This morning I left my virtual beach hut to visit Skegness Library for a monthly group session when we with the help of Library staff delve into the local history of Skegness and district. This morning my attention was drawn to the photograph shown on this page mainly because of my interest in our Coastal walkways.
I come from Derbyshire on the doorstep of the beautiful Peak District that is enjoyed by ramblers every weekend of the year, but it was not always the case in fact in the 1920s there was a battle going on between weekend walkers from Manchester and other surrounding areas and major land owners of the moors. The land owners didn’t want people walking over the land but the ramblers were adamant that they were using footpaths that had been used for hundreds of years to cross the moorland. Then on 24th April 1932 a mass ramble of 400 walkers set off to reach the summit of Kinder Scout, small skirmishes broke out between walkers and Gamekeepers and on descending the summit some walkers were arrested and the following court cases were big news. The walkers won the battle and Kinder Scout is now a part of the famous long distant footpath known has the Pennine Way.
Skegness has its own rebel who defied the land owner and the law of the land. The picture you see is of Councillor Samuel Moody J.P who is holding a pair of wire cutters and who as gone into Skegness folk lore because of what he did in the belief that he was in the right. The Story goes that in 1900 land was purchased to form the North Shore Golf Club and later in 1908 the land owners decided to fence off a footpath known locally as Grannies Opening. This footpath had been used for many years by local people to get to there place of worship in Skegness especially during winter months when low lying fields were often flood. On one particular Friday night Councillor Moody and a group of locals approached the fence armed with wire cutters. Councillor Moody made a speech where he stated that this was and had been an important right of way not only for locals but for volunteers to reach the lifeboat station in order to save lives at sea. He then took the wire cutters and cut through the barbed wire and also dismantled part of the fence before walking through the gap he had created and along with is group carried on across the golf course despite the objections of an official from the golf course. Following this occurrence Councillor Moody was arrested and summoned before the Lincoln assizes which I believe was being held at Spilsby a few miles outside of Skegness at the time. A lengthy 2 months court case ensued and another interesting part of the story is that the Judge overseeing the case was the son of the author Charles Dickens. The outcome was that the court ruled in favour of Mr Moody and stated that the path because of its long standing use by locals was to be deemed a public right of way and to this day if you venture along Roman Bank Road you will find a footpath that leads to the sea right through the centre of the Golf Course. My interest in the case stems from the fact that around the year 2000 after reconstruction the sea defences and footpath that formed part of the original path that ran along the sea shore was closed to the public by the golf course in the interests of health and safety.
One day when times allow I hope to research the original case findings of 1908 to establish just what made up the path that was deemed a public right of way, and if I could get the support use the 2010 law that was established in order to create a public footpath around our coastline to once again create a continuous coastal walk along the foreshore between Ingoldmells and Skegness. It is because of people like the Manchester Ramblers and Samuel Moody that we have the freedom to roam that we often so much take for granted today.
If you would like to walk along the footpath know has Grannies Opening I have found a link to a walk recommended by the Skegness branch of the Ramblers association here http://www.skegnessra.madasafish.com/Ramblers_Initial.htm and if you would like to join me in my campaign to ensure that access to our coastal paths is available to all then please contact me through this blog.