Chapter 2.

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ROADS, AND THOSE IN TRING.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF ENGLISH ROADS:
THE TURNPIKE ERA.

 

“Although the turnpike trusts became outmoded in the Victorian era, it must not be forgotten that this most ubiquitous institution, an important feature of the landscape for over 150 years, had been one of the central pillars on which the industrial revolution was based.”

Transport in the Industrial Revolution, D. H. Aldcroft (1983).


Woodcut of a toll gate on the Islington turnpike road.



‘TURNPIKES’ THE TOLL ROADS.


Turnpike trusts.


By the end of the 17th Century, four more turnpike Acts covering roads in Essex, Norfolk, Sussex/Surrey, and Gloucestershire had passed into law.

These early turnpikes were administered by the Justices of the Peace in Quarter Sessions, but in 1706 this arrangement changed when a section of the London to Chester road (between Fornhill and Stony Stratford) was turnpiked. [1]  The administration of the road was placed in the hands of a board of trustees, rather than the local justices, thereby creating a model that was to be followed for the remainder of the turnpike era.

The Act empowered the trustees to demand the six days statute labour (or a cash equivalent) from local parishioners, appoint surveyors and toll-collectors, erect toll gates, and collect tolls. A later Act [2] decreed that weighing machines should be kept at the toll-gates, and every cart weighing over 6,000 lbs had to pay twenty shillings for each extra 100 lbs.  In return, the trustees repaired and maintained the road, and erected mileposts.  The public was given the opportunity to invest in these trusts, the money raised from tolls being split between profits for the shareholders (by way of a rate of interest paid on their investment) and the cost of discharging the trust’s responsibilities.

At this time began the practice ‘farming out’ (i.e. leasing) by public auction the right to collect tolls at each gate for a specified number of years. [3]  In effect, this practice converted a future flow of income (i.e. the tolls) into a capital sum that the trustees could apply immediately to erecting toll-gates, building toll-houses, repairing and building new sections of road, and settling debts, such as the cost of obtaining the turnpike Act (which was always to be a significant drain on a trust’s resources).  Farming out the collection of tolls also transferred the control of the gate receipts from the trustees to the leaseholder(s), who thereby acquired the task of preventing dishonest gatekeepers from pocketing the tolls, although it sometimes occurred that the gate was leased by the gate-keeper.



Above: this toll-house was built in 1826 for the toll-collector on the London to Oxford
turnpike at High Wycombe. It was rebuilt at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

Below: a typical toll board.


The new turnpike roads must soon have provided the traveller with a noticeable improvement in conditions, for during the tours he made of Great Britain in the period 1725-27, Daniel Defoe refers favourably to them on a number of occasions . . . .
 

“The reason of my taking notice of this badness of the roads through all the midland counties, is this; that as these are counties which drive a very great trade with the City of London, and with one another, perhaps the greatest of any counties in England; and that, by consequence, the carriage is exceeding great, and also that all the land carriage of the northern counties necessarily goes through these counties, so the roads had been ploughed so deep, and materials have been in some places so difficult to be had for repair of the roads, that all the surveyors rates have been able to do nothing; nay, the very whole country has not been able to repair them; that is to say, it was a burthen too great for the poor farmers; for in England it is the tenant, not the landlord, that pays the surveyors of the highways.  This necessarily brought the Country to bring these things before the Parliament; and the consequence has been, that turn-pikes or toll-bars have been set up on the several great roads of England, beginning at London, and proceeding through almost all those dirty deep roads, in the midland counties especially; at which turn-pikes all carriages, droves of cattle, and travellers on horseback, are obliged to pay an easy toll, that is to say, a horse a penny, a coach three pence, a cart four pence, at some six pence to eight pence, a wagon six pence, in some a shilling, and the like; cattle pay by the score, or by the head, in some places more, in some less; but in no place is it thought a burthen that ever I met with, the benefit of a good road abundantly making amends for that little charge the travellers are put to at the turn-pikes.

