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Turnpike Roads to Banbury
(through Bicester, Brackley and Buckingham)
Booklet 14 in a series on Roads across the Upper Thames Valley by
Turnpike trusts were set up by Acts of Parliament to improve the through-routes that had been neglected by Parish administration. A dozen independent turnpike trusts maintained the road network in the Banbury and Buckingham area. The main Buckingham to Birmingham road and the Oxford to Coventry road were managed by relatively large trusts, set up in the middle of the 18th century. Smaller trusts, set up later in the century were responsible for subsidiary routes into the markets towns. Carrier and coach services using these turnpikes paid tolls that financed maintenance and road improvements. The turnpike trusts were wound-up in the late 19th century, leaving as their legacy an occasional milestone or toll-house and the framework of our modern road network.
Sections of Ogilby’s Roads through Banbury, 1675.
1. Historic Roads in the Cherwell Valley........................................................................................................................ 1
1.1 Highways around Banbury.............................................................................................................................. 1
1.2 Borough of Banbury........................................................................................................................................ 2
1.3 Road maps from the 17th century..................................................................................................................... 4
1.4 A Deteriorating Road Network........................................................................................................................ 5
2. The Turnpike System.................................................................................................................................................... 6
2.1 Re-organising the Maintenance of Roads......................................................................................................... 6
2.2 Turnpike Acts................................................................................................................................................... 6
2.2.1 General features............................................................................................................................. 6
2.2.2 Components of the Act.................................................................................................................. 7
2.3 Turnpikes in North Oxfordshire....................................................................................................................... 8
2.3.1 Principal roads across the region................................................................................................... 8
2.3.2 Roads centred on Banbury............................................................................................................ 8
2.3.3 Individual involvement in Turnpike Trusts.................................................................................... 8
3. Buckingham to Birmingham Turnpikes.................................................................................................................... 10
3.1 Buckingham to Warmington Trust................................................................................................................... 10
3.1.1 Road covered by the Act............................................................................................................... 10
3.1.2 Trust Administration..................................................................................................................... 11
3.2 Drayton Lane to Edgehill Trust........................................................................................................................ 11
3.2.1 Road covered by the Act............................................................................................................... 11
3.2.2 Trust Administration..................................................................................................................... 12
3.3 The Great Kington Trust................................................................................................................................... 13
3.4 Buckingham to Banbury Trust......................................................................................................................... 14
3.5 Bicester to Aynho Trust................................................................................................................................... 14
3.5.1 The New Route............................................................................................................................. 14
3.5.2 Trust Administration..................................................................................................................... 15
3.5.3 Toll-house Operation..................................................................................................................... 16
4. Coventry to Oxford Turnpikes.................................................................................................................................... 16
4.1 Divisions of the Road....................................................................................................................................... 16
4.2 Ryton Bridge to Banbury Trust........................................................................................................................ 18
4.2.1 Toll Collection............................................................................................................................... 18
4.2.2 Finance.......................................................................................................................................... 19
4.2 Adderbury to Kidlington Trust......................................................................................................................... 19
5. Oxfordshire to Northamptonshire Turnpikes............................................................................................................ 20
5.1 Weston on the Green to Towcester Trust......................................................................................................... 20
5.1.1 Operation of the First Trust........................................................................................................... 20
5.1.2 Merger with the Buckingham to Banbury Trust............................................................................ 21
5.2 Turnpikes through Bicester.............................................................................................................................. 22
5.3 Banbury to Lutterworth Trust........................................................................................................................... 23
5.3.1 The First Parliamentary Act........................................................................................................... 23
5.3.2 Implementation & Administration................................................................................................. 24
5.3.3 Toll Collection............................................................................................................................... 25
5.3.4 Further Acts.................................................................................................................................. 25
6. Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire Turnpikes................................................................................................................. 26
6.1 Chappel on the Heath to Bourton Trust............................................................................................................ 26
6.2 Banbury to Burford Trust................................................................................................................................. 26
6.2.1 The Act.......................................................................................................................................... 26
6.2.2 Toll-gates....................................................................................................................................... 27
6.2.3 The Divisions................................................................................................................................ 28
6.3 Banbury, Brailes & Shipston Trust.................................................................................................................. 28
6.3.1 The New Road.............................................................................................................................. 28
6.3.2 Toll-houses.................................................................................................................................... 29
7. Running the Turnpike Trusts....................................................................................................................................... 30
7.1 Finance & Capital............................................................................................................................................. 30
7.2 Clerks & Surveyors.......................................................................................................................................... 31
7.3 Toll Collection.................................................................................................................................................. 32
8. Traffic through Banbury.............................................................................................................................................. 34
8.1 Coach services.................................................................................................................................................. 34
8.2 Wagon services................................................................................................................................................ 36
8.3 Traffic type....................................................................................................................................................... 37
8.3 Competition from the canals............................................................................................................................. 38
8.4 Competition from the Railways........................................................................................................................ 39
9. The End of the Banbury Turnpikes............................................................................................................................ 39
9.1 Winding up the Trusts...................................................................................................................................... 39
9.2 Remaining Evidence......................................................................................................................................... 40
10. Sources.......................................................................................................................................................................... 41
Banbury lies on the northern edge of the upper Thames Valley. Routes from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and southern Oxfordshire approach the town along the Cherwell valley from the south-east. North of Banbury there are two relatively easy routes into the Midland Plain, across the Jurassic ridge that forms this edge of the Thames Valley. Other important lines of communication follow the high limestone ridge, north-eastwards across the Redlands to Northamptonshire and south-westwards along the Cotswolds to Gloucestershire. The building of the M40 has now made Banbury a major node for trunk roads between London and the Midlands giving this area a new importance on the national road network.
Despite this apparently important position, Banbury itself was not a focus for long distance journeys before the medieval period. The main Roman roads such as Akeman Street, Watling Street and Fosse Way did not serve the site of Banbury. Several straight tracks, presumably engineered by the Romans, cross the north Cotswolds, connecting the Roman settlements at Alchester (near Bicester), Fleet Marston and Lactodurum (Towcester) with communities such as that at Thornborough (near Buckingham). The Romans would have developed lines of communication that were already used by the local population beside the Cherwell and over the hills. There is some evidence for two Romanized roads crossing the Cherwell, at Twyford and near North Aston. The former aligns with a road from Stratford upon Avon through Broughton and on, via Hinton in the Hedges, to Thornborough. The latter route runs over a natural, stone-bottomed ford to Somerton (Wickham Steed 1967) and then goes on to Bicester. Minor Roman highways must have linked the rich farms in this region of the Cotswolds, but it is difficult to distinguish these from tracks created at later dates. However, the nodes in this network of Roman roads and tracks differed from that of later administrators and traders. Once the Roman Empire was displaced, many of these early roads fell into disrepair and material would have been robbed from any metalled surfaces. Only where the needs of the new residents corresponded to those of the Romans did sections of these early roads survive.
Economic and social factors directed the paths of long distance travellers who trod down the vegetation to create these ancient trackways. The relatively dry and open ridgeways of southern England have long been regarded as the earliest highways in the region. Close to Banbury, the Cotswold ridgeway from Gloucestershire becomes the Jurassic Way into Northamptonshire. However, the contemporary view, exemplified by the work of Christopher Taylor (1979), casts doubt on the uniqueness of the Jurassic Way and it is now thought that a large number of pathways criss-crossed these uplands and Banbury had no obvious position of importance in this network. A number of tracks that may be of ancient origin are illustrated in Figure 1. Many of these routes stay on the high ground, following ridges between river valleys and only descending to cross streams at specific places. The Saxon villages which grew up beside these roads sometimes took the name "ford", indicating the importance of the crossing to the community. Several of these old tracks were still in use even during the turnpike era, when they became drove roads that could be used without tolls. Banbury Lane (a part of the Jurassic Way), the Welsh Way and Dornford Lane are examples. An earlier use of one track is recalled in the name, Salt Way. This is said to be the path used by pack horses carrying salt from Droitwich, through Stratford to places with salt-rights, such as Princes Risborough (Houghton 1932).
There is more evidence of ancient tracks on the eastern bank of the Cherwell Valley than on its western bank. A track called the Portway is an old trade route that runs north from Akeman Street. It crosses the Ockley Brook just north of the old Hundred meeting place, beside the tumulus of Ploughley Hill. An ancient earthwork, Ash Bank, seems to mark the line of an old road north of Kiddington. The road through Ardley was referred to in the 13th century as the Via Regia and in medieval times was probably the main road south from the large wool market in Brackley. This road used to go across what is now Middleton Park, west of the present B430. It is not clear whether this could also have been the ancient highway along which Saxon traders carried goods between the Mercian commercial centre at Northampton and the Wessex port at Southampton, gateway to the Continent. A more likely path for the earliest traders would have been the old Roman road from Towcester to Bicester. Except for the section through Stowe Park this road is still followed and so would have facilitated travel southwards from Northamptonshire as far as Akeman Street. From here the ford below the Saxon town of Oxford could be used to cross the Thames and highway south through Abingdon led on to the main towns of Wessex.
The ridgeway through Brackley probably did not become important until medieval times when the Cotswolds, rather than Northampton alone, were the destination of merchants from the Continent. Early English monarchs definitely preferred the road through Silverstone, Brackley and Ardley (RUTV 9). An itinerary taken from an early 15th century manuscript at Titchfield Abbey in Hampshire recommends travel through Middleton and Brackley on the road north from Oxford towards Yorkshire (Dickins, 1938). Records from a similar period (Martin 1976) show that travellers from Merton College, Oxford, also followed this highway to the North East.
The old ridgeway tracks do not lead naturally to a river crossing at Banbury. The Welsh Way at Trafford, north east of Banbury crosses the upper reaches of the Cherwell. Below the site of the present town, the Roman road crossed the river at Twyford and further downstream are other ancient crossing places near Somerton, Heyford, Enslow and Milford. Wickham Steed (1967) concludes that the earliest crossing near Banbury was at Grimsbury, north of the town. She speculates that the name Grimsbury refers to the superstitious belief of the Saxon farmers that the old buildings beside a Roman road were the work of the Devil. It may be significant that Banbury did not take the name "ford" suggesting that, for the Saxon settlers, providing a crossing of the Cherwell was not the main function of this site.
The road running north/south through Banbury has probably been most important in development of the town. The Titchfield itineraries of about 1400 recommend the road from Oxford on the west bank of the Cherwell, through Deddington, Banbury and Southam to reach Coventry and the North West (Dickins 19xx). This road was used occasionally by Henry III and Edward I in their journeys north, though the Brackley road was more frequently used by all the Plantagenet kings (RUTV 9). This suggests that in the medieval period this road up the Cherwell valley was a route of local importance rather than one of the great highways between the Thames Valley and other regions of the country.
The Bishop of Lincoln developed the borough in the mid-12th century, attracting merchants to the new market place and building a castle from which to administer his extensive estates in Oxfordshire (Crossley 1984, p.6). There are few natural barriers limiting access to the town and the existing trackways were easily adapted so that trade flowed into this market on the west bank of the upper Cherwell. It was important that a bridge crossed the Cherwell but this was to serve the town, rather than travellers in transit between other major towns. A bridge existed at Banbury in 1294 (Crossley 1984, p.23) and some 13th century stonework survived in the 19th century structure. In the 18th century it was described as having seven pointed arches to carry it over the Cherwell and the Mill Stream. The cutwaters were carried up to the parapet and a level causeway led to the bridge from either bank. The old bridge was modified to accommodate the canal arch, changed again when the railway was constructed and has now been replaced by a modern flyover.
The Bishop of Lincoln would probably have commissioned the original bridge, using a similar Gothic style to that of contemporary church architecture. Maintenance of the bridge would have remained the responsibility of the builder but by the 16th century a hermit had been installed at the foot of the bridge to collect alms for its upkeep. Later still, a Bridgemaster, appointed by the borough, became responsible for maintenance of this bridge. Despite the existence of Banbury Bridge, the main road to London passed over the Cherwell at Nell Bridge near Aynho. Hence, most long distance travellers from both London and Oxford would have entered the town through the South Bar and left through the North Bar.
Banbury was not an important stop on the itineraries of early kings of England (RUTV 9). The royal hunting lodge at Woodstock to the south was the region's principal road hub from where the highways to Brackley and Cirencester led across the Cotswolds. Despite the presence of the bishop's castle at Banbury, there were no rich monastic institutions to stimulate the local economy. As a result, the road network would have served mainly the needs of the regional markets. However, by Tudor times, royal patronage and monastic power had declined and in the new mercantile era Banbury grew into a significant market centre. Harrison's description of the principal highways of Tudor England gives Banbury the status previously assigned to Woodstock, as the hub of the road network in the northern Cotswolds.
In the 1540s, John Leland passed through this area during his travels on behalf of Henry VIII. He approached via Burchestar (Bicester) and Brakeley (Brackley) which he entered "by a litle stone bridge in a botom, of one arche, undar the whiche Use riveret rennithe, there being a letle streme. From this bridge the great streate of the towne goith up apon a pratie hille: at the pitch whereof there turnithe nothar streat by este to Seint Peter's, the heade churche of the town. The towne of Brakeley by estimation of olde ruines hath many stretes in it, and that large.....This towne florished in the Saxon tyme ontyll the danes rasid it. It florishid syns the Conquest, and was a staple for wolle" (Toulmin Smith 1964). Leland rode eastwards, apparently through Twyford, his route being "from Brakeley to Kyngs Southtowne 4 miles of, al by champayn corne and gresse.... From Southtowne to Banbyri a 3. miles, all by champaine baren of wood. Scant a mile bynethe Southtowne I passyd by a stone bridge of one arch over Charwell ryver"
Leland wrote that "The moaste part of the hole towne of Banbyri standithe in a valley, and is inclosyd by northe and est with low grownde, partely medowes, partely marsches; by southe and southe-west the ground somewhat hillithe in respecte of the site of the towne. The fayrest strete of the towne lyethe by west and easte downe to the river of Charwelle. And at the west parte of this streat is a large area invironed with meatlye good buildinge, havynge a goodly crosse with many degrees about it. In this area is kept every Thursday a very celebrate market. There renithe a prile of freshe watar throwghe this area. There is another fayre strete from southe to northe; and at eche end of this strete is a stone-gate. There be also in the towne othar gates besydes thes. Yet is there nothere eny certayne token or lykelyhod, that ever the towne was dichid or waullyd. There is a castle on the northe syde of this area havynge 2. wardes, and eche warde a dyche. In the utter is a terrible prison for convict men." (Toulmin Smith 1964). Leland rode to Warwick from Banbury and late returned through Southam and Banbury on his journey from Coventry to Bicester.
The disadvantages of Banbury's new position on a main line of communication between the Midlands and London were highlighted during the Civil War. The first battle of the conflict took place at Edgehill, north-west of Banbury, on 23rd October 1642, when Royalist troops from Northampton moved against a Parliamentary force heading from Warwick towards London. Although there was no clear victor, the Royalists moved back through Banbury, capturing the castle. For over three and a half years the King's men garrisoned this castle in what was avowedly a puritan area. By the time that the castle was retaken for Parliament, in 1646, many of the buildings had been severely damaged (Crossley 1984, p.10). Nevertheless, the town soon revived and the market regained its prosperity and drew in more trade.
John Ogilby published the first detailed English road maps in 1675. These strip maps gave Banbury a similar status to Oxford as a principal node on the road network of southern England. The modern pattern of main roads can be discerned on Ogilby's maps (Figure 2). A main road ran north from Oxford, through Banbury to Coventry. The road from London to Buckingham had an extension through Banbury to Stratford with a branch from Banbury to Chipping Campden. The Buckingham to Banbury road passed through Aynho (not Brackley) using Nell Bridge rather than Twyford to cross the Cherwell. A third road connects Banbury with Bristol, the important trading port for Stuart England. These highways which would eventually form the framework for the turnpikes passing through Banbury. Ogilby's highway from Oxford to Cambridge passed through both Bicester and Buckingham.
Ogilby described the highway from London through Buckingham as "affording a very good road to Aylesbury but not so pleasant to Banbury and Bromsgrove". His detailed commentary mentions landmarks such as the gallows half a mile outside Aylesbury and the various church towers visible for up to several furlongs on either side of the road. The approach to Buckingham was "an indirect (winding) way for the most part open, being indifferently (generally) arable and pasture" and then over "a stone bridge of six arches." Buckingham "contains about 300 houses, sends Burgesses to Parliament, hath a well furnished Market on Saturdays and six fairs". From Buckingham to Banbury Ogilby recommended "repassing the Owse you leave the town by the Lady Smiths House and Park (Stowe) and Ratley Church on the right; at 63m you come to Tinewick a discontinued (dispersed) village, and at 64m, entering Oxon, you pass through Fenmore another scattered village". The strip map states that between "Fenmore" and the "Cotisford" turn there is "a great coney warren". It is noted that Aynho affords "good reception for travellers" and that the road crosses "the Charwell at 73.2m (72 miles and 2 furlongs from London), over Nell-Bridge of 6 arches stone-built". Banbury is described as "a large and well-built town containing several good Inns and Accommodation", and "its Market on Thursday is well stored with Provisions and hath 7 fairs yearly. It subscribes to none in the County, Oxford excepted, for Wealth and Beauty". The road to Drayton is "an open way" leading over "two small waters and an indifferent straight way" to Wroxton. A branch from this road to Campden left Banbury by the West Bar but near the edge of the Cotswold scarp Ogilby recommends a different route to that followed by the modern road. His road goes through "Shutford, another village with an Inn in it" and on by Sibberts Heath, "entering Warwickshire you descend a large Hill of 11f, at the foot of which lies Brailes, a dis-united village extending 10f on the road, having an Inn or two in it for accommodation". From here it follows the modern road to Shipston "by a direct way brings you at 13.6m to a stone bridge of six arches over the River Stour".
