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Roads and Footpaths

Problems with the highways and footpaths are nothing new. A letter was sent on 21st February 1898 to the Newport Pagnell Rural District Council "respecting two stiles that are badly broken. two lead into Perry Lane, one against Perry Barn. Others are on the footpath from Sherington to Chicheley". On 20th March 1900 the minutes read "that the District Surveyor's attention be called to the poor state of the footpaths in the village". (This sort of problem still arises in 1996)

Another problem still arising in 2001 is the deposit of animal manure on the roads and footpaths - even though the problem in 2001 is from dogs. Way back in April 1901 the Chairman was to "communicate with the surveyor respecting cattle deposit on the footpaths".

On 19th April 1909 "the Council were of the opinion that a finger slip should be fixed to the lamp-post near to the Manor House directing the way to Olney and Wellingborough. The Clerk be instructed to write to the County Council to that effect".

Before the building of the Newport Pagnell by-pass, the main route from the top of Chicheley Hill to Olney was down the Bedford Road past the (now) garden centre, left down Crofts End to School Lane, along School Lane to Church End and then along Gun Lane to the junction with the Olney Road. There was evidently some confusion for travellers if they came to the Church End junction with Church Road for in April 1914 the Council asked the RDC to erect at the junction a finger post showing the direction to Olney and Bedford. A note in the margin of the minute book states that this was carried out in 1922!

The minutes of 8th March 1915 record that "Several complaints having been received of the dangerous condition of Bancroft gateway Mr Jefferson kindly promised to have the same put in order for the Council".

The RDC proposed to build Council Houses (described as cottages in the minutes of 26th February 1920) in Church Road and the Council wrote to the RDC "pointing out the desirability of improving the dangerous bend abutting on the site".

The County Council being responsible for highways was advised in April 1920 that the footpath from Messrs Oldham & Co brewery (currently "The Small House" in the High Street) to the posts opposite Mrs Yarborough's house was in a bad state of repair. The minutes here are inaccurate as Messrs Oldham only manufactured lemonade and mineral water. Mrs Yarborough's house was one of the pair of cottages that faced the Manor opposite the entrance to Crofts End.

The footpath alongside the ditch where it commenced opposite the Council Houses in Church Road had a rail erected in 1922. The rail is still in place in front of the play area by the side of the Village Hall, but the ditch was culverted and filled in, in the late 1970's.

In March 1925 the attention of the RDC was called to the state of the rails in Stonepits Field at the entrance to Mill Lane. This would seem strange as it would be assumed that such would be the responsibility of the farmer or Parish Council.

In 1928 the Council wrote to the County Surveyor to "draw his attention to the obstruction of the free use of the footpath at the side of the main road opposite the house known as "The Lodge" caused by the ivy on the garden wall being allowed to grow until it is only 4-5 feet from the ground and 4-5 feet from the wall so that only the edge of the footpath is available for use and request him to call upon the proper person to cut same".

In March 1928 the Council were on at the Rural District Council but this time for something about which the inhabitants of the village still have trouble in 2001 - the gritting of the roads in winter. They minuted "that the Clerk be directed to write to the RDC and point out that during the recent frosty weather when the roads in the parish were very dangerous for traffic no sand or grit was thrown on same, and request that should the occasion arise in the future the Council will give instructions for something to be done to render the roads a little less dangerous for traffic over same".

In September 1928 the Council were exercised with the "dangerous corner near the way post on the main road leading from Newport Pagnell to Olney at the point where the road branches off from the road leading to Bedford. Reports have been received that drivers of small cars and cyclists cannot see oncoming traffic. Major Kingscote the owner of the adjoining land is prepared to give a piece of it to enable the corner to be set back if the County Council would carry out the work".

This public spirited action resulted quite soon thereafter in the junction that now exists opposite to the entrance to Sherington Bridge Farm.

The road from Bedford to Olney was causing some concern in February 1933 for the Council resolved "to draw attention to the dangerous right angled corner in the centre of the village near the sign post on the road from Bedford to Olney, the property of Miss Cranfield and request that she be approached with a view to that part of the corner that juts out into the road being removed and also request that a direction plate with arrow pointing the road to Olney be affixed on the property now owned by Mr Feasey as motorists are continually taking the wrong road".

