The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is nationally recognised for its landscape quality. The designation recognises the importance of heritage and reinforces the need to protect and manage historic features.
The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership, working with the local highway authorities has been restoring the traditional black and white fingerposts at high profile junctions and crossroads.
The original posts date from the early 1900’s resulting from the 1903 Motor Car Act. As there were no guidelines in 1903 as to how the fingerposts should look each Council developed signs with their own identity. As Somerset County once covered the whole of the AONB most fingerposts in and near the AONB have a SCC finial on the top. These will be retained as part of the areas heritage although council boundaries have since changed.
With funding from the AONB Partnership and Blagdon Parish Council, North Somerset Council has restored 5 posts at Burrington Combe, Burrington and Blagdon villages. This brings the total restored to 16 with others at Tynings and on the route between Two Trees at the top of Burrington Combe, to West Horrington via Charterhouse and Priddy,
Restoration involves cleaning, pattern making, casting of new signs to replace broken and missing fingers, and painting. A new ‘collar’ with the name of the junction, the grid reference and ‘Mendip Hills’ has been added to each post to aid visitors and to raise awareness of being in the AONB. Unofficial signs placed on the posts have been removed and it is hoped the no new signs will be added as they are untidy and it is illegal to advertise on the highway.
Restoration of finger posts in other AONBs and National Parks have had a positive impact on tourism, an important part of the local economy, but have also provided an improvement to the environment that has been appreciated by the local community.