Above: A small part of Cary’s map of 1786, showing Edgware Road running NW through Paddington Green. The milestone is shown by the number ‘1’ (yellow arrow). The Tyburn Turnpike House is also shown (green arrow).
It is sometimes surprising what you can find when you walk into a shop or commercial premises. This article is all about a milestone which is now resting safely within the lobby of a local bank. The milestone originally stood opposite the present junction of Star Street with Edgware Road. After having been preserved for 25 years by Consolidated London Properties Limited, it was presented by Mr J H Podmore to the London County Council (LCC). With the consent of Capital and Counties Bank Limited, the stone was re-erected in its present position in March 1909 by the LCC. The property is today still a bank – now a branch of Lloyd’s.
The milestone is about half a mile north of the T-junction formed by Edgware Road, Oxford Street and Bayswater Road where the Tyburn Turnpike House stood from about 1760 until 1829. Beside the toll-house were three gates – one across the eastern end of Bayswater Road; one across the southern end of Edgware Road; and a third across the western end of Oxford Street. The Tyburn Turnpike House was built on the site previously occupied by Tyburn Gallows, consisting of a permanent triangular gallows. It had occupied that position from 1571 to 1759.
In the mid-18th century most of the main roads in London – and across England – were taken over by turnpike trusts. The trusts were required to keep the roads in a good condition and, in return, they were allowed to charge a toll from those who used them. A toll was paid on each cart and stagecoach. Tolls were also charged on farmers who were driving animals along the road. There was often a board beside the toll house listing the fee payable for different animals – like geese, pigs, sheep and cattle.
Mileposts were placed beside turnpike roads, usually spaced every mile but sometimes every half- or quarter-mile. The wooden posts often rotted quite quickly and so the more permanent markers in stone were erected. Sadly most of the milestones have been lost and within the whole of Inner London there are probably no more than 30 or 40 of them remaining in their original positions – actually standing beside roads. A few have been moved to ‘safer’ locations (like the one described here). A few are now resting in local museums. The majority were probably just discarded while repairing or widening a road, in days gone by when there was little interest in preserving these interesting relics.