A replica milestone has been placed on the canal in St Helens as part of the town's 150th anniversary celebrations.
The milestone, which was donated by Dr Barrie Pennington, from Crank, is made from Fletcher Bank stone sourced from Ramsbottom and now stands near Bradley Lock, in Newton.
Dr Pennington, from the Milestone Society, donated it after reading in Canal Cuttings, the journal of Sankey Canal Restoration Society, of the poor condition of the canal’s only remaining milestone languishing in the garden of Sankey Valley Heritage Centre, in Blackbrook.
The author of the article hoped that one day replicas could be put along the waterway as part of the society’s work to renovate the country’s first canal of the industrial era.
Dr Pennington worked with the society to agree on dimensions and the design of the milestone.
Although grammatically incorrect, they wanted to copy the original as accurately as possible so missed off the "s" in "mile". It is likely the stonemason was following common local dialect when he made it in the 18th Century, though it is still usual to hear a St Helener miss the letter.
The location of the original milestone at Bradley Lock was confirmed using photographs from 1963. It can also be seen in the drama Faith And Henry, which can be downloaded from the British Film Institute's website.
Dr Pennington arranged for a stonemason to cut the replica and worked with St Helens Council’s service manager Dave Bloor to install it.
Mr Bloor said: “It is pleasing to work with interested parties and societies to maintain our proud industrial heritage.
“St Helens contributed significantly to the Industrial Revolution and helping to keep that history alive is very rewarding.”
Mr Pennington added: “Once again, I would like to thank Dave Bloor, green space inspector Pete Morris and the installation team for their expertise in this heritage project. Without the council’s kind assistance and invaluable support such schemes would prove nearly impossible.”
Colin Greenall, chairman of Sankey Canal Restoration Society, said: “We are delighted that our work is reaching so many people and inspiring contributions to the ongoing renovation of the canal.”
The society is now working with the Canal And River Trust and St Helens, Halton and Warrington councils on the production of more replicas to be placed along the canal.