The West Riding County Council erected over 600 new milestones throughout the county in the 1890s, but many roads were not included. Unless there was a never-proceeded-with plan for a second phase we are yet to find out why these roads, including some major ones, often retain their original turnpike milestones to this day.
One such road, albeit a minor one, was that from Lockwood (a mile south of Huddersfield) to Meltham, four miles away. At Lockwood this turnpike left the existing road to Holmfirth which went over Holme Moss into what was then Cheshire (now Derbyshire). To get to Meltham before this turnpike was constructed travellers (including goods from Meltham’s growing textile industry) had to take one of various roundabout routes (eg from Huddersfield via Blackmoorfoot).
The turnpike trust had been established quite late, in 1818. It was never popular, and in 1874 the Meltham Local Board petitioned, successfully, for it to be wound up. They complained that the trust had collected tolls but paid nothing for repairs to the road, which the township had had to make. Also, companies taking goods to the station at Meltham used only a short length of the road but still had to pay large tolls. The railway branch line to Meltham had opened in 1868 and itself contributed to the demise of the turnpike trust.
All three of the original milestones survive on this road, marking two, three and four miles from Huddersfield (the one-mile stone was on the Holmfirth Woodhead road). They are of a similar, but not quite identical, style. The one illustrated (two miles to Huddersfield, three to Meltham) stands just north of the turn-off to Armitage Bridge. There is also a later 1½ mile “to and from” stone, put up by Huddersfield Corporation around the 1890s, and boundary stones of a similar date as the road passed through South Crosland township.
A few years later the Meltham and Wessenden Head Trust (set up by an Act of Parliament in 1825) continued the road to join the Greenfield and Shepley Lane Head turnpike), a couple of miles before the Saddleworth boundary. Although milestones were statutorily required there is no sign of any, and the mid-century Ordnance Survey maps do not show any, although there is a nice Meltham/Marsden boundary stone – which does not appear on the maps either.
RWH / July 2020