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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
All signposts were returned to their original locations as fear of an invasion evaporated.
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.
To mark our centenary in 1994, in July of that year we published A Century of Footpath Preservation.Download
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.