The saga of the Huddersfield 3½ mile “to and from”

Apart from Stott Hall Farm, nothing stood in the way of the builders of the M62 trans-Pennine motorway as it made its way over the moors and peat-bogs of Rishworth and Scammonden in 1969 – certainly not the old milestone at Outlane informing drivers (and originally cab-passengers) that they were 3½ miles from Huddersfield.

Ray Wilson, a former Huddersfield Town footballer and a member of England’s World Cup-winning team of 1966, could see it from his father’s funeral parlour which overlooked the construction site.  On learning it was about to disappear along with everything else into one of the huge crushing machines on the site, he asked if he could have it, and was told to move it before the machines arrived.

Accordingly, after much strenuous effort (for the stone had as much under-ground as was visible above), it was re-erected in Ray’s garden at Barkisland.  It lived there for 32 years.

When Ray left Barkisland in 2006, he and his wife wanted the stone repositioned in Outlane, and finally, in 2012, following the intervention of the Milestone Society, and as part of Kirklees Council’s milestone refurbishment project, it returned home.

Just a few hundred yards from its original site on the westbound sliproad of Junction 23, it can now be found on the original section of New Hey Road, now a cul-de-sac just on the Huddersfield side of the roundabout.  Painted white, unlike all the other “to and froms”, but already weathered, it was the furthest from the town centre, and the only 3½ mile stone in existence.  They were erected by Huddersfield Corporation in the 1880s or 90s for the purpose of calculating cab fares, which, it is thought, were priced per half-mile.

Source: Milestones & Waymarkers, 2012, vol 5, p 20; Huddersfield Examiner, 29 Nov 2006.  RWH / November 2012

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The Kirklees milestones restoration project

In 2006 funding was obtained by Kirklees MBC (covering Huddersfield and district) to restore and conserve the many milestones – there are over 100, not counting an even greater number of boundary stones – in the District. 

A number of Brayshaw and Booth stones on the Wakefield to Denby Dale road (A636) were duly refurbished and then all went quiet.  Persistent enquiries revealed a catalogue of unfortunate events: those involved had retired, been transferred, or made redundant; the depot had been closed; the foundry in Cheshire where the plates had been sent for refurbishment had gone into liquidation.

A happy ending has, however, finally been achieved, and in 2012 a number of stones have re-appeared.  These include stones at Lepton (A642), Grange Moor and Flockton (A637), Holmfirth, and the only 3 1/2 mile Huddersfield “to and from”.  (See separate article for the saga of this stone.) 

Another development has been a “Diamond Jubilee” refurbishment of a Brayshaw & Booth stone at Mirfield.  This has been painted blue, in accordance with the colour stipulated in the original contract in 1893 (see Brayshaw & Booth article), but with gold rather than white lettering.  It looks very fetching, but one can understand why the colour was changed to white, as it is far harder to read.

The Milestone Society is grateful to Kirklees for its continuing commitment to this project.

Source: Milestones &Waymarkers, 2012, vol 5, p 48.  RWH / November 2012

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Northern Spring Meeting, April 2012

Another glorious Spring day in the Yorkshire Dales, the pee-wits decoying, the pheasants whirring, the tiny lambs shivering pitifully on the frosted grass, as around 40 milestoners and guests gathered at Hebden near Grassington, to hear a variety of interesting speakers – though curiously there was little mention of actual milestones.
Our guest speaker was Christopher Evans from Scarborough, who described his findings on “Trods – paved ways in NE Yorkshire”, as used by panniermen, fish merchants and smugglers. Click here for full details.

This was followed by a profusely illustrated talk by one of our members, David Garside, with the provocative title “Boundary stones – more interesting than milestones?”  Those of us who share that view were treated to a wide variety, plain and fancy: county, monastic, manorial, chapelry, industrial and parish – as were those who don’t.  The picture on the right shows how interesting boundary stones can be: taken on the road from Skipton to Hebden it is unusual in having been erected by a Highway District (the bodies created by the Highways Act of 1862, which also took over when turnpike trusts failed).  This marks the boundary between Rylstone and Stirton-with-Thorlby, erected by the East Staincliffe HD (1864-1895).