Ogilby considers the road from Bristol to Banbury as "affording generally good way and reasonable entertainment". He makes no comments on the highway through Burford, by Bruern Abbey and Bloxham. No mention is made of Chipping Norton, so it would appear that the highway by-passed the town. Navigational features on the map include not only the towers of local churches but also the windmills at North Newington and Wickham. Additional notes on Banbury state that "it has a fair large church which with the town not long since suffered much by fire; this town is of note for being the place where Kenric King of the West Saxons put the Britains to flight". The third road that Ogilby describes as passing through Banbury is that from Oxford to Coventry. This "in general is no very good road, yet every where replenisht with good towns and fitting entertainment for travellers". He notes that south of Deddington the road passes over "a stone-bridge of two arches over a brook": Deddington "has an indifferent good Market on Saturdays" and "at which place was lately found a Medicinal Spring". Adderbury is "a village of good accommodation in which are the seats of Lord Rochester and Sir Thomas Cobb, then at 21.3m you come to Weeping-Cross, a noted place where four ways meet". North of Banbury is "a straight way crossing a brook". Southam is noted as "a place of good accommodation, enjoys a considerable market on Mondays". The final section is across "Dunsmore Heath by Rinton Church on the right, you are conveyed at 47.6m to Winford Bridge of stone, whence you cross the River Avon".
Two of Ogilby's roads to Buckingham differ significantly from the modern routes. His road from Oxford to Cambridge follows the present line to Bicester but deviates from the old Roman road south of Newton Purcell, passing through Chetwode to approach Buckingham from the south rather than the west. Ogilby's road from Aylesbury to Buckingham heads west along Akeman Street before turning north-west at Quarrendon so that it goes to the west of the modern road, passing through East Clayden rather than Winslow.
Robert Morden's county maps of 1695 were derived from Ogilby's survey but incorporated comments from local informants. Unfortunately his description of roads close to county boundaries seem incomplete and so the relative importance of roads approaching Banbury is difficult to judge. The road eastwards from Banbury to Buckingham is shown as going through Aynho on the Oxfordshire map but on the Buckinghamshire map there is no road marked through Tingewick whereas the road to Brackley is clearly shown. None of the roads into Warwickshire are marked on the Oxfordshire map but roads go south-westwards not only to Chipping Norton but also through Rollright to Stow. The first of these was eventually turnpiked; the second remains a minor road.
The map of Oxfordshire (Figure 3) published by Emanuel Bowden in 1755, draws on the survey work of Ogilby and Morden, representing the road network at the end of the 17th century.
The state of the roads across England had worsened considerably in the 17th century. A statute passed in the reign of Elizabeth obliged each parish to organise labour, equipment and materials to repair their own roads. However, as heavy long distance traffic increased, an unfair burden was placed on parishes through which ran the main highways. Where main roads crossed clay vales and river valleys, the highway became deep and founderous and was frequently unusable in the winter months. Defoe wrote in 1724/6 that "...the soil of the midland part of England, even from sea to sea, is of a deep stiff clay, or marly kind, and it carries a breadth of near 50 miles at least, in some places much more; nor is it possible to go from London to all part of Britain, north, without crossing this clayey dirty part." Examples he gives are the "road as it leads to Coventry, and from thence to West Chester, the deep clays reach through all the towns of Brickhill, Fenny and Stony Stratford, Towcester, Daventry, Hill Morton or Dunchurch, Coventry, Coleshill and even to Birmingham for very nearly 80 miles. If you take the road to Worcester it is the same through the Vale of Aylesbury to Buckingham, and westwards to Banbury, Keynton, and the vale of Evesham, where the clays reach, with some intermission even to the banks of the Severn".
It was against this background of increasing commercial traffic using unmetalled and indifferently managed roads, that the turnpike system was devised.
Turnpikes were created during the 18th century to assist local communities maintain and improve the main roads passing through their area. A group of turnpike trustees were empowered, by specific Acts of Parliament, to levy tolls on users of a particular road running through several parishes. The trust had to apply these funds to improve this same section of highway and augmented the historic contribution of statute labour that still had to be provided by the parishes.
Turnpikes were a response to local demand for improving the means of transporting goods by road. At the time, petitioners justified the cost and inconvenience of turnpiking by expecting increased markets for local goods, particularly agricultural produce. The wider markets and better prices allowed landlords to demand higher rents and brought new business to the market towns. Turnpiking was financed, administered and operated by individuals drawn from the local business and agricultural communities. There was no central Government transport plan, though Parliament provided the means by which the old, communal institutions were replaced with a cash-based system. As the great laissez-faire economist Adam Smith remarked, in 1776, the scale and grandeur of the road was "suited to what commerce can afford to pay" (Rule 1992). The new roads assured speed and reliability of distribution rather than lower costs. However, the local community was stimulated to consider wider business horizons and to develop new products. As a result capital was diverted away from financing large inventories of stock to investing in new manufacturing equipment. Thus, the turnpikes became part of a virtuous cycle that helped to drive industrialisation and a national economy.
Defoe explains that "these are (Midland) 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 burden to 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 Parliament; and the consequence has been, that turnpikes or toll-bars have been set up on several great roads in England, beginning at London, and proceeding through almost all those dirty deep roads, in the midland counties....."
The earliest phase of turnpiking, until the 1720s, dealt mainly with the great roads radiating out of London. The second phase around 1750 brought the important cross-routes into the care of trusts. In the third phase after 1770 the remainder of the main roads across England were turnpiked, creating most of the trunk road network with which we are familiar. A few minor roads and exceptional routes, such as Telford's improvement of the road to the Ireland Ferry at Holyhead, were turnpiked after 1800.
The creation of a turnpike road required an Act of Parliament to define the conditions under which the road could be improved and the means by which the costs were to be recouped. The first Turnpike Act, in 1663, covered improvements to the Great North Road out of London. It was administered by the county justices for the counties through which it passed. However, later Acts, including all those relating to the Thames Valley (Appendix 1) involved local trusts made up of local gentry (including some justices), clergy, landowners, merchants and tradesmen. Unlike the later canal and railway companies, turnpike trusts did not construct new facilities but widened and improved an existing transport network. Consequently, the trusts could not raise money by issuing shares and were obliged to raise loans through mortgaging the anticipated income from tolls. The trustees were to handle substantial amounts of money and so care was taken to ensure they were responsible citizens who would swear an oath to serve the purposes of the trust. They were unpaid and were forbidden to make personal profit from the turnpike, although the indirect benefits from improved trade was an obvious motive for their support.
The initiative to turnpike a road was probably taken by a small number of local gentlemen but they had to gain the support of a cross-section of the community if their Act was to succeed. A County MP normally presented the case to Parliament and steered it through the Committees. Evidence was taken from those familiar with the area; in several instances this is recorded in the Journal of the House of Commons (JHC). Opposition came from those who had an historic right to use the roads and concessions were common in early Acts (e.g. for those attending a particular Fair).
By the 18th century the format of Turnpike Acts had become fairly standard (Figure 4). A preamble specified the route in very general terms and then asserted that the road was in a poor state and could not be amended by the present laws, i.e. by statute labour. Trustees were generally named in descending order of status. Lords and knights who had local interests headed the list, followed by other gentry. Clergy from parishes through which the road passed were included, probably to signal the support of local interests but also to secure the statute labour. The number of trustees varied: relatively short turnpikes (e.g. Drayton to Edgehill) had under a hundred trustees whereas those passing through many parishes (e.g. Banbury to Lutterworth) had over two hundred. More than 10% of the original trustees were landed gentry but as trustees retired or died new members could be appointed and the composition of the trust changed. By the early 19th century, the number of aristocratic trustees had fallen and up to half of the active trustees were local clergymen (Table 1).
The Act specified trustees’ powers and the manner in which disputes were to be settled. Occasionally specific nuisances were mentioned such as preventing windmills being built close to the Crickley Hill to Campsfield Turnpike.
The trust was empowered to collect tolls at turnpike gates erected at key points. Tolls reflected both the ability (or preparedness) of travellers to pay and the degree of damage it was judged they might do to the road. Except where the road spanned two counties, only one payment was normally needed per day on the roads covered by a particular trust. The charges were specified in the Act and had to be displayed at the toll-gates. There were exemptions for pedestrians, clergy, soldiers on the march, voters at elections, traffic to and from church or funerals and some local traffic involved in agricultural activities. Later, when mail coaches used the turnpikes they had right of free passage and the gatekeeper was obliged to open the gate as soon as he heard the horn of the approaching coach. Commercial traffic carried the bulk of the charges and in the 18th century charges were based on the size of the vehicle (e.g. four or two wheel coaches) and the horses drawing it. Examples of charges are given in Appendix 2. The charge of 3d per horse meant that a coach or waggon pulled by 4 horses would pay about a shilling to travel about 20 miles along the turnpike. By the 19th century, horse-power and the width of the wheels were used as the basis of tolls. The advent of horseless steam traction led to arbitrary tolls or charges per axle, giving a total toll equivalent to a two or four horse vehicle.
The income that trusts received from collecting or leasing tolls varied greatly (Figures in Appendix 2). Some trusts collected less than £400/a (e.g. Gosford, Drayton to Edgehill, Upton to Wellesbourne, Buckingham to Towcester) but had low expenditure either because they administered short stretches of road (the first two example) or looked after roads which carried relatively little traffic. The larger local trusts had incomes of over £1000/a (e.g. Burford to Banbury, Buckingham to Hanwell) whereas the main truck roads had incomes of several thousand pounds per year (e.g. Stokenchurch to Woodstock, Hockliffe section of the Holyhead Road).
Although the turnpikes and their system of administration disappeared more than 100 years ago, some documents have survived in county record offices and further information can be gleaned from newspapers and private papers. The main 18th century roads in the Banbury area are considered in two main groups below. Individual turnpike trusts are described in subsequent section (3 to 6)
None of the roads through Banbury warranted inclusion in the first phase of turnpiking prior to 1720 (Figure 5). Two main roads from London to Birmingham, through Coventry and Oxford, were clearly more important trunk routes and were turnpiked in the first two decades of the 18th century. The former, running through Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, is the most important of these; its history has been recorded by Cossons (1941). The road from London through Oxford was for much of its distance the Great road to Worcester, recorded by Ogilby. The highway from Uxbridge, though Beaconsfield and Stokenchurch to Woodstock was turnpiked under two trusts in 1719. The Worcester road from Chappel on the Heath, above Chipping Norton, to the Cotswold scarp at Bourton Hill had been turnpiked a little earlier in 1731. The remaining section of the Worcester road north of Woodstock was turnpiked in 1736. This trust also had responsibility for a branch northward to Rollright Lane that became increasingly important as one of the main roads to the growing industrial centre of Birmingham.
Highways across the Avon at Stratford and Warwick were turnpiked during the early phase of turnpiking. It was 1744 before the London road through Buckingham to Birmingham became the first turnpike road to serve Banbury. This highway connected with the existing Warwick turnpike road at Warmington and, in 1753, a second road was turnpiked from Banbury to join the Stratford road at Edgehill. These initiatives were part of a general improvement of roads running south and east from the industrial Midlands towards London and augmented rather than replaced other routes. These turnpikes are considered in Section 3.
The main north/south road through Banbury was turnpiked soon afterwards in 1755; again this was a consequence of business activity in Warwickshire, particularly around Coventry. The two trusts covering this road are considered in Section 4.
The remaining roads to, rather than through, Banbury were turnpiked during the third phase of turnpiking. The road north-eastwards to Daventry, Watling Street and Lutterworth was turnpiked in 1765 and the road south-westwards to Chipping Norton and Burford in 1770. Final connections between the main parts of the network were completed during the closing stages of turnpike mania. An alternative road from Buckingham was improved in 1791, a branch southwards from the existing turnpike at Aynho was part of general improvements of the network around Bicester in 1791 and the road from Banbury to the Oxford to Birmingham road at Shipston was turnpiked in 1802. The trusts covering these roads running north-eastwards from Banbury are considered in Section 5 and those to the west are dealt with in Section 6.
The full turnpike network across the region is illustrated in Figure 6.
Four classes of people were associated with turnpikes.
The trustees had a responsibility to ensure that the turnpike served the purposes laid down under the Act of Parliament.
The officers of the trust had specific roles to ensure that the turnpike was administered effectively and was financially sound.
The lessees of the tolls and their toll-collectors were generally independent of the trust and were concerned to extract sufficient toll revenue to cover their lease.
The users of the turnpikes were concerned to ensure that the improvements in travel resulting from passage along a turnpike matched the cost they incurred in paying the toll.
The turnpike acts listed the trustees and so we know the names of many of the men who sponsored and watched over the turnpikes (full list on Alan Rosevear web page). Some individuals acted as trustees for a number of turnpikes, particularly where these covered adjacent sections of a main road. Aristocratic families such as Dashwood, North, Parker, Spencer were particularly active supporters of local trusts. This broad involvement was also evident among the local gentry and the enthusiasm was often carried over several generations (e.g. families such as Blencowe, Bowles, Cartwright, Cope, Holbech, Lee, Lenthall, Walford, Willes and Wyatt around Banbury and Dowdeswell, Rowney and Stickland in the Cotswolds).
Some trustees acquired considerable experience from their position on different trusts. The Revd Henry Homer, rector of Birdingbury in Warwickshire was a Commissioner (trustee) on the Finford to Banbury Trust and the Dunchurch to Stonebridge Trust. In 1767 he published a lengthy pamphlet, analysing the method of road construction and recommending the best means of managing roads (Homer, Bodleian Libr.). His main conclusion was the need for “some check upon the obstinacy and temerity of waggoners” who dragged over-weight vehicles along the turnpikes.
The clerk or clerks to the trust were paid officials appointed by the trustees. They were usually local solicitors, who dealt with the legal aspects of the trust and administrated the routine operation of the turnpike. During the 18th century the clerk often acted as treasurer as well, but by the 19th century this was specifically forbidden, presumably because it had led to corruption. Surveyors were paid officials who took responsibility for the building and maintenance of the road, toll-gates and toll-houses. Often short sections of the road were allocated to locally recruited surveyors. They were empowered to dig out road making materials within the parishes and take all measures necessary to remove obstructions and nuisances such as overhanging trees, poor drainage or narrow roadways. They also co-ordinated the statute labour and teams which parishioners were obliged to provide. In addition surveyors could purchase materials and services from outside the area. As techniques in road construction improved, consultant engineers such as McAdam were appointed as chief surveyor with local surveyors to deal with day to day work. Names of officers (Appendix 4) appear in the surviving papers and from the early 19th century, these individuals were listed in the formal returns which trusts were legally bound to submit to government agents.
The names of lessees of tolls (Tables 2 to 7) can be found in the administrative papers for the trusts. These records are very patchy but are clear evidence that some individuals operated at a regional level, leasing gates on several turnpikes at the same time. The location of the individual toll-gates is shown in Figure 7 and typical income from these gates is illustrated in the tables of Appendix 2.
There is least information about the users of the turnpikes. Obviously everyone in the earlier categories used the road which they helped to run. However, there is only fragmentary evidence of how the traveller judged the operation of the turnpikes. Where comments have been traced they appear below, within the sections covering particular turnpikes.
Until 1725 Buckingham was a county town and so historically was connected to London by the King's highway. Banbury was on the road between Buckingham and the county town of Warwick. However, by the 18th century it was the industrial towns beyond Warwick which were determining the transportation needs of the region. The two roads from Birmingham to the edge of Warwickshire over the bridges at Warwick and Stratford were turnpiked, in 1726, under a single trust. In 1753, the section south-east from Edgehill to Banbury (Drayton Lane) was turnpiked separately, but by an Act of 1770, the single Birmingham to Warwick & Warmington, and to Edgehill & Stratford Turnpike Trust was broken up. The powers of the original trustees were restricted to the Birmingham to Stratford road (the Henley Road) and a new trust was created to deal with the Birmingham to Warwick & Warmington section. At the same time another trust was formed to turnpike the road from Wellesbourne & Kineton to Upton, near Edgehill. To the east of Buckingham, the London road from Wendover and Aylesbury had been turnpiked in 1721. Turnpiking the road between Warmington and Buckingham 1744 completed the improvement of this main radial route from London to Birmingham (Figure 5).
The road from Buckingham, via Aynho and Banbury to Warmington was illustrated by Ogilby and so may be judged to have been an important highway in 17th century England. The route ran on ground that would have remained relatively dry. An ancient route (Figure 1) crossed the Cherwell at Twyford but by the 16th century Nell Bridge carried the main road. It is not clear why the bridge was built downstream of the old twin ford at Twyford, though it does give better access to Adderbury which had aspirations as a market. Both Nell Bridge and Twyford bring traffic on to the western bank of the river well to the south of Banbury and so avoid the low lying ground on the eastern bank closer to Banbury Bridge. Upkeep of Nell Bridge was a county responsibility and so the turnpike trustees were not burdened directly by any costs in using it. From this crossing the turnpike went north of Adderbury, approaching Banbury through the South Bar and passing along the Horse Fair, to the west of town centre.
The petition to Parliament in February 1743 was made by the Bailiff, Burgesses and inhabitants of Buckingham (JHC 24, 536). It stated that "the road from Buckingham to Warmington in the County of Warwick, by reason of the heavy carriages frequently passing the same, is become so ruinous that in the winter season the said road is dangerous to travellers and cannot by the ordinary provisions applied by the laws and statutes of this realm be effectively repaired unless some further provisions be made for raising money to be applied for that purpose". In evidence to the Committee (JHC 24, 605), Mr Thomas Shirley said that "it is a road of great resort, many carriages as well as passengers on horseback passing through the same". Mr John Parish provided evidence that the road was bad and could not be improved under present provisions. The majority of the highway was in Buckinghamshire and the involvement of Banbury was incidental. Nevertheless, the town would have benefited from the traffic generated by the improved carriageway on this alternative route for coaches travelling between Birmingham and London.
