Have you ever noticed?

As you come up Redland Road, past the top of Luccombe Hill, there is a plate just above pavement level on the wall retaining the Green as shown in the photograph. Clearly it is a milepost but what is the significance of the XI (11 in Roman numerals)? The solution is that the plate is incomplete and the full legend was fortunately recorded by the Ordnance Survey when they surveyed the area in 1880:







It was originally erected by the Bristol Turnpike Trust. To give its full title from plans deposited in Parliament, this stretch of road was owned by ‘The Trustees of the Horfield Division of the Aust and Horfield District of the Bristol Turnpike Trust”. The Act establishing the Bristol Trust dated from April 1727 and was supposed to have lasted for 21 years only. Tolls were payable on carriages, wagons, cattle and sheep. A horse and cart had to pay 2d (just under 1p) – to put this in context the daily wages of a skilled craftsman then would be about 1 shilling, making the toll at each gate about £1 in today’s money. Successive Acts extended the Trust until tolls were eventually abolished on 1 November 1867. At that time there were local turnpike gates and tollhouses at Cheltenham Road (between the railway viaduct and the Zetland Road traffic lights), Redland Road (where Fernbank Road now joins it), Whiteladies Gate (where the railway line goes under Whiteladies Road) and St Michael’s (next to Cotham Parish Church). The significance of Aust as a destination was that it was the location of the ferry crossing of the River Severn to Beachley, i.e. the equivalent of the M4 motorway. The plate was almost certainly broken when Redland Road was widened in preparation for the opening of the tramway route from Zetland Road to the Downs on 22 December 1900. Other relics of the Bristol Turnpike Trust still visible are the Three Lamps signpost and another milepost on the Ladies Mile.

Gerry Nichols