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A history of roads and traffic in the village.


Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic: Part 1

In January’s Hill we looked back to 1895 and the very first parish council meeting. These meetings were held 3 times a year plus an annual general meeting. While the actual months varied this was the format until 1969 albeit an increasing number of special meetings were also held. In the regular council meeting held on 3rd December 1969 it was agreed “in future Council Meetings would be held on the first Wednesday on each month”.

In the early years much time was spent on the management and maintenance of the allotments. This was no small task. There were over 50 allotment holders who required the paths, hedges, gates, water pumps to be kept in good order and the council was responsible to arrange the annual supply of coal and, most important, to ensure collection of the rents.

The other major issue of those early days was traffic and the maintenance of the roads. The first recorded issue was in January 1901 when “the clerk was requested to write to the District Council ……. having regard to the very heavy traffic in Hayward Lane this council are of opinion that it is absolutely necessary this Road should be widened”. Discussions continued throughout and included consideration on which was the main road “either the Road Passing The Union Arms (Station Road) or by The Road Passing Child Okeford House (Hayward Lane) the residence of Miss Dennison”. It was decided “the main road is that by Miss Dennison”. After much campaigning the solution was to restructure the bridge.

More gnashing of teeth in 1907 when a letter was sent by the clerk to Viscount Portman “to call the attention of your board to the great damage done to our Roads by the practice of dragging chain harrows over them” and in 1908 “the County Council to forthwith widen the beforementioned Road it being the only means of access to Shillingstone.” We can find no record of the responses and all was quiet until November 1917 when the clerk was requested to write to the Surveyor of Highways regarding the “state of the Main Road near to Sandy Lane and Nicholls Coppice and inform in consequence of the increased motor and heavy lorry passing and repassing at this particular place”. It is pleasing to report that by January 1918 the repairs had been carried “to The Councils satisfaction”.

Moving on to the 1960’s, in October 1962 we read “The junction of the Shaftesbury and Gillingham roads near the cross was becoming increasingly dangerous and the clerk was requested to write to the Divisional Surveyor …. if anything could be done to indicate who should give way. It was suggested a broken white line across the exit from the Common Road would give the right of way to the traffic coming from the Gold Hill direction”. In reply, the Divisional Surveyor replied he thought “any broken white line should be across the road leading to Gold Hill”. And there this particular matter seemed to end…………….until 1965!

We shall carry on with this topic next month.


Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic Part 2

Last month we started looking back at traffic issues from the minutes of the parish council meetings and got to 1962 when the issue of road markings to improve safety was left in abeyance.

This issue was then raised in 1965 when a meeting was arranged by the County Surveyor to discuss various issues on road safety with the parish council, village groups, and representatives from the Police, County Council and Rural District Council.

The village presentation included a “need for signposts to indicate the existence of narrow roads, possible erection of SLOW signs and moving the existing SCHOOL signs (at that time the School was in the High Street). It was also suggested to put at The Cross “dotted lines across the road and possible one way system of traffic”. The County Surveyor was doubtful whether the erection of signs “would achieve the desired object adding “he had already inspected the parish on three occasions but would look around again”. A transcript of the minute of this meeting can be found on the village web site – the Village – Village History an Archive – This Month from the Archive.

At the next parish council meeting in April 1966 it was recorded “no further could be done”.

On to March 1968 and the parish council recorded it was “Pressing the Rural District Council to provide a pavement from The Cross to Gold Hill…… and traffic still seemed to be increasing through the village”. Comment was also made – “the County Council were not able to put up signs………….they did not feel were necessary unless a fatal accident occurred”. It was agreed “the Roads and Bridges Department of the County Council should be pressed to take some action even, if possible, to upgrade the road through the village from Fontmell Parva to Steepleton corner as a B class.”

After further meetings with the County Council and “as a result of traffic census taken by the police, the County Surveyor had applied on policy grounds for a 30mph limit to be introduced on the roads through the village. He was also considering seriously the resurfacing of Legal Lane” On the latter aspect later reports showed the Surveyor would only agree to “clear out and trim the Lane and dig out the ditches”.

The next recorded event came in March 1969 when advice was received regarding a footpath through the village that “no funds were available for this class of work.” Comment was, yet again, made on the increasingly heavy traffic through the village due in part because “the village appears to be a shortcut from Bristol and the Mendips”. There was also speculation on a Sturminster Newton bypass.

In October 1969 came the devastating news that “The MOT had turned down the request for 30mph signs”. A pause for breath before we move on to 1970 and the formation of the Child Okeford Safety Committee.


Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic Part 3

Moving on from last month we arrive at March 1970 which refers to the “newly formed Child Okeford Safety Committee”. After discussion, “it was agreed that whilst action was needed…………this committee should be under the control of the parish council”. Ultimately agreed and Mr. Litton, Messrs. Ridout, Kemp and Cross be appointed to form the nucleus of such committee, of which, Mr. Ridout would be chairman with powers to co-opt Mr. Clark, Mr. MacCartney, Mrs. Housley and Mrs. Oulton.

The traffic issues continued to be raised into 1971 but the only item of significance was “the agreement of Mr. Wells, landlord of the Baker Arms, the hedge on the westside at the commencement of the Hollow be removed to give a clearer view down the hill”. The authorities kindly agreed to erect a CAUTION sign on the road at this point. I think it is fair to record at this point that throughout this saga over road traffic the parish council received the full support of the local MP.

