Surrey Heath was at one time covered by two main coach routes to and from London (Great West Road A30) and Portsmouth Road (A325). Bagshot grew in the mid 1700s because of the coaching industry with travellers stopping over for refreshment and resting/changing horses. The area was also notorious for highwaymen who would hide in the deserted heathland and attack and rob the travellers in passing coaches.
With the rise in stagecoach travel in the 1700s, the increased usage and inadequate upkeep of these routes made them impassable. Turnpike Trusts were set up charging tolls to travellers, funds from which were used for the upkeep of the roads. One local Turnpike Trust was the Bedfont and Bagshot Turnpike Trust who had control of the London and Portsmouth Roads through Surrey Heath. Stones marking miles along the route (milestones) were placed along turnpike routes.
These milestones have been our signposts to the past for over 300 years. With the removal of one of the London Road milestones for structural reasons in 2015, Surrey Heath Museum began a successful ‘hug a milestone’ campaign encouraging locals to find their nearest milestone and hug it.
The London Road milestone was replaced in 2016 and the interest and enthusiasm for milestones inspired Tim Dodds and Reg Davis to clean, paint and re-letter the milestones along these ancient routes. Both are volunteers at Surrey Heath Museum. The whole process took over a month diligently working on each milestone at a time. Many locals approached them to ask what they were doing and encourage them with their work. Although the police did receive one report that Mr Dodds and Mr Davis were trying to steal a milestone!
To thank them for their hard work, the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Valerie White and Cllr Josephine Hawkins presented Mr Dodds and Mr Davis with an engraved hip flask.
Surrey Heath Mayor Cllr Valerie White, Surrey Heath Borough Council, is grateful to these two milestone heroes.