The trust controlled roads through parishes in four counties. Responsibility to four sets of justices must have complicated the administration and so it is not surprising that when the trust sought to renew its powers, in 1768, the section north of Banbury was shortened so the road ran from the Sessions House in Buckingham to the northern boundary of Hanwell in the County of Oxfordshire. In seeking an extension of the powers of the trust for a further 21 year period, Thomas Walker used the normal justification that the road had been improved but was so heavily used that it required further provisions. In addition, £475 of loan taken to make improvements was still outstanding and an additional period of toll collection was necessary to repay this.
Judging by newspaper advertisements in the 1770s, the road was administered in two divisions. The Oxfordshire section was referred to as the Weeping Cross Turnpike (Figure 8a), named after the ancient crossroads where the Saltway to Twyford road crosses the Oxford road south of Banbury. This division had only one gate, at the Weeping Cross, and was administered from Banbury. The gates in Northamptonshire, at Finmere Warren and Dropshort (Figure 8b), were administered from Buckingham. The Finmere Gate was close to where Ogilby noted the great coney warren. The location of Dropshort Gate is a matter of conjecture, though it was probably on the hill between Aynho and Nell Bridge. The Weeping Cross Gate (Figure 8c) raised more than twice as much revenue as the other two gates; in 1785 Weeping Cross tolls were let for £525, the other two for £253. The road was steadily improved by the trust but also by individual subscriptions for specific purposes. In 1770 a meeting was convened at the Three Tuns in Banbury to discuss the possibility of a subscription to finance the building of a causeway along the road between Twyford and Adderbury because it was often flooded when the Cherwell overflowed (JOJ, Sept 1770)
The 1811 Act defined the trust in two divisions. The upper division ran from Buckingham to the sign of the Red Lion in Aynho, and a lower division from Aynho to Hanwell. Meetings were held at the Red Lion in Aynho. The financial records of the divisions were reported separately so that finance raised in one division was directed only to repair of that section of road. A further renewal of the Act in 1832 redefined the boundary as the eastern edge of Aynho parish: the trustees were to meet at the Cartwright Arms in Aynho (the Red Lion re-named). The upper division was administered from Buckingham by its clerk Thomas Hearn and the lower division from Oxfordshire by Richard Bignell; Mr Cave was employed as surveyor for both sections (Appendix 3).
The toll-gates were relocated in the 19th century (Figure 8d). The first gate on the road west from Buckingham was at Tingewick, on the northern side of the village street. The next gate was at Croughton near Aynho, although this may have replaced an earlier gate at Astwick a little to the east. The third gate was placed north of Adderbury to levy tolls on traffic joining the turnpike from the direction of Oxford. Another toll-gate, located at Twyford Lane south of Weeping Cross, was probably a side-gate let with the Adderbury Gate to intercept the alternative crossing of the Cherwell (Figure 8e). The final gate was at Neithrop on the road leading north-west out of Banbury. This deployment of the gates was not altered during the remaining life of the trust (Figures 8f & 8g). The road north-westwards from Hanwell was administered by the Birmingham to Warmington Trust. Their nearest gate was at Burton Ground, north-west of Warmington.
This relatively short section of road connected Banbury with the existing turnpike road from Stratford upon Avon to Edgehill. The earlier Birmingham to Warwick & Stratford Turnpike, established in 1726, had gone no further than the top of Edgehill, close to the county boundary. An ancient highway from Stratford ran along the watershed between the Stour and the Dene, through Ettington and climbed the hill to the Sun Rising Inn. The first Birmingham trust may have improved this road and the Drayton to Edgehill Trust had an easier task of maintaining the road into Banbury across relatively dry ground. Historically the main axis of travel north-west of Banbury had been towards Warwick and even the road to Drayton would carry some traffic bound for Warwick along the route down to Kineton. When the Birmingham trust was re-organised in 1770 a new trust was created to turnpike the road from Wellesbourne and Kineton up the scarp face to Ratley and then along the crest of the Cotswolds to Upton, near Edgehill. The Stratford to Edgehill Turnpike was administered by a separate trust from 1779 onwards (JHC 38, 37). Judging from the income from leasing tolls, the two roads down the scarp face had a similar status (Appendix 3). The road from Drayton fed traffic onto both roads but still appears to be a less important road than the direct route to Warwick through Warmington
The petition to Parliament in March 1753 was made by the Mayor, Aldermen, Burgesses and other principal inhabitants of the Borough of Banbury (JHC 26, 650). It stated that "the road leading from Banbury towards Stratford upon Avon in the County of Warwick, which passes through the village of Drayton, through Roxton Lane unto a house known by the name of the Sun Rising, upon Edge Hill in the County of Warwick, is in many parts become so deep and founderous that for several months of the year the same is very dangerous for horsemen and almost impassable for carriages, and in some places so narrow that carriages cannot pass each other without great inconvenience and danger". Mr Francis Edge, in evidence to a Committee (JHC 26, 675), said that "there is a very considerable trade carried on in Banbury and it has been a great thoroughfare for passengers who travel from London through the townships of Uxbridge, Amersham, Wendover, Aylesbury and Buckingham to Stratford upon Avon and from thence to Birmingham, that there has been a free communication from Banbury with the several towns aforesaid, but that now the great road leading through the Borough to Edge Hill and to Stratford upon Avon is become so deep and founderous that it is dangerous.".
The tolls levied on the Warmington road had presumably increased the traffic on this alternative, toll-free highway. The resulting Act specified that the turnpike trust was responsible for the road "leading from the Guide Post in Drayton Lane through Drayton Town and Wroxton Lane as far as a certain Well usually known by the Name of Moulds Well, and from thence turning to the right hand and passing between the Sign of the White Horse and a Piece of Ground called Stretchwell Piece, on to the Post dividing the Chipping Norton and Stratford upon Avon Roads in the County of Oxford, and from thence along the Great Stratford upon Avon Road, through Upton Lane, to the House called Sun Rising on the Top of Edge Hill in the County of Warwick, and which is the direct Road from the Town of Banbury in the County of Oxon, unto the Town of Stratford upon Avon in the County of Warwick".
The trustees held their first meeting in Banbury on the 5th June 1753, electing John Makepeace as clerk, Samuel Welchman as surveyor and Francis Edge as treasurer. Edge, who was clearly a leading figure in securing the Act, was landlord of the Three Tuns in Banbury and most of the early meetings were held on his premises.
It was agreed that "gates be, with all speed erected in Drayton Lane, near the Roebuck" and "at or near the Sun Rising on Edge Hill". An initial loan of £500 was secured on the credit of the tolls from these gates. Joseph Tubb was appointed collector at Drayton Lane and Joseph Turner at Edgehill, each at a salary of 6s per week. Until a gate was erected, the surveyor was to "put up a bar or chain" at which tolls could be collected and a temporary hut was to be built at Edgehill. The permanent toll-house at Edgehill was built by Thomas Calliot for just under £20. There was a staircase, presumably to cope with the slope, and post and rails were made from the gate to the corner of the house called the Sun Rising and a side gate was also installed adjacent to the toll-house. The surveyor later made "a mound from the house called the Sun Rising to the toll-house at the end of Upton Lane to prevent carriages from avoiding payment at the gate". Only £2 was spent to fit out the toll-house in Drayton Lane, though this was consistently more busy than the Edgehill Gate (Figure 9a).
There may have been resistance to the imposition of charges, since by June 1753 the trustees had decided to lower the tolls to less than the maximum which they were empowered to impose by the Act. In particular the toll on a cart was cut from 8d to 4d and for a drove of cattle from 10d to 5d per score and sheep from 5d to 3d per score. In May 1755 a further concession was made for toll-free carriage for "loads of bushes for fuel; one for each labourer and poor female household in the Parish of Drayton".
Improvements were made to "take down the hill at the end of the road at Edgehill" in 1796 and in 1810 costs were incurred improving the bridge at Drayton. In 1819, permission was sought from the Earl of Guildford "to take down an old oak which stands in the road near Drayton Bridge, the tree being a great nuisance to all travellers". A new section of road was constructed along an existing footpath and across Shepherds Close in Wroxton, at a cost of £98; the trust had to seek permission from Trinity College, Oxford who owned the land.
The income of the road was relatively low, even allowing for the short section of road involved. The inhabitants of the parishes of Drayton, Wroxton, Balscot, Alkeston and Ratley had to provide between 2 and 3 days statute duty, labouring on the road each year. This road was an important factor in persuading the Royal Mail to bring a service through Banbury and the local business community was concerned that it was kept in a good state. A Parliamentary Select Committee (PP 4, 1821) noted that "in consequence of the mail now using the road great sums of money had been expended", though this high expenditure would not need to continue. The leases to collect tolls at these two gates were auctioned annually, usually at the Red Lion in Banbury (Figure 10a) but later at the Town Hall, Banbury (Figure 10b). In 1844 the trustees decided to erect a new sidegate at Hornton Lane, in the Parish of Radley, to intercept traffic entering from the Warwick road (Figure 10c). This was let with the Drayton Lane Gate (Figure 10d).
Minutes from the all the trust's meetings have survived and from these a complete list of gatekeepers (and later lessees) can be compiled (Table 2).
The road from the Edgehill down to Kineton on the road to Stratford and Warwick was turnpiked in 1770 by an "Act for repairing and widening the road from Upton, in the Parish of Ratley, to the North End of Bridge Street in the Town of Great Kington, and from thence to the Guidepost at the town of Wellesbourne Hastings in the County of Warwick". This trust was clearly run from Kineton (Kington) and trustees met on 18th April 1770 for their first meeting at the sign of the Red Lion in Great Kington.
In the first year they borrowed £1,300 to improve the road and construct two toll-houses. At the first meeting they ordered that "a gate or turnpike be forthwith erected across the said road on the north side of or near to the Pound in the town or village of Wellesbourne Hastings". A second gate was to be built "at the boundary or fence which divides the common field of Great Kington and the Liberty of Radway". A sidegate was ordered to be put across the road leading out of the road from the foot of Fursehill to Stratford, through the village of Walton with a second sidegate in Wellesbourne where the road crossed the Halford Bridge to Warwick road.
The trustees paid Samuel Eglington, a mason of Great Kington, the sum of £64 to construct one bridge of two arches at the east end of Bolan Lane in Kington and a second bridge of one arch over a brook at the other end of the lane. John Rogers of Banbury contracted to improve the main road from the west corner of Robert Croft's House in Great Kington to a place where Lord Warwick begins to repair. The road was to be 12 feet wide with stones 18 inches thick and two months were allowed for the job. The trust took some time to decide on the best route down Edgehill. They placed a chain across the road at the foot of Edgehill, in or near the Parish of Radway. Walter Watson of Upper Suckborough was asked to survey and estimate the cost of improving the road "from the top of Edgehill, at the west corner, through the village of Radway to the place in Edward Tompkins ground where the road down Edgehill called the Redway and the road from Radway to Great Kington unite and likewise view the road from the top of Edgehill at the west corner, along and down the said hill by the Redway unto the said place in Tompkins ground where the two roads unite". In 1781 the trust resolved that they should turnpike from the castle on Edgehill to Upton by a route "along the present road which leads from the castle towards Ratley unites the road from Ratley to Upton and proceeds along the last mentioned road along the head of the valley until it comes within 457 yards of Mr Childs' Gate, called Iron Gate, and going such last mentioned distance in as straight a line as possible."
The minutes book for the first 30 years of the trust has survived, giving some details of early administration (Table 3). Several regular travellers "compounded" to make a single payment for the right to pass through the gates during the year. Requests came from Revd Richard Hopkins of Wellesbourne who was "allowed to compound for the tolls which he may be liable to pay for riding thru' the said gate or chain at Wellesbourne as one shilling for the ensuing year" John Bustin, a miller of Wellesbourne paid 1s-6d for "horses only" and John Green paid 5s for "riding with horses" whereas Isaac Horton and his sons paid 7s-6d. The Wellesbourne Gate was consistently more valuable on those occasions when the gates were let separately. For instance at the first letting in 1771, Edward Barrett took Wellesbourne Gate for £70 and James Hornby took Great Kington for only £12 whereas in 1842 Wellesbourne was let for £214 and Great Kington for £92.
The 1791 Act provided an alternative route to Banbury from Buckingham, via Brackley to the Daventry Road near the Cherwell crossing (Figure 10e). In the 20th century, it was this secondary turnpike road which displaced the Aynho route as the modern A-class road between Buckingham and Banbury. The Act covering the Buckingham-Banbury road passed through Parliament at the same time as the Act dealing with the Aylesbury-Bicester-Aynho Road, so there may have been active competition between Brackley and Bicester for traffic bound north-westwards through Buckinghamshire. The evidence given to the Parliamentary Committee by William Collison (JHC 46, 307) put the case for the Brackley Road. "The road leading from the town of Buckingham to the town of Brackley in the County of Northampton is greatly out of repair in some parts narrow and incommodious and there is not any direct convenient carriage road from the said town to Brackley and to the town of Banbury and that amending and widening the said road from Buckingham and Brackley and rendering the course thereof more direct than at present and making or providing a commodious carriage road from Brackley to communicate with the Daventry and Banbury Turnpike Road at a convenient distance from the town of Banbury and keeping such respective roads in good repair, will be of great benefit to all persons having occasion to travel between the said towns of Buckingham and Banbury." This seems to be a Brackley led initiative with the road to Banbury as a secondary feature. As was to be the case on the Bicester-Aynho Road, the traveller to Banbury still faced tolls on gates controlled by other turnpike trusts before reaching Banbury Market (Banbury Bridge Gate on this road and Adderbury Gate on the Aynho Road).
The Act was renewed in 1810 but in 1851 this trust was amalgamated with the Towcester to Weston on the Green Turnpike Trust which it crossed at Brackley. The united trust and its toll-gates will be dealt with in Section 5.1
This road was eventually to become part of the A41, the main trunk road in the area, but it was not turnpiked until 1791. It follows a relatively easy path along a watershed from Bicester to reach the older Buckingham road at Aynho. Traffic from Aylesbury was now able to reach Banbury without an excursion into the valley of the Ouse through the old county town of Buckingham. The Aynho road was slightly to the north of the ancient highway from Bicester to Ardley and merged with the old Portway at Souldern. From here the road coincided with the old route down through the Aynho Hills and over the Ockley Brook to meet the existing turnpike road west of Croughton. Improvement of this route had been part of a new turnpike proposal considered a decade earlier (JOJ, Sept 1780 & Oct 1782). A meeting held at the Dog (Talbot), Middleton Stoney discussed an application to Parliament to improve the road from Kidlington to Aynho, through Gosford, Bicester and Souldern. However, this plan was overtaken by the creation of the Gosford Trust in 1781, although the section from Weston to Bicester was not turnpiked until it was taken into the Bicester to Enstone trust in 1793.
The Bicester to Aynho Act passed through Parliament alongside the Bill to renew and extend the powers of the Aylesbury to Bicester Trust (created in 1770). The press notices (JOJ, Aug 1790) actually link the two applications and Mr Henry Churchill of Bicester, clerk to the Bicester to Aylesbury Trustees, gave evidence in support of both Acts (JHC 46, 127). It must be assumed that this was a concerted action by interests in Oxfordshire to bring trade through their towns. The Aylesbury & Bicester Trust had borrowed £3,300 to improve the old Akeman Street and had not raised sufficient surplus on the tolls even to pay interest on this. Mr Churchill stated that "the roads leading from the Market Place in Bicester in the County of Oxfordshire through parts of Bicester, Caversfield, Bucknell Stoke, Lyne, Fritwell and Souldern to the Turnpike Road in the Parish of Aynho are in a ruinous condition and in many places narrow and incommodious and cannot be effectively mended, widened and kept in repair by the ordinary course of Law". Mr Churchill added that "for the greater convenience of travellers it may be necessary to make some small deviations from the present line of the road". The published Act had provision for "a private or field way leading along a certain lane in Bicester King's End called Bell Lane" to be closed and shut up and for " a public road that leads from the end of Bell Lane to and through Crockwell Brook to the Well called Crockswell" to be discontinued except for the driftway to Dove House Close.
The trust appears to have erected its first toll-gate in Sheep Street, Bicester. A notice in June 1792, a year after the Act, proposed that further gates be erected near the Rising Sun in Bicester and across Launton Lane in Caversfield (Figure 10f). These were subsequently known as Skimming Dish Barn and Launton Lane Gates and were generally let with the main Bicester Gate (Figure 10g). A gate near Souldern, just south of the junction with the old Buckingham road at Aynho, controlled the northern end of the road. The toll-house was a simple, stone-built two storey cottage that still stands at the point where the road branches to by-pass the village. A side-gate was eventually placed across the old Portway, which still carried some traffic along the eastern edge of the Cherwell valley towards the London Ford crossing (Figure 11).
When the trust applied for a continuation of its powers in 1812, a second branch, north-east from Bicester was incorporated into the Act. It was part of the old Roman road from Bicester to Towcester; the trust was to repair the section from Bicester to the junction with the Buckingham, Aynho to Banbury Road at Finmere. This road had been covered by an Act of 1768 for a cross road from Newport Pagnell to Woodstock but this trust seems to have failed fairly quickly (see Section 5.3 below).
The trustees generally met at the King’s Arms in Bicester. A new minutes book which commenced in 1825 has survived and this gives some background to the Administration. It indicates that the highway and the infrastructure on both branches of the road required improvement during 1825, implying that the powers of the 1812 Act were only implemented at this later date. The trustees agreed that it "is highly proper that the hills between Souldern Gate and Aynho should be lowered and improved" and £80 was set aside for this purpose. The bridge at the bottom of the Aynho dip was in a dilapidated state, warranting renewal, and the trust attempted to get some action from the county justices who were responsible. The posts and rails beside the road between Souldern and Aynho were whitewashed; these rails prevented travellers falling into the ditches beside the brook. Iron Mile posts were purchased for both branches and a direction post was placed at the Finmere End of the branch stating miles to Bicester and Oxford. The trust also purchased two new carts, at a total price of 16 guineas.