Following lunch, with a chance to look at albums and peruse the hot-off-the-press Yorkshire Newsletter, Jan Scrine showed us the Society’s latest publicity ventures, being produced with the cooperation of Barnsley poet Ian McMillan.  Already out on Youtube is The Rabbit and the Milestone, showing how easy it is for any rabbit to find our milestones on Google Earth.  Watch it here:

h?v=zUs6Elrm8Xk67 miles to where?

And finally: “Cross at the cross-roads, 230 miles to Clovelly and a real puzzle” by Dr Lionel Scott, who showed us some intriguing waymarkers at junctions, ending with a plea for anyone to identify the obliterated destination “67 Miles” on a pre-turnpike milestone from the Great North Road at Robin Hood’s Well, seven miles north of Doncaster (pictured left).  Rescued when the A1 was widened back in the 1960s this now resides in a garden in nearby Brodsworth. [Personally, I think it’s lost the figure 1 and is 167 miles to London – Ed.].

Plenty of lively contributions from the floor ensured that this was another enjoyable meeting!  Next year’s meeting will be at the same venue on Sunday 21st April 2013.  Put it in your diaries now!

JS/RWH / April 2012

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Trods: flagged paths in North-east Yorkshire

A trod, according to the OED, is a dialect word for a trodden way, a footpath, path, or way.  Brockett’s Glossary of North Country Words in Use of 1825 describes it as a foot path through a field. 
The word is still in use, having been revived by Christopher Evans from Scarborough, who has tramped across miles of field and moorland tracing the route of these old ways across the northern parts of the North York Moors. 
The essential feature of a trod is the single row of large stone flags, as seen on the cover of Evans’ book (pictured right) in an old photograph by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, the Whitby photographer (1853-1941).  His photographs show a number of trods which have now vanished, and Evans believes that perhaps only 20% of them survive.
Nineteen “long trods” have been identified, some running from the northeast coast southwestwards; some following or crossing dales, such as Eskdale (both the north and south banks) and Glaisdale.  Two notable ones are:
* The “George Gap Causeway”: Blakey Ridge through Rosedale and Great Fryup Dale (a very steep descent, and trods can be very treacherous when wet) to Staithes;
* “Quakers’ Causeway”: from White Cross (just east of Commondale) over Commondale Moor to Guisborough; the present name is obviously later than the trod, which may have a monastic origin, leading as it probably does to Guisborough Priory.
But shorter trods are found all over the moors; they lead to individual farms, mills and churches.  And locally they converge on market towns (and former market towns such as Egton near Whitby, and Castleton in Danby Parish).
There is no single reason why trods were constructed.  They do not tally exclusively with the existence of monastic properties, though many may have such links, and it is probable that monastic labour helped create them – they are even sometimes referred to as Monks’ Trods.  Nor do they tally precisely with the locations of mineral workings (alum, iron or coal), or with the locations of crosses and other waymarkers (although some can be found on them, and many continue to be rights of way today). 
The key factor in any road’s existence, however, is to connect goods from their place of origin with the people who want them: the trods that lead from the coast provide one obvious example, connecting fish with local markets. 
The earliest ones date from mediaeval times, and they were still being constructed in the 18th century: Castleton, for example, did not develop until this later period.
Many trods are vulnerable by running alongside later highways, but the North York Moors National Park Authority is aware of their historical significance, as are some local history groups, and it is hoped that concerted efforts will be made to preserve those that survive. 

Source: talk given by Chris Evans to the Milestone Society at Hebden, April 2012.
RWH / April 2012

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The Sedbergh Turnpike Trust and its milestones

A Sedbergh Trust milestone in upper Dentdale

The Sedbergh Turnpike Trust, based in the far north-west corner of the old West Riding, was unusual in that rather than having a single road going from A to B, it comprised five roads all radiating from Sedbergh.

