)
1919 1920 1921 1922 1923
1912 1913 1914 1915 1916
(see 1919)
1917
(see 1919)
1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911
1900
(see 1901)
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1894 1895 1896
(Derby)
1897
(Leaflet)
1898 1899
(see 1901)