Several of these turn-pikes and tolls had been set up of late years, and great progress had been made in mending the most difficult ways, and that with such success as well deserves a place in this account: and this is one reason for taking notice of it in this manner . . .“

A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, Vol. II., Daniel Defoe (1725).

 
Turnpike management.


As the turnpike era progressed, so the management of turnpike roads improved.  At first the parish surveyor managed road repairs under the supervision of the Justices, but following the arrival of turnpike trusts, the trustees took over supervision. They appointed their own surveyor, together with a clerk and a treasurer (the latter roles sometimes being held jointly until this practice was prohibited by the General Turnpike Act of 1822).  The trustees generally comprised many of the landowners through whose land the road passed, some of whom probably filled the dual role of Justices of the Peace.  It was the task of the surveyor, clerk and treasurer between them to implement the trustees’ policies and instructions, the success or failure of which owed much to the calibre of these three men.

The clerk, often a solicitor, managed the trust’s paperwork, took minutes at meetings, placed advertisements, handled correspondence, raised loans and took care of any legal work.  An infrequent, but important part of the Clerk’s work, was to renew the trust’s Act of Parliament when its term expired, usually after 21-years. [4]  The treasurer received and held funds, made disbursements, and maintained the trust’s accounts, while the surveyor supervised road repairs or new building programmes under the general direction of the trustees.  In practice, where the trustees took little interest in the running of the trust, these three officials took important decisions themselves.

In the early trusts, the roles of surveyor, clerk and treasurer were generally discharged by local men serving in a part-time capacity who had no particular qualifications for the work.  But by the nineteenth century the situation had changed, and many trusts, especially the larger, were staffed by professional surveyors, with the clerk being a local solicitor and the treasurer a local banker.  This advance in capability and status probably owed much to the growth of the canal network in the late 18th Century, and later of the railways, each requiring similar roles to be filled on a much larger scale.  But the work of John Loudon McAdam (dealt with in Chapter 9), besides bringing about significant improvements in road engineering, also led to improvements in the management of turnpike trusts.

At the bottom end of the organisation chart were the gate-keepers.  They had to interpret the sometimes complex toll regulations, count the beasts in a drove, measure wagon wheels, weigh vehicles and determine who was eligible for exemptions.  They were usually paid between five and seven shillings a week (more in London), but the meagreness of their remuneration was usually offset by a rent-free house, often supplied with free candles and fuel.  However, gate-keeping was particularly vulnerable to fraud, such as overcharging travellers, failing to account for the tolls, and taking bribes not to weight vehicles where a weighing machine was in use.  Even by employing inspectors, there was no effective control on gate-keepers’ activities, so leasing gates for a fixed sum was popular, although even this was no guarantee against fraud.  Trusts were obliged by law to auction the lease of a gate, with the starting bid being equivalent to the sum it produced in the preceding year.  Thus, if the gate-keeper — who was eligible to bid for the lease on a gate — withheld receipts to decrease the gate’s income, its rental value was lowered, while those attending the auction could fix the bidding between themselves in advance.

Despite the amateur part-time status of the participants, which was sometimes tarnished by incompetence and/or dishonesty, the turnpike network grew.  Between 1700 and 1750, 143 new turnpike Acts were passed.  A period of ‘turnpike mania’ then followed, and between 1751 and 1772 (incl.) 375 new trusts were created. [5]  By the time the last turnpike Act was passed in 1836, there had been 942 Acts for new turnpike trusts in England and Wales, and around 22,000 miles of roads had been turnpiked, about a fifth of the entire road network then existing. [6]


Turnpike riots.


Although Daniel Defoe praised the “benefit of a good road abundantly making amends for that little charge the travellers are put to at the turn-pikes”, his view was not shared by all.

