On historic canals it’s often the small things that charm the visitor and bring the past to life. Mileposts, boundary markers, lock distance markers, weight restriction signs, rope rollers and bollards are humble objects but they’ve each got a story to tell.
Cast iron mileposts for example proliferated from the mid 19th century onwards and many were introduced, along with boundary markers, by railway companies that came to own canals.
Recently, one of the cast iron ‘lollipop’ mileposts on the Grantham Canal was accidentally hit and broken by hedge-cutting machinery. It cracked into several pieces. In the past these would probably all have been dumped in a skip. Now, the milepost has been carefully repaired by expert metalworkers. This meant fastening a plate to the back of it and then re-attaching the broken pieces, filling the small crack lines, and repainting. The milepost is now back on the Grantham Canal in its correct position and once again delighting visitors to this pleasant stretch of rural waterway.
As national heritage manager, Nigel’s role is to lead the Canal & River Trust’s team of regional heritage advisers in England and Wales. He has over 25 years’ experience of working in the conservation, archaeology and interpretation of historic buildings and places. He is a member of the editorial board of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. He has written numerous articles concerning heritage conservation and is the author of several longer published works, including the English Heritage Book of Canals.See more blogs from Nigel Crowe