Old roads, crosses and railroads
Lanes, stoned and grass tracks
Leaving Pontesford on Back Lane, we cross the old railway line, open from 1861-1951. The track is long gone, it is now a leisure route into Pontesbury. Narrow lanes lead us on past Hinton Mill. The byways by Polemere date back to Roman times where they led to a Roman Villa at Lea Cross. We travel on to Nox. The road north from Nox was described as an outrack, or driftway, to Ford Heath, in the 17th century. We follow it to the enclosure roads which now cross the former heath land, with their wide grass verges and ditches, then on along the driftway leading off the Heath, once used by drovers, with views to the Breiddens to the west, and glimpses of the Nesscliffe Hills ahead. There are wooden bridges to cross, where water has eroded the now wooded track, but one wide grass section remains, until recently kept clear by cows grazing whilst going out to pasture, but they too are now gone.
Whiston Cross once marked where this old lane crosses the Welshpool Road. Sandy Lane leads us on to the Alberbury road where the base of Benthall Cross still marks this ancient route, which led to the old crossing point of the River Severn from Little Shrawardine to Shrawardine. We branch off on another green lane, which leads us, via a section of old railway line, into Ford.
Nox was named for Richard Nock who built the ‘Star and Ball’ alehouse and stables there at ‘Crossgates under Newnham’ in 1633. It was here that the Ford court was held from 1674 until 1811. He also built a smithy opposite: sadly, for travellers, both are now private houses.
Benthall Cross, was also known as The Maidens Cross. Only the sandstone base now remains beside the Alberbury Road, on the lane to Benthall.
The Shropshire & Montgomery Light Railway
The Shropshire & Montgomery Light Railway which crossed the River Severn north of Ford, was opened in 1911, but lost its passenger service in 1933. It was extensively reconstructed to serve the World War II Central Ammunitions Depot at Nesscliffe, and finally closed in 1960.