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  Fritham in about 1960, Ford Populars and Strongs have long gone but the Royal Oak and Southampton Ramblers are still going strong

Southampton Ramblers was formed in March 1954 , being the very first RA group to be established in the South of England

The roots of the RA go back to numerous walking clubs founded in the 19th century, one of which existed in Southampton until after the First World War. The RA  was formed in 1935 with the aim of promoting access to the countryside and the results of their  campaigning were embodied in the  National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1st December 1949. This led to the establishment of National Parks and entrusted each County Council in England and Wales with the task of surveying and recording on a definitive map every footpath.  

The newly established RA head office saw the surveys as an opportunity to spread the regional development of the RA and volunteer groups were formed to assist the County Councils with the footpath surveys.  Bill Myers, a physics lecturer at Southampton University, assisted them and Hampshire went on to become the first County Council to produce a draft footpath map.

Bill and others who had helped with the footpath surveys went on to form the Southampton Group with  Bill becoming our first chairman. In 1954 there were only 8 walks with 21 members. Today we have nearly 400 members and at least 5 walks every week throughout the year, catering for all abilities, together with many social events .


Here is a dapper Bill Myers at the start (or finish) of an all-night walk he led : at that time most rambles  were accessed by public transport as car ownership was very limited. Hampshire  Rambling and the Rights of Way network owe a great deal to the enthusiasm and hard work of Bill.  He was  an  inspiration for many and Joan Deacon (nee Simpson) went on to become a founder member of the Isle of Wight Ramblers.


Fashions may come and go but for generations of Ramblers the pleasure of  exploring our wonderful network of paths in sociable company remains undiminished.