Draft version of
A booklet on the Turnpike Roads around
By Alan Rosevear – written in 2004
Part A; Foundations............................................................................................................................................................3
2. The First
2.1 Roman Roads............................................................................................................................................................................3
2.2 Saxon Tracks.............................................................................................................................................................................5
2.3 Medieval Highways & Bridges.........................................................................................................................................6
2.4 Tudor & Stuart Highways.................................................................................................................................................7
on the road pattern around
3. Administration of the Highways..............................................................................................................................11
3.3 General Highways Acts...........................................................................................................................................................12
Part B: Turnpike Trusts........................................................................................................................................13
4. General Features......................................................................................................................................................13
4.1 Creation of Turnpikes Trusts...................................................................................................................................................13
4.2 Structure of Turnpike Acts......................................................................................................................................................14
5.1 The nature of the route....................................................................................................................................................16
5.2 Reading to
Road from Maidenhead to
6.1 The Nature of the Route..........................................................................................................................................................34
6.2 Powder Mills on Hounslow Heath to Basingstone..................................................................................................................35
6.3 Bagshot to
7.1 The Nature of the Route..........................................................................................................................................................41
8.1 Reading to Shillingford...........................................................................................................................................................44
8.2 Reading to
Marlow to the
9 Roads from
9.1 Reading to
9.2 Roads from
10 Improvements in
10.1 The Streets.............................................................................................................................................................................54
10.2 The Kennet Bridges........................................................................................................................................................56
Part C: Operation of Turnpikes............................................................................................................................57
11 The Men who ran the Turnpikes.................................................................................................................................57
11.3 Toll Collectors.......................................................................................................................................................................60
12 Turnpike Finance.........................................................................................................................................................63
12.2 Toll Income...........................................................................................................................................................................63
12.3 Loans & Capital.....................................................................................................................................................................65
13 Structures along the Road............................................................................................................................................66
13.2 Toll Houses...........................................................................................................................................................................68
13.3 Weighing Engines.................................................................................................................................................................69
13.4 The Roadway.........................................................................................................................................................................69
13.6 Watering the Road & Pumps.................................................................................................................................................71
14 Management of the Road.............................................................................................................................................72
on Turnpikes West of
Part D: Decline and Fall.......................................................................................................................................75
16 Competition with Other forms of Transport............................................................................................................75
16.1 The Competitors....................................................................................................................................................................75
16.1 The Canals & Rivers.............................................................................................................................................................75
17 The end of the Turnpikes and Modern Developments................................................................................................77
17.2 Closure of Turnpikes.............................................................................................................................................................78
17.3 The Legacy......................................................................................................................................................................79
Part A; Foundations
Most of our modern trunk roads are built upon the turnpike roads of the 19th century. Although this earlier road network appears to be a coherent investment in national infrastructure, turnpiking was in general the result of many, uncoordinated, local initiatives. Furthermore, turnpikes were but one phase in an evolving system for repairing and improving English highways to carry wheeled vehicles. Each generation has adapted the administrative and physical structures that it inherited. The Romans adopted ancient tracks and augmented them with new paved roads. In the Medieval period wealthy benefactors built bridges and causeways to improve travel between the new communities along the large river valleys. In the Elizabethan period, with the loss of ecclesiastical management, new institutions and Statutes provided a civil administration for the highways and bridges. Parishes were given responsibility for the upkeep of their roads and this parochial system continued to operate well into the 19th century for local roads. However, it proved ineffectual for maintaining major highways that ran through several parishes and were used by travellers who had no responsibility within the Parish. The turnpike trust was a legal device that evolved during the early 18th century to deal with the inadequacies of the Elizabethan Statute Labour system and ensured adequate finance for the maintenance and improvement of main roads.
Although important turnpikes in East
Berkshire ran through
2. The First Roads
2.1 Roman Roads
The Romans were the first administrators
Away from the ridgeways other natural
features were used repeatedly by generations of travellers who beat out ancient
pathways. Modern place names may betray some of the ancient fords where a firm
riverbed permitted travellers to cross the wide, slow flowing river. Moulsford
is conveniently located as a crossing for travellers on the Great Ridgeway.
Roads were important in the military
strategy used by the Romans to subdue and contain the native Celtic tribes
after the invasion. Straight paved roads were built by military engineers to
facilitate rapid communication and easy transfer of forces around this new
Province. These roads took little account of topological features and were cut
with military precision between the principal garrisons and towns. The Romans
chose to build a local administration centre at Calleva, now Silchester
(Fulford 1995). This had been the tribal centre of the Atrebantes (hence the
full name Calleva Atrebatum) and in pre-Roman times would have been served by
tracks over the dry ground above the upper reaches of the rivers Blackwater and
Loddon. Roman Calleva apparently grew to be the main transport hub west of
Londinium (Fig 2.1b). Paved roads radiated from the gatehouses in the
stone walls that eventually surrounded the large Roman town (Fulford 1995). The
main road west from Londinium ran to Calleva via Pontes, presumed to be at an
important bridge over the
There is speculation that a Roman road
crossed the Thames near
With the exception of
2.2 Saxon Tracks
The Saxons build several of their market
towns and defended burghs beside the rivers.
The routes between these Saxon communities
were not paved roads. Travellers would have been on foot or horseback and most
goods carried on the backs of men or pack animal. Beaten paths were adequate to
carry this traffic for much of the year. The constant pressure of feet and
hooves maintained a clear track through the vegetation without seriously
eroding the surface. Traffic carrying agricultural goods to load onto river
vessel probably formed the initial highways around
Nevertheless travellers to the
The area south of the Thames was in
2.3 Medieval Highways & Bridges
2.3.1 Royal Highways
Henry I founded Reading Abbey in 1121 and
was buried there in 1123. An analysis of the journeys made by subsequent
Plantagenet Kings of England (RUTV 9) illustrates how important
The royal party may have used boats to
2.3.2 Maintaining the Highway
The maintenance of particular medieval
highways depended on charity and sponsorship by the powerful interests of
church or nobility. Wealthy dignitaries often left bequests to pay for work on
specific highways or bridges. The King sometimes granted pavage or pontage to
local lords so that users of the road or bridge could be levied for a specified
period of time to pay for the repair or maintenance work (e.g. see below for
Pavage was granted for the road from
2.4 Tudor & Stuart Highways
In the Tudor period, Henley was
effectively the head of navigation for the large
Saxton’s map of 1574 does not show roads
but does identify important bridges. Bridges were not only costly to build but
required a long-term, local commitment to maintain the structure. Hence the
presence of a medieval bridge implies either a very important trade route or
proximity to a very wealthy institution. Saxton’s Tudor map shows Thames
By the late 16th century the pattern of the main
highways radiating westwards from
In his commentary on the Road from
Enter Longford, a village of 4 Furlongs; where passing 4 separate branches of the Coln, at 18’5. Cross the Coln itself.
Here at once you enter Buckinghamshire and Colnbrook (the Pontes in Antonine [not now thought correct] a very good Thoroughfare, with a Market on Wednesdays, about 4 furlongs long, at the end of which, branches out the direct way to Windsor; with at Slow 3’4 beyond this place, appears pleasantly at right angles on the Left, at 2 miles distance. From Slow a level Road brings you to Maidenhead, first crossing the Thames at 27 Miles, and entering Barkshire, and 3 furlongs farther the Town, extending half a Mile on the Road, of Great reception for Travellers, has a well frequented Market on Wednesdays, and a Key to which Barges come from London.
A quarter of a Mile beyond the Town the Great Road to Gloucester branches out on the Right, whence through the Commons and Woods called Maidenhead Thicket, you pass Harehatch, and at 35’1. Enter Twiford, a village of 4 Furlongs, and good Entertainment, whence a pleasant way brings you at 39’7. To Reading, so call’d from the Confluence of the Rivers as seated on the Navigable Kennet, near its influx into the Thames, and here crossed by 7 Bridges; the fairest and largest Town of the County, with 3 Parish Churches; is a Corporation electing Parliament Men, Govern’d by a Maior 12 aldermen, &c. Eminent for Clothing and Malting, and once beautified with a rich Monastery and strong Castle.
You pass the main Town on the right,
which leaving at 40’4. a pleasant Lane conveys you to Theal, vulgo Dheal, q.d.
the Vale, a discontinuous Village with 2 or 3 good Inns, Extending to 44’7.
thence passing Inglesfield, the pleasant Seat of the Marquess of
At 57’4. You pass by Spein on the
[clearly west of Newbury the
Unlike the description of some other
roads, the adjectives pleasant and broad are generously applied,
suggesting that this was a relatively good road for the time. The accommodation
is generally praised, even though this was well before the growth of mass
Morden’s map of 1695 is the first to show
a detailed road network in this area. Morden is thought to have consulted local
gentry to confirm the veracity of his information and so the roads should
reflect the main routes in use in the Stuart period. On his Berkshire map
Morden shows road converging on the Thames crossings at Maidenhead, Henley,
Morden portrays the roads south of
This pattern of routes is repeated on
maps of the 1750s (e.g. Kitchen and Bowen –RUTV13), although this is probably a
reflection of plagiarism by later mapmakers rather than the absence of any
changed emphasis in transport priorities. It must be remembered that maps were
made principally for the educated classes who used coaches and not for the
common carrier that transported heavy goods and merchandise. It is clear from
the discussion of turnpikes below that by the middle of the 18th century, roads converging on the Thames
from Hants, Oxon and Berks, though not illustrated on the maps, were gaining in
importance for the carriage of agricultural products to the
2.5 Speculation on
the road pattern around
2.5.1 The Initial Foundation
The position of
The origins of this north/south route
must lie in the early Saxon history of the town. An important Saxon highway
The east/west roads, that were to become
so important to the later development of
The origin of this road from the east is
also ambiguous and it could have served the river crossing at
Cookham/Maidenhead or the
The change in status of the Silchester
road would also have been influenced by development of bridges further upstream
from the Staines and
These developments to the east of
Despite the natural advantages of the
southern route the increasing economic and political importance of Reading
Abbey in medieval times would have shifted the main flow of traffic to the
north bank of the Kennet. Wheeled traffic may also have favoured the north bank
since the gravel terraces are wider and there are fewer climbs on and off the
ridgeways. Certainly by the time of the earliest maps, the
2.5.3 Routes along the Kennet
In summary, it is proposed that until the
late medieval period the preferred road from Windsor to Marlborough and the
west, by-passed the town of Reading and ran for much of their length along an
old Roman Road at least as far as Newbury (Fig 2.5f). Here the route
split to go towards
3. Administration of the Highways
The weight of traffic using English roads increased in the post-Reformation period as trade grew. Charity and ad hoc arrangements were insufficient to maintain local roads or main highways and active intervention was necessary to keep the roads adequately repaired. In 1555, by Act of Parliament, parishes were made responsible for the upkeep of roads and highways within their boundaries. The Statute for Mending of Highways obliged every had to work four days a year on maintaining the parish roads and persons having arable land or a plough landowners to provide teams of horses or oxen to carry material. A parish surveyor, who was elected each year, supervised this Statute Labour. If roads were inadequately maintained, a parish could be indicted by the Justices and fined. The fine would be given to the surveyor to assist in rectifying the problem. The system became perpetual in 1564 when the amount of Statute Labour was increased to six days per man per year (Jackman 1966).
This system was sufficient to maintain
the local roads in many rural parishes but for those parishes through which
major highways passed it proved inadequate. On these highways, the vehicles that
damaged the roads were from other parishes, yet the locals had to make repairs
with no benefit to themselves. The highway had virtually no paving and was
regarded as a rights of way rather than a fixed structure. When a particular
section of highway became impassable, travellers could use adjoining land to
circumvent the problem. As a result some major highways spread to become great
quagmires with only narrow sections passable in winter. The problem was
particularly acute on the main approach roads to
Bridges over large rivers require substantial investment and tend to have higher maintenance costs than roads. In the medieval period they had been built by rich benefactors and were often then maintained by ecclesiastical institutions, who generally installed a hermit to collect alms for its upkeep. After the Reformation these responsibilities were transferred to lay administrations. Some important bridges were maintained by a bridge trust, financed by a combination of tolls on traffic above and under the bridge. The remainder was in the care of the County, in which case the Justices levied rates for their upkeep.
3.3 General Highways Acts
Wheeled vehicles caused much more damage to the surface of the highway than feet or hooves. Carts had been used to carry moderately heavy or bulky items since medieval times. Two-wheel carts with wheels as tall as a man could carry quite large loads but the advent of the freestanding four-wheel wagon greatly increased the weight of what could be carried. The wheels cut the road surface, water lay in the tracks and the next vehicle caused even more damage. Particularly on clay soils, the road was no longer self-healing and more and more horses were needed to drag, rather than pull, vehicles through the deep mire.
Parliamentary legislation attempted to limit damage by restricting the number of horses used to pull wagons and coaches. It was believed that limiting carriers to only five horses in line would make it impossible for them to drag very heavy wagons. However, this legislation not only failed to achieve its aim but also created opportunities for extortion by unscrupulous surveyors.
One notorious case provoked a petition to
Parliament from The Carriers and Waggoners of the Western and Northern Roads
in 1695 (JHC). The Petitioners cited two surveyors, Richard Feilder and John
Littlehale. Feilder had been owed money by the Crown who had failed to pay for
corn and other provisions supplied to the army on Hounslow Heath and at
General Highways legislation to control vehicles on the highway continued into the 19th century. However, the turnpike Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries were the prelude to a significant change in the approach to road transport. The financial independence of the turnpike trusts eventually allowed them to improve the roads to carry the vehicles rather than restricting the design and size of the vehicle to protect badly laid roads.
Part B: Turnpike Trusts
4. General Features
4.1 Creation of Turnpikes Trusts
During the late 17th century, parishes along the Great North
road in particular were being regularly indicted for the state of the roads. In
1663 the Justices of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire obtained an Act of
Parliament that allowed them to levy tolls on user of the
Despite early opposition to the monopoly
that this arrangement created, the turnpike system became accepted as a
suitable method of alleviating the problems of parishes on principal highways
Obtaining a turnpike Act involved significant cost for the local community and so the net benefit was not always apparent to the various stakeholder groups. The aristocracy and gentry saw road improvement through turnpiking as general public good, but they could also expect increased rents from their land as the market for agricultural goods expanded. Local tradesmen would expect a growth in business as the cost of transport of manufactured goods was reduced and the additional trade from travellers using local inns and services rose. In areas where the damage to roads from long distance traffic had been greatest, there was a significant reduction in the burden on local parishioners. After the building of turnpikes, agricultural improvers such as John Middleton (1798) were able to observe that bad roads require a greater number of horses to draw any given weight over them, thereby increasing the price of articles to the consumer; better roads meant a wider market for all goods.
