Between Farndon and Aldford there are three very fine 1898 milestones dotted along the road, following the line of the Farndon branch of the old Chester to Worthenbury turnpike (toll road), all on the west side of the road. The photos here show those mileposts that remain between Farndon and Aldford along the B5130, organized from south (Farndon) to north (Aldford) via Churton. Two other photos show milestones between Aldford and Huntington, but I have no idea if there are some missing along that particular route.
The photos of the milestones along the Farndon to Aldford stretch are mine, but the two to the north of Aldford, as the B5130 approaches Huntington, are by other people, found online, because I have not yet managed to track them down in the real world. Please see the captions for image credits. All photos can be clicked on to see the bigger image, in which the text on the mileposts can be read clearly (except, of course, where vegetation blocks the view). For the ones I’ve seen myself, I have taken What Three Words readings to fix the location. What Three Words is a smartphone app that assigns three words to uniquely describe areas a little smaller than the size of a parking space. It’s simpler than other location systems, and fixes locations very precisely, world-wide. It is particularly useful for finding people in emergencies, but I thought it would be useful for enabling people to relocate the mileposts when they become overgrown.
All English turnpike Acts, each created by a separate Act of Parliament, had expired by the end of the 19th Century. The Local Government Act of 1888 put responsibility for roads into the hands of local councils, making nearly all of the remaining turnpikes redundant. Sections 92 to 98 of the 1888 Act, however, provided for some exclusions and section 97 enabled Chester County Council to initially avoid taking responsibility for the Chester to Worthenbury turnpike. Eventually, the Council was forced to take over all the local roads and in 1898 it erected a number of particularly handsome mileposts in Cheshire, including those along the route of the former Chester to Worthenbury turnpike, by then defunct, as well as the Farndon branch of the turnpike. I have posted about the Chester to Worthenbury turnpike – part 1 about the background to turnpikes and part 2 about the Chester to Worthenbury turnpike in particular.
None of the mileposts that must have been erected during the 1854 turnpiking of the road have survived. Milestones or mileposts were erected from the first half of the 17th Century onwards, starting in southeast England, mainly for the benefit of mail coaches and other passenger vehicles. Turnpikes were merely encouraged to install mile posts from the 1740s but they became a legal requirement from 1766 when it was found that as well as being useful for coachmen and passengers, it enabled accurate measuring of distances for the pricing of different routes. It also helped to improve improved the reliability of timetables, something to which the turnpikes themselves, had enabled, particularly relevant in bad weather. Assuming that mileposts were erected when the 1854 turnpike was established, they were presumably removed when the 1898 milestones were installed.
The 1898 mileposts are all the same, painted white with black lettering, and consisting of hollow metal posts with two sides meting in the middle, topped with a triangular cap that is tipped towards the road. The triangular cap says, in all cases, “Chester County Council 1898.” The two sides, each facing into the oncoming traffic, give the number of miles to key destinations in each direction. On the southernmost face, the manufacturer’s mark “W.H. Smith and Co., Makers, Whitchurch” is shown below the mileages. There are no backs on the mileposts. The ones shown here are in good condition. Being on the side of a very busy road, they are vulnerable to exhaust fumes and road dirt sprayed during rainy periods. I don’t know who maintains them, but in other parts of Cheshire many have needed to undergo restoration, some having been in very poor condition. A lot of this work has been lead by the Milestone Society in co-operation with the relevant council.
The survival of these mileposts is remarkable and a pleasure to see. Although I haven’t yet found them, there are apparently two others on the B5130 north of Aldford.
One is at Crook of Dee shown above left, decoratively peeping through a fine show of dandelions and dead nettles. However, the photograph was taken during the Milestone Society’s national survey over 18 years ago. It is supposed to be located near to the entrance to Cheaveley Hall Farm, opposite the Cheaveley Hall Cottages, but although I went up there yesterday I couldn’t find it. There’s no pavement, and the traffic is very fast on two blind bends, so I wasn’t able to have a good rumble in the undergrowth. This therefore needs checking in the winter when the vegetation has died off, to ensure that it is still there and hasn’t been lost due to traffic accidents or road widening.
There is also one at Huntington, that I haven’t yet looked for, shown above right. Does anyone know exactly where it is? If there were any others recorded along the road, please do let me know.
According to the Ordnance Survey map, there should be another run of mileposts between Churton and Worthenbury. The first heading south from Churton towards Worthenbury should be somewhere along Sibbersfield Way (which I have repeatedly looked out for in the car when nothing has been behind me, but I still haven’t found) and the rest on the leg of the road south of the bypass that runs towards Worthenbury via Crewe by Farndon and Shocklach through blissful rural fields and past several estates and farms. I made an attempt to locate them during the summer, but only found the nice one in Shocklach, at that time pleasingly accompanied by some lovely roses. I suspect that the rest were hiding in overgrown verges. As with the Crook of Dee milepost, when the vegetation has died down in the winter I will have another go at locating them.
Books and papers
Benford, M. 2002. Milestones. Shire Publications
Crosby, A.G. 2012. New Roads for Old. Cheshire Turnpikes in the Landscape 1700-1850. In (eds.) Varey, S.M. and White, G.J. Landscape History Discoveries in the North West. University of Chester Press, p.190-223.
Local Government Act 1888 (51 and 52 Vict. c.41). Section 97, Saving as to liability for main roads.
Wright, G. N. 1992. Turnpike Roads. Shire Publications Ltd.
Milestone Society Restorations in Cheshire 2008-2009
The Milestone Society
Turnpike Roads in England and Wales