Back in 2014, the Warwickshire group researched the history of some tall cast iron poles that were originally surmounted by large direction boards showing the distances to London, Stratford and Long Compton, along the route of the 1730 Stratford to Long Compton Turnpike.
Up in West Yorkshire, we were frequently dismayed at the lack of knowledge about imperial distance measurements that was displayed by bright young Cubs and Scouts as well as the keen construction students taking part in the Beyond Graffiti project. They had no idea about how many yards make a mile, which is worrying considering that the older ones are learning to drive and our road system is still calibrated in yards and miles. How to remedy this shortfall?
“Wouldn’t it be great if every child in England had the opportunity of learning about imperial distances and milestones?!”
We’d tried to get milestones into the National Curriculum via poetry in the past; those who came to our meeting at Snibston will recall the energetic teacher from a Sheffield Comprehensive, demonstrating how to incorporate creative writing about milestones. And we set up the “Wayside Verse” section of our website to encourage and inspire others, but have made few inroads. Well, why not link it to the gory “Highwayman” poem, by Alfred Noyes, taught in Key Stage 2 to years 5 or 6, at the top of primary, by creating an educational resource for teachers who are charged with delivering it?
Heritage Lottery Fund took great interest in our aspirations and have granted us £36k of funding for the development of the education resource, including a video of the Highwayman whose authentic performances were star attractions at both the Beyond Graffiti and Crossing the Pennines events.
Coupled with this is a national poetry competition on the theme of ‘Milestones’ to be run on behalf of the Society by WriteOutLoud, a group promoting poetry and gigs throughout the UK and beyond – and the restoration of the unique Warwickshire mileposts. We've called the project "Finding the Way".
The two education and restoration streams will come together in summer 2017, with museum exhibitions and a display at Long Compton village fete to celebrate the outcomes; our Annual Conference will be also be held in Warwickshireshowcasing the winning poems as well as the restoration works..
You can find more details of each of the activities on the website, as they roll out.
Why not dip your quill in the inkwell and enter the WoL competition yourself?!
Project contact: Jan Scrine