The improvements noted in 1825 included work on existing toll-houses. John Froxley the lessee of Souldern Gate complained that there was no privy and that the gate was out of repair. The trustees instructed the surveyor to rectify this "at as little expense to the trust as can be".
In 1826 George Peak was paid £20 to build a toll-house on the Finmere Branch at Fringford Hill, midway along the road. In 1829 the trust sought to move the old toll-gate from the end of Sheep Street, Bicester, to a position outside the town nearer the junction of the roads leading to Aynho and Finmere. Their surveyor, John Edward Maynard, agreed to erect the new house with two gates for the branch roads and a sidegate at a cost of £130. He also agreed to purchase from the trust the site of the old gate and the materials for the same amount. The other toll-houses were in regular need of maintenance, e.g. repairing the windows, installing a lamp and painting the gate at Souldern cost £17-16s in 1833. In February 1846 the trust installed gas lighting at the Sheep Street Gate, having given the Bicester Gas, Coke & Coal Company permission to lay pipes a year earlier. The Sheep Street Toll-house was whitewashed in 1847 and the Fringford Toll-house whitewashed and coloured a year later. A shed costing £10 was erected so that the collector from Souldern could be protected when collecting tolls at the Fritwell Lane sidegate.
The three Bicester gates were generally let to a single person but the Souldern Gate was often let separately (Table 4). For instance in 1831 Bicester, Skimming Dish Barn Gate, Launton Gate and Fringford Gate were all let to John Hirons of Bicester, milkman, for £331 whereas Souldern Gate was let to the existing gate keeper at Souldern, Mr Smith, for £212. The lessees were not always happy with their investment. In 1833, Hirons complained of "the loss sustained by the prevalence of the cholera at Bicester last year". He claimed he had lost £33-15-9 and was allowed a rebate of £20 by the trustees. In 1866 the lessee complained of a loss "on account of the prevailing cattle plague taking all kinds of stock off the road"; he was allowed £24.
The north/south road through Banbury was one of Ogilby's roads, connecting London and Oxford with the thriving mercantile and manufacturing centre of Coventry. In the 18th century the initiative for turnpiking this road came from the gentlemen of Coventry. The inhabitants of Oxford were slower to respond but soon saw an opportunity to benefit from a joint case for the road running the full length of the Cherwell valley. There had been a similar situation thirty years previous when Oxford had appended its case for turnpiking two additional branches into the city from the London to Worcester road (RUTV 8).
The case for the Oxford to Coventry road was laid before Parliament in January 1755. It was supported by the leading gentleman and civic officials from the City of Coventry and Borough of Banbury (JHC 27, 70). This group sought to improve "the road from the Borough of Banbury and thence to the town of Southam to the turnpike road leading from Dunchurch through the City of Coventry at a place called Finford Bridge, commonly called Ryeton Bridge". Furthermore, they set forth that "three miles of the road leading from the City of Coventry towards the Borough of Banbury is upon a turnpike road leading from Dunchurch to Stonebridge and if a turnpike road should be carried from Banbury to Finford Bridge, it would considerably increase the income arising from tolls on the said turnpike and be greatly advantageous to the country in general".
In parallel with this, the Mayor, Corporation and principal inhabitants of the City of Oxford and the gentlemen, clergy and freeholders residing on or near the road leading from the City of Oxford to the vill of Adderbury in the County of Oxford presented a second petition (JHC 27, 76). They stated that "the road from the City of Oxford, from a place there called End of Mile Way, through Kidlington to Adderbury to a certain place known by the name of the Guide Post, is so deep and ruinous that it is dangerous for horsemen and almost impassable for carriages many months of the year". They too stated that the problems could not be remedied by present Laws; i.e. statute labour by the parishes.
It was agreed that these two petitions should be considered together and evidence was taken from witnesses later that month (JHC 27, 103 & 135). Mr Christopher Wright and Mr Richard Parrot said that the Banbury to Coventry road, "from the badness of the soil, had become so ruinous that it is dangerous, in many places, for carriages or passengers to pass except in very dry seasons and in many places so narrow that two carriages cannot pass each other". Richard Parrot added that, "by reason of the ruinous condition of the roads, constant recourse cannot be had to and from the coal pits near Coventry which greatly increases the price of coals about Southam and in other parts of the country". Parrot, who was the principal financier of the Ryton to Banbury section of the road, also owned coal pits at Hawkesbury and so would be a major beneficiary of increased trade. He was later to be a supporter of the Coventry to Oxford canal.
Christopher Wright stated that "a great number of the trustees of the turnpike road from Dunchurch to Stonebridge have signed the said petition and are willing to give any assistance in their power towards the reparation of the said road from Finford to Banbury". This reinforces the view that this was a road to benefit the mining and manufacturing towns in Warwickshire rather than an initiative driven by the needs of Banbury.
In support of the case for the Banbury to Oxford section, Mr Francis Edge (of the Three Tuns, Banbury) said that "the road is, from the number of heavy carriages passing along the same, and the nature of the soil, so ruinous as to be dangerous to travellers and almost impassable for carriages many months of the year". Before it was passed, the Oxford petitioners incorporated an additional section of road into the scope of the bill. The final recommendation describes the road as being "from the Cross Hand near Finford Bridge to Banbury and from the Guide Post near the vill of Adderbury to the Mileway leading to the City of Oxford" and "to allow out of the monies arising from the tolls of the said roads an annual sum towards repairing of two miles of road through Gosford to Weston". The latter section connected with the road from Weston to Towcester, the other radial leading northwards from Oxford (RUTV 8), which was also in the process of being turnpiked (Act of 1756 - Section 5.1).
Although the cases for the two sections of the Coventry to Oxford road were presented to Parliament as one, the trust did not have jurisdiction over the whole road. The highway from Adderbury to the North Bar in Banbury was already in the care of the Weeping Cross Trust. The separate sections of the new turnpike were administered as two divisions; an Oxfordshire division covering the road south of Adderbury and a Warwickshire division dealing with the road north of Banbury. Several individuals were trustees for both division (e.g. Benjamin Alpin, Sir Theophilus Biddulph, Thomas Bradford, Edward Busby, and Thomas Cartwright), but the two section of the road were administered separately. No records survive for the southern division but the separate minutes book for the Ryton Bridge to Banbury section is in the Bodleian Library. This provides information on the first 50 years of this division (Table 5; Figure 9b).
Evidence to Parliament in 1777/9 was given separately by representatives from the two divisions of the trust. Thomas Walker Esq. presented the case for the Adderbury to Kidlington Division including the branch to "Gosford, otherwise Gossard Bridge to a certain gate entering upon Weston on the Green" (JHC 36, 240). John Newcombe put the case for the first division from the Cross Hands through Southam to Banbury (JHC 37, 496). Soon after this, in 1781 a new Act was passed creating a separate trust to deal with improvement of the road across the Cherwell at Gosford. The petition was on behalf of those residing near and often travelling the road from the gate on the turnpike road at or near the south end of Weston on the Green to the turnpike road near Kidlington Green. In evidence (JHC 38, 138) Mr Edward King said the road was "often totally impassable for carriages" and improvements would be of great advantage to the petitioners as well as of public utility". An Act of 1797 finally separated the two divisions on the main Oxford to Coventry road and created two completely separate trusts, Ryton Bridge to Banbury and Adderbury to Kidlington. The northern division normally held meetings at the Craven Arms in Southam (Figure 12a) and the southern division at the Fox & Crown in North Aston, both midway along the respective sections of road.
The first entries in the minutes book are for the week of 9th June 1755 when income was received from three toll-gates at Princethorpe, Ladbrooke and Snowsford (the sums of £1-18s-3d, 12s-71/2d and 1s-3d respectively). This is clear evidence that the trustees had acted very quickly to organise toll collection; the Parliamentary Committee had only deliberated the case in January of that year. The treasurer, John Spicer, made payments to the surveyor, Joseph Parker, presumably to finance improvements to the road, and to Richard Pratt for stone. A one-off payment was made to Mr George Salmon "on the bill for his journey and attendance in London when the Bill was depending in the House of Commons, £5-15s-6d".
Eleven of the trustees attended the first recorded meeting in this account, on 28th October 1755. They approved bills to Mr Pain for erecting the toll-house at Ladbrooke (cost £37-6s-6d) and to William Sharman in part consideration money for "the piece of ground whereon the toll-house at Princethorpe is erected, £1". Six months later they paid Robert Webb, of Princethorpe, £1-7s-0d for posts and rails around the gate and the sum of £6; his salary of 4s per week as collector of tolls at Princethorpe Gate. The same salary was paid to Abraham Gascoyne as collector of tolls at Ladbrooke Gate. The third gate at Snowsford only operated until Sept 15th 1755 and raised just £8-1s-7d in tolls during three mouths of operation. This gate was probably beside one of the streams running down to the Cherwell, north of Banbury. It was replaced in June 1756 by the Hardwick Gate, located on the northern edge of Banbury (Figure 11), and John Lane was appointed collector of the tolls. The initial toll-house at Hardwick Gate was probably a simple one storey building with a thatched roof. In 1767, the trust paid 17s for straw and thatching of the toll-house at Hardwick Lane and again in 1776 William Glaze, the collector, was given £1-6s "for thatching his house". In 1790 the toll-house, gate and sidegates at Hardwick were moved at a relatively low cost of £24; presumably it was still a simple building. New window frames and glazing in the new toll-house cost only £2-2s-4d. The surviving toll-house, on the east side of the road, is probably a later 19th century structure.
The gate at in the village of Ladbrooke was situated so as to levy traffic through Southam and from the turnpike road between Daventry and Leamington (Figure 7). Erecting a new gate at Ladbrooke cost £12 in 1800. In May 1757 the original Princethorpe Gate was moved into Stretton Lane closer to Coventry and the bridge over the Avon. Robert Webb was paid £2-12s-8d in expenses as a result of the change. After these initial modifications, the location of the three principal gates remained fixed for the remaining life of this turnpike trust. In the 19th century, as traffic patterns changed the trust built additional gates to intercept traffic bound for the markets at Banbury and Coventry. A ticket gate at Frankton (Figure 12b) augmented the Princethorpe Gate and gates at Bourton and Itchington (Figure 12c) caught additional traffic on the southern section.
For much of the 18th century the gates nearest Coventry earned the greater revenue (initially Princethorpe and then Stretton; Figure 9b). The Hardwick Gate nearer Banbury was the next most profitable but in the 19th century its income began to overtake that of the Stretton Gate, perhaps indicating an increasing importance of road traffic into Banbury markets.
In 1765 the trust expended £5 on a "new road from Hardwick Gate to the Bridge" and further expenditure of £7-2s-0d was made, in 1768, on this new road and fencing of the side of the road towards the holloway. This was presumably the road along the causeway and over river towards Grimsbury
The treasurers account, in June 1755, records the first receipt of £100 investment by Mr Parrot. A slow release of loan money to the trust by Richard Parrot continued until 1765. During the early years finances were precarious as expenditure on road improvement exceeded the income from tolls. The trust eventually borrowed £1,300 from Parrot but did not begin to pay interest on this until 1768 when £26 was paid for the half year (5% per annum). By the end of the century the loan had climbed to £1,700 and the interest was being paid to Mr Parrot's heirs, including Mrs Wright (Mr Wright had given evidence in support of the Bill). In 1772, John Newcombe took over the task of treasurer from John Spicer and was responsible for renewal of the powers of the trust in 1780. He died in March 1792 and the accounts record the complicated transfers of money collected by the gate-keepers and held by the treasurer. One officer seems to have acted as treasurer and secretary, since the next treasurer, Henry Rolls, was responsible for obtaining the "renewal of the Finford Turnpike Road Bill, in 1803", for which he submitted an account of £283-19-6. Other costs associated with the renewal included advertisements in the Coventry and Oxford newspapers that cost £1-11s-6d and £1-15s respectively.
This trust was formed from the southern division of the Finford Bridge to Oxford Trust by an Act 1797. However, the trustees had always operated independent from the northern division, with John Walker, an attorney from Oxford, acting as clerk. The name by which the trust was known varied though by the 19th century it was most commonly called the Kidlington to Deddington Trust (Figure 12d) but was referred to locally as the Oxford to Adderbury Road (Figure 12e).
The road ran from the Guide Post in the village of Adderbury, through Kidlington, to the End of the Mileway in the City of Oxford. In evidence to Parliament Samuel Churchill said "that the trustees had borrowed heavily to improve the road". In addition "the road near the termination of the turnpike at or near a place called The Diamond House in the City of Oxford is not sufficiently amended and kept in repair and it would be advantageous to the neighbourhood and the public if the same were put in the care and management of the trust".
The Buckingham to Hanwell Trust had a toll-house at Adderbury, just to the north of the commencement of this new road. The new trust built a toll-gate at a small bridge on the southern edge of Deddington open field. The southern end the road was controlled by a gate near Water Eaton known as Old Man's Gate. The surviving two storey toll-house between Kidlington and Oxford is built of stone (RUTV 10) and dates from 1844 when the original house was demolished. A weighing engine was located on the opposite side of the road and the profits from fines imposed for overloaded wagons were leased with the toll-gate (Figure 12f).
The roads connecting rural north Oxfordshire to the agricultural county to the north-west were turnpiked after the trunk roads from London. The more important of these roads was the ancient highway from Oxford to Northampton, which crossed the Birmingham to London road at Towcester. The second, from Banbury to Lutterworth crossed the Birmingham road at Daventry.
This trust, created in 1757, was responsible for the road from the south end of the town of Weston on the Green, through Brackley to the Birmingham road at Towcester. It was turnpiked at almost the same time as the Oxford to Banbury Road, which, until 1781, administered the branch road as far as Gosford. The old road to Brackley followed the line of the ancient highway, across what was to become Middleton Park. It seems likely that the turnpike trustees respected (or were pressured to respect) the privacy of the local landowner and adopted the present line through the village of Weston. North of Audley the road returned to the line of the old highway to Brackley and then followed the ridge to merge with the old Roman road south of Towcester. The section of the road from Towcester on to Northampton (the continuation of the modern A43) was not turnpiked until 1794.
The powers of the trust were continued in 1800 when William Hayto gave evidence on behalf of the trustees (JHC 55, 826). The earliest detailed records of the Weston to Towcester Trust date from the renewal Act in 1821. The trustees met "at the house known by the sign of the Crown in the town of Brackley" and most of the administration was exercised from here.
In the 1780s, there was a gate at Burcott Wood, where the old Roman road from Buckingham met the turnpike south of Towcester. A check-gate at the Soap Office was presumably nearer Towcester (Figure 13a & b). North of Brackley there were gates at Hoppersford Lane, near Syresham with a check gate at High Cross. An additional gate may have been built at Weston on the Green following improvements to the Bicester road in 1793. This trust did not allow a single ticket purchased at one gate to give free passages at all others: the gates were let in groups, with a ticket only valid within each group. Surviving minutes books cover the period after 1820 (Table 6). In 1821, Towcester, Burcott and Silverstone formed one group, Biddlesden Lane (near Syresham) and Hoppersford just north of Brackley were a second group, and Middleton and Weston were a third group (Figure 13a) The working surveyors were also appointed to cover the same three sections of road. They were charged with laying the road with stones which were broken to pass through a two and a half inch ring, to make the carriageway 16 feet wide and to maintain a fall of 1 inch to the yard from the centre. One of the surveyors no doubt got the blame when Joseph Underwood, the driver of the mail cart from Oxford to Northampton, claimed compensation from the trust "for damage sustained of his horse and cart by falling on a heap of stones left in the road". The trust complained to Mr Beesley, the mail contractor in St Mary Hall Lane, Oxford, that he might better provide for his carts since at the time of the accident this cart had only one lamp.
The trustees responded to changing patterns of traffic to maximise the toll income. The Weston Gate was moved in 1821 but the trust did not incur any cost since William Ingram, the current lessee, offered to build the house at his own expense save for the £15 it cost to haul the necessary stone. The trustees had resolved to remove the Burcott Wood Gate, south of Towcester and build a new gate north of Silverstone. A temporary box and chain were put up at Silverstone in March 1821 and a new toll-house, 15ft long, 9ft 6inches wide and 8ft 6inches high, was commissioned from the surveyor at a cost not to exceed £35. However, the income records show that both gates operated for several years in parallel and in fact the new Silverstone Gate was to be removed within a few years. In 1825 discussions were taking place over the enclosure of Silverstone Open Field and new bridges were required to carry the realigned roads over streams. One bridge was needed near the new road leading to Whittlebury and another over the rivulet at the bottom of Stonebridge Hill. The trust negotiated the removal of the toll-gate at Silverstone in return for the parish helping erect the bridges. The trust sold the materials from the Silverstone Toll-house for £12 in Sept 1828. It is likely that all the toll-houses were simple thatched buildings as in 1829, Joseph Pittam was allowed £2 for the thatching of Towcester Turnpike House.
From the mid-1830s there were several alterations in the position of the toll-gates, particularly around Brackley (Figure 11). This arose from the opening of the railway that altered the pattern of traffic in the region. In 1833 William Allen, who was lessee of the Middleton Gate, built a new toll-house for the trust at Evenley, on the hill just south of Brackley. He did this at his own expense and was allowed the lease for the first year at £50; it was leased the following year for £250. In December 1835 this new gate was demolished, the materials sold for £4-10s and a new toll-house built, by Messrs Mold & Willeman, lower down the hill at Brackley Bridge. The importance of traffic going to stations on the new railway led the trust to upgrade a mile of the road leading north towards Bilsworth, the nearest station on the Birmingham to London line. In 1845 the trust agreed to allow the London to Worcester & Rugby to Oxford Railway Company to carry the road outside Middleton Stoney across their new line on an arch; this is still a constriction to modern traffic. In July 1849 the Buckingham Railway Company was allowed to remove the existing toll-house at Brackley Bridge, replacing it with a new toll-house near to the railway bridge; this was subsequently referred to as Brackley North End Gate. The old gate at Hoppersford seems to have been removed at this time but a sidegate was created on the lane to Hinton.