The turnpikes existed in an age when few men and no women had the vote.  Thus, for the disenfranchised working classes, the only effective means of voicing protest was by public unrest, which tended to arise during periods of economic hardship when it was an even greater struggle to put a roof over the family’s head and bread on their table.  At times like these, farmers, carriers, miners, labourers and such-like considered paying to use a better class of road of no advantage to them, for were used to slow movements and heavy joltings and were content to continue travelling at their accustomed pace, free of charge.

The outcome was ‘turnpike riots’.  From the late 1720s, and for some two decades thereafter, there were disturbances in Somerset, Hereford and in Gloucester where, in 1734, a mob destroyed all the toll gates on the approach to the city.  The government reacted with the imposition of the severe penalties, typical of that age.  First came 3 months imprisonment with a public whipping.  When that had no apparent effect, the penalty was increased to seven years transportation.  Then, in 1734, came hanging — “death without clergy”, i.e. execution without the last rites being administered by a clergyman.  But even in an age of religious superstition, this draconian penalty appears to have had minimal deterrent effect.  Turnpike riots continued, such as in Bristol:
 

“In July, 1749, a great body of the country people of the county of Somerset came to Bedminster, shouting prodigiously, so as to be heard at a long distance off, and proceeded to attack the turnpike gates and toll houses along the Ashton Road, with axes, hatchets, and other implements of destruction, so as entirely to demolish them in about half-an-hour.  Cross bars and posts were immediately erected in their room, chains were put across the road, and some stout men were placed to assist the toll men; but the next day these also were attacked, and summarily destroyed by a mob of people; their shouts alarming the city, to which it was feared they would proceed, and commence an attack upon Newgate and rescue the prisoners, which they had threatened to do.  Public notice was given to the people to prepare for their coming, and defend themselves; the rendezvous to be at the Exchange, on the alarm being given by fire-bells.  The rioters, however, did not carry out their threat; two of them, named Perryman and Roach, were tried at the next Taunton assizes, found guilty, and executed at Ilchester.”

A Popular History of Bristol, George Pryce FSA (1861).


During the period 1839-43, there were further turnpike riots by tenant farmers in west Wales protesting against the high level of turnpike tolls.  These were a big expense for small farmers, who used the turnpikes to take their livestock and produce to market, and to collect lime for use as a fertiliser (it could cost as much as five shillings in tolls to move a cart of lime eight miles, at a time when an agricultural labourer’s wage was about ten shillings a week).  Named the ‘Rebecca Riots’, the rioters were men disguised as women, calling themselves ‘Rebecca and her daughters’ after the biblical passage in which Rebecca talks of the need to “possess the gate of those who hate them” (Genesis XXIV, verse 60). They attacked the toll-gates until the authorities quelled the riots using troops and the force of the law.  Some rioters were transported (Appendix).


A turnpike riot. Illustrated London News, 1843.


Social conditions gradually changed over the decade.  Improvements in the laws controlling turnpike trusts and the coming of railway competition eased many of the transport problems in the areas.  People could move more easily to find work, while the ending of the Corn Laws [7] and attempts to moderate the Poor Law also helped.


The decline of the turnpikes.


The early part of the nineteenth century saw improvement in the condition of the main turnpike roads as the work of Telford and McAdam (see Chapter 9) spread, and in the progressive linking up of towns until most places of importance were connected by stagecoach services.  The improved roads then being laid resulted in stagecoach speeds increasing from some 6 mph (including stops) to 8 mph, [8] which greatly increased the level of mobility for people and the mail.  But despite the improvements they had brought about, the end of the turnpike era was approaching.

The turnpikes were undoubtedly damaged by the coming of the canals in the later 18th and early 19th century, but to a great extent the nature of their businesses differed.  Although some canals ran quick ‘fly boat’ services for the conveyance of passengers and light goods, they were uncommon.  The canal carriers were mainly interested in transporting bulk cargoes ― often long distance ― such coal, stone/building materials and manure, to which road transport was not well suited, as remains the case.  But from the 1840s the new public railways became a major factor in the financial failure of many turnpike trusts and, for that matter, canals.  Railways offered a far quicker and cheaper service with which neither could compete. [9]  This applied particularly to long-distance routes; when a railway opened along a route served by stagecoaches, the coach operator(s) quickly went out of business, or had to convert to a railway feeder service.

