THE PUBLIC FOOTPATHS FROM EVESHAM TO BRETFORTON
To the Editor of the Journal and Advertiser
SIR, - Permit me through your columns to call attention to the filthy state of the public footpath from Evesham to Aldington, Badsey, and Bretforton. It is nothing less than a disgrace to the authorities responsible for their maintenance in proper order, who I am informed are the Worcestershire County Council and the Borough Council of Evesham. The footpath from the town to the Aldington boundary has of late years, I am told, been chiefly made of road scrapings, and very little gravel, if any, has been put upon it since the turnpikes were abolished; consequently after each fall of rain it is nothing better than a mudpit, and the foot passengers are obliged to leave it and walk on the high road at the risk of being run over, and every few minutes are driven onto it again from the number of vehicles passing. It has been quite pitiable for weeks past to see the draggled state of the dresses and boots of women who have to wade through this area of filth to get to Evesham from these villages.
One would hardly believe we are living at the end of the 19th century, with County Councils to manage all our business; at any rate ours does not seem a very business-like one if we may judge by the unsatifactory way in which our affairs are mismanaged in this part of Worcestershire. From Evesham to the Aldington boundary, the borough of Evesham, as represented by the Bengeworth surveyor, is responsible; and not only is the footpath as before described, but it has been made to encroach upon the highway until the carriage road is now three or four feet narrower in places than the Act of Parlaiment requires, consequently it will have to be widened to the distance stated in the Highway Act of 1835, Sec. 80 – viz., to 20 feet; as at these places there is only just room for two vehicles to pass, and if you meet a wagon loaded with straw the smaller vehicle has to go with one wheel on the footpath. The following measurements I took yesterday will show the widths of the roadway referred to: Those under the Borough of Evesham jurisdiction were 15ft. 4in., 16ft., and 17ft. 3in. ; under the County Council management, 15ft. 5in., and 16ft.; so your readers will see that the carriage road is 4ft. 7in. narrower in two places than the Act of Parlament allows. The Act says “The Surveyor is required to maintain every public cartway leading to a market town 20 feet wide.”
From the Aldington boundary to Bretforton, the County Council is reponsible. The footpath at the Aldington brook bridge has for two months past been nothing but a sea of mud. I called the attention of the County Surveyor of Highways to this state of affairs on November 1. And he has since put some gravel down for about 60 yards, but not half enough, and it was just thrown down anyhow; and such gravel! many of the stones being the size of large potatoes. Several passengers said they could not walk over them for fear of spraining their ankles, as no small gravel was put on top to make them set, consequently part of the stones have gone onto the roadway to the danger of all horses passing there in the dark.
The narrow ditch alongside the footpath for some two or three hundred yards, into which the upper part of the road drains for about a quarter of a mile, has not been cleaned out, and the drain is choked; thus the water overflows and makes a little river down the path, the sand and gravel are washed away, and the path is in places in great holes. With such a state of affairs, has not the public a right to demand that these footpaths be put in proper repair, properly gravelled, and kept in the same good state they were before the turnpikes were abolished?
Further, I venture to think the tradespeople of Evesham are not a little interested in this matter, for the residents in the villages, finding they cannot get to Evesham to do their shopping owing to the abominable state of the footroads, are to my knowledge sending to Stratford, Worcester, and event to London for their goods, and getting them by parcel post. – I am sir, your obedient servant,
J. F. H. WOODWARD
Pool House, Badsey, Dec. 13, 1892.
We are grateful to David Ella for transcribing this article.