History of Portsmouth to London road at Hindhead
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The byway which leads from the main car park around the Devil’s Punch Bowl follows the route of the original London to Portsmouth road. From 1748-1873 it was owned by the Kingston-upon-Thames to Sheet Bridge Turnpike Company.
The road was re-routed to that of the old A3 in the 1830s when it became feasible to make a cutting through the hillside and avoid the climb to the highest parts of Hindhead which exhausted the horses pulling ever larger and heavier carriages.
Why were milestones necessary?
Milestones were a common feature of turnpike roads, placed at mile intervals to guide travellers. From 1767, they were compulsory on turnpike roads to help coaches keep to schedule.
Revealing a milestone from 1811
In 2010, while working on the new A3 Hindhead tunnel, an old milestone was discovered down a bank of the Punch Bowl, just off the A3.
This exciting find was confirmed as milestone No.41 from the old Portsmouth turnpike road. The stone is clearly inscribed ‘Hyde Park Corner 39, Portsmouth 30'. Its original position can be found on an Ordnance map dating back to 1811.
We've now reinstated the milestone in what is believed to be its original position - north of the Sailors stone on the byway.
The landscape of the A3 today
In July 2011 the long-awaited A3 Hindhead tunnel was opened.
Balfour Beatty (contractors) has buried the old A3 using sandstone dug from the tunnel. The area is being landscaped back to the original contour of the hillside.