Footpaths

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

The following source list was originally available only on paper in one of the West Yorkshire Archive Service offices. It may have been compiled many years ago and could be out of date. It was designed to act as a signpost to records of interest on a particular historical subject, but may relate only to one West Yorkshire district, or be an incomplete list of sources available. Please feel free to add or update with any additional information.

In 1949 the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act was passed. Section 27 of the Act said that within 3 years councils had to draft maps showing what rights of way 'subsisted at the relevant date'.

County Councils were obliged to carry out surveys of public rights of way within the county. Each county would then have to draw up a draft map of the footpaths and bridleways which were rights of way, together with accompanying statements.

Objections and modifications, if allowed, were incorporated into the draft map, to form the provisional map, again with accompanying statements.

Objections to the provisional maps were heard at the Quarter Sessions (details can be found in the Order Books), and when these were resolved the definitive maps were drawn up.


About the West Riding Survey of Public Rights of Way:

On 22 September 1952 the West Riding Town and Country Planning Committee (in minute book ref. WRC28/1) adopted 'as acts of this committee' minutes and recommendations from its Finance and General Purposes Subcommittee of 1 Sep 1952 (minute book ref. WRC28/6) and its References Subcommittee (minute book ref. WRC28/10) of the 7 and 8 July and 1 Sep 1952. Also on 22 Sep 1952 the Highways Committee approved the draft map and schedules (minute book ref. WRC2/41). That date was thus the 'relevant date' to which later versions of the map referred. The West Riding survey was spilt into five areas; therefore there are five separate draft maps and statements.

From the draft maps amendments were made to the Survey and the provisional maps were produced. At this stage the West Riding Area 1 (North West), was further divided into Area 1 YD (inside Yorkshire Dales National Park) and Area 1 OD (outside Yorkshire Dales National Park). Therefore for the provisional maps series there are 6 separate maps and surveys.

On 28 February 1972 the Highways Committee ordered that the definitive maps and statements should be approved and sealed (minute book ref. WRC2/62). The seal register for that period is missing so the exact date of sealing the definitive maps is not known, but is presumed to be soon after February 1972.

On 1 April 1974 the West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council came into being and it inherited the task of updating the rights of way maps (only for West Yorkshire, not the much larger area of the West Riding). It produced two new versions: the Draft Revision of 1 October 1979, and the Modified Definitive Map (relevant date 30 April 1985). The latter was made under Part III of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 (Chapter 69).

Copies of the Survey of Public Rights of Way carried out by the West Riding County Council can be found at WYAS: Wakefield (ref. WRD8/A212).

Large city boroughs such as Leeds and Sheffield produced their own series of definitive footpaths as a result of the 1949 Act. These maps can be accessed via the relevant planning departments of each authority.


How to consult the West Riding Survey maps:

  • There is an index to civil parishes drawn up by DOTHE.
  • The index will tell you which area volume to consult. Inside each volume there is a map index which tells you the sheet to consult within the volume.
  • There are also accompanying statements for each volume of definitive maps. Anyone interested in a particular right of way will probably need to look at both map and statement.
  • The index will also give you the name of the local authority now responsible for the right of way.


1932 Rights of Way Act: a register and corresponding maps can be found at WYAS: Wakefield (ref.WRD1). A list of places covered by this survey is available in the sources section.