Wayside Features Recording Project

Nick Harling

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

The main aim of the project is to record in detail the remaining historical wayside features of the North Craven parishes. By building up a database of these objects, the Trust will be actively assisting in their long term preservation, highlighting cases of deterioration, damage, theft and so on. The information will be made available to the relevant local and national authorities, allowing then to update their own records for listing purposes. In addition, the complete survey will be a valuable work of reference for local historians.

What are Wayside Features?

The term 'wayside features' covers any interesting historical object which can be found by the side of rural roads, tracks and paths, or in the streets of towns and villages. The term 'street furniture' is often used to describe these objects, although this doesn't seem to fit in with the rural nature of our region. Typical examples of wayside features are listed below:

Milestones - dating from the early 18th century, through the turnpike period until the late 19th century. Cast-iron mileposts are common on our main roads, but many minor roads and moorland tracks have earlier stone 'guide stoops'.

Boundary Markers - parish boundary stones are common throughout the area and display a variety of styles. Private boundary markers, such as 'mere stones', are not as common, but can sometimes be found carved with the initials of the landowner.

Signposts - road improvement schemes have seen many old signposts replaced by modern ones. Cast pre-war examples with glass marble reflectors are particularly worthy of preservation, as are the circular signpost finials which display the name of the parish, the county and the map reference.

Pumps and Fountains - often found on village greens, hand pumps and drinking fountains are rarely in working order. Similarly, stone horse troughs more usually contain flower beds than water.

Miscellaneous features - other isolated features are also worthy of preservation, such as cast coal-hole covers, old benches, early bus shelters, unusual bollards, pre-Coronation letter boxes, decorative lamp standards and so on. Basically, anything which adds to the historical character of the roadside environment can be included here (see Henry Aaron's 'Street Furniture', Shire Books, 1980).

Items which should not be regarded as wayside features are building date-stones, pub signs, shop signs, garden features etc., as these come under the umbrella of buildings conservation. With such a diverse remit, uncertainty over what is or isn't a wayside feature is inevitable, but as a very rough guide, anything post-war is probably too modern to be included, and anything not intended for public use, benefit or information should also be left out -although there are bound to be exceptions!

The Scope of the Project

The project will cover all the parishes in North Craven (see the NCHT membership card for a full list). Those parishes which fall wholly or partly within the Yorkshire Dales National Park will be surveyed in partnership with the National Park Authority, who are running their own Local Historical Features project.

Obviously, a survey of this size will take some time to complete and will continue well into the new millennium. However, the end result will be an unparalleled corpus of information on these often neglected, but nevertheless fascinating features, and will hopefully go towards securing their long term future as part of our local historical landscape.

The author is a professional archeologist and can be contacted through his father, committee member Peter Harling, on 01729 822581 at Spread Eagle House, Kirkgate, Settle. A meeting has been arranged by the chairman, Roy Gudgeon, at Lawkland Green House, Lawkland, telephone 01729 822601, on Wednesday 18th August at 7.30 pm for anyone interested in this project.

Ventilation grating - TSB building, Settle Diana Kaneps