Driving down the A167 between Darlington and Northallerton recently, we could not fail to notice that a Grade II listed building had been smacked by a vehicle and was now leaning at a drunken angle.

This is one of the 130-year-old cast iron mileposts that stand as silent sentries from Great Smeaton into Northallerton.

The bashed miley on the A167

They hark back to when this road was “turnpiked”. In 1745, the Government allowed a group of local businessmen to form a turnpike trust and privatise the road from Boroughbridge to Durham via Thirsk, Northallerton, Croft Bridge and Darlington. They paid to repair and upgrade the road and, in return, were able to charge road-users, collecting their money from roadside gatehouses – the last of which on this stretch of road was demolished in 2020. It stood beside the Entercommon petrol filling station.

The Low Entercommon turnpike tollhouse stood next to the Toll Bar garage between Great Smeaton and Darlington on the A167. Its windows looked up and down the Great North Road

The 1745 Act of Parliament that created the trust stipulated that the private road had to be marked every mile, and milestones would have been installed.

In 1888, the North Riding County was formed and took over the highway responsibilities. To advertise its arrival, it replaced the stones with cast iron mileposts, made by William Mattison’s foundry at Leeming Bar.

About 100 of Mattison’s mileys survive across the county, but they are very vulnerable. If they are not being smacked by vehicles, especially grasscutters, they are being carted off for scrap.

In 2010, Looking Back lamented the loss of another milepost along this length of road. It had said "Darlington 10, Northallerton 6, London 227", and the county council told us it had been stolen during a flytipping incident. It has never been recovered nor replaced.

Bashed milepost on the A167 near Great Smeaton

Now its neighbour, which says “Darlington 11, Northallerton 5, London 226”, has been given an almighty clattering by a grasscutter.

It is on a slight rise known as Oaktree Hill and it is next to Five Mile Bank Farm – the farm must have taken its name from its distance to Northallerton on the turnpike road.

The milepost seems to have suffered only superficial damage, and the good news is that it is still anchored resolutely to the ground by a massive lump of concrete.

Memories was not the first caller to ask North Yorkshire Council about the post. In response, it said: “We thank the public for bringing this to our attention and will work with our contractor to reinstate the milepost to its original position as soon as possible.”