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National Events & Activities

An Annual Conference/AGM is held early in October, usually in the Midlands. Regional groups host the Spring Meeting; both include a variety of speakers, presentations and discussions.

County and Local Groups organise events ranging from formal meetings with speakers through coffee mornings and themed walks.

The County and Local Groups raise funds for restoration, conservation and rescue projects, including obtaining grants from Local Authorities, Parishes, Heritage Funding and other initiatives.

They also raise awareness of the Society and its aims by giving talks to other societies, schools and special interest groups and by obtaining press coverage; for information on your County Group, email Derek Turner.

NATIONAL & REGIONAL EVENTS – DIARY

For details of all events, programmes and reports, please see the local section of the appropriate Regional Web Pages    ‘Around Your Region’   http://www.mileston.echoechoplus.com/regions/

All members, guests and visitors are welcome at all our meetings

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15th March 2014: Mid-shires Regional Meeting, Aynho, Northants

29th March 2014: South-West Regional Meeting, Stoke Gifford, Bristol

13th April 2014: Northern Spring Meeting, Hebden, Nr Grassington, N Yorks

10th May 2014:  National Spring Meeting, Rothwell, Northants

The Venue for our Spring Meeting on 10th May 2014 will be Rothwell Junior School, Northants, plenty of free parking. Our Guest Speaker will tell us about Queen Eleanor and her crosses, Dr Keith Lawrence will shed different light on Tollkeepers' Professions. Michael Knight will enlighten us on the Northants turnpikes and Helen Crabtree will cover postboxes and milestones. Another fascinating day in prospect!

12-27 July 2014: Festival of British Archaeology 

Highwayman ‘Swift Nicks’ Nevison will be prowling the Beyond-Graffiti celebration at Oakwell Hall, Kirklees :  www.Beyond-Graffiti.co.uk

4th October 2014 : Annual Conference and AGM, Droitwich, Worcestershire

 


PAST NATIONAL & REGIONAL EVENTS:

Saturday 5th October 2013  AGM and Annual Conference

Saturday 13th to Sunday 28th July 2013  FESTIVAL OF BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY 2013  

Seven enthusiastically-supported themed events, walks, rides and talks around the country – reports are on the Regional Web Pages for Yorkshire, North West, South West, West Midlands, South East (Oxon)

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To find out what happened at the MidShires Meeting at Aynho in March 2013, the Northern Spring Meeting at Hebden in April 2013 and the National Spring Meeting at Teignmouth in May 2013, please see the respective Regional web pages.

The FESTIVAL OF BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY 2013  Saturday 13th to Sunday 28th July

Seven themed events, walks, rides and talks around the country - report soon!

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To find out what happened at the MidShires Meeting at Aynho in March 2013, the Northern Spring Meeting at Hebden in April and the National Spring Meeting at Teignmouth in May, please see the respective Regional web pages.

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The FESTIVAL OF BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY, Saturday 14th to Sunday 29th July 2012. Over 80 people took part in our nine events, walks and talks around the country. Preparations for 2013 are already in hand!

www.festival.britarch.ac.uk

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THE AGM & ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Saturday 6th October 2012  After the formality of the AGM, the Conference (in the historic Century Travelling Theatre at Snibston Discovery Park in Leicestershire) was really lively - plenty of interaction and repartee with three excellent speakers covering very different topics.

Howard Smith took us on a fantastic journey throughout the Peak District, marvelling at guideposts (stoops) with quirky phonetic spellings and even mirror-writing.

Lunchtime gave the opportunity to catch up with friends and share stories, then Mike Le-Baigue made us all sit up straight and consider how milestones might be featured in classrooms, using a poem commissioned from F Philip Holland to focus our thoughts. One member of the 'class' even gained an A* for her analysis!

Then Philip Thomas led us down memory lane, showing pictures, many in monochrome, of wayside features from the twentieth century, to some nostalgic murmurs from the audience.

A notable cynic commended the variety of content, adding that it was the first time he had stayed awake through all of the speakers at a national meeting. Praise indeed !!

Lost Presumed Stolen
Ashby Mine Marker - Lost presumed stolen

NATIONAL SPRING MEETING - Saturday 12th May 2012

Seventy-six members and guests assembled at the newly-refurbished Memorial Hall, Burton in Kendal, Cumbria. David Viner welcomed all, and presented a Certificate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to John Armstrong for his work on the Repository. In "Roads around the Sands”, Paul Hindle gave an interesting description of the various possible routes between Lancaster and Furness, a comprehensive introduction to the local geography for those of us who were visitors. Next, Colin Smith shared his extensive restoration and research activities "Challenges to Cumbria Milestone Restorations", an inspiring and well-illustrated overview of the good work that has been done, as well as introducing us to the variety of styles of milestones in the area.