The Act establishing the Trust was passed in 1761/2, and covered the following roads:

  • eastwards to Askrigg in the North Riding; following roughly the line of the present A684, but at Appersett taking what is now a minor road to Hardraw and along the northern side of Wensleydale to Askrigg;
  • westwards to Kendal in Westmorland (1762): the continuation of the present A684:
  • to Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland (1762): leaving the Kendal road a mile west of Sedbergh at the Borrett Toll Bar, and heading south along the present A683.  (The present B6256, a couple of miles west of Sedbergh, which connects the Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale roads, was presumably also turnpiked as there is a milestone on it);
  • north-east to Kirkby Stephen in Westmorland (1765), branching off the Askrigg road at the east end of the town – the continuation of the present A683;
  • south-east to Dent (1802?): the only one of the Trust’s roads completely in the West Riding.  From Dent, mileposts continue on the road on the north side of Dentdale to Cowgill (whose bridge has an interesting plaque – click here for photo) and as far as the Hawes-Ingleton road, suggesting the Trust’s responsibilities extended beyond Dent itself. 

In 1840 the Trust is recorded as having 62 miles of road and seven main gates.

The Sedbergh Trust’s milestones are all to a standard, distinctive pattern:  a rectangular base with up to 50 cm of worked stone, plus rougher stone deeper in the ground; above this is a D-shaped column with a slightly domed top.  The whole is shaped from a single piece of stone and has a rough unworked back.  Destinations are indicated simply by their initial letters – though in Dentdale only the mileage to Sedbergh is shown – and some stones have the township name on the base. 

These milestones survive on all the Trust’s roads except the Hawes road (A684), where they were replaced by the new County Council mileposts (West and North Riding).  Those on the Dent road were presumably considered too minor for the West Riding County Council to replace them in 1894.  Similarly the WRCC did not bother to replace the milestones on the short West Riding stretches of two of the roads which led into Westmorland, to Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale.

In 1825 the road from Hawes to Kirkby Stephen was turnpiked.  The central section of this, from the lonely Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head to Appersett, was the existing Sedbergh-Askrigg road; from Appersett the turnpike continued to Hawes and Gayle, and from the Moorcock it went down Mallerstang to Kirkby Stephen.  Its milestones are similar in design to those of the Sedbergh Trust. 

Sources: Geoffrey N Wright: Roads and trackways of the Yorkshire Dales (Moorland Publishing, 1985); Christine Minto: The Sedbergh Turnpike (Milestone Society Newsletter, Jan 2006, no 10, p 17); www.turnpikes.org.uk.
RWH/April 2012

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The Huddersfield Improvement Boundary stones

The Trinity Street stone
At the beginning of the 19th century Huddersfield was a small but increasingly populous township on the north-west side of the River Colne.  Public services were fragmented and mediaeval at best, and accordingly in 1820 the Ramsden family, or some enlightened citizens (it is uncertain which), sponsored an Act of Parliament “for lighting watching and cleansing the town of Huddersfield …”

The Act covered only a part of the town, that within a 1200 yard radius of the market-place, with the River Colne (the traditional boundary between the Huddersfield and Almondbury parishes) forming the boundary on the east and south.  Even this relatively small area was contentious, for it intruded into the areas of the self-governing hamlets of Fartown and Marsh.

This was followed in 1848 by another Act, known as the Huddersfield Improvement Act, whose jurisdiction again extended to the same 1200-yard limit. 

Two boundary stones from this period definitely survive: one on the road to Halifax (A629) on the right-hand side of the road (leaving the town centre), near the brow of the hill; and on Trinity Street, the road to Outlane / New Hey (A640) on the left-hand side, outside no 163.  Both are clearly carved with the letters and date “H. I. B. 1848”.