The next relevant item was an accident in 1972 when two lorries attempted to pass at Hanford lodge “where there is obviously insufficient width……….On this occasion a pedestrian and a cyclist narrowly escaped being knocked down and one of the lorries carrying 20 tons of steel rods finished up within an inch of the lodge itself”. (Would love to see any photos)

Come December 1972, some progress – a letter from DCC Roads & Bridges Committee proposed to “impose a restriction of 3 tons unladen weight for vehicles using the section of road C14 from its junction with the A350 at Steepleton Corner and the B3091 at Manston”.

But then things went very quiet again until May 1976 when the Planning Officer, NDDC, made a presentation to the parish council and is recorded as advising “requests for 30mph even by our MP to the Minister have been flatly turned down as was the suggestion of signs either side of the Recreation Ground stating “Danger Children Crossing”.

We started this article with the formation of the Child Okeford safety Committee. We conclude with a minute from August 1976 whereby the parish council “expressed disgust and dissatisfaction by a decision to replace volunteer unpaid safety officers by an organization at County Hall”.

We shall continue this saga later in the year.


Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads and Traffic Part 4

We concluded the previous episode in May with the news of the disbandment of the village Road Safety Committee in 1976 in deference to the new County initiative. After that things went very quiet as far as speed limits and white lines were concerned.

Concerns were expressed with the advent of the new school in 1978 and suggestions made to provide a lollipop person; put down yellow lines outside the school; make a pavement alongside Wynchards; and make a pavement from Nutmead Close to the kissing gate at the Hollow to pick up the footpath into Rectory Lane. Nothing happened.

The next recorded action followed a plea at the 1982 Annual General Meeting “in view of the excessive speed both motorcycles and cars went through the village, it would be a big help to the elderly if a speed limit were introduced. The chairman said that as this village was on a B road, it was unlikely that the County Council would agree to this but suggested that the County Council be approached to see if notices warning of bends through the village could be erected.”

The chairman reported back that the Surveyors Department told him “the Ministry of the Environment had now agreed that warning signs could be attached to village name signs and the work is to be carried out by the County Council and the cost would be from £25 to £30 per sign. Speed Limit signs are unlikely to be agreed to. It was agreed we should ask the County Council to suggest wording warning motorists of unmade roads and bends in the village”.

In the meantime the District Surveyor and the Highways Authority declined to take any further action with regard to enhancing Legal Lane or providing a pavement in the Hollow due to “financial cutbacks”

The District Surveyor later wrote “these signs are strictly controlled by the Ministry of Transport. The whole matter is a County responsibility and correspondence has been passed on……”. In the absence of any progress a chasing letter was sent in April 1983 and the minutes for April 1983 record “The signs at entrance village have been lost by the District Council which is proceeding with replacement”.

In August 1983 a quote for £345 plus VAT is received from the DCC to cover 6 extension posts and 4 signs. The parish council agreed to seek alternative signs and lower costs. The signs were eventually erected in January 1984. There was no mention of the cost.

At the parish annual general meeting in May 1984 it was reported “Roads in the village in particular, the Hollow to the Cross required improvement and a footpath, however the authorities tell us there is no money to spare for the projects but they appreciate that the roads are inadequate for any increase in traffic volume”.

We shall be back with the next chapter in 2021.


Child Okeford Parish Council Minutes: Roads &Traffic Part 5 – The End (for now)

We ended Part 4 in May 1984 with the knowledge that there were still no speed limits in the village, the roads were inadequate for any increase in traffic and there was no money to spare.

In November 1984, two serious accidents were recorded at the T junction of Station Road and Hayward Lane which prompted the parish council to ask for either a “T Junction” sign or a “Slow” sign. The County Surveyor responded that “no additional measures could be undertaken to improve the junction”.

In April 1986, the idea of a pavement from Greenway to the school was put forward to the district council. There is no record in the minutes of a response but in August the Dorset County Council (DCC) advised that “Please Drive Carefully through the Village” signs were awaiting approval from the Ministry of Transport. By February 1987 the sign had, finally, been erected.

And then things started happening very quickly!

November 1987: Formal advice on the proposed extent of the 30mph limit were received from

DCC and confirmed by the parish council.

August 1987: On advice by the DCC chief executive, the parish council formally requested the

introduction of a speed limit in the village

And finally on16th September 1988 the 30mph speed limit came into operation.

But of course the saga doesn’t end there.

November 1988: Chief inspector, Blandford Police, asked to enforce 30mph limit along Station Road and by school.

February 2007 (from “The Hill”): Copy of a letter to Miles Butler, Director of Environment Services, DCC:

“I refer to the 20mph speed limit you propose to impose on ‘various roads’ in Child Okeford (order 200). Whilst I have no observations to make of support or objection to the proposal I should point out the futility of imposing such restrictions when neither you nor the Police apparently have the slightest intention of enforcing them.

When the 30mph speed limit was first introduced in the village it was obvious that motorists were completely ignoring it. I managed to arrange the loan of four handheld speed recorders and after a four hour stint with groups stationed at various strategic parts of the village we tallied up the results which showed an average speed for all the traffic passing through the village of 47mph. When the results were passed on to the Police they advised they could do nothing “until a serious accident occurs”. The County Council refused to put up any deterrent signs such as “speed cameras in operation” and the result was a complete ignoring of any restrictions.

March 2015 (from “The Hill”): Community Speed Watch – The monitoring is going well. Thirty nine speeding vehicles have been reported, over 6 sessions, coming down the hill outside the Old Post Office.

Plus ça changeplus c’est la même chose!

David Pope 861444 [email protected]