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Volunteers flock to help revamp historic Exmoor signposts

Mike and Stuart

Volunteers from across Exmoor and West Somerset have succeeded in restoring over sixty of the region’s iconic fingerpost signs, as part of a project led by Exmoor National Park Authority to record, refurbish and uncover their story.

Now, one year into the two year project, support has been pouring in from local communities keen to ensure these iconic landmarks aren’t lost and over 100 volunteers have been recruited.

The project, which has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor National Park Authority and Somerset County Council, was kick started when local communities and parish councillors expressed concern to Exmoor National Park over the future of their signposts.

Volunteers undertake health and safety training before getting on with the job of cleaning and painting the signposts. Local contractors have been brought in to make repairs that are more complicated and refurbish those close to busy roads.

Exmoor National Park’s Charlotte Thomas, who is leading the project, said: “The interest we’ve had from local communities has been just fantastic. We have teams of volunteers all over the project area who are helping out. There is even a group in Minehead who are a roving team and have helped refurbish signposts in neighbouring parishes. Others have kindly let me know when they have found broken fingers and we have been able to use local contractors to fix them. It just goes to show the important role these signposts play in the personal and regional history of Exmoor.”

If you’ve spotted numerous signposts along the A39 towards Minehead going white, it’s because Mike Neville and Stuart Lawrence, two volunteers from Minehead, have been busy working with others to restore them back to their former glory. Mike said: “I got involved with the project because I wanted to make a difference in my local community and I’d noticed the signs starting to look scruffy. It’s really satisfying seeing them looking all pristine by the side of the road and good to know you’ve done your bit in restoring a local heirloom. I’ve even made a few friends along the way!”

People are now being asked to submit old photographs and anecdotes of the signs to try and piece together each one’s unique history. Charlotte is working with Dr Helen Blackman from the Exmoor Society and is particularly interested in any photos of signposts that might provide clues about their true age.

Anyone interested in volunteering or finding out more can contact Charlotte at cthomas@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or on 01398 322259.

ENDS

Published: 16 May 2018

Contact the press office:

Ailsa Stevens
T: 01398 323665
E: info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk