Other waymarkers, etc

As well as the main types of waymarker described on other pages, the Milestone Society and its members are interested in many other types of wayside feature.  Needless to say Yorkshire, as befits England’s largest county, has more than its fair share of all these.  For more information, click on the various links below.
Most numerous are finger posts, to be found at huge numbers of road junctions throughout the country.  While perhaps most have been replaced by signposts in the modern standard style, many interesting older ones survive.
Other stones, etc to be found include:
Take-on and take-off stones.  If this were an I-Spy book you would get at least 50 points if you were lucky enough to spot one of these.
Right-of-way stones, such as the Marsden packhorse road stones, subject of a court case in the early 20th century.
Sanctuary stones
Turbary stones
Village signs, originally put up by the Automobile Association, but now almost a new art form.

Wayside crosses

Other interesting features to be found especially in rural areas reflect the history of our highways: these will be found in our Roads and Travel section.
In addition to the milestones on our highways there are mile-markers (and sometimes fractions of miles) to be found on our canals, such as the Leeds-Liverpool and the Huddersfield (Broad and Narrow) Canals, and the Society also records these.
RWH / updated August 2020

The Marsden Packhorse Road Stones

The village of Marsden, on the edge of the Pennine moors in West Yorkshire, has two attractive packhorse bridges: one in the centre, by the church; the other a noted beauty spot at Eastergate, a mile or so up the River Colne.

From the latter a track, the old packhorse road, climbs steeply uphill towards Buckstones on the present A640, and continued to Rochdale. Surviving documents show that this long, straggling path was much used by local carriers in the 18th century, and maintained by the Marsden-in-Huddersfield Township. 

By the late 19th century, however, with the decline of the trade to Rochdale and the development of other forms of transport, the old packhorse route had become little used and had fallen into neglect.  This suited, and played into the hands of, the Lord of the Manor, who resented the effect that passing traffic had on his grouse and was hoping to close the moors.  His gamekeepers were instructed to deter members of the public and threaten “trespassers” with prosecution. 

In 1906 the local Urban District Council, continuing the role of the township highways surveyor, carried out repairs, and matters came to a head.  The Lord of the Manor, Sir Joseph Radcliffe, sued the Council claiming there was no right of way over the moor.

The case was held at Leeds in April 1908.  The Council produced 33 elderly witnesses (the oldest was 92) who recalled using the track as children – ie before the important date of 1835.  The judge concluded that the Lord of the Manor had failed to prove that there was no right of way, but also that the Council had exceeded their rights in the improvements they had carried out.  Accordingly the costs of the case were split between the plaintiff and the defendants.

Among the improvements were 9 stones, carved with the words “P H ROAD”, set up at intervals along the track – a number of which still survive.  These were described by the judge as a “technical trespass”, but did no harm, and might actually help walkers to stick to the path.

Sources: LB Whitehead: Bygone Marsden (c 1942); www.marsdenhistory.co.uk/misc/ph_road_trial.html   RWH / January 2012.

The Marsden Packhorse Road Stones Read More »

Canal milestones

Canals in Yorkshire competed with the turnpikes in the era before the coming of the railways. Some, like the Aire and Calder Navigation and the Don Navigation, were built to make the river system navigable. Others, like the Calder & Hebble Navigation (the first part of which opened in 1770) and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal (opened in 1816) were constructed to provide transport routes into the towns and across the Pennines. 

Barge operators charged their customers by the ton and by the mile, so the distance travelled was very important. Most inland canals and some river navigations had milestones. Whereas many roadside milestones have disappeared during road widening, the canals have been little affected and milestones can still be found on the Calder & Hebble Navigation and the Huddersfield Broad and Narrow Canals. The characteristic triangular cast iron mileposts on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal are replacements for earlier milestones, few of which remain today. Replica milestones can also be found on the Rochdale Canal. 

A walk along the canal towpath provides a quiet respite from the bustle of traffic and a chance to find interesting milestones from the canal era.

More photographs to follow.

RWH / January 2012


Canal milestones Read More »

Finger Posts

In 1961 the Worboys Committee was set up to review road signs, and its recommendations were enacted in 1964.  After this date all new signs throughout the country were to conform to standard designs.

There was no requirement to change existing signs, though on main roads this gradually happened.  On minor roads, however, and in more remote parts, many pre-1964 signposts remain (though some county authorities cheerfully disposed of them).  In 2005 their value to the rural landscape was recognised and councils were encouraged to preserve and maintain surviving fingerposts.

Pictured here is a simple East Riding example, at a crossroads near Londesborough on the Wolds.

See also: Cleckheaton fingerposts

Source: Wikipedia

RWH / Oct 15

Finger Posts Read More »