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