The trustees were less than diligent in the 1840s and asked that their trust should be omitted from the Annual Bill for the renewal of turnpike powers. In December 1850 they wrote to Sir George Grey at the Home Office, which was responsible for the English turnpike system, saying that they then changed their minds. In the subsequent enquiry (PP 48, 1851) it emerged that they had not lodged accounts since 1834 "despite the fact that the clerk was paid £50/a and should be able to conduct with greater regularity". Of the £3,050 advanced by 32 subscribers in 1793, £2,830 was still outstanding. Furthermore, no interest had been paid since 1828 and so the accumulated debt had climbed to £7,414. The Mayor and Aldermen of Buckingham petitioned to have the toll-gate in the Parish of Buckingham removed, despite protests from the trustees that if it were moved near to Chackmore or Stowe, tolls would be reduced. In addition, a railway running almost parallel to the road had been opened from Buckingham to Brackley and the trustees expected that traffic would be "annihilated".
The same group of gentlemen were trustees to the Weston to Towcester Turnpike and had a similar record of mismanagement here, although the main debt was only £2,000 owed to the Duke of Bridgewater and accumulated interest of £550. Mr Litchfield and Mr Bartlett had a discussion with Sir James McAdam about their position. The great surveyor was surprised that the Buckingham to Banbury Trust seemed to have "petitioned to die" in the way they had replied to the Home Office and he regretted it was now out of his hands. The final outcome was that, on the recommendation of Sir George Grey, the Weston to Towcester Trust was amalgamated with the Buckingham to Banbury Trust that crossed each other in Brackley. The merged Brackley Consolidated Trust met for the first time in November 1851.
The trustees set about restructuring the network of toll-houses that the new trust had inherited. On the old Banbury to Buckingham road they commissioned a new toll-house at Grimsbury Green, near to the junction of their road with the Daventry road and close to Banbury Bridge Gate (Figure 11). This was to be built by Thomas Bannard of Brackley, carpenter, to the same plan as Brackley North End Gate with an iron fence around it. At the eastern end of the Buckingham road they erected a new gate at Radclive, across the road leading to Stowe, and disposed of the old Buckingham Gate for £45 to George Nelson. A new side gate was built at Bufflers Holt, close to the Turweston Hill Gate, east of Brackley. The old Turweston Toll-house was considered beyond repair in 1856 and a new toll-house and gates were erected at the angle of the road leading to Evenley near the windmill.
The gates nearer Towcester had been the most profitable for the Weston to Towcester Trust (Figure 13a) but the advent of the railway led to a steady rise in income from the gates close to Brackley. The gates east of Brackley, closer to Buckingham, earned a greater toll income than those to the west, closer to Banbury. This again emphasises that these roads were principally serving Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire more than Oxfordshire.
The trust attempted to keep its costs low and was in dispute over repairs to the bridges in this area. It tried to get the Bucks Railway to help in repair of the road over Skew Bridge and unsuccessfully tried to get the County Magistrates to pay for the lengthening of Shalstone Bridge.
In the latter half of the 18th century a web of turnpike roads were created around Bicester. The pattern suggests that these trusts were dealing with the pieces left between other turnpikes but may also indicate a growing status for Bicester as a transport hub in this period. The old line of Akeman Street from Aylesbury to Bicester had been turnpiked in 1770 but the through routes linking Bicester to Oxford, Banbury and Buckingham were not turnpiked until the 1790s (Figure 6; Section 3.5 deals with the Bicester - Aynho road). Hedges (1968) tells that originally the residents of Bicester had opposed the idea of the turnpike, "but relented when they saw how much Middleton benefited from coaches. Bicester folk placed a sign-board at Weston declaring that their town was the nearest way to Buckingham and Northampton"; the latter is untrue. An advertisement for coach service from Bicester appeared in papers in 1793, just after the road to Aynho had been turnpiked.
Bicester citizens had shown an early interest in turnpikes. In 1711, during the first phase of road improvement, a petition had been placed before Parliament to turnpike the 10 miles of Akeman Street from Aylesbury to Bicester. However, there was vigorous opposition from the bailiff and burgesses of Buckingham (JHC 17, 186) who claimed that "the repairing of this highway would prejudice the trade of the town of Buckingham by turning the course of the road leading from Aylesbury through Buckingham to Brackley, Banbury, etc". Further they asked that a Bill be passed to improve the Aylesbury to Buckingham road instead.
A cross road from Newport Pagnell, through Stoney Stratford and Buckingham to Bicester and on to Woodstock was created by an Act of 1768. Among the trustees were the Spencers from Woodstock and Sir James Dashwood alongside whose estate at Kirtlington, the road would run. The trustees were to hold their first meeting at the house of Master Thomas Potter, known by the sign of the Kings Arms in Bicester. The Act specifically mentioned the need for a new bridge at Catersford in the parish of Leckhamstead, where in winter the ford was so deep that carriages could not pass.
Henry Smith, one of the trustees, called a meeting of the trust at Middleton Stoney to discuss the Bicester to Stoney Stratford road (JOJ, Apr 1769). A later meeting (JOJ, Jan. 1772) considered extending the Kirtlington to Bicester road to Buckingham so it appears that implementation was slow. This turnpike linked the two main roads from London to Birmingham but may have failed in attracting traffic since the Act was allowed to lapse. However, sections of the road were incorporated into three other turnpike trusts. The eastern end of this road between Buckingham and Newport Pagnell was re-turnpiked in 1814, whereas the western end was incorporated into trusts controlled from Bicester. The roads from Bicester to two points on the Oxford to Birmingham road were put under a turnpike trust in 1793. The first branch went to the Cherwell crossing at Enslow Bridge near Woodstock, the other to the more northerly crossing at Heyford and on to the Rollright road at Enstone. A third branch of this road went south from Bicester to the junction of the Gosford road and the Towcester road at Weston on the Green. The final section of the old road from Bicester to the Buckingham Road at Finmere was eventually re-turnpiked in 1812 when it was incorporated into the Bicester to Aynho Trust (see Section 3.5 above).
Access to Bicester along the turnpike was controlled by gates at Sheep Street and Skimming Dish Barn on the Aynho road, at Wretchwick Gate on the Aylesbury road (Figure 13c) and at Kings End Gate on the Heyford road (Figure 13d).
A petition to Parliament in February 1765 (JHC 30, 144) was made by gentlemen, clergy, freeholders and other principal inhabitants of the Counties of Oxford, Northampton and Leicester. This set forth that "the public road leading from the bridge, at or near the east end of Banbury in the County of Oxford, through the hamlets of Grimsbury in the parish of Chalcombe, the town of Wardington, Chipping Warden, Byfield and Cherwellton in the Parish of Fausley and Badbury, the hamlet of Drayton and town and parish of Daventry and thence through the parishes of Welton, Ledgers Ashby and Kilsby to the Watling Street Road, at or near the north-east corner of Kilsby open fields, and thence along the same road about three miles to a place called The Gibbet, through the town and parish of Cottesbatch, through part of the parish of Lutterworth in the County of Leicester, are in many parts thereof in a founderous condition and, in the winter season in particular, almost impassable...". In evidence before a Committee (JHC 30, 180), Henry Bagshaw and David Prowth said that "the statute work has been done, and in addition sixpence in the pound applied towards the repairs of some of this road, and has been found ineffective, and that the said roads are narrow in many places and cannot be properly widened and repaired by the laws in being".
Later evidence to the Committee by Mr William Wyatt (JHC 30, 358) stated that "the road leading out of the turnpike road in Banbury at or near a place called Parsons Lane, and down the same lane to the east end of the bridge at the east end of Banbury, is in a ruinous condition and cannot be effectively repaired and widened by the present methods provided by the Law". As a result provision was made in the Bill to include this section in the jurisdiction of the trust. The trustees could not collect tolls effectively from travellers on this western bank of the Cherwell, but the toll-gate to the east of the bridge would intercept all through traffic. The road along Parsons Lane funnelled travellers to the start of the main turnpike section and the trustees had a vested interest in seeing that it was well maintained, even though they could not levy travellers on it directly.
This had not been a major road in Tudor or Stuart times (Figure 2). The new turnpike crossed the Cherwell at Banbury Bridge and then met the old trackway that followed the eastern bank of the river as the Portway (Figure 1), re-crossing the river at Wardington. From Wardington the road crossed the Cotswolds to Daventry and on over the watershed into the Midland Plain. North of here the turnpike adopted the line of Watling Street. Southern sections of this old Roman road had been turnpiked already, but this section from Northamptonshire into Leicestershire (Figure 6) was no longer a trunk road. The route from Banbury to Lutterworth was not a particularly important through road but it intersected three large turnpikes carrying traffic from London to the West Midlands.
The minutes book for the first 20 years of the trust gives details of how the trust operated (Table 7). The trustees began their work as soon as the Act was passed. The first meeting recorded in their minutes book was on June 14th 1765 at "the house of Robert Clerke known by the sign of the White Swan in Daventry". They met a week later at "the house of William Baker known by the sign of the Three Tuns in Banbury" and the week following at "the house of Robert Smith, known by the sign of the Spread Eagle in Lutterworth". It was decided to divide the road into two districts: Lutterworth to Badby Gap and Badby to Banbury. Thomas Holled was appointed clerk and treasurer to the first district and Henry Bagshaw Harrison was appointed to the corresponding offices in the second district. They were allowed £20 each per annum for their trouble, though both men were also the chief financiers of the improvements, loaning £350 each to the trust. A further £300 was lent by William Mayo of Great Brington and 5 years later William Cullingworth lent another £100. The trust paid annual interest at four and a half percent on these loans that were for the most part not redeemed during the life of the initial bondholder.
At the first meeting, Jeffery College of Killesby, labourer, was appointed surveyor of the northern district at £20 per year: his son, Thomas and grandson Thomas Jnr were to be surveyors to the trust for periods until well into the 19th century. At the second meeting Richard D'Anvers of Wardington was selected rather than another candidate, William Wyatt of Banbury, as surveyor for the second district. D'Anvers had to retire in 1770 due to ill health (JOJ, May 1770). The trustees also reminded landowners and occupiers of land worth more than £50/a and every owner of a team that they were still obliged to provide normal statute labour; the amount varied for the different parishes along the road from 3 days/a for parishes such as Byfield and Badby, through 2 days/a for Kilsby and Banbury to 1 day/a for Daventry.
The trustees made decisions on the best line for the road to be laid out under direction of the surveyor. The turnpike from Daventry to Lutterworth was to go from Wheatsheaf Corner, down Sheaf Street and Brook End and then by the west end of the Home Close of Mr Robert Andrew, along and over a place in the open fields of Daventry called Old Grove into the present public road called Rugby Road. General improvements to the road began in late June when Joseph Hill was allowed £1 per day "for the use of four carts with standing pillars for eight hours work each day, drawing a tun and an half in every cart in carrying gravel to mend the road from the Horse Close Gate at the south end of Cottesback Town to the south end of New Quick in the Mill Field, this summer next". In the autumn the trustees instructed "Jeffery College our surveyor to make a temporary road from the ground between Ashby Town and Leicester Lane through two closes of Mrs Ashley, in order to carry gravel from the gravel pit to repair the road and that draw rails with bridges be put up and made at the two new quickset hedges upon College's taking great care that no young trees be destroyed". They agreed to share with the trustees of the Warwick Road, the cost of making and raising a mound from Foxhill to Drayton Enclosure (just south of Daventry) and later, arranged through Richard Burford, a trustee on both roads, "for £5 to be applied to repair such part of the turnpike road as lie between Banbury Bridge and the Oxford Turnpike Road up Parsons Lane". The trust was not directly responsible for the bridges but did assist the County with repairs: in 1771 they contributed a quarter of the costs of repairs to Dow Bridge on the Watling Street. The main running costs of the road were for stone and gravel. Sufficient labour must have been provided by statute work but some unusual payments were made: in January 1776 the treasurer paid out 12s for "making a passage in the snow".
Inhabitants of Banbury were given the liberty "to bring any quantity of grass, hay, fodder, straw, corn or other produce of his farm or estate through the turnpike gate at Banbury Bridge to his dwelling or farm in Banbury for private consumption, without paying tolls". The trustees were prepared to consider what was effectively a season ticket for regular users of the road. In July 1768, "Thomas Bray, a miller of Welton, petitioned the Commissioners to compound for his going to his mill and back again in Welton Inclosure for a year from this time with one horse only": the commissioners (trustees) agreed a price of 12s. The trust also allowed "waggons or carriages going empty for coals and paying a toll to return toll-free with a load".
The collectors of tolls were appointed as a matter of urgency. They were nominated at the initial meeting of the trust and each required to give security of £40 to the trustees "for his faithful discharging the trust"; this against a salary of only £15 per year. At the second meeting William Dickens of Daventry was required to "attend upon Badby Bridge from the first day of July next, all night and day, with a chain or line, to collect such tolls as are ordered by the said Act to be taken, until such time as a house can be built or rented to him". John Lambert the younger of Banbury was similarly charged to attend "at the turnpike gate to be erected at Banbury Bridge". The two toll-gates on the northern section were dealt with a week later. The Welton Gate on the road "leading out of Welton Lordship into Ashby Lordship where the roads meet coming from Rugby and Lutterworth to Daventry" was assigned to William Cock of Daventry from July 8th 1765. John Heath of "Leir" in Leicestershire, a woolcomber was appointed collector at Dow Bridge Gate and side bar, located by the Biggin Gate.
The contract to construct toll-houses was let at the June 28th meeting. John Wagstaff was "appointed to build three toll-houses and three toll-gates and paint the same and twice over, according to the estimate and plan now delivered in the sum of £310-10s, as soon as possible but by Old Michaelmas at the furthest". In August John Bloxham was "appointed to build a toll-house and toll-gate and paint the same three times" near the east end of Banbury Bridge at a cost of £54, to be ready on or before November 1st 1765. Before the work began, in September, the trustees changed their minds about the location of the Badby Gate, resolving that it should be at Badby Gap rather than on the bridge across the Nene. They also agreed that Mr Wagstaff should make the three houses a yard longer at an additional cost of 5 guineas for each property.
Banbury Bridge was the most valuable gate (Figure 15a). The original toll-gate at Banbury was at the eastern end of the bridge. When the canal was built in 1778, the bridge arch was modified so the gate had to be removed. It was relocated in the parish of Grimsbury, on the Banbury side of the junction with the Buckingham road, though the latter was not turnpiked until 1791. In 1794 the trust resolved to build a new gate between Wilscot Lane and Byfield (Figure 7), subsequently known as Wilscot Gate.
The trustees applied to renew their powers in March 1785, incurring costs of £146-16s-6d in fees for the parliamentary clerk. They argued that some of the money borrowed to make the original improvements was still outstanding. Mr Henry Bagshaw Harrison gave evidence that £1,876 remained due, although the exact amount was not clear until problems over the estate of Thomas Holled were resolved (JHC 40, 871). Holled, the chief financier of the northern section, had become bankrupt and at the time of his death the issues of interest on his loan to the trust had to be resolved as other trustees were buying out his commitments. Knightly Holled, probably his son, continued as a trustee.
Parliament again renewed the powers of the trust in 1807 and 1828. A further Act in 1840 placed under the powers of this trust, the road from Badby Bridge, through the parishes of Badby and Newnham to the Stratford and Dunchurch Road near Dodford Lane (Figure 6). To administer these improvements, the trustees were to meet at the Griffin Public House in Chippen Warden.
The historic highway from London to Worcester ran north-west from Oxford through Chipping Norton (Figure 2). This route was one of the earliest turnpikes in the region (Figure 5) administered by several separate trusts. The section from Woodstock to Rollright on the Birmingham road was turnpiked in 1730 and the branch from the junction at Chappel on the Heath to Bourton in 1731. Turnpiking of the roads along the Cotswold ridge did not commence until the 1770s. The Cotswold routes ran through an agricultural region and, in contrast to the earlier turnpikes, three of these roads had their terminus in Banbury itself. This suggests that these later roads were roads to Banbury and its markets rather than through-routes connecting major cities outside the region. The road north-westwards to Daventry and Lutterworth (dealt with above in 5.2) was the first of these routes to be turnpiked. The roads south-eastwards to Gloucestershire ran deep into the Cotswold, to rural market towns such as Chipping Norton, Shipston and Burford and were among the last of the roads to be turnpiked.
The turnpike road from the heath above the town of Chipping Norton to the edge of the Cotswolds scarp at Bourton was part of the ancient highway from London to Worcester and was referred to as the "Gloucester Road" when the petition was brought before Parliament in 1731. It covered "several roads leading through the town of Moreton Henmarsh and includes that part of the road leading from Worcester to Oxford and London from the quarry above Bourton Hill to Chappel on the Heath as well as the road from Tidmington Bridge through Toddenham and the said town of Moreton Henmarsh". Evidence as to the very bad state of these roads was given by Henry Hunt, William Deacle and William Winslow. The Act stated that the trustees “shall meet together at the sign of the Unicorn in morton Henmarsh aforesaid, on or before the seventh day of June 1731”.
The powers of this trust were renewed in 1743. The petition (JHC 24, 547) mentions that "by reason of the deepness of the soil and many heavy carriages frequently passing through the same, the road is almost impassable in winter". John George said that he had travelled the road for 30 years and that before the first Act it was in such a "bad and ruinous condition that carriages were obliged to go by Stow, 2 or 3 miles out of their way". Thomas Cooke and Robert Bright gave evidence that the trust had debts of £800 and on the second renewal in 1765 (JHC 30, 145) Dr Thomas Butler said that the debt had risen to £1,200. In 1791 (JHC 46, 160) Joseph Knight justified the need to increase the debt beyond £2,400 so that improvements could be made to Salford and Little Compton Hills which "are steep and the passage over the same inconvenient and unfit for carriage".
