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Volunteers make their mark and help preserve county's heritage

PUBLISHED: 10:42 03 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:42 03 October 2015

The milepost on Castle Acre Road in Swaffham has best renovated - From left, Rory Gagen, Swaffham Mayor Anne Thorp, Roger Harvey and Tony Garrod. Picture: Matthew Usher.

The milepost on Castle Acre Road in Swaffham has best renovated - From left, Rory Gagen, Swaffham Mayor Anne Thorp, Roger Harvey and Tony Garrod. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2015

They hark back to turnpikes, coaching stations and the Roman Empire but many of the country's mileposts have fallen in to disrepair or been lost.

The milepost on Castle Acre Road in Swaffham has best renovated. Picture: Matthew Usher.The milepost on Castle Acre Road in Swaffham has best renovated. Picture: Matthew Usher.

That is why a group of volunteers have taken the time to preserve part of our county’s heritage by restoring a marker in Swaffham.

Looking rusty and forlorn, the milestone, on the A1065, was given a new lease of life by local Milestone Society volunteers Tony Garrod and Roger Harvey and assisted by 12-year-old Rory Gagen, a pupil at The Nicholas Hammond Academy, who applied the first coat of white paint.

Dating to the early 1900s, this milepost is one of a set of eight remaining on the Swaffham to Fakenham road which were cast by Pertwee & Back of Yarmouth and bear the wording NCC Main Road.

So far, only one other of this set has been renovated, this with the help of South Acre children.

Did you know?

-The first milestones were obelisks which marked distances along Roman roads to increase the efficiency of the Roman armies.

-The Latin for thousand was mille and the distance was 1618 yards; the British standard mile is 1760 yards.

-The first markers were laid along the Appian Way which linked Rome to Brindisi in southern Italy.

-In later years markers have been put down to help travellers know where they are and to stay on the right track.

-When turnpikes, early toll booths used to pay local worthies for the maintenance of roads, were erected in the 18th and 19th centuries it was law to have a post at each one.

-A plaque near to the Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross is used as the point to which other towns, villages and mileposts measure their distance from London.

-On modern-day highways, driver location signs are placed every 100m on motorways and some other major roads.

A ceremony saw the renovated milestone unveiled by town mayor Anne Thorp and Rory.

Those who attended included Waitrose manager Stephen Graham, county archeologist David Gurney and county councillor Paul Smythe.

Nigel Ford, who is a committee member of the Milestone Society, said it was important for children to learn about our country’s heritage.

He said: “Milestones are an important part of our roadside history and some of them date back 200 years, so they are worth preserving.

“It is important for children to be involved with our heritage as they will be around way after we have gone so it is for them that we preserve it. That is why we try to involve children in our restorations.”

Funding for the work was provided by Norfolk County Council and Waitrose Swaffham.

Are you doing something to preserve our county’s heritage? Email doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk or newsdesk@archant.co.uk



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