In 2019 the Charity received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £39,100 for an exciting heritage project about its unique archive of countryside campaigning. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will delve into the stories around the campaigns and campaigners of the branch which have had a huge impact on the countryside of the Peak District and South Yorkshire, since its inception in 1924.
The project will conserve and catalogue the charity’s archive, to ensure it’s preserved for future generations, enabling them to find out about 100 years of the work.
The archive includes letters, notebooks, drawings, diaries and news cuttings of Ethel and Gerald Haythornthwaite, the environmental campaigners and pioneers of the countryside movement.
When Ethel Haythornthwaite formed the Sheffield Association for the Protection of Rural Scenery in 1924, which would go on to become the Friends of the Peak District, she led the way in countryside protection. She was part of the UK government’s National Parks Committee, which led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, and to the founding of the Peak District National Park in 1951.
The charity pre-dated CPRE by two years and created some of the most important accessible green spaces for Sheffield residents, fought against development in the countryside, and helped make green belts part of government policy in 1955. Alongside husband, Gerald, she also led the appeal to save Longshaw Estate from development.
A major part of the archive is over 10,000 photographs, including inter-war images of billboards, housing development, litter, industries and traffic. There are details of vital campaign successes for the Charity such as defeating plans for a grand prix circuit, motorway and steelworks in the Peak District.
The project was due to run to December 2020, however in response to the COVID pandemic this has been extended to May 2022.
Commenting on the award, Tomo Thompson, Friends CEO, said: “It’s great that we’re going to be able to share the story of our charity and the key role our predecessors played in the national countryside campaigning movement.”
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