Andrew Gill’s authentic Magic Lantern Show made us laugh and cry with illuminated examples from Victorian England; we were intrigued by the complexities of the special effects, including the sleeping man eating a rat!  "Any Old Iron" encompassed a round-up of fingerpost restorations by Mike Lea & Mike Kingsbury, David Gosling demonstrated best restoration practice from Wales and Duncan Armstrong rounded off an action-packed day with a slideshow in his inimitable style. One of the most enjoyable Spring Meetings we’ve had!      Liz Hayes (West Yorkshire)
Liz photographs poorly restored milestone on A6         A6 milestone close up
 Liz snaps a badly-restored milestone on the A6

Restoration of Banbury Milestone, 20th April 2012
A ceremony to mark the restoration of the long-lost milepost 'Coventry 24' was held on 20th April near Banbury.  Local MP Tony Baldry unveiled the post, which combines a 19c plate rescued from a skip with a modern stone carved by a mason from local Hornton stone.  The ceremony was attended by Councillor Rodney Rose,  Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Sally Leszczynski, chairman of the Bourtons Parish Council, members of the Highways and Transport team who transported and erected the stone and representatives of Marshalls Quarry who worked on the stone, together with members of the Oxford Group of the Milestone Society, including Mervyn Benford project leader and Derek Turner Oxfordshire Representative:

Southam Stone        Southam Stone

 Councillor Rose, Tony Baldry MP and Mervyn Bedford

 

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NORTHERN SPRING MEETING 2012
, Sunday 15th April
Chilly Lambs
Another glorious Spring day in the Yorkshire Dales, the pee-wits decoying, the pheasants whirring, the tiny lambs shivering pitifully on the frosted grass, as 38 milestoners and guests gathered at Hebden near Grassington, to hear our guest speaker Christopher Evans describe his findings on "Trods - paved ways in NE Yorkshire", as used by panniermen, fish merchants and smugglers. David Garside's illustrated talk on Boundary Stones (a wide variety, plain and fancy!) was followed by "Cross at the cross roads, 230 miles to Clovelly and a real puzzle" by Dr Lionel Scott, who showed us some intriguing waymarkers at junctions, ending with a plea for anyone to identify the obliterated destination "67 miles north" on a pre-turnpike milestone from the Great North Road at Robin Hood's Fountain, seven (country?) miles north of Doncaster. Plenty of lively contributions from the floor ensured that this was another enjoyable meeting!

MID-SHIRES REGIONAL MEETING, 3rd March 2012, at Wroxton near Banbury was themed "Turnpike Trusts, Roads and Milestones"

ANNUAL CONFERENCE and AGM at Bicester, Saturday 1st October 2011

NORTHERN SPRING MEETING Sunday 17th April 2011

Glorious weather again in the Dales, the sun shining, curlews burbling, lambs getting stuck in cattle grids, as a record 41 Milestoners assembled  at the Hebden Village Institute, near Grassington, including 7 members of the national committee, lured north by the sheer variety of the programme.

First was Mike Lea with Kate, who managed to convince his audience that fingerposts are actually worth studying, by showing different Cumbrian styles and amusing anecdotes, supplemented with practical expertise by Duncan Armstrong. Following Mike, (by special request!) Janet Niepokojczycka gave her latest talk "The Packhorse in Art and Literature", with colourful illustrations ranging from the Luttrell Psalter to Christmas cards, of beasts of burden and their accoutrements. Lively questions were addressed to both speakers.

The lunch break meant a chance to sample Terry Witham’s cakes as well as to view the many displays. One member had brought a halo fingerpost finial that she had been given by a Highways engineer when undertaking refurbishment; those present debated which museum might be a worthy destination and Settle was the preferred choice.  

Finial                finial

The afternoon session was launched by June Scott with some vivid coaching tales including insights from ‘Pickwick Papers’ then Jeremy Howat explained how the Ryedale project had been such a successful collaboration. Rounding up the day, Christine Minto set a quiz  based on the recent OTG and Newsletter, which caused much merriment as well as blank looks – won by Richard Heywood with just 12 out of a possible 20 marks!