By the early 1840s, many London-based mail coaches were being withdrawn, the last being to close was the London to Norwich service in 1846.  Regional mail coaches continued into the 1850s, but they too were eventually replaced by rail services.  The poet Thomas Cooper at first lamented the demise of the mail coach, but having experienced the improved speed and comfort of rail travel, changed his tune:
 

        I left the realm of silence by the Rail.
        There was no Rail whereon the steam-steed sped
        With snort, and puff, and haste to turn men pale
        With fear, and fill their hearts with instant dread
        Of death, when I was young.  But, steady tread
        Of waggon-horses, stout and strong; ― the dash
        Down hill and up, o’ the mail, without a shred
        Of fear, to coachee’s chirrup ― not the lash
O’ the whip; the cheery horn; no dread of deathful
crash!

        “Oh, for the dear old coach again!” I cry ―
        But soon remind myself o’ the pelting rain,
        And that umbrella which the old man would try
        To hold up still for shelter, with insane
        Resolve, although it drenched our necks; the pain
        Of sitting, crampt, for lack of room; the wind
        That kept us in one posture, like a chain ―
        It was so keen!  And then I am inclined
To own ’twas well men did the steam-steed find, and
bind!

From Paradise of Martyrs, by Thomas Cooper.


From the 1840s onwards, the steam-steeds’ arrival caused many turnpike trusts to slip into insolvency, the outcome being that the cost of road repair then fell on the very ratepayers who were paying the tolls to use them.  Thus, from 1864 onwards, Parliament embarked on a programme of terminating turnpike trusts; any turnpike Act that had not already expired, been repealed or discontinued, could continue to operate no longer than 1st November 1886 unless Parliament declared otherwise.

The last turnpike trust — that managing the Anglesey portion of the Shrewsbury to Holyhead Road — expired on 1st November 1895. And so ended the turnpike era.  Under an Act of 1878 [10] a new class of road  emerged.  All former turnpike roads that had become public highways since 1870 were designated “main roads”, as were roads between “great towns” and those leading to railway stations.



Thomas Telford’s attractive two-story toll house at Llanfair PG, Anglesey.  The Anglesey section of the A5 was the last public toll road in Britain until the M6 toll motorway opened in 2003. There were five toll gates, each with a toll house, at approximately five mile intervals between the Menai Suspension Bridge and Holyhead.
 


The pros and cons of the turnpikes.


The principal weaknesses of the turnpike trusts lay in their financial structure.  From the outset the heavy capital debt incurred in their creation had to be serviced, and by 1830 there were cases of unsuccessful trusts that had not paid interest on their bonds for 50 years.  A further weakness lay in the absence of any central control over the trustees, who were often slow to appoint efficient officers.  The treasurer would often keep toll receipts with his own money; there was little effective control over the collectors, who were often illiterate and unable to maintain accounts; and the process of mortgaging tolls was sometimes so inefficient that there was little income left for road maintenance.  Ultimately, there was no practical method of holding a defaulting, hopelessly incompetent or dishonest turnpike trust to account.  Subject to no official supervision or central control, under no inspection, rendering no accounts, a trust could use or neglect its powers as it chose; it could not even be prosecuted for letting its roads become impassable!

Despite their failings, the turnpikes halted the deterioration in the condition of main roads and slowly built up a network of reasonably well maintained highways that allowed road transport to move more quickly and reliably.  In many cases the money raised by mortgaging toll income allowed investment in road improvement, even in building by-passes around bad sections of road.  Although deadweight goods were still carried more efficiently by water, until the advent of the public railways road transport became the best means of carrying people, mail and light goods rapidly between the booming towns of the Industrial Revolution.