However, some of the wagoners and coach
masters who were getting by with the present state of the roads only saw
additional costs and were unhappy. The carriers of Wiltshire and
Gloucestershire and their clients petitioned strongly against tolls on several
sections of the
Rather than incurring the cost of
turnpiking some communities preferred to put pressure on the parishes to fulfil
the duties to maintain the highway. A notice in the Reading Mercury in December
1769 declared: If the roads from the turnpike road at Goose Mill in the
parish of Basildon, through Hook End Lane, Ashamsted Common, Yattendon,
Hamstead Norris Common, Long Lane, Shaw Field and the turnpike road at Newbury
are not put in suitable repair and direction post properly placed before the 10th March next, the surveyors of the
highway of each parish will be taught their duty from the Crown Office. Even
when there was support for a turnpike it may be qualified and the power of some
trusts was clearly curtailed by powerful local interest. Several Acts stated
that tolls could not be taken on certain sections of the highway. This applied
particularly close to major markets or facilities such as mills. For instance
the turnpikes east of
Hence the story of the turnpiking of
4.2 Structure of Turnpike Acts
The powers granted to a turnpike trust were viewed with suspicion. In effect the trustees were given powers to charge for use of an existing resource, the highway. Unlike the later canals and railway builders they were not creating a new facility and so their rights were restricted. Powers were only granted for a specific length of time and the trusts were not expected to make a profit, merely raise and employ sufficient money to improve and maintain the road. Each trust was empowered through an individual Act of Parliament that closely specified what was the trustees were permitted to undertake to achieve their objectives.
Turnpike Acts had a similar overall structure.
The initial pages defined the road and the trust structure; Fig 4.2a is the opening page of a typical Act.
• The opening paragraph of an Act specified the road in very general terms, usually the highway between A and B via C.
• Early Acts frequently gave some justification for the turnpiking, e.g. that the road as so poor that it was impassable in the winter season and could not be repaired by the present laws.
• Previous legislation relating to this road was recited.
• The trustees were named and the place of their first meeting specified.
• Arrangements for electing replacements trustees were laid down.
The next sections dealt with the raising of tolls (Fig 4.2b).
• It was stated that tollhouses could be erected, although it generally left the number and position of the tollgates to the discretion of the trustees who had local knowledge. Trusts did move their gates to intercept the maximum number of travellers at minimum cost to the trust.
• The amount of the tolls was recited, usually distinguishing tolls on passenger vehicles (coaches) and freight vehicles (wagons) and drove animals.
• The penalties for evading these tolls and payments to be made to informants against evaders were specified.
Most Acts contained a long list of those
exempt from tolls (Fig 4.2c). Exemptions fell into a number of
categories; local farmers going about their husbandry tasks, officials and the
military on county or national business, religious observance, voting, those
involved in road maintenance and then groups who had negotiated concessions to
permit the particular Act to pass. Some Acts made special provisions for
parishioners taking corn to a specified local mill (e.g. at Swallowfield and
Aldermaston). Others protected local manufacturers as in the
The Royal family
Wagons carrying material for repairing the roads, tollhouses, bridges, drains and fences on the highway
Seed for use in the parish
Hay, grass, straw, corn, pulses in straw, turnip, potatoes, milk, furze, wood for the use of the owner in the parish and not for sale
Beasts involved in ploughing, harrowing etc
Beasts involved in conveyance of mould, dung, soil, manure or compost (except chalk) used to improve land,
Horses returning from being shoed or farried
Parishioners returning from church or chapel or funerals
Ministers visiting the sick
Those riding to their own fields
Army officers on duty
Wagons carrying baggage of soldiers or sick & wounded or carrying ordinance
Volunteers dressed in uniform
Coaches and horses going to elections of the Knights of the Shires at election time.
Subsequent Paragraphs provided for upkeep and management of the road.
• The rights of the trust to take road-making materials from the Parishes were stated along with the compensation terms for damage.
• Obstructions could be removed and nuisances suppressed, overhanging trees removed and road improvements made.
• The trust were empowered, where necessary, to make new roads and sell the land of any old roads
• The requirement to place milestones was made and the punishment for defacing stones stated.
• Provisions were made on how Statute Duty Labour and Teams were to be provided by the Parishes (e.g. by the justices on application by the trustees).
• The arrangements for contributions by the parishes are laid out; i.e. either statute labour of Composition Money in lieu of this.
Finally there were clauses relating to long-term provisions.
• By the 19th century, Acts specified how money was to be borrowed and the wording of mortgages.
• Finally the term of the Act then makes clear what earlier Acts may have been superseded and limited the period over which the new powers were granted.
These were normally Local Acts of Parliament and so records are not as complete as for the main Statutes. Full sets of published Acts are rare before the 19th century but there are occasional records from the earlier period in the House of Lords Library. Complementing the information from the published Acts are summary reports of the deliberations of the Parliamentary Committees that examined the petitions for turnpikes. The records from the mid-18th century are generally more informative than later records that merely note the Act was granted. The Journal of the House of Commons (JHC) records these deliberations of Parliamentary Committees and any references from these are italicised in the text below.
In some cases the last clerk to a trust in the late 19th century may have saved some papers and eventually these might be lodged in a County Record Office. However, the vast majority of individual records have been lost. There are some centralised records such as total income from tolls and investigations of particular issues such as the impact of the railways on the trust’s finances. These records are in Parliamentary Papers (referred to as PP below).
Acts covering the roads between
The Information available on individual turnpike trusts varies enormously.
The discussion below deals with groups of trusts;
• The main radial to the south of
• The Other Turnpikes north of the Thames in
• The Other Turnpikes south of the Thames in
5.1 The nature of the route
5.1.1 The ground
Until the late 17th century the western road out of
West of Reading the route follows the low
ground of the Kennet river terraces rather than the firmer soils on the high
chalk downs to the north. It is not until the road leaves Speenhamland, west of
Newbury that it finally reaches the drier chalk downlands that then stretch
forward through Wiltshire and the west. Even then it descends back to the
terrace gravels at Benham and at
Both coaches and wagons used the
Acts to take tolls for maintenance of the
western sections of the
5.1.2 The administration
The first turnpike on the
Although Turnpike Acts were private
initiatives by groups of local individuals, there could be significant impact
on adjoining sections of road and the actions of one group often stimulated
similar moves in adjoining parishes. There seemed to be informal co-ordinated
action and co-operation along major routes such as the
These turnpike trusts on the
The Act of 1714 for repairing the
Highways between the Bear Inn in
The first Act was to run for 15 years but
after only thirteen years the trustees returned requesting further powers to
include feeder roads running south of the
In examination during 1729, Mr William
Gandy, and Mr John Abery, treasurer, said that the trust had borrowed heavily
to finance the initial repairs to the road from
While the Reading Act was being
considered a group of gentlemen from Newbury petitioned Parliament to extend
the powers of the present trustees much further long the main
The second Act was due to expire on June
1st 1750 but in 1746 the trust
petitioned for a new Act. Although the toll income was £700 per year, John
Beale the Trust’s treasurer declared in evidence that the £1800 they had
borrowed to repair the road could not be paid off before this date. In this
third Act of 1746 the principal powers of the earlier Acts were renewed but
administration of the trust was re-organised since, the petitioners by
experience find great inconveniences have happened in executing the powers
given them jointly, which they apprehend may be avoided by appointing separate
trustees for those parts of the roads which lead from the Bear Inn in Reading
to 7 Mile Stone, and to Burghfield Hatch and Aldermaston Bridge; and separate
trustees for that part of the road which leads from 7 Mile Stone to
Speenhamland. These two groups of trustees were to hold separate meetings,
set for the first Monday in May 1747 at the Mitre Tavern in
When the Powers of the trust were renewed again by an Act of 1771 the debt had fallen to £1350. Attention may have been drawn to this because the trustees also sought to take on more responsibility and bring into their care more of the side roads;
• the highway between a house in Speenhamland, in occupation of Edward Sheppard, and the west end of the highway to be repaired (only 40 poles in length); and
• the highway leading off the Bath Road between Little King’s Arms and Robin Hood near Speenhamland, through Shaw , over Shaw Field to the North End of Long Lane in Chieveley;
• the Highway from
• the Highway leading from the Great Bath Road at the direction post to Aldermaston near a public house called the Rising Sun, to a Brick Arch at the end of Froude’s Lane on the Turnpike Road leading from Puntfield to Aldermaston.
Mr Thomas Randal, presumably the
surveyor, confirmed to the Parliamentary Committee that the said highways
were ruinous. It is not clear which short section of road in Speenhamland
was involved but it may just have connected the highway with the Speenhamland
to Marlborough Turnpike. The Road from The Robin Hood corresponds with the
current B4009 from the traffic island at Shaw to Long Lane and so would have
acted as a feeder onto the
The turnpiking of
The Act noted that Powlett Wright would
allow the surveyors to take materials from his land without charge to build the
new road. However, he had extracted a condition that no toll gate would be
erected between the southern end of
As traffic grew the Trust made minor
improvements to the road; several are recorded after the trust relinquished
responsibility to the Theale District in 1826 (see below). In 1827 they widened
The division of the trust covering the
eastern section to the seven-mile stone was administered from
The trust did not initially build toll
gates on the side roads that it administered. In 1799 a gate was built across
the road to Shaw and it was not until the early 19th century that a permanent toll gate was built across the
This section of the
The first meeting of the trust was at the
The first Act empowered the trust to set
up two or more Turnpikes in or cross the said Highways. Unusually, it
specified the location of one of these turnpike gates as lying at a convenient
place between a Tenement and Shop called or known by the Name of The Smith’s
Shop, now in the Possession of Gabriel Flower as Tenant to Sir Jemmett Raymond,
Knight (who was a trustee), and lying in the Parish of Kintbury, and the
nearest Lane to the said Shop that leads out of the Road aforesaid to Ramsbury.
An 18th century map of the
turnpike (BRO) shows the gate beyond Dial Hill, just to the west of Barton.
This is roughly where the Ogilby’s preferred route to
Initially there were no gates on the
Wiltshire section of the road. The 18th
century map (BRO) shows that the road was simply gated where it entered and
In common with the adjoining turnpikes,
this trust made no major changes to the line of the road but presumably widened
and straightened particular sections. The highway on Gravel Hill near Marsh
Benham was rather tortuous in the 18th century but had been straightened by early
19th century. The carriageway
at that point had been 16ft wide whereas at Denford it was only 12ft wide and
narrowed to only 10ft in
Restructuring of the Trusts around
In the early 19th century there was a major rearrangement
of responsibilities for the sections of the
5.2.4 Twyford & Theale Trust
An Act of 1826 formalised the realignment
of the responsibilities on this section of the
This Trust paid for rebuilding a bridge over the Mill Stream at Twyford in 1831. The old bridge of three arches was replaced by a new structure with two 18-foot arches and a carriageway that was 28 feet wide. The builder was paid £752 to include the cost of the temporary bridge and allowing £40 for the material recovered from the old bridge (BRO). The trustees continued to borrow extra money against the tolls with £300 being mortgaged between 1832-35. This was presumably to finance further engineering improvement under the guidance of the General Surveyor, Mr McAdam.
The Twyford and Theale Trust took over
tollgates from the two predecessor divisions. To the east of
To the west of
The Eastern District of the trust also
had a gate on
5.2.5 Reading to Speenhamland Trust
The rump of the old
A side gate mentioned in 1840. This may have been across the road to Shaw since in 1799 Richard Townsend advertised the auction of tolls from the gate lately erected on the turnpike branch across Shaw Field to Chieveley. The auction price for tolls was set low (only £67/10/4) and presumably it was soon taken on with the nearby Thatcham Gate.
Although not part of the
5.3.1 Maidenhead to Twyford and Henley
18.104.22.168 The Complete Road
In December 1717 (JHC) a petition to Parliament was made by the High Sheriff, Justices of the Peace, Freeholders and inhabitants of the County of Berkshire and several Coachmen and Waggoners and other Persons using and travelling the Roads between Maidenhead and the towns of Reading and Henley. They said that the roads leading from Maidenhead to Twyford and Henley are become so ruinous and deep that in the winter-season they are almost impassable and are dangerous to all Persons, Coaches, Horses and Cattle travelling through the same; that the several Parishioners have used their endeavours in the summer season to repair and amend the said Roads but for want of sufficient Gravel and other Conveniences lying near thereto are not able of themselves to effect the same in respect of the great charge required to fetch such Gravel and Conveniences and the quantities necessary and pray that leave may be given to bring in a Bill for better repairing and amending the said Road.
Before the Committee it was stated that many heavy carriages pass and repass through the said roads many parts of which are low lying and that the mischief caused by the poor state of the roads had led to the parishes being indicted. However, the Justices found that the parishes had done more than the required Statute work i.e. this was a classic case of the Elizabethan Law being insufficient to deal with the damage done to parish roads by the heavy long distance traffic of the 18th century.
The resulting Act gave the trust powers
over 16 miles of road from
Although the original Act was for 21 years, ten years later, in February 1727, the trustees were back to Parliament with a request for new powers. They claimed to have made great progress in repairing the roads. However, since materials lay at great Distances from the road they could not continue to finance the repairs unless the term of the Act was extended. Under examination, Humphrey Ambler Esq., probably the treasurer, said that at the time of the said Act the Highways were so very bad that the Trustees were obliged to lay out a considerable Sum of Money, in order to make them passable. He confirmed that the Parishioners had constantly done the Statute-work in the Parishes through which the said Highways passed. The trust accounts showed that there was a loan of £850 outstanding and that net income per year, after allowing for interest and running costs was no more than £401-10s. Other witnesses, John Ray and Richard Rose confirmed that several parts of the road continue bad, especially in the Winter Season.
