Sunday 4th Sept saw the 125th Anniversary of the Winter Hill mass trespass, a key event in the battle to claim access to open spaces. They say that 10,000 people from Bolton joined the original march in 1896… protesting that long-used routes across the moor had been closed off by the landowner.
Yesterday, around 1,000 people walked the nine mile route from Halliwell in Bolton, through Smithills Estate, across Winter Hill and down to Belmont. At the same time, community organisations gathered at Smithills Hall for a day of celebration on the theme of open access and protest. We launched our first audio trail (the Trespass Trail), written by Smithills volunteer Tony Greenwood, and recorded by Bolton arts collective Live From Worktown, and we showed a collection of moorland wildlife photographs taken at Smithills by volunteer Richard Cooke. Housing association Bolton at Home displayed banners made by Bolton residents, and held banner making workshops. The tiny travelling arts centre, Cap&Dove, had poetry and theatre throughout the day on the theme of protest and identity, including from refugee charity City of Sanctuary. The Octagon Theatre ran protest song workshops.
It was a wonderful day of celebration of our open spaces – we have loved being part of the months-long planning process, working with so many local groups – and the sun shined for us all day too!
Vicky Entwistle- Engaging Communities Officer, Smithills