INFORMAL MEETING TO FIND MISSING LINKS
We are organising an evening get together on Monday November 6th starting at 7.30 at Park House, Stamford Street Glenfield, home of Glenfield Parish Council ( LE3 8DL )
we are now ready to organise those interested in doing actual research to find historic evidence of the existence of links in the network that have been lost over the years. The plan is to give a taste of what is wanted and the more hands on deck the better. This gathering is an opportunity for those who care about and wish to preserve our footpath network to come along and see if it is something for them. Why not come along and find out more?
If you do join us you will not be under any obligation to do any more than you wish to, as this will be a case of ‘every little helps’. We aim to give people bite-sized chunks to look at towards creating a body of material to enable us to submit applications for definitive map modification orders to improve the network and preserve it for future generations. We will progressively build up a library of evidence which will be made available to all researchers to avoid duplication of effort. As material is gathered it will be made available to researchers both to assist them and to avoid duplication. A number of other user groups are working with us and members of local history groups have been involved. We are finding that delving into the archives at the County records office is a fascinating pursuit in its own right.
The County Council is fully supporting this initiative, providing meeting rooms, free access to their modern highway and other records, and financial assistance when material held in other archives has to be copied or purchased.
Potentially scaling up what has been found elsewhere, up to 200 miles of footpath might be out there to be found. However as many existing footpaths only impinge slightly on farmers’ fields, lanes and woodland then in most cases the real impact will be small. There is obviously more of an issue of concern to farmers and landowners with footpaths found through farmyards and past dwellings but if we find evidence of a route which still technically exists we would hope to agree a compromise diversion that everybody can agree on.
We are however just focussing at this stage on where a missing link would be of real value as communities grow and new industrial, retail and residential sites are created.
Where there is any doubt as to status of a route it may sometimes be necessary to refer to Enclosure Awards which are legal documents but these are only one of many sources where historic evidence can be found and a significant proportion of Leicestershire's parishes do not have such Awards and some have lost their maps which makes them much harder to interpret. There are also Tithe Awards, which are equally patchy and much more difficult to use to prove your case. After that it is whatever you can find to compile a case, which may be old maps, books, newspaper cuttings, deeds and associated documents, diaries, sale documents, etc.
Given the historic basis of the network there are many problems with the present layout. The missing links are often just down to poor recording for various reasons by parishes when the definitive map was started. It possibly came low on many parish councils' concerns at the time and was often rushed and not properly understood. There are examples where a path obviously ran through 3 parishes but the middle parish did not record it.