Having been granted this extension the
Trustees made new proposals in 1735. Their plan was to take into care the
remaining road between Sonning and
The trustees had some additional
conditions. They wanted to pay the costs of procuring the Act out of the monies
arising from the tolls and proposed that the quarterly meetings of the trustees
would in the future be alternatively at Maidenhead,
The trustees used the income from the
tolls to make further improvements to the main road. In 1752 they met to
consider about raising and amending the road between Twyford Turnpike Gate and
22.214.171.124 Improvements in Maidenhead
The trustees sought legal powers in 1779 to improve the secondary roads leading to Maidenhead market in the first district of the road. To comply with Parliamentary Standing Orders they affixing a notice to the Sessions House at Michaelmas Quarter Sessions and gave notice in local newspapers that they proposed to widen and straighten a lane called Pitts or Sheppards Lane leading from Cookham and to change the course of the road leading from Ray Mills and Cookham. In evidence James Payne and Mr Wenman said the Lane called Pitts or Sheppards Lane leading from the turnpike near the market place in Maidenhead and is 63 yards long and very narrow and unsafe for passengers and that many accidents have happened and several persons have lost their lives within these few years, from meeting carriages therein as there is not sufficient room to avoid them and that in order to widen the same and render the passage thereof safe it is necessary to purchase certain cottages, tenements or herediments all of which are of very small value (and take some of them down). Owners of these premises had been applied to and had given consent to sell, except Ann Hall who is owner of a kitchen garden, a very small part of which will be necessary to be purchased to carry said road in a straight line and gave no reason why she refused her consent. In addition, Mr Wenman and Mr Dean said that the road from Maidenhead Bridge along side of the river Thames to Ray Mills and Cookham, being 500 yards in length is very low an frequently overflowed and passengers cannot distinguish the road from the river and that if the course of the road was changed and a new road made in direct line from a stone or landmark in Foulton Mead in the Parish of Cookham (through Barn Close and a small garden) to join the turnpike road near Maidenhead turnpike gate on the east side thereof, it would be a great benefit and security to all persons having occasion to make use of the said road.
The Parliamentary Committee consented
that the road should be made over land in a straight line as proposed. The
trustees expected the improvement to be self financing since they stated that
this great benefit and convenience to the public …will tend to increase
the tolls upon the present turnpike road and they proposed not to collect tolls
from any person for passing along the said lane or intended road. In
this Act the trust was divided into three distinct Districts. The First
District was defined as being from
The detailed improvements to the side
streets of Maidenhead, incorporated into the 1779 Act illustrates how this
First Division was taking on many of the characteristics of a town improvement
trust. In a call for contractors to deal with the main turnpike highway in 1818
(RM) the Maidenhead Trust includes in the specification scraping and
cleansing of the paved part of the High Street, Maidenhead: in
The principal gate for the first district
of the trust was at
The trust had been operating as three
divisions, perhaps reinforcing the tendency of the Maidenhead District to take
on responsibilities for town improvement. In 1783 when the trustees sought
enlargement of all their powers the case was put in terms of the three
districts. James Payne, Richard Simeon and Thomas Cooper, treasurers gave
evidence that the trust still had outstanding debts in all three of the
districts. The tolls for the Hurley Gate, the third District, were leased
separately as early as 1787 (RM). In the Act of 1801 the second District, the
5.3.2 Restructuring to form Hurley Trust
The responsibilities of the original
Maidenhead trust were reallocated in a cluster of Bath Road Acts in 1826 (Fig
5.3d) (see above 5.2.3). The western section of the road, the second
division, was transferred to become half of the Twyford & Theale Trust, and
the branch of the road from the 30 mile stone to
This Third District had been
semi-autonomous for several decades and so the restructuring in 1826 caused few
changes. The tolls for the Hurley Gate had been auctioned separately since at
least 1775 (Fig 5.3e) and a group of trustees based in
Like other important river crossings on the main turnpike roads, the bridge at Maidenhead had been administered under an old charter for many years. The relationship between the bridge trust and the turnpike trust is not clear but they appear to have acted together during the lifetime of the turnpike trust.
The earliest river crossing of this section
of the Thames is said to have been the old ford at Babham End, Cookham; this
may have lain on an ancient route adopted by the Romans connecting the Celtic
tribal centres at Calleva (Silchester) and Verulanium (
In 1451 this arrangement was formalised
by the creation of the Fraternity of St Andrew who maintained a chantry on the
bridge and appointed two of their members to serve as bridge wardens each year.
This may have coincided with the construction of a new bridge, downstream of
the initial structure and slightly north of the present bridge. It was this
bridge that established Maidenhead as the preferred route for traffic to the
South Midlands and to the west through
Road from Maidenhead to
East of Maidenhead, the
5.4.1 Colnbrook Trust
126.96.36.199 The Initial Act
A turnpike trust covering the road from
A surviving page of the Minute books
(GLA) shows that the first meeting of the trustees, chaired by Hon. James
Bertie, took place on June 1st
1727 when 32 trustees met at the
Subsequently meetings of the trust were
held at the Angel in Colnbrook, the Crown in
Much of the business was concerned with
instructing the surveyors on which sections of road to improve and how to use
the Statute Labour and Teams available to them. The Magistrates had decreed
that the parishioners of Harmondsworth and Harlington do three days Statute
Labour a year,
Local landowners were required to repairs
anything that prejudiced the highway. For instance John Baron and Mr Hampton
were told to repair the river bank on their property after the Coln overflowed
and damaged the road between Madbridge and Colnbrook in the winter of 1728. The
In 1756 the surveyor provided 50 tons of
pebbles for amending the pavement (ie the roadway) in the town of
The roads to
The trust had renewed its powers in 1744
with only minor changes but by the 1760s, some of the roads feeding traffic
The road to Datchet was improved in March
1768 when the surveyor widened the highway from Ditton Green through
The trust gained notoriety in 1773 when five of the eight trustees meeting at the Castle Inn at Colnbrook died as a result of accidental poisoning. The turtle soup had been left standing in a copper pan overnight and the acidic flavourings had dissolved sufficient copper salts to kill the diners. It is apparent from the names that several of these were magistrates who had been conducting some of their other responsibilities while at the inn. Surprisingly, no mention of this disaster is made in the Minutes of the trust; the story is recorded on the gravestone of the victims in Wexham churchyard (Phillips 1981). Nevertheless, the minutes do record that in June 1773 the trust advertised for a new treasurer and surveyor in the room of the late Joseph Benwell deceased and late William Burcombe deceased. The following month they took action to appointed new trustees as well.
Considering that this was a large well-funded turnpike the Colnbrook Trustees did not always apply the best available engineering techniques. For instance as late as 1813 an agricultural survey of Buckinghamshire stated that what renders this road censurable is its form, being very broad and very flat, so that in the winter months it is in some parts a perfect slough and in the summer months extremely dusty. Such faults require only to be known to be corrected. Even in 1817 the road was in such a state that on one occasion the Queen had to go via Windsor on her trip from London to Bath (Hunter 1983). It was not until the 1820s that McAdam was employed as General Surveyor when these deficiencies would have been fully rectified. Engineering improvements may have come at a high price and in 1827 when the trust sought to renew its powers the preamble to the Act stated that whereas the trustees appointed by the five previous Acts have made a great progress in amending, widening and improving the several roads… and a considerable sum of money hath been borrowed on the credit of the tolls.. this cannot be continued or the debt paid unless the tolls are increased.
In 1841 a new Act covered widening of the
Most trusts would consider specially negotiated rates for large or regular users of the road. This Composition of the toll was usually applied to large organisations or parish traffic. An unusual example was in 1851 when the organisers of the Windsor Royal Agricultural Show negotiated a single payment of £30 for the trust to throw open the toll gates to allow visitors unimpeded access to the show.
188.8.131.52 Toll gathering
The Colnbrook Gate was the main turnpike
of the trust on the
In the 18th century, when it had to man only the Colnbrook Gate, the
trust employed two toll gatherers plus a supernumerary gatekeeper who
stood in if the others were ill. He also helped on occasional tasks such as
lighting lamps. By Dec 1773 the trust had installed a weighing engine to fine
over-weight wagons. The supernumerary gatekeeper was to attend the gate to
assist the toll gatherers in weighing wagons three days and two nights each
week. Like other trusts, the Colnbrook Trust leased its gates to
professional toll farmers and based on adverts, the income from lease of tolls
was the highest of any of the trusts on the
184.108.40.206 The initial Act
The Parishes close to
A committee of the House examined several
Justices of the Peace, Gentlemen and Surveyors from the Parishes affected,
including Justice Box, Mr Moor, Mr Hinton and Mr Kent of Hammersmith, Mr
Tickner of Chiswick, Justice Venner, Mr Mun and Mr Munday of Ealing, Old and
New Brentford, Justice Gumly, Mr Hawley and Capt. Gardner of Isleworth and
Messrs Jackson and Dean of Heston. They said that many parts thereof have
several Holes therein and are very dangerous to Passengers…..That many Waggons
and Coaches have been stuck and several overturned in the said Roads and
several Passengers on Horseback thrown off their Horses by the badness of the
Roads by which great Mischiefs have been done. They complained that since
the turnpiking of the
Although some road-users clearly
supported the petition for turnpiking, others were opposed and blamed poor
management by the parishes for the state of the road. Grasiers, drovers,
farmers, stagecoachmen, carriers, wagoners and other inhabitants of Somerset
claimed that several Parishes have for some years past not repaired the said
Highways according to the Laws now in force but suffered them to become ruinous
with a design to exempt themselves and lay the burden and charges upon the
Petitioners and others who travel the said Road. There was a similar claim
by masters or owners of coaches and owners of wagons, carriers, drovers and
clothiers of Chippenham and Calne in the
The Act was scheduled to run for 11 years
but within 6 years the trustees applied for a new Bill. In Feb 1723 the
Parliamentary Committee examined Reginald Marryott, John Offley Esqs, and Mr
Albert Nisbett from the trust. They said that the highways were in so bad and
ruinous a condition before the commencement of the first Act, that in order to
make the road passable the next winter, the trustees had borrowed heavily
against the credit of future toll income. Further borrowing had now increased
the debt to £6,400 (note that in this period the debt on the western sections
The trustees returned to Parliament a third time in Feb 1737. They pointed out that these highways, being part of the Great Roads leading to the Western Parts of the Kingdom were in a very ruinous condition partly as a result of meal and corn wagons carrying excessive weights. The annual income from tolls and duties was insufficient to keep them in repair. According to evidence from Mr James Tyton, clerk to the trustees, their debt now stood at £7000 principal money. Mr Clitherow further said that the Money now due and owing cannot be paid, with interest unless they had a Bill to enlarge their term and powers. In the previous Act the inhabitants of each house in Brentford were obliged to pay 9s per annum to the trust in lieu of Statute work, towards repairing the pavement of the town. This sum was regarded as too expensive and burdensome to the inhabitants. However, the Brentford trust was one of the most progressive in the area being credited with the erection of the first milestones on the Bath Road around 1740 and installation of an efficient method of watering the road using dedicated reservoirs in 1767 (RM).
The financial position of the trust
improved during the middle years of the century as the volume of traffic grew.
Searle (1930) reported that in 1750 the trust raised £3,231 in tolls to be applied
to the 15 miles of turnpike and the debt had fallen to £3300. The significance
of this income can be appreciated when it is recalled that at a similar time
the main Trust on the
220.127.116.11 Extension to Isleworth
When renewing the powers of the trust for
a fourth time, in 1767, John James said that the Trustees had borrowed
considerable sums and that the Debt owing was £6600 and that apparently this
Debt was not being reduced since over past 7 years annual Receipts were £2283
and Disembursments £2232. The new Act made provisions to improve the
management of the road, build a new bridge at
Clearly they needed more powers if the
list of new responsibilities was to be fulfilled. Vincent Hobby said that
the lighting the said Roads would tend to the safety and security of all
persons travelling said Road, and that watering the said Road in summer would
be a great convenience to all passengers and tend to the preservation of said
Roads. The petitioners said that the road, at a place commonly called
When the trustees sought powers to improve the footpaths in the area in 1791 James Clitherow said that the trust had a debt of £9,200 on the old district and £2000 on the new district. Despite having one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, this trust now seemed to be caught in a spiral of increasing maintenance costs that outstripped income. John James and Charles Greentree, surveyor, gave evidence to a Parliamentary Committee in 1794, alleging that they were in financial difficulties because of;
• the decrease in tolls arising from carriages employed in conveying mails being exempt from payment and the great decrease and the number of post chaises since establishing of the mail (Palmer’s new Royal mail coaches began in 1784),
• the increased price of materials for amending the road owing to the gravel pits near the same being exhausted and thereby the carriage of materials greatly lengthened and the necessary laying on a greater quantity than formally and the gravel that is now to be got being of worse quality,
• the increased price of labour and hire of teams and other articles and the high rate of interest paid for money borrowed and
• the increase in debts owing to a succession of wet winters.
In 1823 the Kensington Trust attracted the displeasure of radical William Cobbett (Searle 1930) who vehemently opposed all turnpikes. Cobbett challenged the routine claims that the trust could not repay its existing debts and therefore needed an extension to its powers. He illustrated that the Trust actually had a positive balance of £4000. A report in the times of 26th Nov 1823 illustrated the intensity of feelings over the tolls.
A very numerous meeting of the trustees took place at the Pack Horse & Talbot, on Turnham Green on Saturday Last; they were convened for the purpose of letting the tolls on the High-Western-Road from Hammersmith to Smallberry-Green; and in consequence of the late decision of the magistrates against the present Lessee, Mr Levy, arising out of the recent controversy between the Israelite and Mr Cobbett, an unusually full meeting of the Trustees was the natural consequence.
The tolls were let, 3 years ago, at a rental of £9,505. As a diminution of the profits has been sustained by the late decision, amounting to at least £500 a year, it was expected the rent would be thus much reduced. At 2 o’clock precisely the auction commenced to a very full auditory. The trustees put up the gates at £9,000. Mr Levy bid £5. At this moment it was clearly perceivable that a severe contest would take place. The bidding proceeded rapidly to £9,500. There was then a discussion between the chairman and Levy during which the latter was assured that the Trust had every confidence in him He was finally declared the lessee, at a rent of £9,901…. This is probably the largest rent that is produced from any one trust in England; the increased rent was attributed, by the Trustees, to the circumstances of His Majesty having determined to spend so much time at Windsor (clearly the King did not pay tolls but the Court did)
Although Cobbett had not, as threatened,
turned up to bid against Mr Levy, his petition was partially successful as in
1825 there was a substantial reduction in tolls on the
Robertson’s map of 1792 shows a turnpike
by the 8 Mile stone close to
East of the Kensington Road Trust the
remainder of the
6.1 The Nature of the Route
As far as Basingstoke the
…through Knightsbridge, Kensington, Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Brantford and Hounslow as in LONDON to BRISTOL and Succeeding places: where at the end of Hounslow you keep the forward way over Hounslow=Heath, omitting the acute way on the right to Colebrook and at 14’1. Cross Baber Bridge over a Brook where you have the Powder Mills on your right and Sword Mills on your left; then you cross the New River or Cut that runs through the Park belonging to Hampton Court at 15’1. And pass through Bedfont at 16 Miles a Village of some Accommodation.