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THE UNTURNPIKED ROADS.


Changes in road administration.


The move towards a modern system of road maintenance developed through the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the result of a series of Acts of Parliament that progressively shifted this responsibility onto larger and more structured bodies.

The turnpike era reached its zenith around 1838, but there were in use many more miles of unturnpiked roads;
 

“. . . . we might easily have imagined that by this time the bulk of the roads throughout the kingdom had become turnpikes, and that the condition of such byways and country lanes as still remained under the jurisdiction of the parish Surveyor of Highways was of no importance.  This was not the case.  Out of a total length of recognised public highway in 1820 of about 125,000 miles, only about 20,875 miles, or little over one-sixth, was under Turnpike Trusts; and even by 1838 the mileage under Trusts had only increased to about 22,000, leaving, it was computed, no less than 104,770 miles, with an annual expenditure of more than a million sterling, under parochial control . . . . Even across rural parishes, especially in the eastern counties and in the south-west of England, many roads of more than local importance remained outside the network of the eleven hundred Turnpike Trusts.”

English Local Government: the History of the King’s Highway, Webb (1913).


The administration of these thousands of miles of unturnpiked roads continued much as in Tudor times, when the responsibility was transferred from the manor to the parish.  The numerous parishes and townships around the land appointed an unpaid, unskilled (and possibly illiterate and/or corrupt) Surveyor of Highways each year, who did what he felt necessary using the forced statute labour unwillingly rendered on the roads (often by the parish paupers) on the six appointed days each year.  The law also required parishioners to provide horses and carts, according to their means, to assist with the work.

The 1835 Highways Act consolidated and amended existing highway law not affecting the turnpike trusts.  Some advances were made; the Act abolished statute labour — in operation for some 300 years and never that effective — replacing it with a levy on the parish, the ‘highway rate’.  The duties of the annually elected surveyor of highways became remunerated, and he could be fined by the county justices for failing to keep the highways in repair.  Improvements in road engineering permitted the abolition of regulations that limited the weights of loads to be carried, and the construction of wagon and cart wheels.

But the Act’s weakness lay in confirming the parish as the principal authority for repairing and maintaining unturnpiked roads.  In reality, a much larger geographical area, such as a county, was needed to develop and deliver a strategic highways policy.  The Act did permit two or more parishes to apply to the justices to be united in a ‘highway district’, having a salaried district surveyor, although each parish remained responsible for its own assessment, rate collection and expenditure.  The supposed advantages that such amalgamation offered were the employment of a more skilled person to supervise repairs, greater uniformity of method, and greater efficiency in management; but the provision attracted little interest.

The move towards larger highway units began in 1862.  Under the Highways Act of that year, [11] the Justices of the Peace for a county were authorised, by means of a provisional order confirmed by the Quarter Sessions, to divide it compulsorily into a number of ‘Highway Districts’, each consisting of a number of parishes.  The order listed the parishes to be grouped together, the name to be given to the district, and the number of ‘way wardens’ to be elected by each.

The authority governing each Highway District was its ‘Highway Board’, which comprised one or more members elected annually by each parish — way-wardens — and any county justices residing in the district.  It was to appoint a treasurer, clerk and district surveyor, [12] whose salaries and other administrative expenses were chargeable to a district fund to which each parish contributed in proportion to the 3-year average spent on maintaining its highways.  Other changes regulating accountability and audit followed in 1864.


County and urban district councils.


The long-lived role of the parish in highway maintenance was now reduced to that of electing a way-warden(s) and levying whatever highway rate was sufficient to meet the precept of the Highway Board — at least that was the theory.  There was no compulsion for Highway Districts to be formed and, by using a loophole in existing local government legislation, [13] a parish could become an ‘Urban Sanitary Authority’, thereby retaining control of its highways together with various public health matters, such as providing clean drinking water, sewers, street cleaning, and clearing slum housing.  In this way many parishes continued to maintain their own highways for some years to come.