We believe a third stone exists, on Bradford Road.  This is just after its junction with Halifax Old Road, on the left-hand side of the road leaving the town centre.  It is roughly the same size and shape as the other two stones, but has no marks on it – and the back is buried under the ground level.

Others may have existed, but will have disappeared with later development; and old maps are unhelpful.

The boundary continued as a ward boundary into the 20th century, but by the 1918 Ordnance Survey map boundaries have been rationalised, and although in places the circular line survived, most now follow streets rather than arbitrarily cutting through houses, etc.

Sources: David Griffiths: Pioneers or partisans? – governing Huddersfield 1820-1848 (Hudds Local History Soc, 2008); information from Milestone Society members.  RWH / March 2012.

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Dial Stone at Slaithwaite Manor House

Slaithwaite’s Dial Stone: a Roman milestone

Dial Stone at Slaithwaite Manor HouseIn the 16th century a stone was found in Booth Bank Clough, between Slaithwaite and Marsden, one of the little streams that drops down into the River Colne.  It was set up, in 1587, in the grounds of Slaithwaite Manor House, and became known as the Dial or Dyall Stone.  Despite having been taken, for some unknown reason, to the Isle of Man in the 19th century, and later re-sited outside Slaithwaite Town Hall on Lewisham Road, it can still be seen at the Manor House, off Nabbs Lane in the centre of Slaithwaite.

It is cylindrical, about five feet in height, 19” in diameter and with a circumference of five feet.  There are no signs of any inscription on it.

For a long time it has been thought to be a Roman milestone, and recent excavations by the Huddersfield and District Archaeological Society have shown that it almost certainly is one.  A route connecting the fort at Castleshaw in Saddleworth via Marsden to the fort at Slack, near Outlane on the outskirts of Huddersfield, has long been reported to exist (eg by mapmaker John Warburton in 1720), but its exact line had always been in doubt.  Excavations by the Society over nearly 40 years have now enabled this route to be ascertained much more clearly, and a milestone could well have been erected near the spot where the Dial Stone was found.  The absence of an inscription is not unusual: letters, etc could have been painted on it.

Although the Dial Stone had a sundial positioned on it at one point in its eventful history, it is probable that Dial is an alternative form of the word Devil, from some mediaeval superstition relating monoliths such as this to the Devil.  Roman milestones have elsewhere been referred to as “devil stones”, and one of the milestones now at Aldborough was found at a place still known as Duel Cross – Duel being one of several variant forms of the same concept.  The Devil was thought to be responsible for all sorts of geological formations or prehistoric features (causeways, dykes, ditches, etc).

It has been suggested that a stone that can be seen in a garden in nearby Golcar is also a milestone from the same road.  It is very similar in size and shape.  This is on Church Street near its junction with Manor Road.

Sources: Norman Lunn and others: The Romans came this way (HDAS, 2008); www.roman-britain.org

RWH / rev October 2021

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A hexagonal guide-stoop near Stocksbridge

One of the most unusual guide-stoops in the county can be found just off the A616 Stocksbridge bypass in South Yorkshire: it is, as far as we know, unique in having six sides.

In the absence of pointing fingers, a traveller was to take the road to the right while facing the destination name on the stone.  But here the road layout is far from clear: in fact there are only five routes leading from the stoop in evidence today.

Going anti-clockwise from the north the destinations read as follows:

a)  Peni / stone / Huthe / rsfield / & / Halli / fax.  This route is shown on the modern OS map only as a right of way heading north-north-west from the stone.

b)  Wood / head / & / Mottra[m].  The present Salter Hill Lane; as its name implies, this route is the old saltway from Cheshire via Longdendale to Yorkshire, preceding but following roughly the same route as the 1732-40 turnpike, now the A628; several old milestones survive on it.

c)  Under / bank / & / Brad / field.  Going roughly southwards: the present Underbank Lane.

d)  Shef / field / & / Rotter / eham.  The main continuation of the saltway into South Yorkshire: the present Tofts Lane.

e)  Barns / ley / & / Ponte / fract / 1734 / Don / caster.  There is no obvious route going in this direction from this point.

f)  Wake / field / & / Leeds.  The present Dyson Cote Lane, heading north-north-east. 

