Last Saturday I attended the Annual General Meeting of the Milestone Society.
The meeting was held in the village hall in Long Compton on the A3400 road, not far from Chipping Norton. The location was chosen as the hall is on the former Stratford-upon-Avon to Long Compton Turnpike. It’s on this road the Milestone Society’s National Lottery funded project restored the remaining six mileposts to their functioning state.
The project is called Finding the Way, described in the leaflet below, and a dedicated website HERE. My photo of the village hall and one of the restored mileposts, click on photo to expand.
Click on upward pointing arrow in bottom right-hand corner of image below to expand.
On Monday this week, Reg Davis and I were invited to be at the milestone on the A30 adjacent to Martins VW car showroom, where the Mayor of the Borough, Cllr Valerie White, gave a short speech thanking us for our work restoring the milestones in Surrey Heath. Gillian Riding, of Surrey Heath Museum, gave the mayor a small present to hand to each of us.
I should report that Reg and I were surprised to receive thanks and, even more so, the little pressie. We were pleased to have completed our project and weren’t expecting a thank you ceremony. Here’s a photo of Reg Davis, the Mayor, and Matthew Thorne – Manager of Martins, who was helpful to us both. [Click on image to expand]
In Surrey Heath Borough, the Exeter Road [A30] has seven milestones, and the Portsmouth Road [A325] has three. Apart from one recently replaced with a replica, all were in need of refurbishment; some more in need than others. At the instigation of Surrey Heath Museum, museum volunteer Reg Davis and I spent two weeks cleaning and repainting the milestones.
Sixteen Portland stone milestones on the A30, six feet high and one and a half feet wide, were ordered by the Bedfont and Bagshot Turnpike Trust in 1743 from Chertsey mason Stephen, at a cost of £2 10s 0d each.
We tackled the task by firstly cutting back encroaching vegetation, followed by scrubbing them all with a mild detergent. We applied weed killer to their bases, adding a geotextile membrane, and then covering with Portland stone chippings after we painted them. We used white masonry paint, following up by picking out all the letters in black masonry paint.
In our hi-viz wear many people stopped to talk to us and cheer us on. We received a visit from a Police patrol car, with the officer approaching us saying, “We’ve had reports of people stealing a milestone.” Oh, how we laughed [Click on image to enlarge].
It shouldn’t be ignored that, apart from an odd dissenting voice, our work is widely admired, adding to the sense of community civic pride. Volunteers both, Reg and I, were happy to do the restoration, though our aging knees [well, mine actually] didn’t take kindly to kneeling to carefully paint the letters.
Lots to report about milestones this week. You’ll have read here that myself and chum Reg Davis having been refurbishing nine milestones in Surrey Heath.
Thought I’d begin with a bit of history, naturally taken from a Milestone Society document. Yours truly is a member of the society.
Here goes, in a little over 300 words, plus one photo from the A30 adjacent to Martins VW Showroom – this before our cleaning [click on image to expand].
The Romans laid good metalled roads to move soldiers and supplies quickly across their Empire: they measured distance to aid timing and efficiency, marking every thousandth double-step with a large cylindrical stone. 117 still survive in the UK. After Roman times roads developed to meet local community needs and by the middle of the c16th local parishes were made responsible for their upkeep.
At this time travel by road was slow and difficult. The sunken lanes became quagmires in wet weather and occasionally both horses and riders were drowned. It took 16 days to cover 400 miles from London to Edinburgh. So Turnpike Trusts were set up, by Acts of Parliament from 1706 to the 1840’s. Groups of local worthies raised money to build stretches of road and then charged the users tolls to pay for it. The name ‘turnpike’ comes from the spiked barrier at the Toll Gate or Booth. The poor bitterly resented having to pay to use the roads and there were anti-turnpike riots.
From the 1840s, rail travel overtook road for longer journeys and many turnpike trusts were wound up. In 1888, the new County Councils were given responsibility for main roads and rural district councils for minor routes. As faster motorised transport developed so the importance of the milestones waned.
