Between Aldford and Farndon 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. Other photos show milestones between Aldford and Huntington, plus one in Farndon, but I have no idea if there are some missing along that particular route. At the moment they are in no particular order but I will eventually, when I have found a few more, organize them from north to south.
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. I have now found all of the ones on the former Chester to Worthenbury turnpike. I only found the Crook of Dee milepost in November 2021, after hunting for it for ages. It was completely concealed by undergrowth in the summer and it was only after leaf fall, and with the hedge cut back, that I eventually found it, covered in ivy but still there. The photograph of the Crook of Dee shown above left, decoratively peeping through a fine show of dandelions and dead nettles is from the Geograph website, taken during the Milestone Society’s national survey over 18 years ago, and is a particularly nice photograph so I have left it here. My own photograph is at right. I cleared the ivy as best I could on a very dangerous stretch of road with no footpath and only a tiny verge, but it is in fair condition, albeit very rusty. The What3Words address for it is shown on the image to the right. It is located opposite the Cheaveley Hall Cottages,
There is also one at Huntington, for which I kept an eye open for months, and found on the same day as the Cheaveley Hall one. It is shown left, along with its What3Words location. It is in excellent condition on a grass verge, just north of a pedestrian crossing.
The Ordnance Survey map, shows 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)
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, few months later I found the one to the north of Crewe by Farndon, which had been revealed by hedge-cutting. It is in the grass verge on the west side of the road, just before Caldecott Farm.
Not so shiny and new as some of them, but still hanging on in there! It is located just short of a farm on the left heading south (the east), and is on the west side of the road about two or so metres to the right of a telegraph pole. I will go back and get an exact What Three Words location for it next time I’m in that area, but for the time being it is roughly at ///rainfall.duplicity.proofs.
During the summer I was able to find the nice one in Shocklach, thankfully not hiding in a hedge and at that time pleasingly accompanied by some lovely roses.
I suspect that the rest are still hiding in overgrown verges. As with the Crook of Dee milepost, as the vegetation dies down this winter I will continue to look for them. When I have the full set I’ll put them into north-south order.
The Sibbersfield Lane milepost, which is on the stretch of road from Churton towards Crewe-by-Farndon, about halfway down before reaching the bypass, is slowly diving into a ditch. It’s a terrible photograph but I was not going to risk getting out of the car to take it, as it is a very nasty and fast stretch of road. I forgot to take its What3Words location, but will go back and re-take the photograph and note the location on a quiet day, preferably when the road is closed! Taken in March 2022:
In May 2022 I was diverted due to the Holt-Farndon bridge closure down Barton Road, the road that runs through Farndon from the bridge, and noticed a milestone on the south side of the road. I was in a hurry so didn’t stop, but went back in early July, half expecting it to be completely subsumed into the hedge that stood behind it, but not a chance. Someone is looking after it beautifully (with thanks). It’s What3Words location is ///warned.tower.mascots, which you can see on a map at https://what3words.com/warned.tower.mascots.
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