To replace missing road or canal mileposts; to repaint historic canal and roadside mileposts, and other heritage markers and to interpret the historic purpose of road, canal and railway transport through mile markers.
Fit to existing strategies and objectives
This project has arisen as a result of the Heritage Steering Groups interest in the area and the meshing of interests between the Partners, North Staffordshire Railway, Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, Staffordshire County Council and non-partner The Staffordshire branch of the Milestone Society.
Using existing heritage markers for interpretation, this project also links very closely with the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership Interpretation project, who plan to use existing points and markers in the landscape to act as ‘signs’ to interpretation wherever possible with an aim to reducing interpretation litter. Every heritage marker that is liable to be accessible by the community will be marked with a Quick Reference Barcode (see CVLLP 17) and number to cross reference it against information on the heritage of the valley.
Comprehensive description of the project
Volunteers from the Staffordshire branch of the Milestone Society have offered to undertake this project as part of their contribution to the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership project. Working with the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, they will organise the casting and erection of new posts and the cleaning and repainting of existing road mileposts within the Valley.
The replacement of the five missing posts along the route of the Uttoxeter Canal will act as a positive ‘statement of intent’ regarding the long-term commitment of the partners in the Churnet Valley to see the reinstatement of a navigable canal from Froghall to Uttoxeter.
A key element of the project will be the replacing and repairing a distinctive “bobbin” milepost which will reinstate the complete line of posts along the A523 between Leek and Mayfield. It is thought that, once the missing post is replaced this will be the only full series of such bobbin posts in the world.
Works programmed 2012 to 2016: Volunteer groups managed by the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust and the Milestone Society will clean, reset and repaint the mileposts.
New mileposts will be cast for the road and canal using existing (reproduction from 1970’s) moulds for the canal markers and a new mould commissioned for the roadside marker.
The new cast for the bobbin would be prepared by James Shenton and Company, of Great Bridge, Tipton, near Dudley. They have a long standing experience of casting heritage structures, being involved in replacement mileposts for both the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1979, and the Caldon Canal in 1981. Once a pattern has been created, it can act as a template for other bobbin style mileposts throughout the region, for example, in the 1980’s, a series of bobbin posts were systematically uprooted and stolen from the Leek to Buxton road, leaving only four in place. This pattern could be used by any relevant local authority in the area to replace missing bobbin posts, albeit outside of the CVLLP area. It is thus envisaged that the local heritage of the area could benefit more widely than merely the replacement of one such item. The cast for the canal mileposts already exists and will be supplied to the contractor for casting.
New mileposts will be installed by volunteers, the Bobbin post to be located in conjunction with Staffordshire County Council utilising their H&S requirements and working under milestone society insurance.
Interpretation of the mileposts on roads and canals and marker posts on the railway will be undertaken by the Milestone Society and will feed into the overall interpretation strategy for the Churnet Valley Living Landscape.
Who will benefit?
The wider community and visitors to the Churnet Valley
Replacing the missing posts and improving the existing posts will promote awareness of the Uttoxeter Canal for walkers along the route of the Canal and promote the line of the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals as the spine route through the Churnet Valley. Interpretation of marker posts on road, rail and canal will promote understanding of the workings of transport within the industrial heritage of the valley.
Outputs and outcomes
- replace 1 road and 5 canal mileposts
- repaint 52 canal and roadside mileposts
- written Interpretation of the significance of road, canal and railway marker posts used across the CVLLP area
- A full suite of bobbin and canal heritage mileposts within the CVLLP.
- A heritage based and novel point for access to modern and traditional interpretation and learning material about the heritage of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape.
The existing canal posts are in the ownership of British Waterways, who are partners in CVLLP. Where the old Uttoxeter Canal route lies across private land permission to erect the posts will be gained, and confirmed with a letter of intent. Ownership of the posts will remain within the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust so the land owner could require their removal in future but ownership would not be an issue. The road posts are owned by Staffordshire County Council, also partners. With the exception of possible (but unusual) theft, there are no tenure issues for this project.
What happens when the project is finished?
This is a one-off project which will put the heritage markers of the valley into good conservation order. Once completed the marker should not require any maintenance for more than 10 years, by which time the Staffordshire Milestone Society should have revisited them all for a repainting.
Risks and constraints
Risk: Landowner fails to allow erection of markers. All of the road markers are on the public highway and most of the canal markers are on British waterways or Statutory Body land. However, where the old Uttoxeter Canal route lies across private land and the owners’ permission cannot be gained the cast post will be stored against future use.
Where possible, during conversation with adjacent landowners invasive species will be raised as an issue and landowners encouraged to deal with them where practicable.
Travel by car will be kept to minimum while undertaking practical tasks, resetting and repainting projects will be planned to shorten travel between markers where possible.