Sheffield Woodcraft revisit their roots

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

As part of the celebrations for Woodcraft's 90th year Sheffield Woodcraft  arranged a walk to visit the place where Woodcraft in Sheffield First began. A contigient of Woodies set off from Hathersage to walk up towards Stanage Edge where just below the edge the 'Rock of Resolution' was to be found. This rock was the place were the first people to bring Woodcraft to Sheffield sat to discuss the idea of starting groups in Sheffield.

The weather during the intital walk wasn't the best but when we arrived at the rock there was a sudden change in the weather and the sun shone on us, perfect oppourtunity for a photo with our banners:

We then heard from Terry Howard a long term activist for rambler's rights and a member of Woodcraft in Sheffield about how it all began. Below is the written version of Terry's speech:

Eighty  seven years ago in 1928 a group of young people from the Sheffield Independent Labour Party (ILP) were having a camp at Grainfoot Farm in the Derwent Valley. Grainfoot can be seen from Lockerbrook, the Woodcraft Folk’s Outdoor Centre.

 At that camp the young people were told of a Youth Movement in London where girls and boys of all ages could escape the poverty and poor living conditions in London for a short time by going on camps and rambles in the countryside. There they would learn about healthy living, peace and cooperation and gain an understanding of nature. (The inspiration for the Woodcraft Folk came from Ernest Thompson Seton and the obscure Kibbo Kift Kindred) . 

In the 1920s, following the First World War, many people in Sheffield were living in poor housing conditions with poverty and pollution all around. Future war and the mistrust of other peoples was always there. These young ILP members, who escaped for a short time the filthy living conditions in Sheffield to go to camp to enjoy fresh air and healthy exercise, wanted to learn more of this Woodcraft Folk in London. Someone agreed to find out more about the Woodcraft Folk and they reported back to the group on a trespass ramble in 1929 here on Stanage.  At this rock fifty six years ago they “resolved” to have a Woodcraft Folk Group in Sheffield. Thus the “Rock of Resolution”.  

Here they committed their lives to peace, cooperation, the understanding of others, equality, and a better world.

They affirmed their membership of the Woodcraft by reciting:- 

“This shall be a bond between us; that we are of one blood. you and I; that we have cried peace to all and claimed kinship with every living thing; that we hate war, sloth and greed, and love fellowship and that we will go singing to the fashioning of a new world”.

The Woodcraft Folk have always believed they could help change the world and even today veteran Woodcrafters still believe the world can and must be changed for the better, but now it’s your turn. 

“The flame is in your hearts, the flame shall never die”

Stanage Edge has always been a special place for Woodcrafters, the early Woodcrafters came here as trespassers but we are here today by right. That “right” has been campaigned for, for many generations. We now have the “Right” to freely go over all our moorlands. That right was only gained fifteen years ago and I feel proud to say the Woodcraft was involved in the campaign to gain access to all our mountains and moorland. (They were very active participants of the Abbey Brook Trespass of 1932).  However with this “right” goes responsibility, the responsibility to look after and care for what we have gained, including the wildlife and its heritage. These moors are where people have lived, worked, died and even buried over thousands of years. The moors also bear witness to their beliefs and their creativity so today we can share in their lives.

And to finish with is part of the Woodcraft “Leave Take Ceremony” which was given at the end of a camp or other gathering by the Herald or Folk Marshal. 

“Go your ways, and may the spirit of Woodcraft help you in all your works, 

Be loyal to our cause and faithful to all people,

Be strong, Live Kindly, Love the sun and follow the trail”.


There is also a video of Terry speaking available on Vimeo here -

And the written version is attached also in case anybody would like to use it as a discussion point for a group session.

Here's to 90 more years of Woodcraft!