Wow! My question to Council is reported in the local newspaper

You may have read that I asked a question on protecting Surrey Heath’s milestones at the meeting of the Full Council of Surrey Heath Borough Council on Wednesday evening.

The main reason for asking a question at a council meeting over a written request is that the topic is likely to gain greater publicity. So it has proved. My question, and the council’s reply, is the subject of a report in Surrey Live – SEE HERE, and also in the online Camberley News website.

It’s a shame that Surrey Live were not able to find a photo of me hugging a milestone, but that of a borough councillor instead. Here’s the online article, which if you click on the image below will take you directly to the Surrey Live web page.

Unsatisfactory Council reply to my question about milestones

It was fun being back in the council chamber of Surrey Heath Borough Council to ask my question about protecting the borough’s heritage assets, namely its milestones [See my earlier post on the question].

See HERE for the council meeting papers, and the council’s reply from Cllr Craig Fennell, the Places and Strategy portfolio holder, which is,

“The Council’s Heritage Service recognises the historic significance of the milestones and would be happy to provide support and guidance to a community initiative to protect and maintain them, which could include supporting the application to secure Grade II listing. The Senior Heritage Officer will make contact with Mr Dodds to arrange a meeting to discuss a suitable way forward.

Note the words, “provide support and guidance to a community initiative” This means it’s down to me to do a large amount of the work.

Remember my two questions,

  1. How does the council view the best way to protect these heritage assets from loss or further damage?
  2. What plans do the Council have in securing Grade II protection for the milestones in the borough?

What I would have wanted as a reply,

We are pleased that members of our community share our desire to protect our heritage assets. We consider these are likely highways assets of Surrey County Council. However, to show how we value the need for increased protection of these heritage assets, the council’s Executive Head of Business – Daniel Harrison will work alongside his Senior Heritage Officer, and interested parties in the community, to identify how best to secure their greater protection.

That to me would indicate that the council was interested in its heritage assets.

Addressing a meeting of the Full Council tonight

Surrey Heath Borough Council, just like other councils, offers the opportunity for members of the public to ask a question of the Council.

Addressing a meeting of the council raises a question to a wider audience than just writing to the council. Here’s my question for tonight’s council meeting,

Question to Full Council on Wednesday 10th April

Mr Mayor and Members, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.

Many of you will know that a couple of years ago the face of the milestone at the entrance to Camberley Glass on the A30 was irreparably damaged.

Under the guidance of Gillian Riding, of Surrey Heath Museum, funds were raised for a replica of the missing face of the milestone. Such was the concern about the state of the remaining milestones that my friend Reg Davis co-opted me to help in surveying, cleaning and painting them all.

The damaged milestone and the other nine milestones in the borough on the A30 and A325 are over 250 years old, and are an important part of Surrey Heath’s heritage. They are unprotected heritage assets. While they are locally listed, it gives them no protection – as the loss of one demonstrates.

Neighbouring Borough and County councils have secured Grade II listing for their milestones, affording them protection.

My question is twofold,

  1. How does the council view the best way to protect these heritage assets from loss or further damage?
  2. What plans do the Council have in securing Grade II protection for the milestones in the borough?

Thank you Mr Mayor and members.

Our talk on renovating the milestones in Camberley

I know I’ve probably bored you, dear readers, with my work with Reg Davis on renovating the milestones in Camberley.

If you happen to be in The Heritage Gallery today, upstairs in Surrey Heath Museum, from midday till 1.0 pm, Reg and I will be giving a talk on our work. I’ll provide a bit of the history of milestones, and Reg will detail what we did.

Sadly the list of lunchtime talks in the Heritage Gallery doesn’t include our talk. Never mind. Reg Davis is on the left in the photo, and I’m next to him. You’ll have to come along to our presentation to find out why the mayor was there with us.

The Golden Milestone in Rome

Our presentation on renovating the Surrey Heath milestones, that’s by Reg Davis and me, to Camberley and District Probus Club, went far better than Reg and I had anticipated. Funnily, it’s the first opportunity we’ve had to talk about milestone renovation project, so we should thank the club for taking a chance on two old blokes.

I won’t put the presentation here, as it’s not really the right format for it. What I will do is share with you some parts of our presentation. I began our talk by describing the history of milestones. Here’s that history.

The Romans introduced milestones throughout their empire. Remains of them have been found in France, Spain, North Africa, Israel, and of course in Britain. The Romans laid good quality, mostly straight, metalled roads in Britain. Their key purpose was to move soldiers and supplies quickly across their Empire.

They indicated distances by erecting milestones.  “A Roman unit of distance was the mille passum, which translates to ‘thousand paces.’ A pace was five Roman feet, meaning a Roman mile measured 5,000 feet. Hadrian’s Wall is 80 Roman miles long, and each mile was marked by a milecastle fort. These were used for controlling the movement of people, goods and livestock along the Wall.”¹

The first Roman milestone was erected in 20 BC in the Forum in Rome, from which all road distances were measured. It is known as the Golden Milestone – Milliarium Aureum. While no proven evidence of this pillar remains, a reference in Plutarch’s, Life of Galba, refers to an imposing gilded column. There are some supposed fragments of Milliarim Aureum in the Forum in Rome.

Here’s a photo of the fragments in the Forum, and the imagined Golden Milestone.  [Click on image to expand].

¹Source: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/ingenious/roman-ingenuity/

 

Ooee, must tell Reg we made it to the front cover

Must invite my chum Reg Davis, and his wife round for a sherry and cake, for a chinwag about one of our restored milestones appearing on the front cover of the Milestone Society journal.

I’m a member of the Milestone Society, although Reg isn’t. The Society’s journal is its Milestones & Waymarkers, published annually in the autumn. Well, Volume Ten of the journal arrived in today’s post. It’s 76 pages, packed full of articles on milestone conservation and history.

A Camberley milestone, in the pavement alongside Martins VW Showroom, appears on the front cover of the journal. Our milestone repair efforts also makes it to an article about our work on page 73 of the journal, following an article on the previous page about the ceremony to unveil the replica milestone on the A30 at the entrance to Camberley Glass. Two pages on Surrey Heath, and the front cover too – success, eh.

PS. No more about milestones for a while, don’t want to bore.

 

Nigel Ford’s work on milestones outstrips Reg and my work

Lightwater Retiree’s comment on this blog points me to the Daily Telegraph article about Nigel Ford, a retired Norfolk window cleaner, who, in seven years, has located, cleaned, and in some cases re-instated 150 milestones.

Nigel’s work is documented in Historic England’s 2017 Angel Award to Nigel as winner for Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place.

Nigel Ford is to be heartily congratulated for his dedication, and his efforts over seven years. Top bloke. [Click on image to link to Hethersett village website, from which the image is taken]

Reg and I know the effort involved, having cleaned just nine. It took us two weeks of work to do nine. I suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves, as dividing 150 of the milestones Nigel restored over seven years, equals 21 a year.