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Thirty ton lorry goes down the steepest hill in Freshford

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Although YPres Rose the developers of the Freshford Mill private housing estate in the Frome valley were specifically requested to ensure that suppliers of materials to their building site should not go through the village of Freshford and the hamlet of Sharpstone but should access the site via Staples Hill from the Westwood direction their advice to their suppliers is either being ignored, or misunderstood.

Today Thursday 5th of March 2009 a lorry weighing possibly ten tons or over with a load of twenty reinforced beams of average weight of one ton each that is a gross weight of thirty tons travelled from the A36 down Abbey lane and turned into Rosemary Lane as instructed by the lorry's SATNAV system? There is not only a blue sign stating quite clearly the 3 TON WEIGHT LIMIT AHEAD but also "a Road Narrows Ahead" sign together with "an Unsuitable for Heavy Goods vehicles" sign.

unmistakeable road signs advise lorry drivers not to use Rosemary lane

So what went wrong? Ypres Rose have said that they have issued clear instructions to their suppliers that they should deliver goods to the Freshford Mill site via Staples Hill from the Westwood direction.

Furthermore, I have photographed every single road junction in Freshford and also produced video films of journeys from the A36 to Freshford Mill. These photographs and video films have been published on the Internet. As far as I know, there is no other villlage in the UK that has a photographic survey of every single road junction let alone videos in and out of the village. Yet the lorry owned by A.S.Taylor UK-Europe (that's what they print on their lorries) registration: R775 FHG has allowed their driver to drive down Rosemary Lane.

The photographs show that the lorry with its load is not only possibly overweight but obviously not allowed to cross the bridge, even if it is unloaded. Freshford Mill bridge is not only subject to a maximum load of three tons but is also an ancient monument.

HGV is unable to proceed across bridge without breaking the law


A couple of beams that are less than a ton.

reinforced concrete beams destined for Freshford Mill Block H

Twenty reinforced concrete beams: gross weight at least twenty tons?

HGV load of twenty reinforced concrete beams of at least twenty tons

A handsome Leyland Daf 75-300 rigid wheel base vehicle.

Leyland Daf 75-300 rigid based vehicle


Rosemary Lane is in the hamlet of Sharpstone which is close to Freshford, it is the steepest road in this area. It is a pity that it is not named as a hill, but then would that have made any difference to these ignorant people? Even a car driver would know that Rosemary lane is narrow and steep, a lorry driver has a better view of the road.  The dictionary definition of "lane" is a "narrow road in the country" Oxford Advanced learner's dictionary. If the driver was lost he could have telephoned.

Let's summarise this event. There was an earlier incident, last Autumn,  that lead to serious damage to the safety barriers of the bridge, The police were not prepared to take action against the owner of the lorry that caused that damage. I supppose that they won't take action against this lorry driver's owner either.  I understand that the fine for breaking a Maximum Weight Limit can be as little as £50. (Cheltenham Magistrates court) However, the fine for overloading ( vehicle being Overweight) is considerably more:

The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires “vehicle users” to ensure that vehicles are not overloaded.
If a vehicle is found to be overloaded both the driver and operator could be prosecuted or cautioned.
Legislation imposes fines of up to £5,000 for each offence. That means a fine for each overloaded axle
plus any overloading on the total weight. Also, if a vehicle is dangerously overloaded the driver could face
a charge of Dangerous Driving which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. Other offences
within the Road Traffic Act include refusal to allow the vehicle to be weighed and obstruction of an officer
which also carry a maximum fine of £5,000. If a vehicle is overloaded and results in someone being killed,
both driver and operator could face going to jail for Manslaughter or Death by Dangerous Driving.  VOSA Vehicle Safety Dangers of Overloading

The picture shows the regulation for rigid body vehicles.

three axled rigid based vehicle weight regulation diagram

The vehicle is a Leyland Daf 75-300 as far as I am aware the lorry was probably in breach of the law in relation to its load. Unfortunately, there is nothing to stop a vehicle ignoring:

1. an Unsuitable for Heavy Vehicles signpost
2. a Road Narrows sign
3. an advisory notice of a weight limit ahead of 3 tons

I don't know about whether the six foot six inches width restriction has been broken.

Shouldn't a British driver know that roads that are named "lane" mean that the road is a narrow country road which should not be used. 

Ypres Rose did not use a fork lift truck to try and unload the vehicle as they would have probably exceeded the weight limit for the mill bridge and apparently they said it wasn't their responsibilty.

Apparently, the vehicle need only be capable of exceeding 3 tons with a load (in this case) to break the law. This means that a vehicle of less than two tons but capable of carrying a load that would exceed three tons must not use the bridge, even if it has no load!

From what I have heard the lorry made its way back up rosemary lane aided by a local farmer's tractor - there are marks on the road surface of Rosemary lane.

There is earlier damage to the bridge (which is classified as an ancient monument) that has had to be repaired, at public expense. That damage was caused by a driver of a beer lorry who was guided to use Rosemary lane by  SATNAV.

Perhaps locals would be better off if the bridge collapsed. Preferably with a lorry on it!

Posted on 07 Mar 2009 by Geoff Edwards

New Road Entrance Freshford Mill

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I thought the new entry to Freshford Mill would be shaped to deter residents and others from turning left to go up Rosemary lane. Well, in the absence of specific instructions from BANES Planning and the Highway Authority, the road has been made complete with drains and kerbstones and as one may see from the photograph below it will be quite easy for a vehicle to turn left and proceed up Rosemary lane and also come down Rosemary lane and enter the estate.

Posted on 02 Sep 2008 by Geoff Edwards

Freshford Mill a Sensitive and Sympathetic Development?

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Recently a hoarding was erected at Freshford Mill. I thought that planning permission had to be sought to do this? However as confirmed by the mock-up the hoarding shows what we feared most. That is that the new buildings will have little in common with the older buildings and with any houses in Freshford which are made almost exclusively of local stone.

The artist's rendition does not show the fact that the buildings will be raised three metres above the existing ground level to give a measure of protection against floods. These new buildings should be made of local stone and we do not see any justification for approving this development as it is currently proposed. These buildings look more like a development in Essex.

Posted on 17 Jul 2008 by Geoff Edwards

Telephone line to Freshford Mill a blot on the landscape

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I understand that the landscape by Freshford Mill bridge is going to be altered by the removal of trees to allow a new telephone line together with poles to be connected to the new development. When Peradins owned the mill site the telephone line was further up Rosemary lane and I don't see any goood reason why the line can't be restored to where it used to be. What I can imagine is a disturbance that could effect the beauty of this part of the river Frome landscape. The two photographs below show the existing beauty of the landscape.

The view up the river Frome from Freshford Mill bridge, which is an Ancient Monument, in July 2008. The view is not marred by telephone lines. Telephone lines are just one of the blights on the landscape of today.

The view down Rosemary lane near Freshford Mill bridge. The view is not marred at present (July 2008) by telephone lines and poles.

Posted on 17 Jul 2008 by Geoff Edwards

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