THE Canal and River Trust is launching a major fundraising appeal to restore or replace missing mileposts along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal’s 127-mile route.

The charity hopes the EveryMileCounts appeal – which coincides with the canal's 200th anniversary – will encourage dozens of local groups and individuals to adopt their local stretch of canal and its mile marker.

The project is backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, whose grant of £36,600 has supported the appointment of a new project officer, the fabrication of 40 new mile posts and a programme of activities, heritage events and art workshops.

A recent survey of the trans-Pennine canal revealed that about a third of the original 127-mile posts were missing or severely damaged, 89 needed repainting and around 75 needed new number plates fixing to them.

This includes eight missing posts on the Yorkshire side of the canal between Gargrave and Leeds.

Although the canal is 200 years old, the original cast iron mile markers date back to the 1890s. They were installed as a response to legislation introduced to regulate canal freight tolls, which prompted the whole of the canal to be re-surveyed and for new mile, half-mile and quarter-mile posts to be installed along the towpaths.

The first newly-restored milepost will be unveiled near Skipton by town mayor Gordon Bell tomorrow.

It has been saved thanks to the eagle-eyes of retired Keighley resident John Webb. He is a keen local historian and canal enthusiast and during his walks along the canal noticed that the mile maker had been damaged and a broken section was buried in nearby undergrowth. He brought it to the attention of Canal and River Trust staff, who have arranged its restoration by Hazel Grove firm Calibre Metalwork.

Chantelle Seaborn, local waterway manager with the Canal and River Trust, said: “We are very grateful to Mr Webb for bringing the damaged mile marker to our attention. Its restoration marks the start of a tremendous heritage project along the canal which will be a lasting legacy long after the end of the bicentenary celebrations.

“We are very excited to work with local communities who want to be involved with refurbishing or replacing mile markers, and the half and quarter mile markers which need re-painting. That’s over 500 posts which need restoration. We would also love to hear from sponsors who would like to preserve their local canal heritage by giving donations of £200."

Email project officer, Alice Kay, at if you are interested in getting involved.