At 18’6. You enter Stanes A.S. Stana i.e. lapides of 3 furlongs extent, a well-built Town seated on the Thames, Enjoying a Market on Fridays and a Fair on the 8th September, hath several good Inns as the George, Lyon, &c….. at the end of the town you cross the Thames over a Wooden-bridg which is maintain’d by a certain Toll on Waggons, Cattel, &c. that pass over it, and Barges, &c. that pass under it, and at 20’2. Come to Egham a large discontinued Village of good Accommodation, at 22’6. An easie descent by the New England Inn on the Left and Windsor Park on the Right conveys you over Bagshot Heath or Windsor Forest, whence by Winsham Church on the Left, and a House of the Kings on the Right, you come to Bough-Wough and Bagshot at 29 Miles, a place with several good Inns of Accommodation.
Leaving Bagshot you pass over 2 small
ascents, where you omit the acute way on the Left to Frimley and Southampton,
your way from hence being generally open and Heathy, whence 2 repeated descents
brings you at 33 Miles to Blackwater a small place with an Inn or two in it,
where you cross the River Loddon, thence little occurs but ascending a small
Hill at 34 Miles, and descending at 37’5. till at 38 Mile you pass through
Hartley=Row a place of some Entertainment; and cross Hartford Bridg over a
Brook, then several dispersed Houses and Hartley Church on the Left and through
Merrard=Green a small Village, come at 41’1. to Holsum Bridg over the small
River Ditsford, proceeding through Hook at 42 Miles, and Newnham at 43’3. Both
small Villages, descending 6 Furlongs at 46’4. Come to
This was the main route from
The Kensington Road Trust had
jurisdiction over the main highways crossing Hounslow Heath (see section
5.4.2). The two Trusts covered the road from Hounslow, though Bagshot to
• from Powder Mills on Hounslow Heath to Basingstone (section 6.2)
• Bagshot though
6.2 Powder Mills on Hounslow Heath to Basingstone
6.2.1 Hounslow to Windlesham
18.104.22.168 The first Acts
In Feb 1726, nine
years after the petition to turnpike the road as far as Powder Mills, a Bill
referred to as the
They said that
the road was bad because of the many heavy Carriages passing through it and
that Passengers cannot pass and repass in the Winter-season, without very great
Danger. In evidence Charles Wither Esq., Surveyor General of His Majesty’s
Woods, said that the Road from Belfound to
suggests that the Powder Mills themselves were a major factor in the proposal
to turnpike this road. He states that We owe our first good road very much
to the great Government powder mills and factories on Hounslow Heath, and which
we hear of as in full work during the Commonwealth manufacturing arms under
foreign experts. For these works a large supply of timber was necessary, and to
facilitate its transit, an Act was passed in 1727, for repairing the road …
Ogilby noted above that there were Powder Mills and Sword Mills at
The Act commenced
the 1st day of May 1728 for a term
of 21 years. This period was only half-expired in Feb 1738 when the trustees of
the Hounslow to
In April 1738
Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Parishes of Egham, Thorpe and
Chertsey, in the
stated that, because of the bad state of the lane, the inhabitant of Thorpe are
obliged to go by Chertsey, which is 2 miles about, to go to the London Markets.
Gilbert Douglass, said this is one of the worst parts of the roads thereabouts
and he believes that the expense thereof will not amount to above £200, and
that the Increase in Revenue to the present Turnpike will, in a few years,
defray the Expense. The Parish had been indicted for not amending the lane
and the parishioners go divers ways about to avoid this Road, whereby they
avoid going through the present Turnpike. There is no mention of this
branch in the subsequent Act of 1738 and so it must be assumed that this lane
remained a parish responsibility. The only significant change in powers for the
trust was that they could have two tollgates but no gate should be within a
22.214.171.124 Division of the road at Egham
When the Hounslow Road Trustees petitioned to renew their powers in 1763 they had further proposals relating to expensive engineering work on bridges. Mr Richard Bowden, surveyor of the Roads, said that such part of the Road that lies between Egham Hill and the Golden Farmer on Bagshot Heath is in a very ruinous condition, and that it is absolutely necessary to erect 9 or 10 Arches or Bridges upon that part of the Road, all which will require a very considerable sum of money which cannot be raised without an increase of Tolls. The trust had already borrowed to finance early improvements and Mr James Turner, clerk to trustees produced accounts showing £2700 owed on credit of the Act. Under this new Act the trust was divided; the Eastern District was responsible for the road from Powder Mills on Hounslow Heath to 20 mile stone at Great Bakeham Lane in Egham (later referred to as Bedfont to Egham Hill), the Western District for the road from 20 mile stone at Great Bakeham Lane in Egham to Basingstone (the Golden Farmer); This latter carried the liability for repair of the bridges mentioned by Mr Bowen.
The two Districts continued to use the same clerk and the tolls were auctioned at the same time at Red Lion, Egham in 1787. However, in other aspects the two Districts acted independently with separate Minute Books and local officials. The minutes of the Western District have survived (GLA) and show that it met for the first time on May 20th 1763 at the Red Lion in Bagshot and set to work at once. After appointing the officers they ordered a new, temporary gate to be set up at the eastern end of Bagshot from Mr Vickes garden wall to the house of Mr Rapley, butcher. John Smith, carpenter, of Bagshot was charged with erecting the gate by the following day and it was ordered that toll collection was to start immediately. They arranged to get 50,000 tickets to be printed by Mr Brook of London at a cost of 1/9 per thousand. Two toll collectors were appointed; Daniel Bond of Thorpe, Edward Greenham of Windlesham, with William Jackson of Egham as a supernumerary collector.
A new loan of £1,000 was raised at 4% from Lord Albemarle, Sir John Elwill, Richard Wyatt and Dr Cawley. With this financial backing the surveyor was told to report on the best way the road could be amended and was to order two dozen new wheelbarrows.
There was a major
change in the responsibilities of the trust in 1791 when it petitioned to take
over the maintenance of
along this road was absolutely dependent on a safe crossing of the Thames at
It is thought
that the Romans had built a bridge close to this point but it had disappeared
during the Dark Ages. A new wooden bridge was built at Staines in 1222 and was
maintained by Bridge Wardens who were able to solicit alms for the upkeep of
the bridge and received oaks from the
Mr Daniel Atwick stated that the present income from tolls & duties payable over and going under the Bridge was farmed at £63/a. Phillip Stone, Bridgemaster, reported that part of the Bridge was repaired last year during which time a ferry was set up and about £15/week was taken from passengers passing over the said Ferry. Francis Brown, carpenter, said that the great Arch of the Bridge was so much decayed that it was not safe for Carriages to go over the same and that the part of the said Bridge on that side the great Arch which stands next Middlesex, is also much decayed and will want rebuilding in the next 6-7 years. He estimated the expense of repairing the large arch at £356-14s-8d. Repairing the rest from the Middlesex side including ferryage and all charges would be £380.
Mr Timothy Harris (noted earlier as treasurer of the Hounslow Road Trust), Mr John Hart, Mr Henry Brumbridge, Mr John Carter and Mr James Love said the causeway on the Egham side was in such a bad condition that there was a great danger of it being broke through by the Thames and several thousand acres will be overflowed in the Parishes of Egham, Thorpe and Chertsey and render some of the parts of the Great Western Road impassable. Timothy Harris further said that he had several times been obliged to employ all his servants and horses to carry dung and planks to support and keep up the causeway.
As the number and size of vehicles travelled the turnpike roads increased the old bridge became increasingly inadequate. In 1791 the Staines Commissioners joined with the turnpike trustees to obtain an Act of Parliament empowering them to finance and build a new stone bridge. It was said that the Bridge Commissioner had a debt of £750 and that the old bridge was narrow and incommodious and so greatly decayed that in the opinion of them and experienced workmen the same ought to be taken down and a new bridge built near the present bridge, but tolls are insufficient. With their new powers the trustees commissioned a new bridge but unfortunately the piers were inadequate and the bridge began to crack. It was closed in 1798 and traffic returned to the old bridge (Phillips 1981). Another bridge with iron arches was commissioned in 1801 but it too quickly failed. A third bridge of timber and iron was completed in 1807 at a cost of just under £6,000 and the old bridge removed. The tolls of one penny for an unladen horse and twopence for each horse drawing a cart were initially let for £1,820/a and in 1810 were again let for £1800. Nevertheless maintenance costs were high and in 1828 a new Act was obtained by the Bridge Commissioners to finance and build yet another bridge, but this time it was to be constructed of stone, a little further upstream. The Act covered making the approaches to the new bridge and maintenance of the present bridge until the intended bridge was completed. The whole project cost over £40,000 and the tolls were increased to six pence for each horse drawing a vehicle. This bridge, designed by John Rennie, has stood the test of time. It was freed of tolls in 1871 when the Egham Road Turnpike Trust was wound up.
6.3 Bagshot to
Golden Farmer to
126.96.36.199 The main road
section of this road from
The trust appears
to have had considerable trouble ensuring that the parishes performed Statute
Labour and an advert in 1752 (RM) said that the road was in a poor state and
was represented to be unsafe and very inconvenient to travellers. The
problems were exacerbated by the want of a proper number of gentlemen of
property who are trustees meeting to make decisions on the road. A
correspondent in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1752 complained that the trust was
disgracefully mismanaged. The last treasurer had absconded with £90 of the
trust money and 27 tradesmen had been brought in to pack a vote for re-erecting
a gate that had been opposed by trustees who were the local gentry. The gate
subsequently proved useless, proving the assertion by the writer that none
but gentlemen of fortune should be made Commissioners of Turnpikes (Searle
1930). The appeals must have been successful because the trust continued to
grow. In 1781 the trustees took responsibility for lanes running southwards
that the extension was linked to the development of the
188.8.131.52 The branches near Odiham
In Sept 1798 the
trustees of the Basingstoke to Hartford Bridge & Blackwater Turnpike met at
the White Hart, Hook to carry into effect the (new) Act for improving
the road from Odiham to Heckfield Heath to communicate with the
In 1813 the trust specified the roads under its responsibility in an advertisement for a contractors to undertake repairs (Fig 6.3a). The Districts were, on the main road:
1) Golden Farmer to
4) Crooked Billet in Newnham to 43rd Mile stone in Parish of Mappledurwell
5) 43rd Mile
stone to extremity of the road at
On the branch roads
6) Hand-Post at Hartley-Row to the
8) Commencement of the road leading towards Reading, near Gravel Pit in North Wanborough Common to entrance of Mattingley Green
9) Mattingley Green to termination of the road at or near the Bell Inn, Swallowfield.
Odiham became an important hub for roads
in North Hampshire. In 1778 an application had been made for a separate trust
to turnpike the road from Bartley Green on the
There were three tollgates on the main
stretch of road. Mogg’s map of 1814 (Fig 6.3b) shows the Blackwater
turnpike gate between the 30-mile stone and the crossing of the River
Blackwater. However in 1845 the trustees met to determine as to the erection
of a new Toll-house at Blackwater (RM) so the final position may have
changed. The Hartley Row Gate was just past the 37 Milestone, west of the
village. The third main gate was between the 44 and 45 Milestones to the east
of Basingstoke Wood. In April 1799 the trustees met to decide on a new gate at
Newrams Spring near the present gate at Basing; presumably the Basing Gate was
then closed and auctions only mention the Newrams Gate. However, a temporary
was maintained east of
The trust was administered from Odiham where local solicitors such as Richard Raggett and John Cole were clerks to the Basingstoke Road Trust as well as the smaller Odiham to Farnham Trust. Although inns in Odiham were sometimes used for meetings, with such a long road the trustees clearly thought it politic to use other locations such as the Wellesley Arms at Murrells Green for some meetings and auctions of tolls.
6.3.2 Basingstone to Farnham & Winchester
The branch road south from Bagshot Heath
towards Farnham was turnpiked in 1753. It ran through Frimley to Farnham and on
through Bentley, Hollyborn,
In 1773 the administration was split into
an Upper and Lower District with separate Committees that corresponded to the
County boundaries of
Nevertheless, the trustees continued to promote the highway and in Feb 1806 advertised (RM) that This road, which is now put into a good state of repair for carriages etc, extends from the town of Bagshot to the town of Alton, a distance of 11 miles only and is the nearest road from Bagshot to Alton and the principal towns in Sussex. Mogg’s map of 1814 shows a turnpike gates beyond Frimley on the Hants/Surrey border at the crossing of the Blackwater and at the county border crossing between Farnham and Bentley. The trust was administered by solicitors such as William Green and Richard Raggett, who also acted for the Odiham trusts.
7 Roads Through
7.1 The Nature of the Route
Roads though Windsor Forest connects the
two great highways that radiate westwards from Hounslow (Fig 7.1a) and
provide an alternative route to London from Reading, over the high, often sandy
ground. Although the
There are two established roads through
the Forest and a branch road leads up to
These routes may not have had the status
In Feb 1759 there was a Petition to Parliament (JHC) from several of the gents, clergy and other freeholders and inhabitants of Counties of Berks, Wilts & Surrey setting forth that the road from a place called Old Gallows, in the Parish of Sunning, in the County of Berks, to the Town of Wokingham and from thence through Sunning Hill in County of Berks, to a stream of water or rivulet called Virginia Water in the Parish of Egham in County of Surrey, is in a very ruinous condition, narrow in many places and dangerous to travellers and cannot effectively be repaired and widened by the present methods prescribed by the law
In evidence, Mr John Brown and Mr Thomas Round said that they had surveyed the Road, which is 17 miles in length and is in a very ruinous condition, narrow in many places and dangerous to passengers and carriages. This was valuable testimony but the accounts show that it was not until 1766 that the trust paid Mr Round £115-19s for soliciting the turnpike Act, plus interest!
The trustees of the new turnpike were to
hold their first meeting at the house of John Chaplin, known by the sign of the
Rose in Wokingham, suggesting that this was very much an initiative from within
the Forest area rather than
There had been an ancient crossing at
The trust was administered from Wokingham through solicitors such as John Horn and John Roberts as clerks. Meetings and the auction of tolls were generally held at the Rose in Wokingham.
