Which way to Ansty?
One brand new oak board, more than several sanding discs, six priming layers, eight top coats, forty six refurbished and eleven new metal letters, and a hundred and fifty brass screws, and road users arriving at Ansty Cross from the north now have directions to Ansty and Hilton as well as Melcombe Bingham, Cheselbourne, Milton Abbas and Milborne.
It might not be obvious but the fingerpost signs we perhaps take for granted could be considered as being part of the rural heritage of the County and are thought by Dorset AONB to be unique in their design. Although not perhaps as impressive as its taller multidirectional fingerpost cousins, lovingly refurbished several years ago by a dedicated volunteer, restoring the double-ended sign at Ansty Cross plays no less a role in helping to retain some of the Parish’s character. As there is no longer Local Authority funding to maintain these distinctive signs the only way, when they become dilapidated, to prevent their replacement with the ubiquitous flat metal versions is for local action. Thanks to local volunteers and donors this, the last of the Parish’s ‘traditional roadside features’, has been reinstalled. As well as retaining local character its restoration has also allowed the opportunity of adding two local destinations (Ansty and Hilton) previously omitted from the old sign. Hopefully these additions will prove helpful, particularly for pointing lost travellers seeking the other part of Ansty (usually in search of the pub) in the right direction.
Although a seemingly local project the restoration of the Parish’s fingerposts is part of a much wider Dorset AONB initiative, the Dorset AONB Fingerpost project. To support the enterprise a fantastic workshop was run by Dorset AONB. Led by Roger Bond (Normtec) and held in the Blandford Forum Men’s Shed it provided practical advice from experienced volunteers who, patiently and enthusiastically, showed those of us who had never wielded, among other things, a sanding disc or heard of ‘acid-etcher’ how to use both safely. Thanks to their generously sharing their expertise and experience of restoring these iconic objects and armed with a useful ‘how-to’ guide, those of us attending the workshop left feeling encouraged and well enough informed to tackle our respective fingerposts. It’s not enough of course to undertake a practical project such as this one with information alone. It also requires quite a few resources. The generous donation free of charge of the eleven new letters, all the necessary paints and fixings and copious advice from Roger Bond, as well as a new oak board donated, cut and sanded by Clive Jones, also at no cost, have contributed to the restoration and reinstallation of this sign. Thank you all.
With the restored double-ended road sign reinstalled all the Parish’s distinctive fingerposts are in excellent condition. It is not the end for the story, however, as they all require regular maintenance. This is usually undertaken once a year at the same time as the annual volunteer litter-pick and ensures our beautiful part of the county remains well cared for and welcoming. If you would like to be involved with keeping the fingerposts in good shape please contact the Parish Council.