In 1878, the Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act created a single highway rate, thus preventing parishes being financially independent, but it was not until 1894 that parishes were eliminated as highway authorities altogether, thus ending a practice going back to the reign of Henry VIII. [14]  At the same time Urban Sanitary Authorities were renamed Urban District Councils.  In the meantime, the 1888 Local Government Act transferred responsibility for major bridges and main roads to the newly created County Councils. [15]

English highways were now administered, within boroughs or urban district councils, by the town or district council; outside the urban areas, main roads were the responsibility of the county council and the others of the rural district council.  The system of paid surveyors and hired labour was now general, the cost being met out of local rates.


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APPENDIX.

TURNPIKE RIOTS
Reported in the CAMBRIAN, 16th Sept 1843.

THE PONTARDULAIS GATE.
(Extract from the report of Capt. Napier, Chief Constable.)


Just before we entered the village, I heard a noise, as if of a body of men on the other side of the river.  I also heard horns blowing, and a great many guns fired off.  I also heard a voice, like that of a woman, crying out— “Come, come, come;” and a voice like the mewing of cats.  This noise appeared to me to proceed from the direction of the Red Lion Inn, which is at a short distance from the turnpike-gate. Immediately after this, I heard a voice crying out aloud — “Gate!” and in a very short time afterwards I heard a noise, as if the gate was being destroyed.  I then proceeded with my officers and men towards the gate, and on coming in full view, I observed a number of men mounted on horseback, and disguised.  Some had white dresses on them, and others had bonnets.  Most of them appeared to be dressed like women, with their faces blackened.  A portion of the men were dismounted, and in the act of breaking the gate and the toll-house.  About three of them, who appeared to lead, were mounted, having their horses’ heads facing the gate, and their backs towards me.  At this time there was a continual firing of guns kept up by the parties assembled.  I immediately called on my men to fall in, and proceed towards the men who were on horseback, and who appeared to be taking the lead, and called upon them, as loud as I could, to “Stop.”  I used the word “Stop,” three or four times.  Upon coming up to them, one of the mounted men, who was disguised as a woman, turned round, and fired a pistol at me.  I was close to him at the time.  I moved on a few paces, and a volley was fired by the parties assembled in the direction of the police.  I should say the volley was fired at us — that was the impression on my mind at the time.  I then endeavoured to take the parties, the three mounted men in particular, into custody.  Myself and men met with considerable resistance from them and the other parties.  The three men on horseback rode at us, as if they intended to ride us down and get us out of the way.



The three prisoners, John Hughes, David Jones, and John Hugh, were among the parties assembled on the occasion, and were taken into custody.


――――♦――――


DESTRUCTION BY FIRE OF HENDY TOLLHOUSE,
AND DEATH OF THE TOLL COLLECTOR.


A report reached this town on Sunday evening, that the above gate, as well as the Toll-house, had been destroyed, and that the toll collector, an old woman, had been shot dead.



On enquiry it turned out that the sad news was but too true.  It appeared that the gate-house was attacked by a party of the Rebaccaites at about eleven or twelve o’clock on Saturday night.  The number of persons assembled could not have been great, as, according to the evidence of one of the witnesses at the coroner’s inquisition, neither the noise of horses nor the trampling of feet was heard, but two witnesses say that they heard the reports of five or six gunshots.  However, certain it is, that soon after the house was fired, the collector, who appeared to be in her usual state of health, went to the house of a neighbour, to seek assistance, after which she returned to the toll-house, and as soon as she went for the second time to the home of her neighbour, the unoffending old woman sank and breathed her last.  Further details will be learnt from the inquest held on Tuesday, on the body of Sarah Williams, toll collector, aged 75 years, before William Bonville, Esq., coroner.