An oval stone monument on the road
between Binfield and Winnersh gives a clue to the origins of this road. It had
been erected by subscribers to the building of
The facts suggest that the
The roads on the northern bank of the
Thames running down to Datchet and
An Act of 1801 covered making and
maintenance of the road from New
In 1832 another Act created a new trust
to turnpike the road from New Windsor to Twyford in the Parish of Hurst. The
road was to commence at
The third of the Windsor Acts was in 1858
and covered the road from
The Bridge between
8 Roads from
The Thames forms a significant barrier to
land travel between the Midlands and
8.1.1 Nature of the Route
This road (Fig 8.1a) lay along a
section of what may have been the main Roman highway from Silchester to
The road runs on the southern (or
western) bank of the
8.1.2 Shillingford to Reading Trust
184.108.40.206 Creation of the Trust
In November 1763 local gentry petitioned Parliament (JHC) Setting forth that the highway leading from the town of Shillingford in the parish of Wanborough to Shillingford Ferry and thence on opposite side of Thames to Wallingford, Moulsford, Streatley, Basildon, Pangbourn and so to Reading, is in many places very narrow, and in others very deep and ruinous, and cannot be rendered effectually sound and commodious by the ordinary course of law; and that the building of said bridge over the river, at or near the Ferry, would be a great advantage and safety to the neighbourhood for many miles around. Mr. Edward Poole, in evidence, said that Shillingford Ferry in times of floods is very dangerous.
This Trust created in 1764 was unusual in
that it not only had powers to improve and maintain the existing road but also
took responsibility for building a new bridge across the
Stone foundations for the bridge were
constructed in 1766 but the superstructure was a wooden trestle bridge (Fig
8.1b). In April 1767, it was announced (RM) that the bridge was entirely
completed and travellers were able to use this new turnpike as a shorter
220.127.116.11 The developing infrastructure
The collection of tolls was crucial for
the success of the trust and the first expenditure of the trust would have been
construction of gates at which the tolls could be collected from travellers.
The location of the three principal tollhouses did not change throughout the
operation of the trust. The
During the early 1820s the trustees began
preparing for a major new investment. They increased the tolls at the existing
gates in Nov 1824 and in 1825 the trust built a new tollhouse at Pangbourne (Fig
8.1f). This gate was built on the narrow riverbank north of the Swan Inn (Fig
8.1g) were the road backs on to the steep flank of Shooters Hill. It presumably
would catch traffic that had been using the section of road between
The trustees then made public their grand
plan; the construction of a new stone bridge to replace the wooden bridge at
Shillingford (Fig 8.1h). At the beginning of May 1826 they announced
that they would commence taking down the present wooden bridge in order to
build one instead thereof. They reassured travelers that during the time
the stone bridge is in building a new and most commodious Ferry Boat will be
used for the purpose of conveying carriages and waggons, horses and passengers
across the river and as proper men will be employed in the management of the
Ferry no delay or inconvenience will be experienced. The trust installed
their own gatekeeper at the bridge gate and the tolls at the other gates on the
road also had to be altered to take account of the restricted access (RM). As a
result the trust suffered a substantial drop of income in 1826, presumably as
travelers found the claims of no delay or inconvenience was unconvincing
and took alternative routes to
18.104.22.168 The People
The trustees ran the turnpike. These men
(always men in this era) were local landowners, clerics and businessmen
(Appendix 3) who were nominated in the Act of Parliament to guide the creation
and running of the turnpike. They had to be in possession of estates worth
£50/a in the Counties of Berks or Oxford; this was a slightly lower sum than
the property qualification on the Bath Road where trustees were required to
have estates of at least £80/a. Among the first trustees of the Shillingford
Bridge to Reading Turnpike were two local aristocrats, Lord Viscount Fane and
Lord Charles Spencer, eleven knights of the adjoining shires, including Sir
John Stonehouse and Sir James Dashwood, a large number of local gentry such as
John Breedon and Thomas Blagrave from close by the road but also landowners
from the Vale of White Horse such as William Wiseman Clark and Charles
Wymondesold. Quite a number of these trustees from North Berks had also been
nominated in the
Members of the Toovey, Alnutt or Hedges
family, solicitors in
8.2.1 Nature of the Route
There seems to be no logical reason for
turnpiking such a long and tortuous route through three counties. The route
runs along the valley of the Colne before crossing the Chilterns to reach the
The road was most strongly associated
with Marlow and this may point to the fundamental reason for turnpiking this
route, Marlow had been for centuries an important crossing point of the Thames
carrying traffic between the Chilterns and
The initial Act of 1768 covered the road
There was a protracted struggle for the
post of surveyor in the 1780s. The trust appears to have appointed separate
surveyors to each district initially but later changed this policy to have a
single surveyor until the highway had been brought into a good condition.
However, in 1782 Mr Winch the surveyor resigned and Luke Medwin and William
Lee, the surveyor for the Parish of Bray, solicited the post. Mr Lee was
successful but within little over a year he had died and in early 1784 three
individuals advertised in the Reading Mercury, solicited favour from the
trustees for the post of surveyor. Luke Medwin of Great Marlow, who had earlier
been one of the district surveyors was again a candidate. The others were John
Jones a parish surveyor from Cookham and Mr Hadley who had until recently been
proprietor of the
When the trust sought to continue and enlarge its powers in 1787 (JHC), James Payne, clerk of the General Meeting of the trustees, said that great progress hath been made in amending the said road and large debts have been contracted on the credit of said Act, and that money so due and owing has been paid. The trust considered moving one of the main gates at the end of Great Marlow in 1787, presumably to improve toll income and at the same time replaced the toll gatherer at Bisham for not having performed his contract (RM).
Administering such a long road through three counties must have been problematic and to make it responsive to local needs the 1829 Act specified three Districts on the road (Fig 8.2a).
• The First District ran from the north end of Caversham Bridge, being the extremity of the Borough of Reading, to the Three Horse shoes in Henley and from Henley turnpike road near the Bell Inn unto the SW corner of a barn in the occupancy of Thomas Wethered in the western entrance of Great Marlow; and also the road from the SE end of Great Marlow Bridge to the 31 mile stone on the Maidenhead Turnpike
• The second District ran from the turnpike gate at the north end of Chapel Street in Great Marlow to the bridge at Lokes at the SE end of Chipping Wycombe and from the NE end of Crendon Lane in Chipping Wycombe to the NW corner of a garden wall in the occupation of James Bricknell to the northern entrance to Amersham (otherwise Agmondesham) and to the SE corner of a house in the occupation of Emanuel Norcott in Rickmansworth.
• The third Division ran from the NW corner of a house of
Job Woodman at the north end of Rickmansworth to the west corner of the house
of John Wellingham at the commencement of Holywell Hill, St Albans and from the
Peacock at the end of
The trust made steady improvements to the road, particularly where it ran through towns. In 1825 houses in St Peters Street, St Albans were demolished (RM) and the 1829 Act provided for the purchase of properties in Rickmansworth so that these could be demolished to permit improvement to the line of the road.
This was not a trunk route like the
The trust was centred on Great Marlow and the auction of tolls was normally held at the Crown Inn. However, its longest serving clerk was James Payn of Maidenhead, whose death was recognised as a loss sustained to the trustees when he died in 1822 after almost 50 years as their clerk (RM)
In Jan 1790 the Bridgewardens of Great
Marlow sold the materials of the
This new bridge was built cheaply using
the old timbers and only lasted until 1828. In Sept 1828 the trust considered building
a new bridge over the Thames on a new site, thereby shortening the turnpike
road and making it more commodious to the public (RM). However, it was not
until 1832 before William Tierney Clark built the present suspension bridge to
a much higher standard and similar to his larger bridge over the Danube at
8.3 Great Marlow to
The roads radiating north from the bridge at Marlow served the Chilterns and generally ran on high ground that could cope with the relatively small amount of traffic using these routes (Fig 8.3a). Hence, these roads were not turnpiked until the very last stages of this era of road improvement.
8.3.1 Marlow to Stokenchurch
This road down one of the main valleys in
the dip slope of the Chilterns was turnpiked in the 1790s. It brought traffic
from Aylesbury Vale down towards the
The road was administered from Great Marlow with solicitor John S. Wight acting as clerk and meetings held at the Crown.
8.3.2 Great Marlow
The Marlow to Aylesbury Trust was created
well after the peak of turnpiking in
The southern section of this trust was also administered from Great Marlow.
9.1.1 Nature of the Route
The main road south from
century maps give no evidence of an established through-route between
In Jan 1717 (JHC) A
Petition of the High Sheriff, Justices of the Peace, Freeholders and
inhabitants of the County of Berkshire and several Justices of the Peace and
inhabitants of the County of Southampton and also several Coachmen, Waggoners
and other Persons using and travelling the Roads between the Town of Reading
and Shinfield and Reading and Heckfield, was presented to the House. Mr
John Curtis, Mr Simon Finch, Mr Thomas Hollier, Mr Neville Mercot said that
these roads are become so ruinous and deep that in the winter-season they
are almost impassable and are very dangerous to all Persons, Coaches, Horses
and Cattle travelling through the same. The Committee thought that the
Parishes had used their utmost endeavours in the summer season to repair and
amend the said Roads but for want of sufficient Gravel, Stones and other
Conveniences lying near thereto are not able of themselves to amend the same
and that in respect of the great charge required to fetch such Gravel, Stones
and Conveniences and the quantities necessary for the purpose. The parishes
had not only done more than the Statute work required of them but had also
raised a rate of six pence in the pound, yet still the road could not be kept
in good repair. The Evidence was confirmed by a certificate under the hands
and seal of Anthony Blagrave and Clement
The trustees of the
The Trust sought renewal of their powers in 1757. In evidence Mr Peter Hennell produced accounts of receipts and disembursments for 6 years past, whereby it appeared that there is no more than £114-2s-4d remaining in hand towards defraying expenses and keeping the road in repair. When the trust powers were renewed in 1778, the financial position was still precarious and Martin Annesley esq. informed the committee that the trustees had debts of £1500 that could not be paid off unless the powers were continued.
In 1785 the trust’s
responsibilities over the roads closest to
The trustees were
at pains to minimise the impact of tolls on local farmers. The 1822 Act made
provision to charge extra tolls either side
The most important
tollgate was just south of
The Whitely Gate at
9.2 Roads from
A spur from the
9.2.1 Whitchurch to Aldermaston
This route brought
traffic from northeast Hampshire to the wharves on the Kennet. It is a natural
route from the Thames valley into central Hampshire and so would have been an
historic highway that saw an increase in traffic as more grain was carried
towards the markets in
The initiative for this road was centred in Kingsclere and after the Act was passed in early 1770 the first meeting of trustees was at the house of William Waite, the White Swan in Kingsclere. The trustees moved quickly to take tolls and improve the highway. In May 1770 they met to consider where two tollhouses were to be erected and to approve the tender by John Adcock to build the Clerken Green Gate on the Andover Road (this latter suggests that the same trustees dealt with the Basingstoke to Andover Trust which had the gate at Clerken Green). In June they received estimates for making the road. The Act specified the maximum tolls to be charged but the trustees clearly thought that these initial charges to drovers were inappropriate since within a few months of operation they announced that the actual toll on sheep and lambs was to be reduced from five pence a score to two pence a score.
The trust was never very well-off and paid its clerk only £7 and treasurer only 2 guineas per year (BRO). It was unable to pay its solicitor for obtaining the renewal of the Act in 1834; William Holding of Kingsclere who was later the treasurer accepted a bond at 5% interest to cover his charges. The finances were not helped in 1842 when the trust reduced its tolls from four pence to three pence per horse and Richard Stroud who initially leased all the gates, defaulted on his agreement and abandoned the gates. The trust summoned him before the Justices but it took a further two years before it recovered only £20 from Stroud in the Insolvent Debtors Court. By 1849 the tolls were clearly insufficient to pay for maintenance of the road (BRO) and the Justices ordered that the Parishes paid Composition money from their Highways rate. This amounted to £118 in the first year and £85 in the next, against an annual income of only £105 from tolls.
The most southerly
of the two tollgates was at White Hill above Kingsclere. The second main gate
was at Ashford Hill west of Aldermaston. The trust was not permitted initially
to construct a gate on the northern side of Aldermaston but in 1834 a new
Aldermaston Gate was built between
administered a network of roads southwards from Aldermaston towards
In 1772 a
petition of the gentlemen, clergy, freeholders and inhabitants residing in
towns of Aldermaston and
(a) -the Road leading from a place called Cross Lanes on the west side of Aldermaston Park through Tadley, Pamber End and Sherborne St John to Basingstoke Market House,
(b) -and from the top of
Holy Ghost Hill to Rooks Down Gate in parish of
(c) and from Sherborne St John by a farm rented by William Wix across Lilly Down, through Monks Sherborne wood to a pond called the Round Pond and from Tadley Hill, to a boundary mark called The Imp, or Nymph stone between the parishes of Aldermaston and Mortimer Silchester and Pamber;
(d) -and also the Road from the west end of one of the said Cross Lanes on the west side of Aldermaston Park, called Burnhams Lane, through Baughurst, and over Stony Heath, Rooks Down and Basingstoke field to join the Turnpike Road leading from thence to Andover;
(e) -and from the south side of the said Turnpike Road over Basingstoke down to join the Turnpike Road from Basingstoke to Winchester at Popham Lane;
(f) -and from the New Inn at Baughurst Lane End, to join the Turnpike Road leading from Aldermaston to Kings Clear, near a post called the Hampshire Post,
are ruinous and narrow and cannot be effectually repaired by laws now in force.
Sections (a) to (c) were referred to as the First Division, sections (d) to (f) as the Second Division.
Evidence to prove
these allegations was provided by Richard Chickley Plowden and George Woodward
Grove, who said Baughurst Lane to West Heath on Road from Aldermaston to
Popham Lane was particularly bad. This section linking the two main
branches was added to the Second Division when the Act was passed. The first
meetings of both Divisions were at the Hinds Head, Aldermaston, and much of the
trust’s administration seems to have been centred on Aldermaston, although the
first clerk to both Divisions was Charles Best of
The First Division seems to have worked conscientiously, albeit slowly to improve their highway. In May 1775, three years after the Act, it announced that the road is near completed and opens communications by turnpike roads across the Country from Portsmouth and Southampton to Oxford and Birmingham through Wallingford (RM). The First Division administered the eastern branches of the turnpike and had turnpike gates at Pamber End north of Sherborne St John and at Holy Ghost Hill (sometimes called Chapel Hill) on the high ground just north of Basingstoke. A minor gate may have been created at Chinham in the 19th century. The trust did not raise large amounts of money from its tolls but seemed to function openly and efficiently.
The Second Division
administered the western branches of the turnpike and had gates at Worting
where it crossed the
No milestones are recorded on any of these roads, a further indication of inept management and lack of resources. In retrospect these routes did not warrant the expense of turnpiking and would have been better left to parochial control.