The easiest way to find the stone is from the Stocksbridge bypass (A616): take the turn-off south directing to the Steelworks (West Access), followed shortly by the next left turn, which is Underbank Lane, going under the bypass and uphill to the junction.

Sources: English Heritage; and B Elliott: Discovering South Yorkshire (1998)
RWH / March 2012

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Chapelry boundary stones

Up to the 19th century a parish was a parish, for both church and local government purposes.  In the north some parishes were very large, covering many separate settlements.  (The largest was Rochdale, whose huge area extended even into Yorkshire).  For local government purposes these large parishes were divided into townships; Bradford, for example, contained thirteen and Halifax over twenty.  Similarly, for ecclesiastical purposes, because the parish church could be so far away, chapelries were created, and chapels of ease were built in outlying districts (eg at Elland, Heptonstall, Ripponden and Sowerby in Halifax parish).

By the 19th century, however, things were changing, and the Church of England was facing a number of challenges: rapid population growth; the social upheaval caused by the industrial revolution; and the growth of non-conformism.  Its response was to build thousands of new churches, all over England and Wales.

For each one the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would present a draft order to the monarch for the creation of a new chapelry.  These orders were all published in the London Gazette – then as now the repository for all official public notices.  The full text of this is available online at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/, and it has a sophisticated advanced search facility.

The orders follow a standard pattern.  For example, the 1860 order for Upper Hopton St John, in the West Riding, gives firstly the reason for a new chapelry: “at certain extremities of the [parishes] of Mirfield and … Kirkheaton … which lie contiguous one to another … there is collected together a population which is situate at a distance from the several churches of [the] respective parishes”.

Then follows a detailed description (the schedule) of the line its boundary will follow.  Boundary stones are often mentioned: from its stated starting point the Upper Hopton boundary extends “northeastward, for a distance of 3,294 feet, to a point where a boundary stone inscribed ‘U. H. St. J. C. C. 1860, No. 1’ has been placed.”  It goes on to describe the locations of eight more boundary stones.

In the single issue of the London Gazette that includes the Upper Hopton chapelry (no 22440, published on 30th October, 1860) there are no fewer than 25 orders for new chapelries, of which nine have references to boundary stones.  Unlike Upper Hopton, however, most have only two or three.

Where none are mentioned the usual explanation would appear to be that the boundary line is fairly clear, following named roads, or that the boundary is the same as an existing township (or occasionally hamlet) boundary.  Interestingly they do not always follow an obvious existing boundary.

Most boundary stones were carved to a standard format, always using abbreviations.  Thus in the photograph here we have the place name (Batley), the church name (St T – the lowercase t of St has got chipped off here), the chapelry type (here DC for District Chapelry), the date (year), and finally the number as given in the schedule (including No 1 if there is only one).  Chapelries were of two kinds: a district chapelry if the new district was carved out of a single existing parish; or a consolidated chapelry (CC) if it was created out of more than one.

So far in Yorkshire we have found chapelry boundary stones for a number of churches, but many more remain to be tracked down.  This is very much work in progress, but those found so far are:

Abbeydale [Sheffield] St John CC, 1877: at least one of six survive; others not yet traced

Batley St Thomas DC, 1869: two of five stones survive

Cleckheaton St Luke District, 1878: no stones traced to date

Dewsbury St Mark CC, 1868: one stone to trace

Dewsbury St Philip CC, 1879: two stones named: to be checked

Girlington [Bradford] St Philip DC, 1860: one stone outside a car showroom on Thornton Road, opposite junction with Hockney Road

Harley Wood [Todmorden] All Saints CC, 1864: one stone – traced 

Helme [Meltham] District, 1854: two stones, both still in situ

Hunslet [Leeds] St Cuthbert CC 1885: two stones listed: to check

Lepton St John DC, 1870: three stones, all still in situ

Mirfield Eastthorpe St Paul CC, 1881: two stones, neither currently traced, though one was photographed c 1985. 