Next year’s meeting will be on SUNDAY April 15 2012; our guest speaker will tell us about Trods & Panniermen; we'll also have an illustrated talk on Boundary Markers. 

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SPRING conference
Ludlow Conference Centre - 14 May 2011
There can be no doubt that after ten years it becomes more difficult to find new meeting venues that will be an attraction for members.  Ludlow is definitely such an attraction.  Not only does the town and its castle deserve a visit but it is surrounded by the majestic scenery of the Clee Hills and a network of old turnpike roads with many surviving toll houses and milestones.

Fifty members gathered at the Ludlow Conference Centre to hear David Viner open the Spring Conference.
The morning session was a double act between Alan Reade, Shropshire representative and Penny Ward, Shropshire's Senior Historic Environment Records Officer.  Alan set the scene with atmospheric photos of ancient ways, mark stones and milestones in the area before describing how John Clarke's turnpike thesis and the turnpike data in Barrie Trinder's industrial archæology books formed the basis for setting up milestone records in Shropshire.  Even at this early stage of recording parish councils were encouraged to adopt their milestones but this encouragement met with a patchy response.

Penny told us the background and purpose of the Historic Environment Record, describing how Shropshire had followed the example of Don Benson of Oxfordshire in setting up record cards, maps and supporting material for what was then the Sites and Monuments Records.  Between 1984 and 1995 the SMRs were gradually transferred to computer.

Meanwhile in 1991 County Conservation Officer Harley Thomas requested the highways divisions to record all the milestones in their area.  Each highways division responded in a different manner and, although a county-wide records set was developed, it sat on the shelf for a few years before being passed to the Sites and Monuments Record.

Dedicated SMR software was purchased due to anticipated problems with the millennium bug and the records were migrated.  Then finally, in 2006 with Heritage Lottery funding, the records were put on line as part of Discovering Shropshire's History.

After lunch the author Heather Hurley treated us to 'Investigating the Old Roads and Green Lanes of Herefordshire: from trackways to turnpikes'.  With illustrations for each, she showed us ridgeways, hollow-ways, packhorse trails, drove roads and industrial routes for lime, stone and timber, explaining to us the differences between them.  Today many of these old routes are only accessible on foot or to horse riders.

     Discussing Connie's book     Heather Hurley and Connie Swan discussing Heather's book

From there she developed the theme to turnpikes, the 1721 Ledbury Road Act being the first road act in Herefordshire.  There were many turnpikes in the area with a 1749 Act providing for no fewer than eleven routes out of Ross.

After a brief mention of toll houses Heather finished with a mention of coaching in Ross in 1843.  Speeds were only 6-8 mph.  Most of the inns had enormous stables and the working life of the horses was only 3-4 years.  In contrast, Richard Wheeler's stage waggon carrying goods from Hereford to London needed 12 horses and only managed 1-2 mph.

Connie Swann provided a fitting end to the day with 'Tales from the Turnpikes'.  With the aid of contemporary illustrations, she told us how travellers resented paying tolls and how people became toll keepers to get their own back on society.  By 1790 most of the counterfeit money was coming from toll houses.  Many ways were found to evade tolls, in some cases using dog carts in place of horses.  There are many tales of highwaymen and of coaches overturning with passengers drowning in floodwater.
Mike Hallett

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5th March 2011 - Mid-shires meeting at Wroxton

The second meeting of this group, comprising members from Berks, Bucks, Glos, West Northants, Oxon, Warwicks and Wilts was attended by 23 people, including four non-members. Widely ranging topics were addressed by the speakers:

Mike Buxton (Warwicks) talked about the nature and history of the remarkable and unique gas-lamp style mile markers found south Warwickshire and described  the various obstacles encountered in getting them restored due to lack of agreement to date between the various bodies involved.

Derek Turner provided a brief introduction to the Repository in Google Earth, demonstrating its facilities as far as possible without an internet connection, and encouraging members to keep it up to date by uploading recent photos and new information.  He also briefly demonstrated Peter Nelson’s on-line maps of Berkshire and Oxfordshire that, unlike Google Earth, show historic roads with milemarkers, both surviving and lost.  In a separate presentation, Derek drew on research using Census Returns  by Alan Rosevear and himself in Oxfordshire into tollhouse keepers and suggested that others might join him in some collaborative research on this topic.