10 Improvements in
10.1 The Streets
10.1.1 The early arrangements
Like most market
towns, maintenance of the streets in medieval
In 1724 John Watts,
a benefactor of the town and the first proprietor of the Reading Mercury,
started a subscription for repairing the road from
traffic on the main through road from London to Bath did not actually pass
through the Market Place but could followed the London Road, across Crown Lane
or Church Lane, into Horn Street and over Severn Bridges up to Castle Street.
The turnpike Acts of the early 18th
century had provisions to repair these sections of the
10.1.2 Reading improvement
Later in the
century, in a mood of increasing municipal pride and self-reliance the
Corporation obtained The Reading Paving Act. This provided a more appropriate
means of dealing with paving, lighting and cleaning the urban streets. The bill
had been opposed by a substantial portion of the population who saw increased
costs and no apparent improvement to their traditional businesses. However, it
was passed and in August 1785 the Paving Commissioners had the first stone laid
ceremonially outside the home of Mayor John Dean in
for Paving and Lighting the Town of
The extent of the
town lighting clearly grew so by July 1818 the contract covered 235 lights
(RM). In April 1818 the Commissioners had called for tenders to relay the
existing paviers, stating that the contractor should amend with new where
wanted and that old stones were to be taken to Maynards wharf for coping
and squaring. The responsibilities of the Scavengers contract were
summarised in an advertisement for the tender in July 1833 (RM). They were to
cleanse all the streets, lanes, public passages and places within the Borough
(the main streets were listed including those on the turnpike such as
in the early 19th century show
the roads approaching
10.2 The Kennet Bridges
The bridges over
the Kennett were crucial for the town. Seven Bridges was a much easier crossing
to maintain and upkeep of the road over the bridge was the responsibility of
the turnpike trust.
Although the Thames
crossing was not central for the development of
Part C: Operation of Turnpikes
11 The Men who ran the Turnpikes
Administration and functioning of turnpike trusts was organised locally. At the top of this hierarchy were the trustees who were responsible for strategic issues. The officers who undertook the detailed administration of the trust were the clerk treasurer and surveyor. The toll collectors and roadmen were local men who worked along the highway.
Trustees were named in the Act under which the trust was created and the Act made provision to replace trustees who may retire or die. The list of trustees often had more than a hundred names, some beginning with a few aristocrats followed by several gentlemen, landed gentry, merchants, professionals and some of the more substantial tradesmen from the parishes and towns through which the road ran. The vicars and parsons of the parishes were generally included as well as particular office holders such as Justices of the Peace for the Counties, the Corporation of the town and bridge trusts. The trustees met within a couple of weeks of the Act being passed and then quarterly (or half yearly) to oversee the running of the turnpike. They were empowered under the Act to set tolls, decide the position of gates, payments for service and direct the officers of the trust such as the clerk and the surveyor. One of the trustees acted as chairman at meetings, but the job often seems to have fallen regularly to one person of some authority. Acts generally made clear that no decisions could be taken unless a minimum number of trustees were present (often this quorum was 5). The first few meetings were well attended but as time passed attendance became thinner and meetings were more likely to be adjourned because insufficient trustees were present. In the 18th century the chairman tended to be a local aristocrat and gentlemen were the most active trustees. During the 19th century, the number of active trustees was generally much smaller and there was a higher proportion of clerics.
Some trustees were professional men with legal skills and so could take a leading role in official enquiries or dealings with the legislature. For instance Thomas Eyre, a trustee, investigated the fraudulant actions of Mr Mitchell, the Colnbrook surveyor in 1728. Thomas Eyre (perhaps the son) was heavily involved in the application to Parliament for a new Colnbrook Act in 1766. His professional services and out of pocket expenses were chargeable, although it took the trust a year to settle his account of £300, albeit he was paid some interest on it.
The trustees viewed
their activities as a civic duty, although in the early years there were some
“perks” e.g. the Colnbrook trustees were exempt from paying tolls. Direct
financial benefits may have been forbidden but individual landowners, merchants
and carriers clearly benefited from the improvement in trade that good roads
brought. Trustees were not to make money from their positions and certain
trades were excluded; for instance the Windsor Forest Trust stated that no
victualler shall hold any place of profit, nor persons retailing liquors of any
kind allowed to act as trustees or hold any office or collect tolls (Heelas
1939). Notwithstanding this, a brewer was one of the main trustees. Trustees
did loan money to the turnpike trusts. Many of the Wokingham trustees of the
Officers of the trust had particular responsibilities to make the turnpike road function. They were often named in public notices and official records; Appendix 3 lists the offices for the trust considered in Part B.
11.2.1 The Clerk & Treasurer
was required to guide the trust within its legal powers and to administer the
substantial sums of cash generated directly or indirectly from the tolls and
the mortgages on this income. Most trusts had at least two, part-time, salaried
officials, the clerk who acted as chief administrator and a treasurer to handle
the finance. In the early trusts one person acted as both the clerk and the
treasurer, but concern over the lack of independence meant that by the 19th century trusts were specifically forbidden
from having both functions performed by one person (e.g.
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. The clerk
dealt with any legal issues, kept minutes of meetings and issued communications
such as announcements in the newspaper and the posting of notices at the gates
or at the courts. They were also involved in property transfers, chasing
defaults on payments and formal notification to anyone who had offended against
the Act by creating a nuisance or transgressing regulations. The post as clerk
was only a part time task for a town solicitor and some individuals acted for
several trusts. For instance in the 1770s, Richard Simeon (presumably of
The treasurers were
individuals who were used to handling large amounts of cash. They had to deal
with both the cash flow of income from the tolls and the expenditure on
maintenance as well as managing the raising of capital through mortgages and
loans. In the early days local innkeepers were often appointed as treasurers
but in the early 19th century
suspicions of corruption led to anyone selling beer being excluded from
positions of authority and the role of treasurer passed to local bankers or
attorneys. The treasurer had to give a bond before taking office. Three
officers of the Speenhamland to Marlborough Trust, George Jones and Richard
Townsend, gents, and Isaac King, wine merchant, gave bonds of £500 (BRO) and in
1773 Henry Bullock put up £1000 on taking up his post with the Colnbrook Trust
at a salary of £20/a (GLA). This unusually large bond may reflect the fact that
an earlier treasureer to this trust had absconded in 1752 with £900. Edmund
Perchard of Windlesham gave a similar security in 1763 when he became treasurer
for the Egham to
11.2.2 The Surveyor
22.214.171.124 The local amateurs
The main expenditure for the trust was associated with the construction and maintenance of the roadway. All trusts appointed a surveyor who was paid to organise the labour and materials for work on the road. The surveyor had to account to the trust for the expenditure and was directed to make particular improvements by the trustees. Each of the parishes still had a responsibility to perform a portion of their Statute Labour on the turnpike and the surveyor organised this. The local Justices acted as arbiters on the amount and in 1726, for instance (GLA), decreed that, based on the length of road passing through each parish along the Bath Road each should perform between three and one day of their six days of Statute Duty on the Colnbrook Turnpike Road. The trust’s surveyor could take a more co-ordinated approach to the whole stretch of road than was the case with parish surveyors. However, in the 18th century there was little understanding of what was required for a good road structure and few surveyors had the expertise in civil engineering to make the necessary improvements. As late as 1754 a correspondent to the Gentleman’s Magazine complained that the roadmakers were no more than yeoman farmers and gentlemen’s bailiffs.
could not be trusted with the considerable funds involved with these large
enterprises. A clear example of how the new trusts opened up to scrutiny the
cosy life of the old Parish system is the case of John Mitchell, the first
surveyor on the Buckinghamshire section of the
The Windsor Forest
Trust paid its surveyor Nathaniel Basnett a salary of £30/a in the 1760s and
James Fife on the
126.96.36.199 Professional surveyors
By the late 18th
century professional road surveyors were being appointed and they began to
introduce better engineering techniques into the construction and maintenance
of the roadway. Dependence on the local Statute Labour was reduced as income
from tolls allowed the surveyor to place contracts for purchase of labour and
materials from commercial suppliers (Fig 11.2a). This made it easier for
the surveyor to require work to be performed when it was needed and to improve
standards of workmanship. However, the money paid by trusts was not sufficient
to attract full time engineers. In evidence to a Parliamentary Committee (PP)
considering the consolidation of trusts in 1836 it was said that A surveyor
appointed at £60-80/a for a trust of 8 miles cannot afford to look after that
trust. He is paid merely to ride it once or twice a year and his duty given
over to one of the labourers who does the best he can. There ought to be one
for 100-200 miles and his whole attention devoted to it. Most trusts in
this area contained 20-40 miles and so the normal surveyors were likely to be
either only partly qualified or working for more than one trust to maintain
their income. There is evidence that in the 1830s, William Winkworth was
surveyor on both the
surveyor only organised the road work, the labour on the roads was done by
teams of labourers. Initially these were parishioners performing Statute Duty
but as the trusts prospered they were able to employ day labour and teams as
needed. The practice of contracting the work grew in popularity in the late 18th and early 19th century (see adverts in Figs ). This
apparently put the work in the hands of a dedicated roadmen but Mavor (1809)
complained that in many places the baleful practice of letting roads by
contract per mile prevails; here the contractor does as little as he can help
for his money; the result was neglect of all but essential work. Mavor
believed that the only effectual means of improving or keeping up a road is
to have an honest and intelligent surveyor at a suitable salary, whose business
is to superintend the whole line, pay the labourers, to call out Statute Duty,
observe the directions of the Commissioners and to be responsible to these. He
should have foremen at the increased pay of 1/6 to 2 shillings extra per week
over every group of 4 or 5 men along the road, who is to labour with them to
see that they should do their duty. Whether such good practice spread to
all the turnpike roads in
improvements in road construction in the early 19th century were implemented through professional surveyors
such as Sir James McAdam. He was chief or general surveyor on almost all the
main roads radiating westwards from
11.3 Toll Collectors
11.3.1 Early toll gatherers
A person had to be
present at the gate to collect the tolls from travellers. In the early 18th century most trusts employed the toll
gatherer directly and paid him (in the early days it was normally a man) a
weekly wage to collect tolls at the gate and issue tickets to travellers.
During the 18th century the
Colnbrook Trust and the Egham to Basingstone Trust, each appointed two toll
collectors and one supernumerary to staff their single tollgate. These men
would attend the gate, presumably in 12-hour shifts to cover the gate both day
and night and the supernumerary was retained to cover when the full time
collectors were indisposed. It is unlikely that all these men lived in a single
tollhouse and presumably at this early period there was no more than a shelter
or small office at the gate and the collectors lived elsewhere. The Colnbrook
Trust paid its collectors 10s per week in 1727 and in 1763 the Egham Trust paid
11s per week inclusive of coal and candles. The Windsor Forest Trust also paid
its gatekeepers directly: Thomas Doe, Aaron Dowle, Thomas Collins, R Staniford
and Thomas Alwright at Loddon Bridge, Copped Beach, Blacknest, Sandford and
Sindlesham respectively, were paid 8/- per week during the 1760s. This was
taken from the toll receipts and represented a significant proportion of the
gate receipts; e.g. at
tollhouses were often built remote from villages or towns and such isolated
positions made them attractive targets for robbers who knew significant amounts
of cash might be kept there. In 1729, two highwaymen seized the keeper of
the Colnbrook Turnpike while he was opening the gate. They bound him,
searched the house and took upwards of 40 shillings and served most of the
Turnpikes on the
The toll charges were often complex, depending on the number of horses drawing, the type of vehicle, width of the wheels, time of year, whether the vehicle was for hire, whether it had a ticket clearing it from other gates or was in an exempt category. Hence a toll collector needed a reasonable level of numeracy and literacy to read documents and take money. For a poor but educated man or woman with a family the accommodation in the tollhouse was no doubt a valuable perk in addition to the wages.
A series of adverts
in the Reading Mercury of Dec 1754 illustrate that toll gathering for a trust
was a desirable occupation in the 18th
century and that it was a trade that involved the whole family. Contenders for
the post of Toll Collector at the Whitley Turnpike Gate on the southern
As there will be soon a meeting to fill up the vacancy of a gatekeeper at the Whitley Turnpike, in the room of my late father deceased, and that office having been for many years, faithfully, diligently and humbly executed by our family, to the great satisfaction of the Trustees, and as I have frequently officiated at the gate, and thereby perfectly well acquainted with the Duty, I therefore humbly beg the favour of your vote and interest in my behalf, that I may succeed to that employ, in which I am so happy, I will by a constant application to my duty endeavour every thing in my power to give satisfaction, I am gentlemen, your obedient humble servant, Henry Poole.
An opposing advert was placed by John Bell who also wished to be gatekeeper in the room of Henry Poole, deceased. I humbly intreat the favour of your votes and interest to succeed him in that office, which if you are pleased to appoint me to do, so shall be executed with faithfulness and diligence
Gentleman your obedient humble servant, John Bell.
11.3.2 Heavy responsibilities
If collectors did not live up to the expected standard they could loose their job. In 1739 the Colnbrook Trust dismissed both its collectors saying John Gallimore hath not only been very negligent in his duty as collector or receiver of tolls but is incapable thereof – Thomas Hunt is also incapable and is discharged. Significantly, the trustees issued an order to the new gatekeepers that they will not suffer any tippling or gaming at the toll house: presumably Gallimore and Hunt had fallen under bad influence and could no longer be trusted to take tolls on behalf of the trust. In 1771 they dismissed another collector, Benjamin Harvey because he suffered the turnpike gate to continue open part of several nights and whereby carriages went through and did not pay the toll.
The scale of toll charges and exemptions were complex but a mistake in taking the toll could make a collector liable to prosecution. However, a public apology sometimes sufficed to placate the public as is illustrated by an advert in the Reading Mercury in 1782. In order to avoid prosecution, Thomas Eyre, the collector at the Hurley gate issued a public acknowledgement that he had taken a greater toll than the law authorises and promised never to do this again. A similar apology appeared from the gatekeeper at Twyford in 1800 (RM) after he had taken 6d, being an improper toll for one horse chaise tied at the tail of a waggon which was also paid. The toll man at Maidenhead Bridge Gate was less fortunate following an altercation with Wyatt’s Marlow coach. The coach driver refused to pay arrears of tolls and so the keeper slammed the side gate too as the coach tried to force its way through. The coach was overturned and the unfortunate tollman was fined by the Magistrates and sent to Reading Gaol when he refused to pay for risking the safety of unoffending travellers when he had a certain safe remedy (Searle 1830).
