We have similar signs in Towcester and I can now fairly confidently date the Victorian ones to 1897-1898. An article in the Leeds Mercury dated the 24th September 1897 explains how underground telegraph cables were being laid between London and Birmingham. These electric cables were being laid in 2" diameter tubes at a depth of 2.5 feet. Each cable comprised 76 copper wires insulated from each other by paper. Being underground they would not be damaged by falling trees etc. Laying the cables was a very time consuming business and by the September only 30 miles of tubing and 25 miles of cable had be laid. It was expected that the cable would be in use in 1898. It was considered that the telegraphic cables would augment the telephonic cables being put up between London, Birmingham, Manchester & Liverpool.

Brian Giggins

On 25 July 2017 at 11:24, lancashire.archaeology <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I have a series of these along an A road in Lancashire and initially thought that they were benchmarks.  As others have stated they are in fact GPO markers, showing the sites of junctions in a main telegraph ortelephone trunk line cable.  Mine had the ER cipher (VR and GR are known) , and one had the remains of the measurement figure plates that slip into the grooves below the  ft - ins markings.  Most were burried by tarmac, etc. Deeper than theywould originaly have been, but they are actually quite long with about half of the thing buried when installed.  

A number of these posts are included in the "Connected Earth" website as GPO trunk line markers.  See (put 'marker' in the search box).  

I have tried several times to add an image to this email, but failed - sorry!

Peter Iles,  Lancashire

Sent from Samsung tablet.

-------- Original message --------
From: "Morrison, Jennifer" <[log in to unmask]GOV.UK>
Date: 25/07/2017 09:35 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: help with identifying a metal benchmark



A member of the public has sent me the attached photo of a cast iron benchmark. There are several of these on Durham Road, Low Fell, Gateshead.  They depict the Royal cyphers GR or ER. Underneath there is a space for feet and inches.


Presumably they mark the position of some sort of services? I wondered if they might be connected to the old tram system as there was a tram terminus close by.


The ‘finder’ suggests that they are G.P.O in origin, perhaps on the line of early phone connections?


Any ideas? Has anyone else got these in their patch?






Jennifer Morrison BA (Hons), MA, MCIfA

Tyne and Wear Archaeology Officer

Newcastle City Council


9th Floor

Civic Centre

Newcastle upon Tyne


Tel:        0191 2116218

Fax:   0191 2114810

 E-mail:   [log in to unmask]


On-line Tyne and Wear Historic Environment Record:


Any statements, views or opinions within this e-mail are those of the author and are informal; they do not prejudice any decision that may be later taken by the Local Planning Authority.