Thames & Severn Canal Milestone Plates

Milestone Plates – Some saved… others still sought

The Cotswold Canals Trust has been very fortunate to have had the skills and dedication of Keith Harding as it’s archivist for many years. Keith has decided to relinquish this role and has made some artefacts available for display at the Trust’s Wallbridge Lock Visitor Centre.

Pride of Place

Pride of place must go to two milestone plates from the series of milestones that existed every half mile along the Thames and Severn Canal.

Milestones remain in many locations along the canal, but only replica plates remain on a few of those stones.

Museum exhibits

All is not lost however, as many original plates (and some replicas) are in the care of several local museums.

The largest collection is in Stroud’s Museum in the Park, but others are held at the Gloucester Waterways Museum, Gloucester Folk Museum, and the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.

Distinctive lettering & unique spelling

The milestone plates, held in place by a single central bolt, have distinctive lettering and numbers which record the distance between Walbridge (note the single L) to Inglesham.

The plate from the well hidden milestone at the Daneway portal of Sapperton Tunnel (Walbridge 7 ½ – Inglesham 21 ¼) is now on display at the CCT Visitor Centre.

Broken plate restored

Another plate (Walbridge 24 – Inglesham 4 ¾) was broken in two when someone tried to remove it from the milestone at Crooked Bridge, near Castle Eaton, at the eastern end of the canal.

The actual milestone which bore this plate is now in the custody of the Trust’s Eastern Depot as it is far too large & heavy to place on display.

Specialist repair required

The fractured plate needed specialist repairs.

Jon Pontefract, of Stroud District Council’s Canal Project team, arranged for a traditional local foundry, DM Foundries of Thrupp, to carry out specialist cast iron welding to re-join the two parts of the plate.

Repair achieved

The three pictures right show the progress of the repair carried out by DM Foundries’ craftsmen.

The repaired plate will soon be displayed at the Cotswold Canals Trust Visitor Centre at Wallbridge Lock.

Local expertise

The DM Foundries team also made the CCT designed mooring bollard and cast iron housings for the lock paddle gear on Phase 1A of the canal restoration. 

Seeking the missing plates

If you know the whereabouts of any missing plates or milestones that have been moved from their original location, please contact Jon Pontefract at jon.pontefract@stroud.gov.uk

Photo 1 – The fractured plate

Photo 2 – Weld applied – Rear view

Photo 3 – Finished face prior to painting 

Find out more

Click here and here, or on the icons below, to find out more about these distinctive milestones and their associated plates. As Nick Bird’s website suggests, following the canal route and trying to spot the milestones makes an interesting hunt.

Local historian David Viner is a founder member of The Milestones Society. The society’s website and David’s Thames & Severn Canal History & Guide (now out of print) are both good sources of more information. An archive copy of the book can be studied at the Visitor Centre at Wallbridge Lock.

Click here and here or on the other icons to find out more about DM Foundries and Keith Harding’s World of Mechanical Music.