The toll collectors
had responsibilities beyond just collection of money. Where weighing engines
had been installed (see section 13.3) the toll collector (or the supernumerary
collector) would weigh wagons suspected of being overweight and take the fines
if appropriate. However, those fined for over-weight waggons were quick to
retaliate if an error was discovered. In 1831 John Withers the collector at
Colnbrook was fined £5 for charging the team of Mr Burnet of
acted against those evading tolls; for instance there are records of
individuals cited by the gatekeeper on the
No one likes to pay out money and toll collectors were never popular people. Dickens no doubt caught the sentiment of the times when in Pickwick Papers , published in 1837, he has Tom Wheller, the old coachman say of the collectors that they’re all on ‘em men as has met with some disappointment in life, consequence of vich, they retires from the world and shuts themselves up in pikes; partly with a view of being solitary, and partly to revenge themselves on mankind, by taking tolls. This inherent tension in dealing with users of the road is illustrated in the provisions of the Act for the Reading to Basingstoke Turnpike (1821) that required toll collectors to display their names at the gate, to prove their name when asked, not to unnecessarily delay passengers and forbade them to make use of any scurrilous, abusive or blasphemous language to any passenger, on threat of prosecution.
11.3.3 Toll farmers
By the 1780s many of the larger trusts had begun to farm out the toll gathering to specialist contractors. The lease to gather the toll was auctioned and the trust received a regular payment from the lessee. The lessee organised the collection of tolls and often then hired tollgate keepers to work at the gate. Lessees may have acted as toll gatherers and lived with their family in the prestigious accommodation at some of the more important gates. However, at most gates they would employ a pikeman to collect the tolls and would allow for this cost in their bid for the lease.
By the early 19th century, the financial function had become quite separate from the work of toll collection; these professional toll farmers are dealt with in section 12. The work of the pikemen they employed is described in evidence to a Select Committee in 1836 (PP). George Dacre said that collectors on the Middlesex and Essex Trust were paid 25s/week working 12-hour shifts between 6 am and 6pm. It required 13 to 14 men to stand at 9 gates. Some men worked extra half days; so that the wage bill was estimated to be £910 per year, though some lessees make do with less than 13. In country districts they do not change; they change by the week; they have a bed room and their wife lives with them and if there is little traffic the wife will collect the tolls for 3 or 4 hours in the evening, and there is a slack time in the night, when they are not called out of bed once in 2 or 3 hours; one man can do that without having a relief. A wage of 25s and a house was considered good money but it was necessary to keep a collector honest, otherwise they take a proportion. You break a man's rest so by having him on 24 hours. McAdam told the Committee that at smaller gates men may carry on some other trade and so presumably the wage was lower. It seems likely that trusts such as Colnbrook or Twyford & Theale paid the high wages and provided accommodation, but even medium sized trusts such as Shillingford appear to have paid lower wages (though its not clear whether the collector then took his proportion)
12 Turnpike Finance
The Acts creating turnpike trusts gave detailed lists of toll charges that could be levied (Fig 12.1a). The basis for charging differed between trusts, particularly during the early period. In the early 18th century it as common for the toll to be based on the size and type of vehicle (coach or waggon pulled by 2, 4 or 6 horses). However, by the 19th century most trusts were making the toll charge on the number of horses, though there were differences in toll based on the type of vehicle and the width of the wheels (since narrow wheels were thought to cause particular damage to the road).
Appendix 5 gives a
comparison of charges for various trusts around
Trusts did not
necessarily make full use of all the powers they were granted. For instance in
1852 the new Act for the Shillingford to Reading road allowed up to 6d to be
charged per horse but at their first meeting the trustees approved a scale that
levied only 3d per horse on coaches pulled by four horses, 4d on coaches pulled
by two horses and 6d only on those pulled by one horse. In 1770 the Aldermaston
to Whitchurch trust had halved the toll on sheep within a few weeks of
establishing the turnpike road. Presumably these adjustments down in tolls
reflected the local pressures under which the trustees worked. In 1818 the
Twyford & Theale Trust reduced the tolls at
All pictorial evidence shows that the current tolls were displayed on a board beside each gate. However, the first mention of a toll board does not appear in the Colnbrook Minutes until 1758 when it states that a board be fixed at the tollgate with particulars of the several tolls to be taken on waggons and carts.
12.2 Toll Income
12.2.1 Cash and Statute Labour
The income of a
trust comprised money raised through the tolls and any contributions from the
parishes through which the road ran. The former was generally cash, the latter
may be payment in kind, as parish labour or teams to haul materials, or could
be in cash. The contribution of labour or teams from each parish was set either
in the Act or by the local magistrates. The fraction of the total Statute
Labour assigned to the turnpike would depend on what length of road passed
through the parish; unlucky parishes might have labour assigned to more than
one turnpike. However, parishes might pay composition money, an agreed amount
of cash in lieu of Statute work. In agricultural areas manual labour and
carrying equipment were more easily found than in parishes close to urban
areas. Phillips (1983) noted that the trusts in rural Wiltshire were entitled
to Statute Labour well after those covering the roads in
For most trusts the most significant component of their income came from the tolls paid by travellers at the gates. In the early 18th century, trusts collected tolls directly and there very few records of this income since the money was transferred immediately to the surveyor to cover his costs. The Colnbrook Trust regularly had £300 left in the hands of the treasurer at the end of each quarter in the 1730-50 period and by the following decade this balance had doubled.
11.2.2 Leasing tolls
By the late 18th century when trusts were leasing the
rights to collect tolls to a professional collector the records of auctioning
of the lease provide a rather better record of the income the trusts got from
tolls. Most trusts on the
The lease was normally auctioned, annually or tri-annually, and the lessee would pay the agreed amount to the trust and then take the risk of recovering his costs in collecting the tolls, plus profit at the gate. The process was regulated by Act of Parliament to minimise the risk of corruption; the auctions were advertised and bids were taken over the period it took for a minute sand glass to run three times. The trustees decided the price at which the lease was to be put up, usually based on the value in previous years. For instance the Shillingford Trust put up the Bridge at £99 in 1852 and the bidding went up to £110. Occasionally there was no bidder and the auction was repeated some week later. Fig 12.2a illustrates this at Hurley Gate in 1775 but failed auctions became more common in the 1840s as toll income fell and lessees were put up at lower prices (e.g. on the Marlborough to Speenhamland Trust in 1845). Occasionally the gate was let by private treaty after failing to be let at the public auction.
The successful bidder had to put up two named individuals as security and pay a deposit on the lease. The residue was then paid monthly in advance. The trustees normally bought dinner for the bidders and no doubt other business was transacted while the party was at the inn. By the 1840s it is clear from the names of the sureties that there was a well-established network of mutually supportive Farmers of Tolls. There was some turnover of lessees but gates stayed in the same hands for several years (Appendix 4). The three minor gates on the Shillingford Road were let to Berkley Hicks from at least 1851-53, Joseph Porter for a sequence of years from 1855-73 and Thomas & William Gardiner had the Shillingford Bridge gate between 1863-73. Hicks used Henry Hewling a toll farmer from Wolverhampton as surety and Gardiner used Hewling as surety in1868; Hewling took the Bridge gate himself in 1862. Porter used William Rackley and Benjamin Lay, both toll farmers, as surety: the latter took the Bridge gate in 1858. Porter lived at the Botley Road Toll house in Oxford but leased gates on the main Oxford London Road at Stokenchurch. Hicks and Gardiner both leased gates on the Henley Road. The Hicks family illustrates how a network of mutual support spanned the area. Berkley Hicks leased the Hurley Gate in 1832 and appears to have stayed there until 1852/3 when he also leased the Pangbourne Gates. John Hicks, lessee of the adjoining Whitchurch Bridge tolls, was also a grocer in Oxford and acted as surety for Henry Howell at Shillingford Bridge Gate in 1862 and for William Hicks, farmer of tolls in 1873.
Despite the regulation, it is difficult to believe that there were not cartels in operation during the bidding. Even when a lease was let for a slightly higher price the lessee had the option to be released from it well before the three years had elapsed. For instance Joseph Porter returned his lease on two occasions in 1856 and 1863, each time retaking the lease at the subsequent auction for a significantly lower rent.
In evidence to a Parliamentary Committee in 1836 (PP), George Dacre the clerk to the Middlesex & Essex & Trusts said that there was no way of checking how much the lessees took at a gate. He believed that that Lewis Levy, who farmed a large number of tolls around London never even tells his partners what he receives. When the trust had temporarily taken the toll collection back into its own control, the income had actually fallen, it as presumed because of poor supervision of the toll collectors and corruption. He estimated that the cost of collecting the £15,000 of tolls from the public was £1000 (a full complement of pikemen would have wages of £910/a). After making allowance for the interest on the two months rent paid in advance, the toll farmer might make up to £300 on an outlay of £16,000. McAdam thought that the cost of toll collection in London was 2.5% of the takings but was considerably more elsewhere. Essentially the cost of employing the pikeman was fixed, whether he collected from a large number of coaches or only a few. Overall, the risks and organisational requirements to collect tolls directly were too great for most trusts and they preferred to lease to the toll farmers and let them take the risks.
12.2.3 The level of income
The published information on income from the lease of tolls enables us to estimate the relative importance of each of the trusts and the way their income and hence the traffic changed over time. Fig a, x, y and z summarise information on the total income from tolls for trusts dealt with in Part B. Fig 12.2 x-y plot the income per mile of turnpike. The overall picture is one of a steady increase in income from the time the records begin to around 1840 when railways begin to have an impact on road traffic (see discussion in Section 16.2). This rise may in part be due to a slow escalation of tolls but this is relatively small compared with the rise in traffic, both in volume and size of vehicle.
12.3 Loans & Capital
The trusts often borrowed heavily soon after they were created. The loans or mortgages were guaranteed against future income from tolls and the capital was employed to make immediate improvements to the road. The reason for individuals making these initial loans may have been a mixture of public duty and simple investment opportunity. In the early 18th century, an income from the interest on a loan to the turnpike would have appeared relatively safe and 4% or 5% interest an acceptable return. The trusts would only take up the new loans as they needed them and in the case of the Windsor Forest trust the debt was slowly increased over a period of almost three years as the expenditure of the surveyor required it. The initial loan in 1759 was of £100 from Samuel Trash and from Samuel Still and £500 from the treasurer William Trumbell. Additional loans of £100 each were made in 1760 by Lucy Hall, Thomas & Owen Hall, Charles Wate, Joseph Huse, Thomas Wilmott and Brian Leach. In 1761 Thomas Brooks, Edward Wise, James Edward Collerton and Samuel Still made loans of between £50 and £200, again. These names suggest that it was the local gentry and professional classes who were putting up the capital. Other Trusts did have more aristocratic bankers; e.g. Lord Albemarle lent £1000 to the Egham Road in 1763.
Some of the early loans may have been repaid relatively quickly. For instance in 1738 the Colnbrook Trust paid back a substantial loan of £2500 with interest at 5% to Mr Jonathan Rogers, only ten years after taking the money. The loan seems to have been replaced by capita from Thomas Eyre, one of the most active trustees, as in 1761 it was noted that Eyre had agreed to accept an interest rate of only £4 per cent on the loan of £2500 that had previously been £5%.
Most mortgage bonds were kept for many years and should have provided a steady return on the loan and a safe investment. This made them particularly attractive for risk-averse women and clerics. For instance in 1771 the bulk of the £1350 debt of the Puntfield Trust was against loans made by Elizabeth Blagrave, spinster (£600), Anne Ackworth, widow (£200), Elizabeth Deane, widow (£150) and the Rev John Spicer (£200). These investments were passed on through the family as exemplified by the case of Charles Wate who loaned two lots of £100 to the Windsor Forest Trust in 1760 and 1761. Surviving documents (BRO) show that the interest was paid at 5% till at least 1774. These four, sixtieth parts of the original £3000 debt was passed on as an inheritance through various family wills until in 1813 they were sold to John Horne for £180. It is clear that although no longer worth their face value (if they could ever be redeemed) they were still a reasonable investment. The first share was not redeemed until 1855 (and by then shares were rarely redeemed for face value) and the remaining three shares were auctioned in 1858. Bonds from turnpike trusts may have been a reasonable investment until the early 19th century and adverts such as that in 1833 for Turnpike Security to be sold by private treaty – a mortgage for £200 granted by the Commissioners of the Harwell Turnpike, could be found in local newspapers (RM). However, they became less attractive after toll income plummeted with the arrival of the railways. It was clear that the reduced income could never be sufficient to pay off the substantial debts of some trusts. The accounts of the Shillingford Trust suggest that in the 1850s it began to reduce the large debt, incurred in building the new bridge in the 1820s. However, examination of the minutes (BRO) shows that the trust was only paying part of the capital to redeem the mortgages. Each year up to £1000 was put up to pay off the loans but the mortgagees were selected either by a bidding process or by casting lots. For instance in 1853 the trust took the best offer of composition at £84% from Richard Dean a mortgagee of £600 who took £150 to discharge £178 of this debt. Later payments selected by lot were for between 80% and 95% of the face value of the debt. The Windsor Forest Trust seems to have adopted a similar approach and in an advert in March 1845 gave notice that a meeting of the trust would determine the expediency of paying off a portion of their mortgage debt by ballot amongst the several Creditors.
Some trusts borrowed unwisely prior to the collapse of income in 1840. A measure of a trusts financial health was the factor by which it could cover the cost of its debt by toll income. Fig 12.3a illustrates the extent of this cover for several trusts. It is clear that the trusts on the Bath Road were generally in a healthy financial state whereas some of the smaller trusts or those that had undertaken large engineering projects were seriously over-stretched and condemned to be a liable on the parishes at some future date.
