The Monday Photo
At Winslow recently to photograph the New Track Construction Machine laying a new railway line as far as the town’s new station, an elderly lady pointed out this milestone.
As I grew up in Winslow I’d known about this stone for years, but as she said, it’s unusual for the distance to anywhere to be “0” miles.
That’s how far this stone says it is to Winslow. It seems obvious that you’ve reached the town now, but when this probably 18th Century milestone was erected Winslow was a quarter of a mile away, out of sight on the other side of the hill. 18th Century milestones were erected on turnpikes; main roads that travellers had to pay to use.
The new Wendover & Buckingham turnpike through Winslow, now part of the A413, opened in 1721. But I think this example is later, no earlier than the opening of the Buckingham, Brackley and Banbury turnpike in 1791.
It was then 23 miles to Banbury from this point, as far as I can make out; the roads have changed a lot since the 18th Century.
With eight turnpikes leading from the town Banbury was a major connection on the turnpike network, probably why it’s on a milestone by a turnpike that doesn’t actually go there. Of course London was, and still is, a major destination; that’s why it’s on this marker too.
This milestone has been moved a couple of yards; it used to be at one end of the bridge parapet until recently. Being of suspicious mind, I wondered if had also been moved when the railway came through the town, so that it wasn’t in the middle of the bridge.
I can’t say for sure, but the pre-railway, Ordnance Survey Old Series maps seem to show it more to the South, probably within the 200’ width of the cutting.
This milestone is in the design known as Aylesbury Square, as are most or all of the milestones between Aylesbury and Buckingham. But starting with this one and heading towards Buckingham, Banbury starts to be mentioned.
The milestone at Shipton, the next one towards Aylesbury, has on it Buckingham 7, London 50, and Aylesbury 10, but no mention of Banbury. There’s also no mention of Winslow, though the milestone is still in the parish. Perhaps it’s part of an earlier batch.