Peter Gulland described and explained why attempts in the early 19th century to re-route the main road from London to Oxford via Thame and the ‘Risborough gap’ to avoid a steep ascent in the Chiltern hills ultimately failed because of opposition from a rival turnpike trust!   John Nicholl provided a well-illustrated tour of the wide variety of Essex milemarkers erected by the various turnpike trusts in the county.

Saturday 20th November 2010 - Looking forward - The Next Ten Years !

What do we want to achieve and how are we going to do it? What will be our legacy? Speakers, debate, discussions, displays, demonstrations....

Everyone welcome to contribute, in person or though their County Representatives.

Venue: Bath Place at the Old Library, LEAMINGTON SPA (not Banbury!)
Doors open 10am for 10.30 start, ending by 4pm.
Address: York Road, Leamington Spa, CV31 3PR. www.bathplace.org. Tel 01926 338421.
The building is partially boarded up but the interior is fine, with a vegetarian cafe for refreshments and a large carpark at the back, on the corner of Avenue Road.

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Tuesday 2 October 2010 - ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND AGM - AGENDA

Black Country Museum, Dudley, West Midlands – where we held our founding meeting on 10th October 2000

The Milestone Society National Spring Meeting, 5 May 2010

The 2010 Spring Meeting was held in the historic listed Moulsham Mill situated close to the town centre of Chelmsford, Essex.  Despite being on the ‘wrong’ side of London - people like to avoid the horrors of the M25 motorway - the meeting was well attended with Society members coming from as far away as Devon, Worcestershire and Yorkshire.  The event marked a milestone in the Society’s history being its twentieth national meeting.

After the Chairman’s welcoming message the proceedings began with an illustrated talk by Carol Haines, the Norfolk county representative, giving an overview of the milestones of Norfolk and some other associated turnpike related artefacts.

The second talk of the morning was presented by Richard Oliver.  The subject was the lost milestones of Lincolnshire as based of map evidence with possible explanations for the anomalies of the differing positions of milestones on maps of different period.

The morning session was completed with an illustrated talk by Colin Woodward about the turnpike routes and milestones in the traditional county of Middlesex.  Colin traced from east to west and pointed out the numerous London starting points for turnpikes passing through Middlesex.

The afternoon session commenced with a talk by Patrick Taylor who has authored several county based books on toll houses.  Patrick gave a ‘local vernacular’ overview of toll house types then continued with examples of surviving toll houses in Suffolk and Norfolk in keeping with an East Anglian theme for the meeting.

The final presentation of the day came from John V Nicholls, the Milestone Society’s county representative for Essex and host for the day.  With the use of a digital display of maps and photographs, John showed the development of the Essex Turnpike Trust from its first Act of 1695.  The talk finished with a brief description of other Essex turnpikes in the south west and west of the county.

NORTHERN SPRING MEETING

A sunny morning in the Dales, with curlews warbling and lambs frisking, saw thirty Milestoners occupy the Village Institute at Hebden. Terry Witham gave us a light hearted introduction with her research on the history of the village, followed by our guest speaker Dr Geoffrey Boswell who amused and enlightened us with his anecdotes about Causeways, Guide Posts and Crosses around Todmorden.

The quality of the displays was outstanding this year (our 7th meeting in Hebden) and they were eagerly discussed over lunch, while munching Terry's delicious chocolate cake. Richard Heywood then introduced us to his discoveries on Chapelry boundary stones, followed by Christine Minto who took us on a tour of North Yorkshire and Scotland, well illustrating the vast variety of waymakers that exist. Finally the Dynamic Duo Jeremy and Dave updated the meeting with news of their restoration projects.

The speakers are already lined up for another varied programme in April 2011, on Sunday 17th, see you there!

ROSS ON WYE BLITZED - 9th-10th April 2010 

A concentrated effort was launched on the Hereford/Gloucester/Monmouth areas, to update and complete the Society's survey records. 

Eight local members and guests were joined by committee members for a very enjoyable as well as productive weekend.  Mike Faherty's hard work in organising the weekend so well was greatly appreciated -  he even ordered some fabulous weather! Mike's careful planning really paid off and made it straightforward for the spotters (not the same as 'easy'!) ; the girls' team managed to cover 22 sites, despite opprobrium from passingmotorists.

A very pleasant and worthwhile event - would any other Rep like to issue a similar invitation sometime?

A Discovery!

One of our guests, discovering the first milestone that was not in the database. 

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Discussing conservation techniques, Autumn workshop 2009

Discussing conservation techniques at the Autumn workshop