Restoring the Record: Second Edition
Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey
£32. Bucks and Wadey Publishing, Bryants Farm, Dowlish Wake, Ilminster TA19 0NX. Check for availability, payment & postage costs, at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the rather strange world of ‘lost ways’ and the definitive map, time flies faster than in the everyday dimension. Surely it was only yesterday when the CRoW Act commenced, and we had twenty-five years up to the 2026 ‘cut-off’ to get everything sorted for future generations? Ha! Come this next Christmas, and there is left just eight years clear. Two-thirds of that twenty-five has vanished, never to return.
It was over five years ago that Byway and Bridleway first reviewed ‘Rights of Way: Restoring the Record’ (B&B 2012/8/94, available on this website). We commented then on the ‘star rating’ approach to quantifying and aggregating the evidential weight appropriate to the various types of documentary evidence. Some experienced practitioners still look askance at this, saying ‘it is not that simple’, and of course it often isn’t in the end – but for the beginner or improver, having a rule-of-thumb evaluation process must surely be of considerable benefit? Yes, some applications will fail, and some orders will fail (even where they should not), but everyone has to start somewhere and build their skills. Do we all lose sight of the definitive map application process, and even public inquiries, being intended for the ordinary woman or man to cope with?
One of the strengths of this update is the value of the book as a fast reference source for the more arcane and less-visited materials. Symbols on tithe maps? See page 78 for a reproduction of Dawson’s Proposed Tithe Map Key. The Ordnance Survey boundary records: OS 26, OS 27 et al? Twenty pages of illustrated and explained examples.
Back in 2012, B&B recorded just one criticism: that documentary evidence does not stand apart from relevant case law, and the first edition did not address that. The revised edition does not either, and five years on, that is probably the correct approach (the book has a timeline of selected statutes). Cover the documents themselves, and worry about the legal stuff downstream. The Rights of Way Law Review has closed; the ‘Blue Book’ is sliding out of date; and Byway and Bridleway has faded to an online echo of its former self – but all that loss is not an albatross for Bucks and Wadey to resuscitate.
Readers may not know this, but like ageing rock stars, the authors have been touring the first edition ‘out on the road’ for years now, with seminars and training sessions right across the country. In some places a considerable number of modification order applications have been researched and ‘duly made’. The influence of Restoring the Record is already embedded in the process, crawlingly slow though that so often is now.
Restoring the Record: well produced, with more information than you will find anywhere else in one convenient package. It does what it says on the tin.