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Trespassers will be Prosecuted (1934)

Militant ramblers will be familiar with the title of this booklet and perhaps with the name of its author, Phil Barnes, even though it is a hard title to find nowadays, and as far as I know, hasn’t been reprinted since it first appeared in 1934. When he decided to publish at his own expense this polemic on the controversial subject of trespass, Barnes had been a self confessed ‘trespasser’ for many years. From his home in Sheffield he had tramped the wild moorland between here and Manchester but was always aware that in seeking out many of the natural beauties, he was legally limited to using only twelve public footpaths. Those, like him, who strayed from these were intimidated by the presence of signs put up by landlords claiming that prosecution would follow if warnings were ignored. Two years earlier he and fellow militant ramblers had taken part in the famous ‘mass trespass‘ of Kinder Scout in the High Peak. In this stand off between ramblers, gamekeepers and the police, physical confrontation was inevitable with the result that many demonstrators, who included the 28 year old Michael Tippett, now generally regarded as the greatest British composer of the twentieth century, were prosecuted and some landed up in jail or were fined.

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