‘Milestone’ is a generic term, including mileposts made of cast iron. Such waymarkers are fast disappearing; around 9000 are thought to survive in the UK. Most were removed or defaced in World War II to baffle potential German invaders and not all were replaced afterwards. Many have been demolished as roads have been widened, or have been victims of collision damage, or have been smashed by hedge-cutters or flails. Nowadays, roadside milestones generally fall within the remit of the local Highways Authority or the Highways Agency and their contractors.
Message from Surrey Police Community Volunteer, David Howie about Surrey Police appealing for witnesses after a man was taken to hospital with serious injuries in Chobham.
Officers were called to the A319, between the Clappers Lane junctions, at 3.30am on 13 September after two HGVs were in collision. One of the drivers was trapped in his vehicle, he was then freed and taken to St. George’s Hospital by ambulance. The driver of the second vehicle was uninjured. Police worked alongside SECamb, Surrey Fire & Rescue and the Air ambulance, the road was fully open by 8.30am.
Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call Surrey Police on 101 quoting reference number P17232359.
The BBC reports that the 13.4 mile stretch of ‘smart’ motorway on the M3 from junction 2 to 4a is now open. Good news. Local residents have survived years of dislocation.
The BBC’s report and Highways England report say that there remains some work to complete the managed motorway project, such as testing the signals, and construction of the Woodlands Lane Bridge.
Forgive me for being a cynic. When the BBC reports,
Pranav Devale, project manager for Highways England, said the upgrade to the motorway has been completed on time.
and then in the same article says,
The 50mph speed restriction will be lifted and all four lanes will operate at 70mph in normal conditions once testing is complete, a spokesman for Highways England said. The testing phase is expected to last for up to three weeks.
and then through looking at the Highways England status report of the project, HERE, reveals the project isn’t yet finished, with ongoing road, and lane closures. Here’s one part of the report.
M3 eastbound within J3 | Eastbound | Road Works
Location : The M3 eastbound between junctions J3 and J2 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1, 2 and 3 will be closed. Reason : Road repairs are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 05:30 from 3 July 2017 to 7 July 2017. Schedule : From 20:00 on 7 July 2017 to 07:00 on 8 July 2017. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 05:30 from 17 July 2017 to 20 July 2017. Schedule : From 20:00 on 20 July 2017 to 07:00 on 21 July 2017. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Note the final words, all lanes will be closed. I know the project won’t have overrun by much. Better to be honest and admit the slight overrun.
I hadn’t thought to report on our journey home on the M3 on Wednesday evening this week. Arriving at J4a at around 10.0pm, and around 10 minutes from home we were diverted off the motorway. Silly of us for not remembering that the motorway would be closed for overnight road works.
It’s happened to us before, and we’ve chosen to return via Fleet and Farnbourgh – a longish diversion. This time we decided to try the A30 diversion. Big mistake. The A30 and the Meadows roundabout was almost total gridlock. Squeezing through the traffic we found the route, back to Lightwater, via the Portsmouth Road past Frimley Park Hospital was accomplished in 40 minutes, not the less than 10 were the M3 to be open.
Why recall this typical M3 story, well, because again the M3 is closed for the whole weekend, from 9.opm Friday 16 June until 5:30am Monday 19 June. Local roads will be a nightmare.
Message from Highways England M3 Closure
We will be closing the M3 at two locations this weekend in order to carry out critical works.
The M3 junction 2 link road from the M25 junction 12, clockwise and anticlockwise, to the M3 southbound will be closed for a full weekend from 9.0pm Friday 16 June until 5:30am Monday 19 June in order to install a new drainage system and low noise surfacing.
In addition we will be closing the M3 between junctions 3 and 4 in both directions overnight in order to carry out low noise re-surfacing works, between 8.0pm and 7.0am on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June and between 10.0pm and 5.30am Sunday 18 June.
These closures are weather dependent and subject to successful safety checks.
Diversion routes for these will be clearly signposted throughout the duration of the closure.
We advise all motorists to plan ahead, consider alternative routes if possible and allow extra time for their journeys.