Sheffield keeping the Clarion call of rambling group alive

Ramblers in the moss-hags and peat groughs at Kinder Scout in January 1924. Bert Ward is in the white jumper
Ramblers in the moss-hags and peat groughs at Kinder Scout in January 1924. Bert Ward is in the white jumper

The demise of the Sheffield Clarion Rambling Club, one of the oldest in the country, after 115 years last year was a sad day for Sheffield lovers of the outdoors.

But a new initiative by the Sheffield branch of the Ramblers hopes to create a lasting memorial to their pioneering work and in particular, their charismatic leader GHB ‘Bert’ Ward.

Part of the Clarion’s legacy was a wonderful collection of about 50 glass plate slides, mostly dating from the early years of the last century.

Many show Clarion ramblers in period dress in the Peak District and elsewhere, including some led by Ward himself.

The plan is to reproduce these slides in a book which will also commemorate Sheffield’s unique place in the history of rambling and the fight for access to the countryside.

If you have any early photographs of Clarion Ramblers which would add to the story, please contact Ann Beedham at annbeedham@yahoo.co.uk.

Sheffielder Ann has written and illustrated several books on local history, including Days of Sunshine and Rain: Rambling in the 1920s.

It is based on the journals and photographs of George Willis Marshall.

He was a keen walker and took lots of photographs in the 1920s and 30s, as he wandered the hills of Derbyshire with his friends.

They were pioneers of the ‘right to roam’ and took part in the famous Kinder Trespass of 1932.

The trespass, involving 400 people, was the most famous of a series of mass actions designed to challenge this private privilege and the landowners’ efforts to protect their grouse shooting land.

Five trespassers were jailed as the Derbyshire police turned out in force to stop them getting access to the high moorland. It was part of a battle for working class rights to free access to the moors.

Ann’s book tells of the Clarion Ramblers’ adventures with evocative photographs and journal entries. Copies cost £5 plus postage and packing and are available via Ann’s website, annbeedham.com