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17/09/2021

The Cotswold Way marker stone at Campden square

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(From the noticeboard section of the Chipping Campden Bulletin. Reproduced with kind permission of Jeremy Green)

Very recently the town council was asked about the above stone and, as they had little or no information, they asked around. I was able to fill the gap and below I set out what I know of its history.

It starts at the Cotstone Quarry, which was worked out and was just a large hole in the ground. I believe that it was owned by an Irishman named Macateer, who was in financial difficulty and fled to Ireland to escape his creditors. In the early 1980s Eric Raines, who was and still is a well-known local farmer, went to Ireland and arranged to purchase the quarry.

On his return he applied for planning consent to use the quarry for landfill and was granted permission for only clean soil and for hardcore to be dumped. At this time the M42 was under construction and there were literally tons of surplus soil. Cotstone was the nearest site and hundreds of loads of soil were dumped there.

All this coincided with Campden being flooded on two occasions and therefore a new drainage system was being put in. One section dealt with the eastern end of the town and another the west end. The former meant removing the old stone culvert in Leysbourne, which had collapsed. It was constructed of ‘cut’ stone which is very valuable. To get rid of this the contractors decided to dump it in Cotstone Quarry, paying Eric Haines a fee for each load. Eric told the contractors to leave the stone on the top of the quarry and each evening he, with an employee, collected the stone and removed it to his farm, which was then in Blind Lane.

Subsequently he asked me to meet him in Blind Lane where he proudly showed me the stone he had salvaged. He offered me a piece for a Cotswold Way marker in the Square. The Cotswold Wardens picked it up the next day and erected it where it stands today. They had the ‘Bath 100m,’ cut into it and as this became a traffic sign, it was exempt from planning consent. The little plaque, which reads ‘Cotswold Way, the beginning and end was supplied by the then head warden Ted Fryer, the cost being borne by the Gloucestershire county council.

Just as a matter of interest, the Cotswold Way was the brainchild of Tony Drake a prominent rambler, who for over thirty years was an influential campaigner for the footpath network of Gloucestershire. The Cotswold Way was launched in 1970 and the beginning of the Way was at the Square. Persons who suggest it should be at St James’s church are completely wrong.

Reg Martin. (He was chairman of the north district Cotswold Wardens from the late 1970s until the early 1990s.) Campden and district historical and archaeological society.

www.chippingcampdenhistory.org.uk

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