A RECORD-BREAKING weekend of fascinating walks inspired by a legendary journalist saw more than 1,000 people tour the streets of Colchester in pursuit of remarkable stories.

Colchester was the first town in the UK to host Jane’s Walks, inspired by American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs.

Now in its eighth year, the walks embody Mrs Jacobs’ passion for encouraging people to get to know their neighbourhoods.

The walks serve as a memorial to Mrs Jacobs, who is known for her grassroots efforts to protect neighbourhoods from development.

Organisers with Walk Colchester hailed the 1,000-strong turnout and said the weekend “broke previous attendance records by a mile”.

Across 24 walks, participants were given the chance to enjoy street performances re-enacting interesting figures from Colchester’s past.

Rowena Macaulay, of Walk Colchester, said: “It has been a wonderful thing over the years to see the gentle evolution of the Jane’s Walk Festival in Colchester.

“This year, just as we seem to have reached a tipping point in terms of capturing the public imagination, we were blessed with glorious sun too – a perfect constellation. The festival represents so much of value: walking itself, good conversation, new connections and friendships, the giving and sharing freely of time and knowledge.

“I think we have done Jane Jacobs very proud in Colchester this weekend.”

Highlights included an exploration of the sites associated with the unsolved murder of Victorian child John Harding, which took place near St John’s Gate in April 1870. At the time, a coroner recorded a conclusion of “wilful murder by unknown persons”.

Dorian Kelly led 72 walkers on a tour focusing on the remarkable people from Colchester’s past.

This included a “spellbinding” account of the life of Benjamin Lay, a four foot tall hunchback Quaker who was one of the first and most influential activists for the abolition of slavery.

The birds of the lower Colne walk started at the Jumbo, leading on to Castle Park and along the Wivenhoe Trail. The 35 walkers even spotted an adult peregrine falcon over marshland near Essex University.

Music buffs Ben Benedetti, Ben Howard and Carl Allen led 93 walkers on a musical mystery tour across Colchester, which was once on the touring circuit for the biggest bands, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and The Smiths.