Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Mar 2013

John Armstrong & Brenda Fox
Turnpike Roads and the work of the Milestone Society.
Tue 12 Mar 2013

John’s introduction explained the Milestone Society is a national registered charity set up in 2001 currently with 400 members. The Lancashire group, of which John and Brenda are a part, was set up 2 years ago. This talk was not only to explain about the society’s campaigns to conserve milestones and waymarkers but also about turnpike roads and toll houses.

Brenda then explained that because of the terrible state of roads turnpike trusts were set up by Acts of Parliament from 1706 to the 1840’s. These trusts were set up locally in order to raise money in order to improve road conditions. This involved road building, their straightening, widening and repair. Charges or tolls were levied on those who used the road. The term ‘turnpike’ came from the spiked barrier at the tollgate.

Lancashire’s first turnpike in 1725 was between Liverpool and Prescot. Maps were used to illustrate the growing extent of turnpikes across Lancashire at various times throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Tollgates were built near junctions and those manning them were housed in an adjacent tollhouse. Tollhouses were built in different styles and various examples of these were shown that still exist in north and central Lancashire.

Milestones were a feature on all turnpikes and Brenda took us on a journey along the A6 from Broughton, north of Preston, to Lancaster to illustrate this. They were in various states of wear and tear but a complete set exists between Broughton and Garstang. Many were defaced during the World War II to confuse potential invaders and were not restored. Sadly, further losses have occurred due to weathering, being hit by vehicles and hedge cutting equipment and some have fallen victim to theft. This is despite the fact that milestones are classed as a Grade II listed building.

The front page of the Part of the Act to create the Turnpike Trust on the Great Road to Gloucester in 1738


Rutted road before the Turnpikes

Brenda went on to say that during the turnpike era road improvements, particularly the type developed by John Loudon McAdam, were being adopted by trustees. Turnpikes, however, declined with the advent of canals and, furthermore, by railways. Consequently, turnpike trusts were wound up by the late 19th century with responsibility of roads being passed to local councils.

Why should milestones be conserved? John explained they are one of the few vestiges that remain of the first national road system since Roman times. He concluded by stating the Milestone Society’s activities and how we can help by spotting milestones and reporting any damage or theft.

Peter Robinson


An example of the effects of theft on the milestones. The left image shows all that remains of the milestone near to Lower Wheelon on Whinns Lane, the former A674 Blackburn - Chorley Road. On the right is the stone in 2002 before the theft. The next milestone towards Chorley at Gorse Close has recently been stolen.

An example form the Milestone Society database.
They also have an excellent website which allows viewing and downloading.


Annual meal at the Seaview, Whittle-le-Woods.
Fri 08 Mar 2013

Another lovely evening was enjoyed by our members at our Annual meal held at the Sea View on 8th March 2013 . Excellent food, excellent company, lots of chatter and socialising. Thank you all for your continuing support of our meetings and activities. We now have 3 birthdays that are celebrated either on or around this date, namely: Julie, Paul and Rosemary. Happy birthday all for the 10th. !!!!!



BBC TV North West News
Thu 07 Mar 2013

After carrying out filming around the site of the Clayton/Leyland Reservoir last Fri 1 March 2013 the edited film was shown on tonight's BBC TV North West Tonight. The item was short but covered all the main points very well. It showed the important heritage that the reservoir represents and how the local residents and the pupils of Manor Road would like to see it preserved in some way.

Colin Sykes - Environment Correspondent
BBC TV North West Tonight

Roger Johnson and Annabel Tiffin introduce the item.

Harrison Boyd explaining the importance
of preserving heritage

Pupils of Manor Road School studying
the history of the reservoir.