Did you know?

The Oxford Fieldpaths Society was founded in 1926 by a group of notable City Fathers and University Fellows who were greatly concerned about the spread of Oxford City into the countryside and the potential loss of footpaths, and other open spaces, to the encroaching urbanisation.

Moreover some farmers were closing paths, many of which dated from mediaeval times. Its original name was ‘The Oxford and District Footpaths, Bridlepaths and Commons Preservation Society’ though it is now known as the Oxford Fieldpaths Society and is, probably, one of the oldest of this type in the country.

Society members regularly walked the paths, surveying and recording them on maps; and objecting vigorously and successfully to threatened path closures. After the War the Society, during the late 40s and early 50s engaged in the task of ensuring that footpaths and bridleways were registered as Public Rights of Way and recorded on the Oxfordshire County Council’s Definitive Map and Statement. d’Arcy Dalton, the then Secretary of the Society, attended to give evidence to, and then winning, dozens of enquiries where the establishment of a Public Right of Way was being contested by the landowner over whose land the path ran.

The OFS continues to carry on the work of the original founders of the Society. It is one of the bodies that the County Countryside Access Service must consult whenever there are any proposed changes to the path infrastructure, be it closure, diversion, change of status, or addition to the network. It is also involved at an early stage in the planning of major urban expansion schemes in towns such as Didcot and Bicester in order to safeguard existing Public Rights of Way. Committee members David Godfrey and Nick Moon carry on this very important work; thus fulfilling the principal aims of the Society.

Jim Parke