December 2011

Some boundary stones in Calderdale

The ancient parish of Halifax was the second largest in area in England (after Rochdale).  It comprised 23 townships, though two – Elland-cum-Greetland and Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse – were each made up of two separate entities.  Because of its size chapelries were established in the 13th century in Heptonstall and Elland.

With the exception of Fixby (now in Huddersfield), those parts of Queensbury that were in Northowram, and the parts of Lancashire taken in by Todmorden, its boundary was identical to that of present-day Calderdale.

By the 19th century urban settlements had grown up that did not reflect the township boundaries, and Urban Sanitary Districts were created in Hebden Bridge (taking in parts of Heptonstall, Wadsworth and Erringden) and Sowerby Bridge (taking in parts of Sowerby, Warley, Norland and Skircoat).  Luddenden Foot Local Board was also created out of part of Warley township and a small part of Sowerby over the river.  Todmorden, also not one of the original townships, being at the meeting-point of several, gave its name to both an Urban and a Rural district, while the UD became a Municipal Borough in 1896.

Halifax became a Municipal Borough in 1848 and a County Borough in 1889, expanding to incorporate the surrounding townships

In 1937 a major re-organisation of local government saw many small Urban District Councils merged into larger ones, such as Elland , Ripponden, and Queensbury & Shelf.  All the remaining rural bits west of Hebden Bridge were combined into the Hepton Rural District at the same time.

Many boundary stones of the original townships, and later ones, survive of which these are typical examples.

RWH / rev August 2020

On Stainland Road (B6112) just outside West Vale
Grid Reference: SE 0910 2067
National ID: YW_GRESTA01pb
On the main A646 opposite Jumble Hole Road.  Probably erected in 1896 when Todmorden MB was created
Grid Reference: SD 9699 2621
National ID: YW_TOHA02pb
This boundary stone is one of several now in the grounds of Clay House, West Vale.
Grid Reference: SE 0970 2134
National ID: YW_SOYBAR01pb
There are many of these stones on the boundary of Soyland township.
Grid Reference: SE 0124 2131
National ID: YW_SOWRIP02pb
This stone stands at the junction of Deep Lane and Butts Green Lane. NB: Luddenden Foot was not an original township, but part of Warley.
Grid Reference: SE 048 252
National ID: not yet registered
This stone survives on the A6036 road between Halifax and Bradford.
Grid Reference: SE 1317 2904
National ID: YW_SHEL01pb

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West Riding bridge markers


In 1602 the West Riding Justices named 48 bridges which were to be kept in repair by the County – a relatively small number considering the size of the county.  A century and a half later Robert Carr and John Watson produced for the Quarter Sessions a “Book of Bridges” with plans and descriptions of 120 bridges and the extent of the obligation of the Riding for the maintenance of each.  At the same time a survey of all the bridges in the county was undertaken by John Westerman and John Gott, which included 308 bridges which were repaired by bodies other than the county – wapentakes, parishes or individuals..

In addition to the actual bridge, the County’s responsibility extended also to the highway for 300 feet from each end thereof.  County bridges were marked by stones and several of these survive, even where the bridges themselves have been widened or rebuilt.  Usually the stone is sited at the bridge, but occasionally they can be found 300 feet from it. 

There are three main types:

  • round-topped stone ones, presumed to be the oldest, with WR carved on them – often now badly eroded – the example here is at Cooper Bridge near Mirfield;
  • triangular stone (or are they concrete?) plates, often painted white and marked WR in black on each side; the example at the bottom left is at Grassington on the Wharfe.  These we presume to be later, as they are usually in very good condition.  There is a  theory is that they could date from a later (1803) bridge act as an indication of a bridge’s fitness for purpose.
  • and a third, less common, type consisting simply of a vertical cross on a round-topped stone.  There are examples of these in the Dales at Hebden (on Hebden Beck where there is also a triangular marker) and Skirfare Bridge (illustrated bottom right) also over the Wharfe.  There is a theory that these bridges may have had a monastic origin, though the stones are much later.

Two particularly interesting examples can be found on the Holme Moss road, the A6024 between Holmfirth and Woodhead.  About one and a half miles south-west of Holmfirth, at Holmbridge, 100 yards from the bridge on each side of the river, stand two stones each marked with the single word County.  Whether these were erected by the Turnpike Trust or, earlier, by the township, Austonley, we do not know.

