A SPECIAL plaque is being unveiled in Droitwich next month to mark 300 years since the opening of the Droitwich to Worcester turnpike.
The tercentenary is being marked with entertainment in the town centre, with an announcement by the town crier Edgar Hargood, and a procession along the High Street, before the plaque is formally unveiled at 3pm, and historical re-enactors provide free entertainment.
Chris Bowers is co-ordinating the commemorative event. He said: “I am delighted that from a suggestion made in April 2012, a small team comprising of members from the Droitwich History and Archaeology Society, the Droitwich Spa Civic Society and the Milestone Society pooled their ideas and enthusiasm and made this event possible. And, other local community groups are involved and will use their talents to provide much of the entertainment.
“But, the event would not have been possible without the tremendous support given by Ringway Worcestershire. It is very appropriate that an organisation now responsible for maintaining our county highways should wish to promote an event which celebrates the beginning of planned maintenance of important highways, and for their support we are indeed indebted.”
The Droitwich to Worcester turnpike, was a toll road, introduced after the transport of salt from Droitwich slowly destroyed the roads into Wrocester.
The road was becoming dangerous to travel along, and for nine months out of the year it was almost completely impassable, so an Act of Parliament was established to appoint trustees, who would charge travellers a toll in order to properly maintain six miles of the road between the town and the city. The last remaining tollhouse in Droitwich marks the Droitwich to Alcester turnpike on the Hanbury Road
Eventually the turnpike was extended out to Bromsgrove with a span of 37 miles.
As part of the event, which is taking place in Droitwich town centre on Sunday, June 1 from 2-4pm, themed group ‘Boygonz’ will be playing historical musical instruments and the Droitwich Community Choir will be singing. There will also be actors from the Norbury Theatre giving a short performance, and well-known local historian Julian Hunt will be telling the story of the roads.
As a result of the event, St Andrew’s Street is due to be closed between 1.45 and 4.15pm for public safety, but the road will remain open from High Street to Friar Street.
A second plaque is also being unveiled in Worcester to mark the starting point for the turnpike.