Staunton and the Juggernauts
Who remembers how things were sixty years ago when the Staunton Harold Estate was sold up? Not many of us now, and when I think back it’s hard to recall how different it all was, the buildings mostly semi-derelict, the three drives coming in little better than farm tracks. Having bought much of the farmland our family became responsible for the longest of the drives, the one in from Ashby Lodge. One hot summer my brother and I spent long hours barrowing stone into potholes from ten ton heaps which had been deposited at intervals down the drive. Over the next twenty years new uses were found for all the buildings, and tarmac began to appear on the roads.
Traffic was much heavier, but all the routes were still two-way, with vehicles mounting the grass verge to pass each other. The catalyst for change was damage to the elaborate stone gate piers known as the Golden Gates. Twice in two years these were knocked down by high lorries; it cost eighty thousand pounds each time to put them back up but, more importantly, the original stonework was being destroyed. At a meeting of all the interested parties it was agreed to reserve the Melbourne Lodge entrance for residents only, the Ashby Lodge drive as one way, and Heathend as the way for heavy lorries and coaches.
This solution has worked well; our problem now is with the juggernauts, coming largely from the Continent. They cannot make the turn at Heathend, and damage the brick culvert that bridges the stream there. Granite boulders put in for protection were pushed aside, so that now I have had to reset them in several tons of mass concrete. Most recently a huge lorry was stuck on the grass verge halfway down the Ashby Lodge drive. The young Polish driver was still cheerful, despite being trapped for about seven hours. His English was good, but obviously not good enough to read ‘Cars only’ and ‘Height Restrictor Ahead’. Signs in Polish too, maybe?