Right of Way Dispute at Conisborough – Fences Broken Down – Summonses Issued

August 1906

Mexborough and Swinton Times August 4th 1906

Right of Way Dispute at Conisborough
Organised Demonstration Breaks Down the Fences
Summonses Issued for a Test Case

A curious state of affairs at present exists in Conisborough over a disputed footpath. With the object of ascertaining what actually had occurred, and of learning the true situation of the dispute regarding the right-of-way, a representative of the “Times” went over to Conisborough on Monday, and had interviews with several of the inhabitants. The subject, our representative was informed, is the most interesting topic of the day at Conisborough at the present time.

First we approached Mr Clarkson, who owns the land through which leads the disputed footpath. Mr Clarkson, who laconically informed our representatives that he would obtain all the necessary particulars by attendance at the Doncaster West Riding Court, when the summonses which have been issued are to be heard.

As that, however, was not exactly to the point, he had, perforce, to seek out the other parties in the matter, and by that means, and also by making a personal inspection of the path, the writer obtained a fairly lucid hold of the subject, which is at present engaging the consideration of half the inhabitants.

Mr Handley, of Earnshaw Lane, was next interviewed, and he gave us the following particulars.

The passing dispute as was seen from a map in this and this possession, is a continuation of Earnshaw Lane, running along the face of the cliffs, with the village of Denaby Main resting some 300 feet below on the right while on the left, across the intervening stretch of wheat land, can be seen Hill Top near Hooton Roberts. The path extends to Denaby “Thick,” and from thence access may be obtained to Mexborough.

Some two years ago the writer understand, passenger traffic along the path was prohibited. Then however, the lock was secretly extracted, and no steps were taken to enforce the prohibition.

Recently, however, Mr Clarkson has caused notice boards to be exhibited warning passers-by as to trespass.

Further, our representative was informed, Mr Clarkson had barricaded the entrance between his field and that in the occupancy of Mr WW Norwood, although the matter to which the most strong exception was taken was barricade which have been placed at the gate which stands between Mr Clarkson’s field and the Denaby Main reservoir.

With matters standing in the position stated, a demonstration was on Saturday held in the open space which lies between Athelstone Road and Ivanhoe Road. The proceedings were open, the meeting having previously been announced by the bellman. The decision arrived at was that Mr Bosdin Clarkson should be informed that in the event of his refusal immediately to have the barricade taken down the people intended to do so on their own initiative.

No conciliatory reply been received to the message and the crowd at once paraded to the gate which stands between the reservoir and the field, and three of their number were delegated to remove the wooden stoop which have been placed at the side of the gates. This was done while police Sgt Orton was an interested spectator.

At the conclusion of this ceremony, the names of the three persons who had removed the obstacles were noted, and the crowd, by way of testifying their right to transverse the pass, at once proceeded to Denaby “Thick,” levelling various notice boards en route, and finally marching back to Conisborough triumphant for the time being.

At the demonstration a society was formed for the purpose of keeping the path open to the public and Mr S Webster elected to the presidency.

Those who aver that the footpath is a legal right away base their contention largely on a dictum of the Footpaths Protection Association to the effect, “Once a public road, always a public road.”

The protesting party has listed to some extent, the sympathy of the Parish Council in the matter, and really the affair would appear to come directly within the province of that body, representing as it does the ratepayers and the public at large. It has been said that the Council has made an offer to Mr FJO Montague for the land of which he is the owner, but that no reply has been received to that attempt at negotiation.

The people against whom it is expected that proceedings will be taken, are to be defended out of a fund which has been started for the purpose, a sum of £5 having been subscribed.

Altogether a most interesting problem is likely to be presented to the magistrates, and one bewildering in the extreme.

The above, however, is but one version, and Mr Bosdin J Clarkson’s views on the matter should prove interesting.

At all events the action taken will result in a definite ruling on the matter, and, as Mr Handley impressed upon our representative, they were quite willing to refrain from using the path if it was found that their action was wrong.