HISTORIC highway fingerpost signs across Eden will be maintained and restored after councillors approved a preservation funding package.

Today Cumbria County Council’s Local Committee for Eden allocated £20,000 to begin a planned programme of restoration and maintenance work on signs around the district.

Traditional highway fingerpost signs are a common sight across Cumbria and add to the character and identity of local villages and rural areas.

In Eden, two main types of traditional fingerpost sign can be found. Those located in the former county of Cumberland typically comprise a substantial cast iron post with black and white bands and cast iron direction signs painted with black lettering.

Signs in the former county of Westmorland are generally of lighter construction, using a smaller diameter straight post and flat plate direction signs, often of a distinctive shape.

There are thought to be 112 Cumberland signs and 38 Westmorland signs still in existence on the highway network in Eden.

To prioritise a programme of maintenance and repair the county council has listed the location of each known sign and assigned it a condition score and estimated cost of repair (available to view in appendix three attached to this committee paper).

Councillor Martin Stephenson, Chairman of Eden Local Committee, said: “Traditional fingerpost signs are part of our highway heritage and contribute to the distinctiveness of the local area.

“Maintaining and restoring these signs will protect them for many years to come and ensure our rural communities retain some of their character and a link to the past.” The total estimated cost of the prioritised programme of works amounts to £137,500. Committee allocated £20,000 today to begin the work and if similar levels of funding are available in future years then all the signs identified as being in need of work could be restored in seven years.

Although fingerpost signs are the responsibility of the county council, some signs have previously been restored by parish councils – sometimes with the assistance of grant funding from the Local Member Schemes budget. Letters will be sent to all parish councils in Eden to seek their participation in a programme of restoration and maintenance.