A Milestone in Local Conservation

August 26, 2019

Almost two years after being broken in half by a person or persons unknown, Blewbury’s historic Grade II listed milestone, now fully restored, has been returned to its rightful place at the western end of the village.

Marking the distance from Reading to the east (15 miles) and Wantage to the west (9 miles), the near quarter-tonne triangular milestone from the old Harwell & Streatley Turnpike has languished in Savages’ car park while an affordable solution for its repair and return was explored. Responding to a social media post and an article in the November 2018 Bulletin, stonemason Ryan Morris, from Aston Upthorpe, volunteered his services free of charge and has restored the stone to the required conservation standards.

Howard Ward, who wrote the articles, has nothing but praise for Ryan’s work, and for the help and cooperation of the Milestone Society, Savages and local highways and conservation officers. “It was a complete pleasure watching a skilled stonemason at work”, says Howard, “He made everything he did look so easy. In fact, the whole team effort, involving experts in their various fields, has been a joy to see.”

Special thanks are due to four other people involved in the project, as well as the stonemason himself:

Emily Karau, the Conservation and Design Officer for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, was one of the first people to respond to the appeal for help and, although being subject to quite a long spell of illness, managed to keep her eye on the Milestone over and above of her normal work.

Derek Turner, of the Milestone Society, provided chapter and verse on regulations, as well as information on what the Milestone Society expected when repairing, repositioning and replacing the Blewbury Milestone.

Richard Savage gave sanctuary to the broken milestone while awaiting repair: “I don’t know what would have happened if Richard had not given his permission for it to be kept and restored on his property,” says Howard.

And finally, Mark Francis of OCC Highways was responsible for the Milestone’s journeys to and from the Highways Depot, and arranged the crane and crew for removing it from Savages to its original position alongside the A417.

Asked how he felt to see his appeal finally achieving a result, Howard said “I am simply happy that the milestone is back home.”