――――♦――――


FOOTNOTES

 
1. An Act for the better repairing the Highway between Forn Hill in the County of Bedford, and the Town of Stony-Stratford in the County of Buckingham, 1706 (6 Anne c. 4).
 
2. Preservation of Roads Act, 1740 (14 Geo. II, c. 42). The long title of this Act may have been An Act for Better Preservation of Turnpike Roads, by limiting the Weight of Carriages, and erecting Weighing Engines for that Purpose.
 
3. It was not until 1773 that a formal procedure was laid down by Act of Parliament for auctioning the tolls (Turnpike Roads Act 13 Geo. III c.84 art. 31).
 
4. The cost of obtaining new legal powers — generally every 21-years — placed a significant drain on a turnpike trust’s finances. The 1823 Sparrow’s Herne Act cost £409 to obtain, a not insignificant sum at a time when a farm labourer’s wage was in the region of ten shillings a week.
 
5. Appendix B, The Turnpike Road System in England 1663-1840, William Albert (1972).
 
6. See “Turnpike Roads” and “Turnpikes and tolls” at www.parliament.uk.
 
7. The Corn Laws were measures in force in the United Kingdom between 1815 and 1846 that imposed restrictions and tariffs on otherwise cheap imported grain.  They were designed to keep grain prices high to favour domestic producers. Their effect was to enhanced the profits and political power of the land owners at the expense of the poor, who were faced with artificially high food prices, the price of grain (hence the term ‘Corn Laws’) being central to the price of their most important staple food, bread.
 
8. On the subject of road speeds during the 19th century, mention must be made of an Act known to history as the ‘Red Flag Act’ (The Locomotive Act 1865, 28 & 29 Vict., c. 83).  By the 1860s there was concern that the widespread use of steam road locomotives would endanger public safety.  It was also alleged — probably by those with business interests in railways and horse-drawn carriages — that road locomotives damaged the highway when being driven at the current speed limit of 10 mph.  Despite there being no evidence to support this claim, the most draconic speed restrictions resulted.  Under the Act, all road locomotives (which later included automobiles) were restricted to a maximum of 4 mph in the country and 2 mph in the towns, and a man carrying a red flag was required to walk in front of any hauling two or more wagons.
 
9. “The tolls from eight trusts along the London-Birmingham road, for instance, fell from £29,000 to £15,800 immediately on the opening of the London & Birmingham Railway [September, 1838].  By 1848 the total receipts from all English turnpikes had fallen by a quarter.”

pp 120-121, An Economic History of Transport in Britain, Barker & Savage, 3rd edition, 1974.


“Each stage-coach journeying daily from London to Manchester was contributing over £1700 a year in turnpike tolls to the different Trusts along the route.  It was computed that each coach paid something like £7 a year in tolls for each mile of road that it traversed.  The transfer of this business was instantaneous and complete.  Every coach had to be taken off the road the moment the railway was open to the towns along its route.  No one took a post chaise when he could take the train.”

p215, English Local Government: the History of the King’s Highway, Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1913).

 
10. The Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict., c. 77).
 
11. The Highways Act 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c. 61).
 
12. As late as 1881, it was claimed in evidence that the Surveyors of Highways, were:

“. . . . farmers, millers, clergymen, squires when they were not gardeners, bricklayers, broken-down clerks or shopkeepers, or merely the incompetent relations of prominent parishioners. ‘I do not suppose ten per cent are competent,’ said the witness, ‘although many are paid.’”

Quoted p210, English Local Government: the History of the King’s Highway, Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1913).

 
13. The Local Government Act, 1858 (21 & 22 Vict. c. 98).
 
14. The Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73).  It was estimated at the time that some 5,000 highway parishes continued to elect their surveyor of highways each year, and mend their own roads.
 
15. County Councils were created by The Local Government Act 1888 (51 & 52 Vict. c. 41) to be responsible for more strategic services in a region with, from 1894 — The Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73) — the smaller urban district and rural district councils being responsible for other activities.


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