The trust had a toll-house at Chappel on the Heath, close to where the road branched off the Woodstock to Rollright road. There were further gates either side of Chipping Norton. Although the trust maintained one of the major roads to the south-west Midlands, it became relatively less important than the road to Birmingham.
The petition to Parliament, in February 1770, for turnpiking roads to the south-west of Banbury was supported by gentlemen, clergy, freeholders, tradesmen and other inhabitants of Burford, Chipping Norton, Banbury, Deddington, Stow, Aynho and Brackley (JHC 32, 672). The roads covered by the Act were a network of intersecting highways "from Burford through Chipping Norton to Banbury and to the end of a lane leading from Bourton on the Water to the foot of Stowe Hill in the parish of Maugersbury in the County of Gloucester where it joins the turnpike road through Stowe, and the road branching out of the road from Chipping Norton to Banbury, through Deddington to the river Cherwell" (Figure 6). These roads were described as very founderous and "the passage over the said river and through a meadow, called Aynho Meadow, is at present only a bridle road and very dangerous and in floods is at some times impassable and it would be a public utility if the said several roads were made good carriage roads and a bridge built over the said river, and a public carriage road continued over the said meadow to the town of Aynho to join the road leading from Buckingham through Aynho to Banbury".
Mr Thomas Brooks provided evidence that the roads were in a poor condition (JHC 32, 742). Samuel Churchill (of Deddington) added that were "a proper bridge built over the River Cherwell, it would be a great advantage to the inhabitants of Deddington and the adjacent places, as by that means an easy communication would be opened with the intended canal from Coventry to Oxford which will be carried within half a mile of the parish of Deddington and that without this communication the inhabitants of the parish will be obliged to go four or five miles, and possibly further, before they can come to any wharf upon the said canal".
The trust meetings were held at the White Hart in Chipping Norton, at the mid-point on the road, although the administration in the early years seems to have been dominated by Samuel Churchill, in Deddington. One of the first actions of the trustees was to seek loans, on the credit of the tolls that would be taken at the gates (JOJ, Oct 1770). The trust was very protective of the valuable assets it was creating and offered a reward for information regarding the theft of the chain which had been placed across the road between Chipping Norton and Churchill (as a temporary toll-bar). Later, a notice (JOJ, Sept 1773) the trust published a statement that "persons defacing milestones on the Burford to Banbury road will be prosecuted".
The road was administered in three divisions each with a surveyor (JOJ, Jan 1771) and separate tolls. The Burford to Stow Division of the road had a gate at Gawcum on the top of the hill near Wyck Beacon. The gate at Fulbrook near Burford, on the north bank of the Windrush, was shared with the Burford to Chipping Norton Division. The latter Division's second gate was located on the southern side of Chipping Norton. The northern section, the Chipping Norton to Banbury Division, had a gate at Chappel on the Heath and at Saltway, where the old track crosses the main road (Figures 15b & c). The Aynho branch was controlled by a gate at the junction on at Swerford Heath.
The Burford Gates (Fulbook and sidegates on the Stow road) were the most valuable (in 1780 the income at Burford was £170, at Saltway £100, at Chipping Norton £60 and at Chapel Heath £50). Although their income was far from high, the trustees reduced the tolls at Fulbrook Gate in July 1782 and at Saltway in April 1783 (JOJ). Traffic using the old tracks around Banbury must have been an irritation to the trustees and they resolved to erect a new pair of gates at Wycombe Hill where the lanes to Broughton and Bodicot meet (JOJ, Feb 1789). The old Saltway Gate was replaced by a new gate at Wykham and a weighing machine was installed here to check for over-weight wagons. The fines from this were kept by the lessee of the gate and in 1831 were worth £98-10s. At the beginning of the 19th century there was a gate at Bloxham but this was closed in 1828 and the tolls were subsequently increased at Chapel Heath.
The Aynho Division met at the Kings Arms, Deddington to consider erecting another gate on the road between Swerford Heath Gate and Deddington (JOJ, Sept 1789). This gate was erected west of the village of Deddington (Figure 15d) whereas another gate for the Kidlington road was south of the village. As the canal wharf began to attract traffic, the trust created gates on either side of the Cherwell valley at Clifton Bridge and at Aynho Wharf (Figures 15e). The only toll-house to survive is at Swerford Hearth. It is a small two storey cottage built of stone; the space for the toll board has been converted into a window on the first floor.
Samuel Churchill spoke again on behalf of the trust when the Act was renewed in 1792 (JHC, 46, 159). He asked that terms of the Act be continued so that the £1,270 borrowed on the credit of the tolls could be repaid. The Chipping Norton and Aynho Divisions were financially more sound than the Stow Division. The Chipping Norton Division, covering the road from Banbury to Burford, had toll receipts of £814 in 1831 and paid out £569 for work on the road. The Aynho Division earned £267 and spent £126 but the Stow Division had an income of £300 with expenditure of £287. In 1832 the trustees again applied to renew and extend their powers, increase tolls and in addition, take into their jurisdiction a new section of road from Fulbrook, over Milton and Shipston Downs to another part of the existing turnpike where there was already a junction with the Charlbury Trust. Early drafts of the bill also included a proposal to turnpike one of the cross roads on the section between Chipping Norton and Banbury, "where a certain highway called London Lane joins the (turnpike) in the Parish of Chadlington, to a place in the Parish of Daylesford, called Chipping Norton Gap, where the highway from Chipping Norton through the Parish of Cornwell joins the turnpike road to Stow, and also from a certain spot where the public highway leading from Chipping Norton towards Churchill crosses the end of London Lane and extending from thence to a certain place in the town of Chipping Norton". The trustees withdrew this provision from the final Bill and these lanes remain minor roads. It is a mystery why the many roads around Charlbury attracted so much attention from turnpike trusts.
This Act formally identified three Divisions of the trust, the main road from Burford to be the Burford to Banbury, the new branch to be the Stow Division and the existing branch from Swerford Heath to Aynho as the Aynho Division. Each Division had a separate clerk, treasurer and surveyor (Appendix 3). A day ticket on one Division did not give free passage on the others and money raised on one could not be applied to the others. The Stow Division created new side-gates at Lyneham Lane, Dog Kennel Lane, Little Rissington and Wick Rissington. Later, in 1849, the Stow Division was incorporated into the Stow & Moreton United Roads Trust whereas the Banbury and Aynho Divisions became almost separate organisations, advertising their meetings separately and being treated differently by the Parliamentary Commissioners dealing with the closure of turnpikes.
This road runs eastwards from Banbury to meet the Oxford, Woodstock to Stratford road at Shipston. In July 1793 Edward Cotterell wrote to Francis Canning (Gloucs RO) that "the road from Banbury to Shipston has been quite abandoned and given up. The Shipston people apprehending it would be to their disadvantage to have a good road to Banbury, as it would totally decay their market. This appears to be very improbable but there is no accounting for men’s' opinions". It appears that the argument of the progressives prevailed and within ten years of this correspondence a new turnpike was created, facilitating travel to Banbury markets.
An Act of 1802 created the trust to turnpike this road and in May of that year the trustees held their first meeting at the house of James Upton known as the George Inn in Lower Brailes, midway along the proposed road. The Act covered the road leading from "the turnpike road in the Horse Fair in the town of Banbury in the County of Oxford through Swalcliffe in the County of Oxford and through Brailes in the County of Warwick, to the bridge across the River Stour in the Parish of Barcheston in the County of Warwick". The trustees stated that the line of the road was to be "from Banbury, along the present track of the road through the village and townships or places of Broughton, Lower Tadmarston, Upper Tadmarston and Swalcliffe and from Swalcliffe along the present line of the road to a place called Tynehill, from Tynehill to a place called Brailes, through Lower Brailes and Upper Brailes, then along the present line of the road to a place called Nollands Lane in the Parish of Nonnington, along Nollands Lane to Barcheston Grounds, along Barcheston Grounds to Barcheston Leasows, across Barcheston Leasows from Burrow Hill Gate to a bend or curve in the Hedge at a place called New Piece, and then along the present line of the road to the Bridge crossing the River Stour in the parish of Barcheston in the County of Warwick." The divergence of the road near Barcheston to the bridge at Shipston, appear to pre-date the turnpike and was probably undertaken by the local justices.
The road ran for a similar distance through two counties and the trust created two districts, with the boundary on the Shipston side of Brailes. Timothy Cobb of Banbury, gent, and William Gillett of Upper Brailes, shopkeeper, were treasurers for the respective districts and Samuel Churchill the younger of Deddington, gent, and William Walford the younger of Banbury, gent were to serve as the two clerks, without fee. Minutes books survive for the whole of the trust’s existence.
Comparing this route with the road described by Ogilby in 1675 (Figure 2), it appears that the trust cut several new sections of highway. The roadway along the whole route was to be 16 feet wide with stones, free from dirt, 12 inches deep in the middle and 8 inches on each side. The individual parishes through which the turnpike ran were to provide between half a day and three days Statute Duty to assist in the maintenance of this main road. However, the major work needed to bring the road up to an adequate standard was contracted to John Pickering of Chipping Norton, road surveyor. The new road was to be made "travellable" by the start of August and all work completed by the 10th October at a cost of £2,057. However, at the next meeting of the trust in June it appears that the contract had been split so that the road would be travellable by the 5th July. John Smith was to make and widen the section from the Horse Fair to Sifford Ferris for £719; the rest was to be done by a consortium of Pickering and Charles Carter of Enstone, road surveyor, for £1,563. The work entailed building a new bridge over the branch of the Stour in Brailes, lowering the hill at Brailes and filling in the holloway in Breach Lane in the parish of Neithrop. Throwing down the 343 yard long bank in the holloway was done for 22 pence a yard. This work was not completed on time and the toll collector at Broughton, John Smith (also one of the contractors) was allowed £2 of his lease as a consequence of the road being unpassable by the throwing down of the hill near Long Breach. Once the new road was completed, in October 1804, John Pickering was contracted for £120 per annum, to keep in repair the whole length of the road using proper white stone. This arrangement lasted until 1821 when Mr Cave the surveyor reported adversely on the poor state of repair of Mr Pickering's district.
The trustees quickly decided on the general location of the three toll-gates; one at the end of Broughton Lane, a second near Green End in lower Brailes and a third near Shipston Bridge. By June 1802 the leases to collect tolls had been auctioned and the turnpike was in operation. The detailed location of the new toll-houses took some time to resolve. It was proposed that the Brailes toll-house should be at Hillocks Gate, upon the road leading out of the turnpike road to Winderton. The Broughton Toll-house was to be beside the house of Edward Marchy called or known by the name of the Twistleton's Arms. The westerly toll-house was set at Leasows in Barcheston. However, there were frequent minor revisions to the plan and it was not until July 1804 that William Gillets was given approval to erect the new toll-house in the middle of Brailes Green. The cost to the trust was only £20 but they permitted him to have the newly erected turnpike-house at Brailes, in lieu. Mr Keen was to have the new toll-house on Brailes Green but relinquish the premises erected by the side-gate. It seems the original plan had been changed at some cost and a main gate and side-gate were created. In October 1804 the trustees resolved to build a new toll-gate near the Bull Bar in Banbury but this does not appear as a separate account in later documents. There must have been concern about damage done by overloaded wagons because in May 1808, the trust commissioned Mr Miles of Enstone, road surveyor, to erect a weighing machine near Broughton Gate; this had been removed by 1871 (Figure 16d). The road near Broughton Gate was modified in 1834 allowing the trust to sell off 66 perches of the old road leading from the toll-house to Crouch Lane.
In 1823 the trust reduced by a quarter the tolls on horses drawing vehicles: as a result traffic must have increased since the following year the amount paid to lease the tolls actually rose by over 10%! The income from letting tolls (Figure 14b) indicates that Broughton was consistently the most valuable gate with the Barcheston gate near Shipston earning significantly less. This is evidence for greater economic activity at the Banbury end of the road. Arrangements were made for regular users of the turnpike to compound for an annual amount to give then freedom to pass through the gates; Richard Brain of Shipston had done this for his wagons, carts, carriage, horse and cattle in 1805. In 1834 a very large composition deal was struck with Samuel Hobley who was about to erect brick kilns in Neithrop. He was to pay £300 by way of compensation for tolls which would be payable for all traffic to and from the kilns. However, this arrangement ran into trouble in 1837 and again in 1842 when the trust threatened to put up a bar and collecting box across the road within a quarter mile of Banbury, on the Banbury side of Garrett's brickyard "unless Joseph Garrett of Neithrop pays his arrears of composition money".
Meetings of the trust were held at Brailes, Broughton or Banbury (Figures 16a, b & c). Although there were two clerks (Appendix 1), the two divisions of the road seem to have dealt with the whole road as a unit.
The hierarchy within the trust reflected the social structure of 18th century England. Not surprisingly, the administration of the turnpike system was dominated by men (Tables 2 to 7); on a few occasions widows leased the tolls and a few toll collectors were female. Local aristocrats and landed gentry provided parliamentary support for the Act and then lent capital for the improvements. Minor gentry, local tradesman and the parish clergy were the active trustees who met to make decisions and help implement the plans of the trust. A local solicitor assisted in securing the Act and generally became the first clerk to the trust, dealing with all legal matters. Local businessman or the leading innholder in the larger towns would act as treasurer. The surveyors were normally men from the parishes who had working experience of the road. The collectors of the tolls were local people with rudimentary education. By the end of the 18th century it had become common practise to lease the right to collect the tolls. Initially local tradesmen took this opportunity to risk their capital to earn the profit from toll collection but by the 19th century, many of the leases were taken either directly or indirectly, by professional toll collectors (Tables 2 to 7). These men often leased several gates and installed local collectors to attend the gates.
Loans, often of between £50 and £500, were raised against the security of the tolls and this capital then applied to improvements to the road, erection of milestones and construction of toll-gates. Most of the capital was raised soon after creation of a new trust but powers to borrow more money were frequently included in renewals of the Acts. This new capital was then used to finance major improvements such as easing steep slopes or building new bridges. Very few of the aristocratic supporters of the turnpike Act or the chief financiers such as Lord Warwick, Lord Bridgewater, the Earls of Guildford and Dartford (Appendix 3) participated directly in the subsequent operation of the trust. Bondholders were prepared to forego interest payments until the trust had become well established and almost all trusts mentioned their inability to pay off the principal on the initial loans when seeking to renew their powers, generally 21 years after the initial Act. Loans were rarely repaid in the lifetime of the lender and interest was normally between 4% and 5%. Smaller trusts were often unable to make even these annual interest payments. In addition, when the trusts were finally closed, the heirs of these investors received back only a fraction of the capital. Although on a national scale some trusts overstretched themselves and failed to repay loans made in the mid-19th century, the trusts around Banbury seem to have cleared most of their debts before they were wound-up (Appendix 2).
The return on turnpike bonds contrasts markedly with investment in canals where it is said that the Coventry to Oxford Canal paid a dividend of up to 30% in good years (Cooper 1984). Turnpike trusts were a safe investment, which in most cases continued to give a steady but unspectacular return over several lifetimes. The original bondholders were presumably motivated by a sense of patrician duty and local pride so their returns did not have to be exclusively financial. For instance, in 1853, when proposing to right off some of the debt, the clerk to the Drayton to Edgehill Trust argued that most of the bondholders were local landowners who presumably would have to pay rates to the parishes if the turnpike had not existed. Later investors included several clergymen, widows and spinsters who were looking for small, low risk investments which gave a reliable income.
The active trustees were the local worthies in towns such as Banbury and Brackley. One of the trustees acted as chairman at meetings, but the job often seems to have fallen to one person of some authority. For instance in 1830, the Banbury to Burford Trust complemented the Rev. A.W. Ford for his role as chairman over the previous 12 years. The trustees treated these activities as a civic duty, though they clearly benefited from the improvement in trade which good roads brought. They worked hard to make their town important in other ways; for example Mr Douglas was complemented by the trustees of the Drayton to Edgehill Trust for his "great exertions in attaining the Mail coach through this county, the same having a great public accommodation to this town and neighbourhood".
Innkeepers were prominent among the active supporters of the trusts. They were obvious beneficiaries of increased traffic but also acted as local financiers and money lenders and so were suitable treasurers. For instance, Francis Edge acted as treasurer for the Drayton to Edgehill Trust and was an original trustee of both the Drayton to Edgehill and the Ryton Bridge Trusts, formed in 1753 and 1755 respectively. He owned the Three Tuns in Banbury and had interests in the "Old Stage Coach" which ran the principal service between Birmingham, Warwick, Banbury and London (JOJ, 1753). He later moved to Potterspury on the Watling Street (JOJ, May 1756) and William Barker, a London vintner took over the Three Tuns and later treasurership of the trust. However, in May 1771 (JOJ) Barker was declared bankrupt and gave up the inn and his responsibilities to the trust. James Haddon, Edge's son-in-law, took on the Three Tuns for a while (JOJ, July 1780) but in 1782 he moved to West Bromwich, leaving William Pratt at the Red Lion to take on the role as leading innkeeper. Pratt and his successor at the Red Lion, William Edwards, leased toll-gates on the local turnpikes (Tables 2 to 7)
The main expenditure for the trust was associated with the construction and maintenance of the roadway. A further significant cost was the salaries of officials, notably the clerk who acted as chief administrator and the surveyor who organised the labour and materials for work on the road. The clerk to the trust was generally a local attorney. Several of these individuals were also active in promoting the creation of the turnpikes but if they took up paid positions on the trust, such as clerk, they could not be trustees. For instance, Samuel Churchill, an active supporter of turnpiking, had to resign as a trustee when he became clerk to the Aynho Division in 1829. Some attorneys, such as the Churchills, were clerks to several trusts. Samuel Churchill (Snr & Jnr) of Deddington, acted as clerk to the Deddington to Kidlington Trust, the Bicester to Enstone Trust, the Bicester to Aynho Trust and the Banbury to Shipston Trust. A letter kept in the records of the latter trust records Samuel Jnr's regret in having to give up his responsibilities when he moved Summertown, near Oxford, in March 1839. He records that his father was the projector of the road and had advanced money on security of the tolls (about £50). Samuel himself had helped secure the Act and became clerk to the trust, alongside William Walford, in 1802. Subsequent generations of the Churchill family were not so diligent and in 1871 the trustees of the Oxford to Adderbury Turnpike were inconvenienced by "the abrupt disappearance" of Mr Henry Churchill their clerk (Figure 12d). Enthusiasm for the business of the trusts faded as the initial novelty wore off and meetings of trustees were frequently adjourned because they were not quorate. For example in advertising a meeting of the Deddington to Adderbury Trust (JOJ, Aug 1770), John Walker stated that "trustees are specifically desired to attend as no business could be done at the last two meetings for want of sufficient number of them".
