An historic ‘Bow Bells’ milestone has disappeared from a roadside in Ridgewood, Uckfield.
Inquiries with East Sussex County Council Highways and developers of the nearby Ridgewood Farm housing site have drawn a blank.
The milestone is one of a series stretching along the A22 and on the A26 giving the distance of miles to Bow Bells Church, in the City of London.
According to the Public Sculptures of Sussex website, they were erected by Turnpike Trusts that formed in the 18th Century to improve roads.
The case of the missing Bow Bells 44 on Lewes Road between Ridgewood and the Little Horsted roundabout was raised by a member of the public at Monday”s (January 16) Uckfield Town Council meeting.
Peter Selby, speaking from the public gallery, told councillors that a number of signs seemed to have disappeared from Ridgewood on the road towards the Little Horsted roundabout [on the route of the old A26].
“The most serious one of which is the Bow Bells sign, mileage number 44, I believe.
“We don’t know whether it has been taken up by the county council or been stolen.
“I do hope, that whatever the situation, East Sussex County, or whichever authority is responsible, will replace it eventually,” he said.
There were no longer any directional signs on the stretch of road, he said, and if you were a stranger you would have no idea where to go, until you reached the roundabout.
He also said the speed reduction marker signs on the by-pass on the approach to the roundabout had also gone.
“The signs with two bars and one bar are missing,” he said.
Town clerk’s inquiries
The town clerk, Holly Goring, said she was aware of the missing milestone and had spoken to the county council and developers.
“Neither party at the moment has any idea about their own ground staff taking this away.
“If no party takes responsibility for the removal of that marker, I may have to do a little campaign to say ‘has anybody seen anything’,” she said.
The town clerk also promised to raise the matter of the loss of the deceleration markers on the by-pass with the county council.
Do you know where the milestone is?
The Bow Bells milestone is part of Uckfield’s history and part of the larger history of East Sussex and England, marking, as it does, the establishment of the turnpike roads. If you know where the Bow Bells 44 milestone is, contact Uckfield Town Clerk, Holly Goring on 01825 762774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More Bow Bells History
The Geograph website says the milestones lining the A22 are believed to be the longest sequence of milestones in the country.
“They were erected in 1754 by the turnpike trusts that ran the London to Eastbourne coaching road.
“Each milestone contains an image of a bow and three bells which represent the Bow Bells of London, on top of which is the mileage remaining to said destination.
“Finally they were topped with either a dot or from the 44 to 54 mile markers (Uckfield to Horsebridge) a buckle representing the Pelham family who were large landowners who lived in nearby Halland at the time and were involved in financially backing the turnpike’s extension southwards in the 1750s,” the website says.