Wirral Footpaths & Open Spaces Preservation Society

This Society, one of the oldest countryside amenity groups on Merseyside, is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2013.

It was set up by a group of prominent businessmen from Wirral, with the Duke of Westminster as the first president. The Society’s main object was to preserve the ‘rights of the public to the use of public highways, footpaths, bridleways, commons, open spaces and roadside slips in the Hundred of Wirral’.

The annual subscription was set at five shillings (25p) and it stayed at that level for 88 years – probably a record for a society that achieved so much.

A map and register of footpaths and open spaces in Wirral was produced. The need for waymarking was recognised and the Society arranged for the erection of the distinctive cast iron black and white fingerposts, which still survive around the area. They were dismantled and stored during World War Two in case they assisted the enemy in the event of an invasion. They were refurbished in 2008.

In 1986, Wirral MBC produced the Definitive Map and Statement for their area. Cheshire West and Chester has similar information for paths in their area. Today the Society works with the two local authorities to protect public rights of way and access to open spaces.

The Society listed access land and commons for inclusion in the CROW (Countryside and Rights of Way) Act and assisted Cheshire with the pilot survey for The Lost Ways project. The historic evidence thus uncovered means that these “lost ways” could be included on future maps.

 Recent campaigns include

  • promoting the reinstatement of coastal access along the Twelve Quays Route from Woodside to Seacombe
  • a new route for cyclists and walkers from Shotton, along the banks of the Dee, northward to Burton and then past Neston and on towards the Wirral coastline to Woodside and beyond.

Regular footpath inspections have evolved into a popular programme of walks enjoyed by many of the 400 or so members.

Members can choose whether to support the Society from their armchair, or by active involvement:

  • on our walks
  • at the monthly footpath clearance work parties (March to November)
  • helping with publicity events – or just putting up some of our posters in your local area.

Individual subscriptions are only £4, couples at one address, £6.

you can get more information

A number of walks in the CH64 area, many published by the Society using paths monitored by the Society, are described in the section Walks.

Rural Neston