Police visit us while we’re cleaning milestones

Yesterday morning was the second morning this week that Reg Davis and I have been cleaning milestones in Surrey Heath.

We cleaned three, and we thought we’d done well. While brushing of the dirt and lichen of the milestone just prior to the traffic lights by the BP petrol station, a police car stopped by us. The policeman put on his hi-viz jacket and cap and came over to us. He said,

Gentlemen, we’ve had reports of people attempting to steal a milestone.

Oh, how we chuckled, and me then wittering about the history of the milestones and the Bedfont to Bagshot Turnpike Trust. Many thanks to the Surrey Policeman for joining the photo with Reg Davis.

Fully kitted out in Hi-Viz wear for milestone cleaning

I think I may have mentioned, in the past, that I’m a member of the Milestone Society – dedicated to researching and preserving milestones.

At the instigation of Reg Davis, a friend of Surrey Heath Museum, he and I have committed to clean all of the milestones in Surrey Heath. After our vigorous cleaning with a brush and soap and water, we’ll apply a coat of paint, pick out the letters in black paint, and surrounding the base of the milestone with a small amount of gravel/white stones.

When finished, they’ll look splendid. Amazingly, none of the milestones in Surrey Heath are listed, and look what happened to the one by Camberley Glass on the A30. So, think I’ll ask a question at the next Surrey Heath Council meeting to seek their commitment to acquire it for them. Neighbouring County Councils have listed the majority of their milestones.

Reg and I cleaned two milestones yesterday, this morning we’ll be out again, hoping to clean two more. Here’s the before and after photos of our work yesterday.

Photo of the week No.26: In Silvertown, 1964 by John Claridge

As a boy growing up in the docklands in the East End of London, John Claridge used his camera to capture the soul of the docks. His story is eloquently told in Along the Thames with John Claridge in the Spitalfields Life blog article of May 2, 2012.

Hatip: Spitalfields Life for photo

What do you know about the GHQ Line and military defences?

Explanation first. The GHQ Line [General Headquarters Line] was a defence line built in the during World War II to contain an expected German invasion.

The defence line comprised hundreds of concrete pillboxes and anti-tank defences. Here in Surrey Heath we are above the GHQ Line- see map below – though we do have a smattering of pillboxes, notably one on Deepcut Bridge Road at its junction with Old Bisley Road. As ever, wonderfully, there’s a group of people dedicated to their preservation – see the Pillbox Study Group website.

Chris Kolonko, a military heritage specialist, in his Mapping the GHQ lines in Google Earth, provides the necessary detail on the location of each of the defences. Here’s a screenshot from one of his maps. If you’re interested, you’ll find much more to discover on his maps.

Does Surrey Heath Council value its Museum?

Surrey Heath Museum is under threat. Sad but true. Click on image to find out more.

At the recent Camberley Society meeting in the Surrey Heath Council Chamber in June, ably reported on by David Chesneau in The Camberley Eye blog articles, Camberley Regeneration, and Monday’s Meeting Part II where David wrote,

What is the future of the museum? Answer – a museum service will be maintained for the foreseeable future, though the nature of this service has not been decided. The council’s wish, though, is for a “more modern facing” museum.  The council executive will be considering whether to carry out a consultation on the subject  next month.

There’s a strong belief in the value of heritage and history in Surrey Heath, evidenced by the Surrey Heath Museum and its support groups, the Heritage Gallery in the Camberley Mall, Chobham Museum, Windlesham and Camberley Camera Club, Camberley Natural History Society, and numerous other groups,

An issue that concerns the Council is Surrey Heath Museum’s low visitors numbers. Many factors contribute to this, its location in the Council Offices along with it’s difficult access, long term lack of council investment or interest in the museum.

At the Council’s Executive Meeting on 11th July the following paper was presented, and agreed. One thing to notice in the paper, is that the word MUSEUM isn’t mentioned.  A sure sign of the Council’s focus. I’ll write more in the coming days on this topic.