Another untypical stone can be found at Dunford Bridge, also 100 yards from the bridge: a plain stone with a vertical line cut down the middle.

Sources: West Yorkshire Archives; Milestone Society Newsletter (17, 2009, p 10).

RWH / last updated Jan 2022.

For more illustrations, click here.

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The Huddersfield “to and froms”

Huddersfield has what we believe to be a unique series of milestones, triangular in section, at half-mile intervals on all the main roads radiating from the town centre, as well as on minor roads.  On one side it gives the number of miles ‘to Huddersfield’ and on the other side the same number ‘from Huddersfield’.  Hence we’ve named them the ‘To and Froms’.  For some time we had wondered what purpose they served, and when they were erected, and now researches in the Council archives have found some of the answers.

About 23 milestones are found on the roads leading to the following places (clockwise from the north): Bradford (with one off this on Fartown Green Road); Leeds; Wakefield; Almondbury; Lowerhouses; Newsome; Woodhead (via Holmfirth); Meltham; Blackmoorfoot (the old Austerlands turnpike); Manchester (the new turnpike); Paddock/Longwood; New Hey (with one off this on the road to Lindley); Halifax; and Halifax Old Road.  Of these the ones to the Huddersfield suburbs were never turnpiked.  There were no stones at the half-mile point from the town centre, and they stopped at the boundary of the pre-1937 Huddersfield Borough.  Milestones at Milnsbridge and Grimescar, originally in Linthwaite and Fixby townships (though the latter is now missing) are standard WRCC Brayshaw & Booth stones – as is one on Bradley Road in the north of the Borough.

The original theory, that they were related to tram fares, which were based on half-mile distances.  Tram services in Huddersfield (the first municipally-operated system in the country) began in 1883 .  But this theory was discounted as there are stones on a couple of roads that trams never served.

The same principle, however, had applied to the earlier (horse-drawn) hackney carriage fares.  Little has been written on cab services at this period, but in 1890 an Annual Inspection reviewed 48 cabs, 33 hansoms, 42 waggonettes and one omnibus.

Trawling through the Highways Committee minutes provided more evidence to confirm the cab-fares theory: in February 1875 the Moldgreen and Dalton Sub-committee resolved “that a distance post be placed at Primrose Hill for the purpose of calculating the Cab fares”.  Primrose Hill is on the Newsome road, one of the non-turnpiked suburban roads.  Note that a post is referred to rather than a stone.

Then in December of the same year the Almondbury & Newsome Sub-committee resolved “that a One Mile Stone and a One and a half Mile Stone be erected at Longley Lane and Lowerhouses”.  We have no reason to suppose that this is necessarily one of the “to and froms”.

Further research on the Highway Committee minutes may provide further details on other stones, but we have to remember that in 1875 most of the Turnpike Trusts were still in operation, so the Corporation would not be able to erect milestones on the turnpikes.

Meanwhile the Watch Committee minutes were also providing information (it was this committee that regulated hackney carriages).  In 1889-90 we find the Fartown, Deighton and Bradley Sub-Committee recommending a revision of the table of distances for cab fares, especially in Fartown, and that these should be measured from the railway station, not the Market Cross.  The minutes also referred to a table of distances being published in the [Corporation] Year Book.

The Year Book having been found, it did contain a Cab Fares page, showing charges were levelled on distances for a minimum one mile and for every succeeding half mile (or by quarter hours). There is a list of distances and fares (2 wheeled or 4 wheeled) from the Market Cross.  This minimum distance explains why there are no half-mile stones as one left the town centre.

There are specific locations for each half-mile point.  On Bradford Road, for example, the 1½ mile point is “A Mark on the wall 11 yards N. of Mr Dewhirst’s entrance gates.”  (This is exactly where the 1½ mile “to and from” stone was situated before being demolished recently by a passing vehicle).  All the datum points mentioned are chapels, toll bars, houses, junctions and suchlike, which indicates that the “to and from” stones were not yet in situ by 1890.

We are hoping that further research will provide conclusive evidence of when these unique stones were erected.

In 2012 the only 3 1/2 mile “to and from”, which was rescued during the construction of the M62, was re-erected at Outlane near its original location.  Click here for the full story.

Sources: Huddersfield Corporation archives as discussed, in West Yorkshire Archives Service at Huddersfield Library; Roy Brook: Huddersfield Corporation Tramways (1983); article by Jan Scrine in Yorkshire Milestones Newsletter.  RWH / revised November 2012.

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