The job of surveyor became important as the traffic using the road increased in the late 18th century. Professional road surveyors were given more responsibility under contracts to keep the road in good repair and make use of the Statute Labour. In 1819 the trustees of the Drayton to Edgehill Turnpike proposed that a single, professional surveyor be employed by all the trusts around Banbury. After consultation with the great road engineer McAdam, they chose George Cave of Bodicot, who was already surveyor on the Towcester to Weston Turnpike at £2/week. He also acted for the roads through Brackley and for the Banbury to Wykham section of the Banbury Division. He had been "employed under the direction of Mr McAdam" whose technique for creating an inexpensive but effective highway was to have well drained foundations and form a water repellent surface by compacting small angular stones. Cave eventually became surveyor for most roads in the area ensuring that common standard was applied across this part of the Cotswolds. George was succeeded as surveyor by Charles Cave who continued in this post until his death in 1856, after which George and Charles junior took on the work.
The Cave family were also wharfingers and coal merchants on the Coventry canal at Banbury, so that they could supply many of the materials which were needed for repair of the road. Several trusts showed a preference for Hartshill stone which was imported into the area along the canal. For instance the Drayton to Edgehill Trust paid £300 for Hartshill stone in 1853 and £480 the next year, at 9s per ton. In 1869 they bought 300 tons at 5s-6d per ton and 1s-2d per ton haulage cost.
A person had to be present at the gate to collect the tolls from travellers. Payments to the toll-gatherer appear in several minutes books Most of the other incidental costs of operation were lost in the combined accounts but there is one entry for the printing of "tickets for the Gates £1-8s" by Charles Hide of Banbury. The Chappel on the Heath to Bourton Trust paid 10s for 4,000 tickets to be printed in 1760.
Initially the trusts themselves employed men to collect the tolls. For example, after its creation in 1755, one of the first actions of the Ryton Bridge Trust was to appoint three gate keepers at a salary of 4s per week. These gate keepers also seem to have acted as surveyors for their respective sections of road. By 1759 payments for "use of the road" are made to John Burgess, collector at Ladbrooke, William Glaze collector at Hardwick and Robert Webb collector at Stretton. Employees may not have been diligent toll collectors, but in 1770 Jonathan Burgess and William Glaze were each given 5s "for their care and trouble in seizing supernumerary horses". (Limiting the number of horses on a wagon was intended to exclude very heavy wagons that would damage the road unduly.) The collectors paid their takings to the treasurer of the trust each week but by the 1760s individual collectors were occasionally leasing the gates for several months at a fixed rent, keeping any excess income themselves.
In 1766, John Trinder at Middleton Gate, Richard Morris at Moreton Gate and Richard Pickering at Salford Gate were each paid 5s/week as toll collectors for the Chappel on the Heath to Bourton Trust. On the Drayton to Edgehill Turnpike, created in 1753, tolls were initially taken by salaried collectors employed by the trustees. However, in 1772 these trustees also adopted the policy of putting the lease of the tolls up to auction. This road seems to have stagnated as and the salaries paid to collectors on the occasions when the collection was taken in hand by the trust had fallen to only 3s-6d per week in 1804.
Like other 18th century trusts, the Banbury to Lutterworth trust, created in 1765, administered the collection of tolls itself, but in 1768 they decided to lease out the collection of tolls. Advertisements for the lease of tolls were placed in the Northampton, Coventry and Oxford Papers at a cost of £1-18s in 1773. By the 1780s, most trusts were advertising the sale of leases for toll collection. These auction notices give details of the amount paid for the lease of the preceding period and are an important source of information on the changes in the relative value of individual toll-gates and the overall income to particular trusts (Appendix 3).
The Banbury to Barcheston Trust, created in 1803, adopted the policy of auctioning leases from the beginning. The auctions were normally held at one of the larger hostelries on the turnpike and the trust paid for limited entertainment of those bidding. A small trust such as the Drayton to Edgehill expended 10s for punch, much less extravagant than larger trusts would provide. The Bicester to Aynho trust paid Edward Deakins £2 for entertainment of the "bidders for tolls" at the Kings Arms Bicester. A general Turnpike Act specified that the bidding should be managed with a minute glass, which was to be turned three times before a final offer was accepted. The lease was normally put up at the value paid the previous year and bids generally ran upwards from here. In 1833, at the auctioning of the gates on the Banbury to Burford road, the Wykham Gate was put up at £321. Thomas Keene, an important farmer of tolls, took the bidding up to £344 but the gate was finally taken by Samuel Tidmarsh at £371. Keene took the bidding for the Chapel Gate from £182 too £232 but lost to Harris at £233. In other instances no bids were received at the offer price and the gate was taken in hand by the trustees (e.g. this happened at Burford Gate in 1822) or a lower, private offer was accepted by a group of trustees after the auction.
During the late 18th century the existing gate-keepers and surveyors seem to have taken responsibility for individual gates on the Weston to Towcester Turnpike. These were generally local men and they may have lived in the toll-house. William Allen leased the Middleton Gate for almost 20 years, occasionally taking a lease on other gates on roads around Bicester and Brackley. As the amount of money handled by the trusts increased, new investors were drawn into bidding for leases (Table 2 to 7). Thomas Thomson, a shagweaver of Banbury is an example of an investor without an obvious involvement in road transport. William Ingram was probably a local investor who employed the old gatekeepers to take the tolls, hoping to make a profit by holding costs well below the income received at the gate. By the early 19th century a new class of professional toll collector had emerged. William Edwards seems to have been based at the Red Lion in Banbury but leased gates on the Stokenchurch and Fyfield Turnpikes. William Avinall of Burford leased gates on the Fyfield road as well as on the Edgehill road. Thomas Keen of Yarnton was a major toll-collector in the area. He leased a number of gates each year in southern Oxfordshire including those on major roads such as the Stokenchurch and the Henley Turnpikes. Based on the home address of lessees, several of them operated nationally. Joseph Tonge leased gates as far afield as Manchester and Hertfordshire, Adam Williams operated on the Watling Street and Bicester Roads and Thomas Gardner leased gates in Exeter and Oxfordshire (RUTV 10, Tables 2 to 7). These men clearly amassed considerable amounts of capital. Keene was also able to act as guarantors for other gatekeepers (e.g. on the Burford to Banbury road), to loan capital to trusts when they was set up and to help finance the activities of minor gatekeepers.
The professional farmers of tolls could not collect the tolls nor reside at all the gates that they leased. Hence they employed pikemen or collectors who lived at the gate and actually took the tolls. The residents at most of the toll-houses at the time of the 1851 census (Table 8) were almost all employees of the lessee. They appear to be family people who would appreciate the accommodation that came with the job. A basic proficiency in writing and arithmetic would have been essential for this type of work.
The toll charges on each of the turnpikes illustrate the variety of vehicles and animals using these roads (Figure 17). These fall into three broad categories; (i) passengers transport, (ii) goods carriers and (iii) drovers' animals. The first of these classes includes private individuals on horse back, private post-chaises and public transport, particularly stage coaches. The second class covers wagons and wains carrying merchandise between major towns as well as carts and vans operated by local carriers and tradesmen. The third category includes sheep and cattle being driven from farm to market and then on to urban areas for slaughter.
Banbury was on one of Ogilby’s main highways from the Midlands to London and so benefited from traffic that passed through the town as well as traffic that originated in the locality. In 1637 there were 3 carrier services per week passing through this area and another 11 originating within it. The road appears to have reamined difficult into the mid-18th century since in 1738, one of the carriers from Stratford was still using packhorses. The number of services grew slightly in the early 18th century but by 1790 (Table 9), when the turnpike network was established, there were actually fewer carrier services per week (6 from beyond the area and potentially 6 from within it). Nevertheless, in the 19th century the services were operated by wagons so that each vehicles would have had a greater carrying capacity than the carts or packhorses used by earlier carriers. Based on the evidence in London trade directories, the route through Banbury failed to capture the growing stream of both carrier and coach traffic that flowed from the Midlands to London along the Watling Street and roads through Oxford. This disparity was more apparent with coach traffic so that a particularly high proportion of the advertised services along the Banbury road was carriers and wagoners.
Table 10 lists individual carriers and coachmasters from around Banbury and Buckingham. None of these businesses was of national importance but several generations of carriers earned a respectable living transporting goods along the turnpike network between Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and London.
The 1681 London directory lists one coach service per week from Warwick to London; this presumably ran through Banbury (Table 9a). An advertisement of 1705 clearly routes the Stratford to London coach through Kineton, Banbury and Aylesbury. This service left Stratford at 4 in the morning and “if God Permits” performed the service to London in 2 days. A note on this advert states that the caoch from Banbury took just one day. This is confirmed by an advert publshed four years later.
By May 1731 a stage coach service had begun between the Swan Inn, Birmingham, and London, through Warwick, Banbury and Aylesbury. The advertisement shows a vehicle pulled by six horses with no outside passengers and a postillion on the lead horse. It was operated by Nicholas Rothwell and took two and a half days, leaving Birmingham at 6 a.m. on Monday and reached the Red Lion, Aldersgate, London on the morning of Wednesday (Potts 1958). The fare from Warwick to London was 18s. The Birmingham and Warwick Flying stage coach, advertised in 1753 (JOJ), set out from the White Swan in Birmingham at 3 a.m. to spend the night at the New Inn, Oxford before going on to London the following day. It passed through Stratford and Banbury, where Francis Edge at the Three Tuns was one of the proprietors. The advertisement added that "To oblige such gentlemen and ladies as find it inconvenient to rise so early" (sic), there was another stage coach which left at 6 a.m., taking three days to reach London, spending the first night at Banbury, and the second at the White Hart, Aylesbury.
By the middle the 18th century, improvements in the roads were making it possible for operators to replace the heavy vehicles illustrated in Figure 21 with lighter and faster machines. In 1760 the Banbury Machine was running from the Three Tuns, Banbury, to London for a fare of 16s for an inside seat (Figure 18a). The proprietors were Mr Barker at Banbury (Three Tuns), Mr Sandeford of the Star in Oxford where the coach "lies" the first night and Mr Jenken of the Green Man & Still, the London terminus. In 1773 the Machine reached London in one day, along the turnpikes through Buckingham and Winslow. A service from Warwick through Oxford to London, is assumed to have passed through Banbury in 1775 (Figure 18b). By the 1789 the Red Lion, owned by William Pratt, had become the principal coaching inn in Banbury. The Expedition, the first coach going direct from Banbury to London, began running in December 1790, performed by Pratt & partners (JOJ).
Local coach services were run by Mr Drinkwater whose coach from Banbury to Oxford, advertised in 1789, went through Woodstock, taking 5 hours and costing 5s (Figure 18c). By 1792, the ticket for Drinkwater's service from the Catherine Wheel had risen to 7s (Potts 1958). Francis Drinkwater had operated the Banbury, Woodstock to Oxford stage waggon until 1773 and Benjamin Drinkwater ran a stage waggon service from Deddington to London in 1776. Their coaching operation was run from Hopcroft's Holt, a convenient staging inn halfway between Oxford and Banbury. However, in 1819 they sold this to J.W. Churchill and may have used the receipts to finance extending their Post Coach Service, The Regulator, to Warwick and Birmingham (Figure 18d).
The routes through Banbury were in competition with other roads for the lucrative through-traffic. For instance the services from Birmingham to Oxford could use the road through Enstone and Stratford and coaches for Warwick were able to use the Watling Street. Banbury was on the important stage coach route in the 18th century and was fortunate in attracting one of the prestigious Mail routes through the town. However, it appears that it was less favoured by the high speed coaches of the 19th century. The mail service to Birmingham was re-routed through Oxford in 1808, and although a few years later the new mail service to Kidderminster was initially run through Banbury, in 1835, William Jones of Drayton Gate sought compensation of £20 on account of his "great loss by the Kidderminster coach having discontinued to go on this road since the commencement of the contract" (his leasing of the tolls). For many years the driver of the Kidderminster coach was Tom Bowden.
The main coach services were operated by London based companies such as James Hearn & Co of the Kings Arms Snow Hill or Edward Sherman & Co of the Bull & Mouth, St Martin's-le-Grand (RUTV 11). Waddells of Oxford had an interest in some of the main routes and co-operated with the Banbury coach proprietor, John Drinkwater. Figure 19 uses information (Bates 1969) on licensed coach services between London and the West Midlands in 1836, just before competition from the railways caused major changes. Nineteen coach services and two mail coaches approached Oxford from London each day and fourteen services and two mail coaches ran through Daventry and Coventry from London. In contrast, although Banbury was on one of the principal mail coach routes, it had only four regular services from London and one coach services coming up from Oxford (Table 11). Southam to the north was as important as Banbury as a stop on through-coach services to the West Midlands. Other records of the coach services make it is apparent that there were frequent changes in the operators, routes and coaches.
The relative importance of the routes through Buckingham and Bicester into Banbury changed over the coaching era. The road through Aynho to Buckingham was the first of the roads in the area to be turnpiked and so, it may be assumed, was the most important road from Banbury towards London in the early 18th century. About 1750, Henry Purefoy wrote in his diary (Elliot 1975) that the Aylesbury stage coach left the Bell Inn, Holborn every Tuesday at 6 a.m., arrived at Aylesbury the same evening and travelled the next day to its terminus at the Cobham Arms in Buckingham. An alternative route from Banbury through Brackley to Buckingham was created in 1770 and the road from Aynho to Bicester (what was to be the main A41) was turnpiked in the same year. It was the Aylesbury, Bicester, Aynho road that had become the dominant coach road into Banbury by the 1830s and was the route used by the mail coach. Nevertheless the road through Buckingham retained some traffic with John Lomax & Co running a service from the Red Lion, Banbury to connect with the London service from the Cobham Arms in 1779. Until it closed in 1848, the Cobham Arms was the main coaching inn and post office in Buckingham (Elliott 1975): the Baxter family were the postmasters for many years (Shem 1720-1776; Dunney 1776-1810). By the early 19th century the Buckingham road was of only minor importance although The Union from Banbury to London and The Rising Sun from Oxford to Northampton passed through the town.
It may be assumed that the stage wagon services followed similar routes to those of the coach services but travelled at a lower speed. The earliest directory of common carriers into London lists services from Banbury, Buckingham and Kineton. It is assumed that these were performed by either carts or packhorses (Table 9b). By 1681 the directory published by de Laune states that John Jordon of Banbury and William Ricketts of Kineton were both using wagons to provide carrier services to London, whereas the services from Brackley and Buckingham may still have used carts. The 1731 coach advertisement mentioned earlier includes information on a stage wagon that took a week to complete the round trip from Birmingham to London. Wagons were operated from Banbury by Samuel Cooke of Drayton, who died in 1764, William King, who died in 1765. The Richard Garfield who sold his wagons in 1767 may have been related to William garfield who ran a wagon service from Woodstock in the 1750s.. John Baker of Woodstock is recorded as taking over a waggon service from Mr Arne in 1775 (Figure 20a). His waggon ran from Oxford, Deddington, Banbury and Warwick to Birmingham, taking two and a half days.
By 1764, William Judd operated two wagon services from the George in Digbeth, Birmingham, probably through Stratford to London. One service went via Banbury and Aylesbury, the other through Oxford. In the same year William Webster also operated two wagon services from Moor Street, Birmingham, one through Oxford to Southampton, the other through Banbury, Bicester, Buckingham and Aylesbury to London. By 1803, Webster's service had been transferred to William Phillips but Judd ran his services until the 1820s. (both Judd and Phillips were turnpike trustees).
Stage wagons of the late 18th century were enormous vehicles with very wide wheels and a high canvas cover. They carried substantially more goods than the packhorses and carts that carriers had used prior to the road improvements brought about by turnpiking (Figure 21). The old gateways into Banbury impeded the passage of the large vehicles and in 1785 Mr Judd was given permission to use one of his wagons to pull down the South Bar (Potts 1958) to give easier access along the Oxford road. In the 1820s the North Bar was also demolished to allow Golby's wagon freer passage towards Birmingham (Gibson 1991).
In 1798, William Judd was operating twice weekly wagon services from Banbury to London, one through Deddington, Buckingham and another through Islip and along the Stokenchurch road (Potts 1858). Richard Judd took over the service after his father in 1815 and by 1818 he was in partnership with Henry Stone, operating wagons to London, Birmingham and Shrewsbury (Gibson 1991). However, the partnership did not prosper and Judd ceased to advertise after 1818 and by 1822 Stone was bankrupt. A competing service run by John Golby operated wagons from London to Birmingham, through Banbury and Warwick, from 1816. Parker & Green began to advertise their services with Golby in 1825 but each seems to have operated independently in subsequent years. By 1830, Thomas Golby of the Cow Fair, Banbury, was running a wagon from London through Buckingham and Banbury, going on through Warwick to Birmingham. His competitors, Parker & Green, had a warehouse in High Street, Banbury. They used the Deddington route to London through Woodstock and Oxford. By the 1840s, Mr Parker of Fish Street had become the main wagon master operating from Banbury (Figures 20 b & c).