Footpaths were regulated from 1938 and the County wrote that they would provide appropriate signs if a list of known footpaths were given to them. The Council replied that the footpaths in the village were:

  1. across Bancroft
  2. To Chicheley
  3. Church Fields
  4. Cook's Field
  5. Coin Close
  6. Cross Albans Hill
  7. Perry Lane
  8. Sherington Bridge to village
  9. The Leys
  10. Water Lane to Tyringham
  11. The Way Post

During the Second World war a Prisoner of War camp for Italian servicemen was constructed on what is now Hillview. It will be observed that the kerb and road edging has passed the test of time and is noticeable as being of the style built in military places during the period. When part of the camp was being demolished in late 1946 (the rest became used as a squatter site by homeless people) the Council complained to the County about the large quantities of mud that was being deposited and required them to desist. In 1952 the RDC were asked to provide a better surface on the approach road.

It was not until late 1950 that the streets in the village were officially named and numbers given to the houses. The Rural District Council requested the Parish Council to suggest the names and number the houses. In return they would supply street name plates, which the Parish Council was asked to erect. The names given to the roads were:

Crofts End  	From J W Cook's to new housing estate
Chicheley Road	From top of Chicheley Hill to junction with Crofts End 
School Lane	From Mrs Coopers to the Rectory (now the 'Old Rectory')
Park Road	From Mrs Tatham's to Mr Barker
Gun Lane	From Mr T Haynes to White Hart PH
Church End	From Mr J West to Mr F Field's farm
Water Lane	From Mr Gardner to Mr P Watts
The Knoll	Mr Browns, Mr T King to H Kevin.

The question of traffic speeding through the village became a subject for discussion at the meeting of the Parish Council in September 1951 and a letter was sent to the County Surveyor requesting an additional warning sign. The County Surveyor replied "that he considered existing name boards and 30mph signs sufficient warning of approach to a built-up area and that exceeding was intentional and therefore in his view an additional sign would have no effect upon traffic behaviour. The Councils complaint would be passed to the Chief Constable". The Council was discussing the same issue 44 years later in October 1996.

Footpaths and the stiles and gates thereon figured in the minutes in the mid 1950's.

Variations to footpaths were noted in the minutes in 1955 and 1956. A review of the footpaths revealed that the actual validity of Footpath 18 was doubtful; Footpath 19 was doubtful as other than a private road to Cropps Enclosure ( a note in the minutes referred the reader to the Inclosure Award) ; J W Cook and G C Hill requested the extinquishment of footpath 22 as there was then no trace of it. The County Council agreed that Footpath 18 should be deleted from the definitive map but that Footpath 22 had to remain.

In 1956 there was considerable building going on in the village. New properties were being built in School Lane; the school was being relocated next to the old one and an RDC housing estate was being built in the extension to Crofts End (later known as Perry Lane). The Council were quite concerned that the footpaths in the village were in poor repair and that there was no path or verge to the school from Perry Lane. The Council were also after having a path from Rogers Engineering up the Olney Road. The reply from the County, also the same reply was received in 1996, was that they had no money, especially for side roads such as School Lane. The County seemed to forget that this then took half the traffic that went through the village, it being the route from Olney to Chicheley and thence to Bedford. Nothing happened then and so, in February 1957, the Council tried once again to get a footpath installed from Perry Lane to the school.

In September 1956 the RDC was sent a memorandum which said "Bye-laws are being brought in concerning the prohibition of cycling". The Parish Council were asked if there were any foot-paths that should have this restriction placed upon them. The Council replied that the footpath from High Street to Crofts End should be so designated. This caused a problem for the RDC replied that they considered this to be a pavement, as it was tar-sprayed by the County, and therefore they would take no further action. The Parish Council requested advice upon this and the Bucks Constabulary said that they considered it to be a footpath rather than a pavement. Eventually it was agreed that it was a footpath and the no-cycling signs erected.

Perry Lane came into existence in late 1962 when the houses from no 35 Crofts End were renamed and renumbered.

It was not until 1964 that Newport Pagnell RDC asked what roads in the village should have footpaths. The Council nominated Crofts End, Church Rd, School Lane and the High Street. In 1966 an extension of the High Street path was asked for 'on the opposite side to Bakers farm, where it now ceased, to the new houses and proposed estate towards Emberton' as was one in Perry Lane.

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Latest Revision: 31 December 2006