Rawmarsh [Rotherham] Park Gate Christ Church CC, 1869: four stones, to be checked 

Ryhill [near Wakefield] St James CC, 1876: two stones located so far (out of five)

Stanningley St Thomas DC, 1862: at least two of the three stones survive

Thorpe [Sowerby Bridge] St John CC, 1881: two stones, both still in situ

Upper Hopton [Mirfield] St John CC, 1860: originally nine stones, but only one found so far

Windhill [Shipley] Christ Church DC, 1870: one of the five stones has been recorded

As well as these there are others where no stones exist due to later road etc developments.  

The orders in the London Gazette also refer to plans, though these are not published in the journal.  Presumably they exist in the National Archives, and copies may be available in local archives, though their survival locally would appear to depend on the whims of local vicars.  You may find maps showing ecclesiastical parish boundaries, however, on a useful Church of England website,  www.achurchnearyou.com.  This lists every church in England with a map (click on ‘Find us’), which often, but not always, shows the actual parish boundary.  Where churches have amalgamated into teams, however, only the present boundary is shown.

The New Parishes Act of 1843 made a provision that any new ecclesiastical district constituted under the Act would automatically become a new parish when the church had been consecrated.

Source: adapted from a talk to the Milestone Society by Richard Heywood at Hebden, April 2010.  RWH / last updated Jan 2022

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The Mattison mileposts of the North Riding

William Mattison of Richmond started a foundry in 1851 on railway company land at Leeming Bar (on the Great North Road in Bedale Parish).  They made almost anything that could be cast in iron, from mill machinery to oven doors. And mileposts.  They made at least three designs of post, of which about 100 survive in North Yorkshire.

The earliest were the triangular posts produced for some local Highways Boards, including Askrigg, Richmond, Hang East  and Langbaurgh West (the last two taking their names from the wapentakes).  (Highway Districts had been set up to maintain major roads in groups of parishes in rural areas.  They became increasingly common after 1862, and also took over any turnpike trusts which became insolvent.)

These have raised pointing hands at the top of each face, though on many posts the hands pointed the wrong way – possibly through mis-information, the founders being confused working with a mirror image mould, or the milepost being erected on the wrong side of the road.  Consequently, new hands were made and fixed over the offending ones; or sometimes the hands were repainted pointing in the opposite direction.  Examples of both can still be seen.  The words F Mattison & Co / Bedale appear inside.

With the establishment of County Councils in 1888 the functions of the Highway Boards were taken over, and there are two designs of posts made for the North Riding County Council.   The more elaborate of these has a round top with a Yorkshire rose surrounded by the words North Riding of Yorkshire; below this, on the bevel, is the name of the RDC (rather than the parish) or UDC.  The direction is indicated by elegant flighted arrows.  The word MILES appears if only one place is named; if more than one, MILES is omitted.  These have the same maker’s name as the Highway District type.

The other, probably later, NRYCC type is much simpler (and cheaper).  Similar to the HD type, but wider (22” compared with 14”), it simply has NRYCC on the bevel, and no hands or arrows.  It has Yorks added to the maker’s name.

By 1913, perhaps when the County Council had completed their mileposts programme, the company was advertising cast iron boundary posts, and claiming to have made “many hundreds“ of boundary posts.

They were taken over in 1937 by John H Gill & Sons Ltd, agricultural engineers, still trading at Leeming Bar.

Main source: Article by Christine Minto in the Milestone Society Newsletter, no 22, Jan 2012, pp34-5.  RWH / February 2012.

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