In the absence of detailed records it is impossible to establish the proportion of traffic falling into each of the main classes. However, in the 19th century, since none of the trunk routes between London and other great cities passed through the town, the roads into Banbury probably carried a high proportion of local traffic. Nevertheless, Banbury Market and the Banbury Fairs meant that large numbers of travellers used roads into the town. Locals may have known ways around the toll-gates but traders and their customers along with farmers and merchants must have been important clients or the toll-gate keepers. The seasonal nature of this pattern of travel resulted in fluctuations of income from tolls during the year and no doubt during each week .
The weekly accounts of toll income shown in Figure 22 illustrate that traffic varied considerably over the year and between gates. During the winter, toll income was generally low, presumably because travel was difficult and only essential journeys were made. In 1760, the income at the Moreton Gate showed a sharp increase in April, corresponding to the time when the main coach services began to "fly" again after the winter. The figures for 1769/70 show (Figures 22a-c) that at the Hardwick Gate, just north of Banbury, there were slight but definite peaks of income in late May and mid-October. Neither of the other gates showed such distinct changes in a single week. In 1800/1, the peak in income at Hardwick during late May and early June are still apparent (Figures 22d-f) but the peak in mid-October is dramatic, rising to twice the average weekly income. This sharp peak is obvious in subsequent years, up to at least 1806 when the surviving records cease. These short term peaks are the result of traffic bound into Banbury for the main fairs in Summer and at Michaelmas. It is interesting to note that the effects of fair traffic are not so apparent at Ladbrooke or Stretton Gates suggesting that the fair was drawing most of its (toll paying) visitors from within a few miles of the town. Furthermore, the relatively greater magnitude of the effect in 1800 compared with 1769 suggests that the Michaelmas fair became more important in the 19th century.
The pattern of income at Gawcum and Little Rissington gates on the Burford to Stow road shows a peak in November and to a lesser extent in June: again this may reflect attendance at Fairs, particularly Michaelmas. An analysis of the tolls taken at Wilscot Gate in 1809/10 (Figure 22g) indicates that the amount of money handed to the treasurer during November, and therefore taken in October, was substantially greater than in any other month. This is further evidence of the additional traffic stimulated by the Michaelmas Fair.
Surveys taken in 1845 to support a case for the Oxford to Worcester, Rugby & Wolverhampton Railways give useful information (Table 12) on the composition of traffic, just before the railways totally changed road travel. The route carrying the most coach passengers was that from Oxford to Banbury with 59 coaches per week (note that about half these can be accounted for as public stage coach services in Figure 20). There were less than half this number through Southam and only 3 coaches per week ran along the Stratford road. The Bicester to Aylesbury road carried the greatest amount of freight although the Southam to Banbury road also received a high proportion of its toll income from vehicles carrying merchandise. The vast majority of travellers crossing Banbury Bridge were on foot but about 1 in 8 were on horseback and so paid a toll. There were more vehicles carrying merchandise that carrying passengers although it should be noted that this route to Daventry or Brackley was not on of the principal routes for long distance commercial traffic through the town.
The turnpikes increased travel and improved the speed and efficiency with which goods could be carried to distant markets. However, tolls charges were substantial and boats were better suited than horse drawn vehicles for carrying delicate or bulky wares. In the south Midlands, there is no network of large rivers to provide natural waterways for trade. Nevertheless, the building of canals in the mid-18th century created an important alternative to road transport, just as the turnpike network was being formed. Canal barges were the most economic method for carrying heavy goods over long distance, but the canals were not serious competitors for passenger traffics and long distance passenger vehicles favoured the turnpikes.
The account of the Ryton Bridge to Banbury Turnpike Trust illustrate the degree to which competition from a new canal affected road traffic. Income from the toll-gates between Coventry and Banbury was fairly constant over the first decade of operation from 1755 (Figure 9b). In 1767 the toll income from all the gates rose, particularly that from Ladbrooke Gate. Income from Ladbrooke halved in 1776 and that from Hardwick halved in 1778 whereas that at Stretton declined slowly between 1776 and 1779. The Ladbrooke and Hardwick Gates continued to stagnate until 1790, after which they rose steadily.
These changes reflect competition from the Coventry to Oxford Canal that ran parallel to the turnpike through Banbury (Figure 23). The new cut ran close beside the turnpike road for much of the way from Coventry and so during construction of the canal there would have been an increase in traffic from the navigators. Once the canal opened, boats were a much more economical means of carrying heavy goods such as coal. As a result, road traffic from the coal pits around Coventry, fell once the canal provided an alternative means of transport. The canal was opened as far as Banbury in 1778 (Crossley 1984) and the drop in revenue from the Hardwick Gate illustrates the degree to which haulage decreased. It may be inferred that, by 1776, the canal was opened beyond Ladbrooke, perhaps to the locks at Napton on the Coventry side of the watershed, or even as far as the summit near Fenny Compton. The canal was not open all the way to Oxford until January 1790 (JOJ), after which the underlying increase in general traffic and passenger coaches restored the fortunes of the turnpike. Stretton Gate benefited from the general increase in business close to Coventry and from locally extracted minerals. For instance in 1790 the toll receipts record an income of £2-8s from carts carrying material from the local lime kiln; this rose to £5-15s in 1795. However, after 1795 improved links in the canal network to the West Midlands may account for the serious decline in income at this gate.
Income from turnpike gates south of Banbury also illustrate the effects of competition from new wharves on the canal. The Weeping Cross Turnpike and the Deddington to Kidlington Turnpike had incomes of over £500/a and £600/a between 1779 and 1785. However, in 1787 toll incomes fell to £350 and £500 respectively. Jackson's Oxford Journal noted in March 1787 that "the canal from Banbury to Oxford is now complete for navigation between Deddington and Aynho where coal has been landed and trade opened". Hence competition from the Aynho wharf seems to have cut north/south traffic by about a quarter. The Aynho Division of the Burford to Banbury Trust would have been a beneficiary since it was able to erect new toll-gates either side of the new wharf.
Railways were to be a much more significant source of competition which attracted both passenger and goods traffic off the main roads (RUTV 12). Since traffic through Banbury was not dominated by through-services to London, the opening of the railways did not have the disastrous consequences that were experienced by the turnpike roads through Coventry and Oxford (RUTV 8; Figures in Appendix 2). The London to Birmingham railway line was opened as far as Tring on October 16th 1837 and to Birmingham by September 1838; in the short term this presented more opportunities to coach operators. Local services carried passengers to the station, paying tolls as they passed though the turnpike gates. Contemporary maps show that Brackley was 15 miles from Bilsworth Station, Banbury was 19.5 miles from Weedon Station and Bicester 21 miles from Wolverton Station. Early rail services even allowed coaches to be loaded directly onto the railway wagons and some public coaches offered combined tickets to cover the road and rail journey.
These opportunities were extended when the Great Western opened as far as Steventon in 1840 (RUTV 12) and in 1843 Mr Beesley was able to offer a coach service from Banbury to the new station (Figure 24a). Drinkwater & Fowler were still running The Sovereign coach from the Red Lion & White Lion, Banbury, to London in 1843 and early 1844 at the same fare as in the 18th century, 16s (Figure 24b). At the same time Churchill & Fowler operated The Lion coach from the Red Lion, Banbury, to Cheltenham (Figure 24c). A significant change was to emerge after June 1844 when the railway branch from Didcot to Oxford was opened. Drinkwater & Waddell operated three coaches, The Favourite, The Rival and The Regulator, as feeder services to Oxford station (Figure 24d) while Fowler & Drinkwater used The Union to provide a service to the stations at Wolverton and Aylesbury (Figure 24e). Later in October 1844 competition between coach operators and the railways intensified and both Drinkwater and Parker operated a coach called The Sovereign through Oxford to London (Figure 24f); the former was The original Sovereign. Other operators, including Mr Cave, began to run services to feed passengers to the new main line stations; The Star ran to Weedon and The Queen, operated by Beesley joined the services to Oxford (Figures 24g & 24h).
Traffic to stations increased the income to some turnpikes. As a result turnpikes around Banbury and Brackley (Figure 14a) saw a rise in annual income in the 1840s at a time when the main trunk routes such as the Watling Street experienced a collapse of revenue (Figure in Appendix 3). The inexorable growth of the rail network continued and, after a great debate the northward extensions of the line from Oxford was eventually agreed, in 1850 the railway was opened through Banbury to Rugby. Any residual long-distance coach services collapsed but the local traffic to Banbury market and vehicles carrying passengers to the stations meant that tolls were still taken at gates on the turnpikes into Banbury. Moreover, the Banbury turnpikes, though not in the top league for income prior to 1830, entered the last half of the 19th century as some of the financially more sound trusts in the region (Appendix 2).
The predominance of rail over road for long distance traffic made turnpikes less significant in the late 19th century. The growth of local government and local taxation made turnpike trusts less necessary and they were a constant focus for criticisms of inefficiency and corruption. The trusts around Banbury were wound up along with many others, in the 1870s (Appendix 1).
The Drayton to Edgehill Trust had been in financial difficulty as early as 1853. The debt was £2,120 and the trust had been unable to pay the 5% interest on this during the previous 24 years. The trust was increasingly dependent on the parishes to contribute highway rates. The Home Office suggested that a single payment of a proportion of the unpaid interest was made to the "landowners in the neighbourhood" who were the principal debtors and that the road reverted to a parish highway. Nevertheless, the Act was renewed again and it survived until 1871 when several of the turnpikes through Banbury were closed.
The trustees had a final responsibility to dispose of assets, pay off residual loans and prepare for the roads to be handed over to the relevant local highways boards. The main assets were the toll-houses and gates. Several of these were taken over directly by the Highways Boards and demolished to widen the road. A few were sold at auction to private buyers for conversion into homes or businesses. In June the Banbury and Lutterworth Trust called for Mr Cave to review all remaining claims on the trust (Figure 25a). Mr Cave was also responsible for arranging the sale of materials from the (demolished) toll-houses on the Buckingham to Hanwell upper Division (Figure 25b), though the toll-house at Tingewick may have been sold intact. In late 1871 the lower Division was wound-up (Figure 25c & d) and the gates on the Towcester to Weston Turnpike were also demolished and the materials sold. The Drayton to Edgehill trustees instructed Henry Kirby to superintend the taking down of the Drayton Toll-house before the materials were auctioned by Mr Hall. Drayton Toll-house was definitely demolished (Figure 25e & f) and it must be assumed that the Edgehill Toll-house was similarly removed. The toll-board from the latter may have been saved at the Sun Rising Inn until its value was recognised and it was donated to Banbury Museum.
Other trusts were dissolved over the following years. In November 1873, when the Brackley Consolidated Trust was dissolved it was ordered that all toll-houses be removed and auctioned by Mr Russell of Brackley. The Deddington to Kidlington Trust sold its assets in 1876 (Figure 25g); although the weighing engine at Water Eaton was removed, the two storey stone toll-house at Old Man's Gate (Figure 26) still survives. The Bicester, Aynho and Finmere Trust was dissolved on 1877 and the Sheep Street Gate was taken down. However, at least one gate was sold as a residence; the old Souldern Toll-house (Figure 26) still stands at the junction of the modern road and the lane into the village. It is a fairly substantial two storey cottage built of local stone. Two other surviving toll-house, at Swerford Heath, and at Broughton, are also on local stone. The latter is clearly a high quality, purpose built cottage, the former a rather less prestigious structure but still clearly designed to accommodate a toll collector.
Besides a few toll-houses, the most lasting pieces of road-side furniture from the turnpike era are the distance makers that the trusts were obliged to place every mile along the road. Initially these would have been carved stone (RUTV 10) but, during the 19th century, most of the trusts in this region seem to have replaced these with cast iron plates attached to stones. A carved milestone was recorded by Lawrence (1969) in Wroxton (Figure 27a) but this has now disappeared. In 1819 the Drayton to Edgehill Trust ordered that "proper milestones be provided which are to have cast iron faces market in with figures describing their perceptive (sic) distances from London". The Towcester to Weston Trust agreed to put up a direction post at Brackley but had hesitated to replace all the milestones in 1835 due to the cost. The quotations for iron mileposts had been 30s each from Banbury Ironworks but only 24s each from Messrs Barlow at Northampton.
Unfortunately, unlike the roads in Berkshire, those in North Oxfordshire and the adjoining counties retain very few of their milestones (Compare Figure 27 showing surviving milestones in North Oxfordshire with the corresponding map of Berkshire in RUTV 10). Over-zealous destruction of wayside markers to confuse potential invaders during the second World War and the ease with which the cast iron plates could be removed by souvenir hunters, robbed the area of these tangible reminders of the turnpike age. The best surviving series of markers is that from Burford to Banbury (Figure 28e), and even this is incomplete. A few milestones have been restored since Oxfordshire surveyed them in the mid 1970s; one of the best, taken from the Banbury Road, is displayed outside the County Offices in Oxford. Ironically, the oldest milestone in Oxfordshire is in this area, at Wroxton (Figure 28g). Although this is technically a direction marker, the stone cross set up by Francis White in 1686, well before the creation of the turnpikes, directs travellers from London to Droitwich and Banbury to Stratford.
The toll board from Edgehill is preserved in Banbury Museum and some papers survive, chiefly in County Record Offices at Northampton and Warwick. However, the best and most lasting momento of the turnpike system around Banbury is the modern road network, which was laid out by the public spirited gentlemen who formed the turnpike trusts in the 18th century.
Centre for Oxfordshire Studies, Westgate, Oxford
Maps of Oxfordshire
JOJ – Jacksons Oxford Journal (microfilm)
Victoria History of the County of Oxford (VHCO)
Pigot & Co's National Commercial Directory (1830)
Bodleian Library, Oxford
PP- Parliamentary Papers
JHC – Journal of the House of Commons
Copies of Ogilby maps and notes
Accounts of the Ryton to Banbury Turnpike Trust; 1755-1806: MS Top Oxon d 373.
An enquiry into the means of preserving and improving the Publick Roads of this Kingdom with observations on the probable consequences of the present plan; Henry Homer; Oxf 1767, 8o G Pamph, 1865 1. 24755 e80.
Oxfordshire County Record Office
Minutes of the Bicester to Aynho Trust 1825-1872: Bicester UDC I/i/1
Accounts of the Gosford Trust, 1847-1872: Mor. II/1
Gloucestershire County Record Office
Minutes of the Banbury to Burford Trust 1817-1852: D1395 V/1-6
Accounts of the Chappel on the Heath to Bourton Trust, 1731-1767: D621 X4
Letter of Francid Canning; D2857/2/16
Warwickshire County Record Office
Minutes of the Kineton & Wellesbourne Trust 1770-1872: CR556/860
Minutes of the Banbury, Brailes & Shipston Trust, 1802-1880: CR580, Box 53
Minutes of the Drayton to Edgehill Trust: 1753-1871: CR580, Box 57
Northamptonshire County Record Office
Minutes of the Towcester, Brackley & Weston Trust; 1820-1874: ML2200 & ML2201.
Minutes of the Banbury, Daventry & Lutterworth Trust: 1765- : D46
Books & Journals
Bates A. (1969) "Directory of Stage Coach Services, 1836", publ. David & Charles, Newton Abbot.
Cooper N. (1984) "Aynho", publ. Leopard Head Press, Banbury.
Cossons (1941) "Warwickshire turnpikes", Birmingham Arch. Soc., Trans & Proc., LXIV, 53-100 (publ 1946).
Crossley A. (1984) "Banbury, a history", reprint of section of VHCO, publ. Oxon. C. Library Serv.
Defoe D (1726) "A tour through the whole island of Great Britain", Penguin Classic publ 1971, London.
Dickins, B. (1938) “Premonstratension Itineraries from Titchfield Abbey”, Proc of Leeds Philos. & Lit. Soc, 4, 349-361.
Elliott D. J. (1975) "Buckingham - the loyal and ancient borough", publ. Pillimore, London.
Gibson J.S.W. "The immediate route from the metropolis to all parts.", Cake & Cockhorse", 12, (1), 10-24.
Hedges S. (1968) "Bicester wuz a little town", publ. Bicester Advertiser, Bicester.
Houghton F.T.S. (1932) "Saltways", Trans. B'ham Arch. Soc., 54, 1-17
Martin G.H. (1976) “Road travel in the middle ages, some journeys of the warden and fellows of Merton College, Oxford, 1315-1470”, J of Trans. Hist., 3, (3), 159-178.
Potts W. (1958) "A history of Banbury", publ. The Banbury Guardian.
Rule J (1991) "The Vital Century", Publ. Longman, Harlow.
Taylor C.C. (1979) "Roads and tracks of Britain", publ. Dent, London.
Toulmin Smith L. (1964) Leland's Itinerary in England and Wales", publ. Centaur, London
Wickham Steed V. (1967) "Roman roads of the Banbury District",
My thanks are due to Christine Kelly for her encouragement to extend this series to cover Banbury and the assistance of staff at Record Offices and Libraries for their assistance and patience.
Also other articles on Roads across the Upper Thames Valley produced by Alan Rosevear
RUTV 1; Ancient Tracks across the Vale of White Horse
RUTV 2; Ogilby's Road to Hungerford
RUTV 3; The Turnpike Network in the Upper Thames Valley
RUTV 4; The Besselsleigh Turnpike
RUTV 5; The Wallingford, Wantage and Faringdon Turnpike
RUTV 6; The St John's Bridge to Fyfield Turnpike
RUTV 7; Turnpike Roads through Abingdon
RUTV 8; Turnpike Roads around Oxford
RUTV 9; The King's Highway - recorded journeys in the Thames Valley
RUTV 10; Milestones and Toll Houses on Old Turnpike Roads
RUTV 11; Coach and Wagon Services on Roads in the Upper Thames Valley
RUTV 12; Response of Thames Valley Turnpikes to the coming of the Railway
RUTV 13: Early Maps of the Upper Thames Region
All enquiries to the author;
7, Trinder Road,
Oxon. OX12 8EE
Published in draft by author August 2000.