Do you ever notice the unobtrusive black posts with white fingers calmly directing traffic, not only to our cities and towns, but also to local villages through a network of rural lanes? Many of these heritage signposts are in need of repair or restoration and some have been replaced with plastic fingers.
Lydia Robinson, an award winning architect based in Pensford, is heading up a finger post project to fully restore 5 posts in and around Pensford to their former glory. Lydia explained,
“I decided to clean the finger post on the A37 near Pensford School only to discover that dirt was not the issue, but rather, rust, decay and a missing finger.
Councillor Jenny Gully of Publow with Pensford Parish spotted me and explained that there was a village aspiration to restore the 6 original posts in the village, one of which is completely missing. From that moment the project was born, and Janette Stephenson, Chair of the PC, Meg Thomas and Nick King, our local printer, joined forces.
We have been thrilled with the £1500 raised so far from local donations, a fundraising evening and sale of Pensford “finger post” postcards. Our Facebook page www.facebook.com/PensfordFingerPostRestoration has over 70 likes and local residents have volunteered their time and skills to help with the final painstaking repainting.”
The Pensford, Publow and the Stantons Community Trust (PPSCT) was approached for a grant. Andrew Hillman, Chairman of the Trust said,
“We are delighted to support with a grant of £1500 to take the fund total to £3000 so far. These posts are local heritage assets and have been deteriorating over several decades. The local support the project team has received underpins the Trustees desire to lend a local financial hand and help make things happen. Restoration of these much admired heritage assets is long overdue, and Lydia has produced a very professional project appraisal and costing. It is fantastic news that Lydia and her team now have sufficient funds to really get going.”
Lydia has recently been contacted by several other Chew Valley Parishes for advice on restoring their finger posts. Lydia went on to say,
“Part of our remit is to educate the community about finger posts. We compiled 2 large display boards detailing their history and a map with locations and a schedule of the project organisation. These were displayed at Pensford Memorial Hall for the Neighbourhood Plan consultation and also at the end of the Pensford 10K run so the athletes could learn about the local landmarks they had passed. We visited Pensford School and fascinated the children, some of whom we understand are ‘’spotting’’ every post in Somerset as they drive by with their parents!”
The restoration of each post has to be carefully specified as hairline fractures in cast iron cannot be repaired. Local craftsmen have been approached to help with shot blasting, recasting of replacement fingers and repairs to the collars linking the fingers to their posts. Local knowledge is being used to identify the original names of villages and mileage included on each missing finger.
Janette Stephenson, Chairman of the Parish Council and a member of the project team said,
“We would not only like to thank the Community Trust for their generous grant, but also all our residents who have made donations and supported our events. We are hoping to host a Christmas event at The Grange, in Belluton, and want our supporters and new ones to come along. Details will be advertised shortly.
If anyone would like to make a donation, the Parish Council will be thrilled to hear from you. In the meantime, we have placed our first order for a new post and are looking forward to seeing the A37 fingerpost in the heart of Pensford enjoy its makeover, hopefully followed by the post at Belluton which seems to be sinking without trace at the moment!!’’
Andrew Hillman closed by saying,
“As the Community Trust is a charity, we will be able to accept donations specifically for the finger post project. Using this route for donation, Gift Aid can be reclaimed by the Trust for any tax payers thereby increasing the value of each donation by 25%. Please contact PPSCT, or use the form on this website or contact Publow with Pensford Parish Council if you would like to use this facility.’’
If anyone knows the whereabouts of, or has any knowledge of a missing finger post that may have been located south of Chelwood roundabout, the Parish Council would like to hear from you.