What is highway history?

Across the AONB

From : Valerie Belsey

Next time you’re out on a highway and you have a little time, take a closer look beneath your feet and overhead. There are many clues around in the street which tell us how life was once lived very differently, at a different pace with different objectives to those which we have now.

There are certain items of highway history which are easily recognisable - such as any three-fronted toll house by the road, a milestone or a commemorative plaque on a wall. Many more are there to be spotted with a little attention to detail.

Where to look

Obviously a greater number of highway history items are to be found in town and villages than in the countryside. However, milestones and toll houses belong to the open road, milk churn stands can still be found by farm entrances and there are many boundary stones sleeping peacefully by the roadside waiting to be rediscovered.

Listen in

The recordings on this page are reminiscences collected by Stephen Pedrick, independently of the AONB. They are published with his permission. From stone-brealing to delivery services, listen in to local people remebering th ehighways of days gone by. You will hear Winifred Eastbrook, Wilfred Long, Margaret Lock, William Stone, Ken Holmes, Bill Widger, Viv Freeman and Chris Wills

What can we do next?

Download the highway history check list and make an inventory of what you have in your parish. Then pass your inventory on to your local history society or to the South Devon AONB unit.

Researched and written by Valerie Belsey, (former Historic Highways Monument Surveyor at Devon County Council) for South Devon AONB Unit, January 2011. Photograph of restored fingerpost in Yealmpton (April 2011) by Georgina.

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What is highway history?

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You might also enjoy Valerie Belsey’s other pages about highway history on this site:

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