Cataloguing, conserving and digitising our historical archive

In 2001, Professor Melvyn Jones published a book called ‘Protecting the Beautiful Frame’ about the history of the Friends of the Peak District (CPRE branch). He quickly realised that the archive material he used for researching the book, was of great significance. It comprised a detailed record of our pioneering work to protect the local countryside and how it shaped thinking about landscape conservation. It records not only what the Branch did, but also how it did it; and it demonstrates the unique roles played by our founders, Ethel and Gerald Haythornthwaite.

It is also fascinating peek into their past and the issues and threats to the countryside which they feared in the 1920’s and 1930’s, many of which are still relevant today. But the material Mel used was a tiny fraction of the whole archive which dates back to 1924 when the charity was first established.

It consists of thousands of items: annual reports, meeting minutes, letters, photos, glass slides, publicity materials, posters and pamphlets, reports, architectural drawings (many by Gerald himself) and many maps, including one with the first ever hand drawn depiction of the national park boundary. The letters and meeting minutes illustrate the critical role Ethel and Gerald played in the founding of the first green belt in Sheffield in 1938, and the designation of the first national park in 1951.

We have been trying to raise funds to preserve and conserve it, to digitise the most important material and make it accessible to future conservationists, and the general public so they can appreciate the incredible hard work and lobbying which went into protecting our beautiful countryside.

If you would like to help with this monumental and important task, please contact julie@friendsofthepeak.org.uk or call 0114 279 2655