St. Mary's Mill milestone rescued & repaired

A report from Jon Pontefract

Early in 2011 I was alerted to the fact that a Thames & Severn Canal milestone was broken and obstructing the towpath near St Mary's Mill in Chalford.

Investigation revealed that the extremely cold weather had caused the bank surrounding the milestone to heave and topple the stone.

We moved the stone to the side of the towpath and went away to contemplate a rescue solution.

In March, a team of Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers from the Western Depot went out to retrieve the two halves of the milestone.

The base had to be dug out of the bank and is rather like an iceberg, being much larger below the surface than one would imagine.

The total weight of the two halves is estimated to be some 6 cwt. This presented quite a problem in terms of recovery. The easterly route would have meant the stones having to be brought up steep, narrow and uneven steps at St Mary's Crossing.

There was then the issue of getting a trolley over the main Gloucester to London railway line. With all that in mind the CCT volunteers took the safe but longer haul option by heading west along the towpath towards Wimberley Mills at Brimscombe. 

Bob Hallam, one of the volunteers involved, has family connections with a firm of monumental masons – F.J. Cambridge & Co. of Stroud Road, Gloucester.

A phone call established the very generous agreement that Cambridge's would repair the milestone at no cost to the Trust.

Even more important was the fact that the stone would be repaired to agreed conservation standards approved by English Heritage and The Milestone Society.

The work was done by Dennis Cambridge, his son David and grandson Mark.

The repair utilised a 30mm diameter stainless steel threaded bar which runs vertically in a hole drilled in both halves. See picture right.

This was then bonded in place using epoxy resin. Mortar was used to grout the joint around the fracture line.

The repair will never be seen, as it is just below ground level.

The milestone has now been returned to its proper place at the canal side.

It is impossible to tell that there has ever been a problem with this particular stone – all it now needs is the original iron mileage plate (or a replica plate).

 

The plate would have read Walbridge (original spelling!) 3½ Inglesham 25¼. 

If you know where the original plate is give Jon Pontefract a call on 01453 754 287

Click on the icons below to find out more about The Milestone Society and
FJ Cambridge & Co.