The main outgoings for a trust were the cost of road maintenance (day labour, teams, stone and gravel), new construction projects, the salary of officials and the payment of interest on loans. During the period 1765 to 1769 the Colnbrook Trust, a relatively large trust, had a toll income of around £1150/a of which 35% was paid out for labour, 40% for gravel and carriage, 15% for tradesmen and the rest on salaries and interest. The parishes would have provided labour and teams as part of Statute Duty and gave access to local materials. Since the arrangements over Statute Duty varied between trusts it is difficult to do direct comparisons of true running costs. Expenditure became more visible in the 19th century as more parishes paid Composition money in lieu of Statute labour and the surveyor began to purchase services and materials from contractors. An advertisement in 1813 placed by the Bagshot to Basingstoke Trust was typical of the tendering arrangements that larger trusts used (Fig 12.4a). In a similar way to the letting of tolls, the trust put up for auction leases for the repairing of various sections of road. The lease was for 3 years and was on the basis of the rate per mile of road
13 Structures along the Road
13.1.1 Stone Markers
Milestones are one of the most enduring features of the turnpike system. Stone direction posts and wooden finger posts had been erected at important junctions since at least the 17th century but putting stones at regular intervals began in the early 18th century. Local sourcing seems to have been very common and accounts for the variety of designs found over a relatively small geographic area. From the late 1740s Turnpike Acts normally obliged the trustees to erect stone at one-mile intervals giving the distance to the nearest town. These stones were protected from damage by provisions in the Act, the Reading to Puntfield Act of 1747 being typical: That if any person shall wilfully break down, pull sown, deface damage, or spoil any of the stones… or shall, obliterate any of the words, letters, figures or marks engraved or inscribed thereon… persons so offending shall forfeit or pay to the trustees… the sum of forty shillings. Milestones on the main roads into London from the west were measured from the Standard at Hyde Park Corner; i.e. to the edge of London. A traveller on the Bath road in 1767 commented on the roman numerals then carved on the stones and recommended that Arabic numbers would be more easily read at speed (RM). He also recommended that the stones be set on the north side of the road so they dried out more rapidly and moss did not obscure the lettering.
The Kensington Turnpike Trust seems to have led the way by erecting milestones about 1740. In 1741 the adjoining Colnbrook Trust instructed its surveyor t investigate the cost of having stones similar to those already erected as far as Cranford Bridge. The Colnbrook surveyor commissioned stones from a local stonemason, Mr Woodruff of Windsor (GLA). The first seven stones, erected in 1741, had Roman numerals and cost £2-8s each, the lowest tender. This was a good investment since some of the stones still survive, albeit recut. The original design, used by the Bath Road trusts between London and Reading was a simple stone pillar with square cross section and a pyramidal top (a good example still stands in Eton). However, in the 1820s the trusts recarved the stones in to different patterns. The Colnbrook stones were turned 45 degrees to give an up road and down road face that could be seen easily from fast coaches. A bench was cut into the front face to display the distance to London (rather than Hyde Park Corner) and the numbers were in Arabic form. The trusts closer to Reading chose designs that created up-road and down road faces by rounding the front edges of the pillar (Fig 13.1a). On the Exeter Road stones a slightly different orientation achieved the same effect. Since the original stones were used, the older inscription can still be seen on the back of some stones. One prominent example of a recut 1741 stone stands on the A4 roundabout at Langley whereas the 33 mile stone at Knowl Hill carries the remains of inlaid metal Roman numerals on the back.
One stone on the Speenhamland to Marlborough Road on Benham still carries the date of 1746. The original stone cost only £1 each (Philips 1983) and appears to have been a simple rectangular slab. In the 1820s these stones were turned 90 degrees and the sides faceted to give up-road and down-road faces.
The original mile markers on the Reading to Hatfield road were of stone. In 1770 the trust placed an advert calling on All stonecutters and others who are willing to erect milestones upon the turnpike road… are desired to deliver to the Trustees .. at their next meeting at the Town Hall Chipping Wycombe on 25th Sept.… estimates & proposals for erecting such milestones… and for marking thereon (by letters) such inscriptions as the trustees shall direct. About 50 stones will be wanted which may be contracted for together or in parcels. It will be agreeable to have estimates of stones of different kinds and dimensions. The Capital letters are to be 3 inches high and a quarter inch deep. Small letters in proportion. – The letters on the surviving stones are 6cm high; a little under 3 inches
The engraving on stones eroded, and letters needed recutting or stones replacing eventually. The Colnbrook Trust refaced and relettered the stones on the main road in 1768, painting the letters black. At the same time it erected new stones on the recently turnpiked branch road to Datchet. The letters and numbers on all these stones were repainted again in 1783. The same stones were turned and refaced in the 1820s and the letters were probably repainted regularly into the 20th century. Although milestones were a requirement in all turnpike Acts Mavor (1809) suggests that the less conscientious trusts, particularly those who put the maintenance of the road out to contract, did not keep the stones up to standard. He states that on some there is even a deficiency of milestones or they are illegible without the same trouble as deciphering a decayed monument. Finger posts too are frequently wanting at crossroads and entrances to villages are often without their name or distance from the next stage (clearly milestones were not the only street furniture on a well run turnpike road). It appears that the turnpikes south of Aldermaston shirked their duty to erect milestones.
13.1.2 Iron markers
As the costs of manufacturing cast iron fell in the early 19th century turnpike trusts found it more economic to fix cast iron plates onto stones rather than re-cut them. Unfortunately these are relatively easy to remove and many have disappeared in recent years, leaving telltale holes on the remaining face. When new mile markers were purchased in the 19th century, particularly in areas where carvable stone was not easy to find, caste iron posts were often installed. The Theale Trust must have replaced the stones on the Bath Road west of Reading in the early 19th century and several of the cast iron mileposts they commissioned from T & J Perry of Reading have survived. Wilders & Sons of Reading cast similar iron mileposts for the Reading to Hatfield Turnpike, probably around 1820. These were used to replace the old stone milestones (mentioned above) that were now so eroded as to be of little use. The old stones were disposed of to local farmers but four were reused and used as gate posts on two private dwellings near Wycombe; the old carving can still be read on two of these. However, carved stone was still used for prestige projects and the trustees of this turnpike also erected an impressive stone obelisk in the centre of Marlow in September 1822. The road was known colloquially as the Gout Track (Haines 2000), and not surprisingly the distance to Bath is included on the obelisk.
13.1.3 Surviving stones
The styles of stone surviving beside roads through East Berkshire are illustrated in Fig 13.1b. The number of surviving stones decreases the nearer one gets to the western fringes of London or central Reading (Fig 13.1c), but in general Berkshire has one of the highest proportion of surviving stone in the South of England. The milestones on the Bath Road are the most elegant in the area and from Reading westwards there is almost a complete set of stones. The stones on the Salisbury Road are sturdy and have survived well whereas on the subsidiary turnpikes the stones are less substantial and many have been damaged. The style of the stones on the Reading to Basingstoke road change at the Berks/Hants border suggesting that these stones date from the second half of the 19th century when local highways boards were taking responsibility for the roads.
During the surge of interest in bicycling at the end of the 19th century there was pressure on councils to maintain accurate milestones but by the early 20th century the respect for these monuments had gone. For instance the stone showing 15 miles to Wallingford that once stood outside the White Hart Inn in St Mary Butts Reading was moved into the bar when it was no longer wanted. Some stones disappeared in 1940 when local authorities were obliged to either take down or deface all milestones and waymarkers. In isolated locations it was clearly convenient to bury the stone and this may explain why in 1971 workmen unearthed an old milestone at Amner’s Farm close to the M4. It was engraved 43 miles to Hyde Park Corner, 4 miles to Reading, 1742 and is now in Reading Museum store.
There are examples of other types of marker stone beside the turnpike roads. In the early 19th century turnpikes were obliged to mark the point at which a road crossed a parish boundary (presumably this helped to identify which parish was responsible for statute duty repairs). Five boundary stones dated 1828 survive near Reading, one on the Bath Road in Reading, two on the boundaries of Theale, one at Ufton and another more elegant stone at the bridge over the Loddon near Shenfield.
The trusts also erected finger posts at road junctions. The Whitchurch to Aldermaston trust put up posts near Whitchurch and Kingsclere and the Colnbrook Trust erected a handpost at Billingswell Lane next to Datchet Broom directing the way to Windsor in 1768. These were wooden structures that have not survived; modern reflective plates have now replaced even the caste iron finger posts put up by County councils in the early 20th century.
13.2 Toll Houses
One of the important powers granted to trustees was to purchase land on which to erect tollgates and build associated tollhouses. A permanent custodian could then man the gate and collect tolls. The gates are normally depicted as vernacular farm gates mounted on stout posts, painted white to make them visible. A fence normally blocked the path beside the gate but a side gate or turnstile would allow pedestrians to pass without trouble. The trust had to erect a board displaying the tolls to be taken at the turnpike; this board was often mounted above the front door and accounts for the blind window on the upper floor of many tollhouses. Tollhouses were normally in isolated locations and a large oil lamp illuminated the area around the gate. In 1844 the Aldermaston to Whitchurch trust allowed John Batten the collector £2 per year for lamp oil (BRO).
In the early period the tollhouse may have been adapted from an existing cottage or was a relatively cheap wooden hut. However, as the turnpikes became established more substantial buildings were erected. The income from tolls on the Bath Road allowed the trustees to afford some impressive tollhouses. The mock castle at Halfway House between Newbury and Hungerford was perhaps the most flamboyant example of the mock Gothic style that reflected the taste of the landed gentry who were often the trustees commissioning these buildings. The grand pair of octagonal gate houses at Basildon Park may have inspired the design of several of the tollhouses erected near Reading in the 19th century, although many London turnpike trusts also favoured an octagonal pattern (Searle 1930). The last Castle Hill Gate comprised a pair of octagonal houses on either side of the road, in a manner very similar to those at Basildon Park where the gate houses are about 12 feet across but the road is only 30 feet wide. The octagonal design gave the toll gatherer a good view in both directions along the road and the only surviving tollhouse close to Reading is the polychromatic brick 2-storey cottage at Tidmarsh which is to this design (Fig 13.2a). There were more functional but nonetheless substantial examples of two-storey tollhouse at Thatcham and Hurley (Fig 5.3g). The classic single storey tollhouse with its angular front bay window was a product of the early 19th century and there are no surviving examples of this type of tollhouse close to Reading. However, the tollhouse from West Wycombe has been preserved and rebuilt at the Chiltern Open Air Museum. The tollhouses on Maidenhead Bridge appeared to be of this generation of buildings but it too has now disappeared (Fig 5.3b). Most of the tollhouses on the minor turnpikes would have been simple structures, close to the highway; the illustration of the wooden shack that formed the Maidenhead Thicket turnpike (Fig 5.3c) and at Kensington (Fig 5.4g) are probably typical. Very few of these buildings even surviving the demise of the trust for which they were constructed since they often protruded into the roadway and were demolished to remove the restriction of the highway.
13.3 Weighing Engines
Over-laden heavy waggons were generally regarded as a significant cause of damage to the road. The trusts were given powers to erect weighing engines to check for overweight wagons that might cause severe damage to the roadway. These devices were normally built next to the tollhouse so that the toll gatherer could use them. In the renewal Act of 1728 the Maidenhead Trust was given powers to fine carriers 20 shillings for loads over 40 cwt. The 1746 Act gave the Reading to Newbury Trust powers to erect weighing engines. The Colnbrook Trust clearly had an engine by 1765 when it paid for repairs. The announcement (RM) that a new weighing engine had been erected at Bagshot Gate in Sept 1800 proclaimed that all waggons, carts and carriages passing through the said gate and carrying greater weight than are allowed by Act of Parliament will be subject to the additional tolls of which persons interested are desired to take notice. These were substantial pieces of equipment and would as a minimum have required a pit for the balance mechanism. An illustration of the weighing engine at Hyde Park Corner show a platform in front of the gate; the other end of the balance was presumably one of the small buildings beside the gate (Fig 13.3a).
Charges for overweight waggons were probably even less welcome that the toll. For instance in 1841 the carter employed by Thomas Liberty of the Black Boy Sawmill in Weybridge was delayed a the Colnbrook Gate for an hour and a half while he found the £3/4/6 charge for being overweight by a ton (Searle 1930). The toll collector had taken one of the horses from the team to prevent the waggon moving until the charge was paid
Once heavy waggon traffic moved onto the railways they became redundant. The machines were demolished when the tollgates were closed and the pits associated with the old weighing engine were filled in.
13.4 The Roadway
Turnpike roads were designed to carry wheeled traffic and so maintaining a good hard surface was important. Travellers on foot or on horseback might find these stone or gravely surfaces less attractive. The trusts inherited roads that had been maintained by local surveyors using whatever materials were available in the parish. The trustees and their surveyor were able to apply the best available methods across the whole road. Nevertheless there was still huge variation in quality between those roads on free-draining soils where gravel and stone could be had easily, and those roads on clay and silt, away from convenient sources of durable materials. Each turnpike Act gave the surveyors rights to obtain materials locally and a pit in one parish might supply the rest of the road. Gravel pits were used for instance at Kensington, Langley and Speenhamland and flint was collected on the Chilterns and Downs. In 1738/9 the minutes of the Colnbrook Trust record many instances of the surveyor getting screened gravel to repair sections of the road. Statute Labour Teams from the Parish were employed to fill and carry this gravel. However, badly applied materials could still result in large puddles, miry sloughs and uneven surfaces that damaged wheels and increased the burden on the horses pulling large vehicles. Overhanging trees, deep holloways and steep valleys meant that some road surfaces never dried and running water along the road causing severe erosion of the road surface.
A letter to the Gentlemen’s Magazine in 1754 claimed that the Bath Road errs and blunders in all the forms; its strata of materials were never worth a straw; its surface was never made cycloidal; it hath neither good side ditches, nor foot paths for walkers; no outlets were made for water that stagnates in the body of the road; it was never sufficiently widened; nor were the hedges ever cleared. Of course 'tis the worst public road in Europe, considering what vast sums have been collected from it (Hunter 1995). This comment is particularly damning since the turnpike trusts had been responsible for the roads for more than a generation by this time.
However, by 1767 in a letter to the Reading Mercury J Smith described a road in much better condition during his journey by postchaise, made in late March between London and Marlborough. The road from London to Reading is very good, and the Commissioners cannot be sufficiently praised, as they have widened it most judiciously in many places. He wished they would lay sufficient quantity of gravel to raise the road above the floods just beyond Twyford and make it broad enough for three carriages to pass one another with ease. He had been fearful that the water at Cranford Bridge would come over the chaise and observed that in some places the gravel was loose and sandy and wanted chalk, or some other cement to bind it. The road from Reading to Newbury was also in general very good and he speculated that the Commissioners had lately widened it in many places, and at considerable expense. He mentioned several places where the road was still narrow and proposed that two little cottages at the further end of Theale should be demolished so the road could be widened. Near Woolhampton on the east side of a stone barn trees could be cut down and land taken from a field. His greatest complaint was beyond Ham-Mills within a mile of Newbury were he proposed the ditch on the north side be filled in and 12 or 13 feet be added to the width of the road. In contrast the road from Newbury to Marlborough was very narrow in a great many places. He claimed that it is dangerous in many places to meet another carriage, but especially a broad wheeled waggon, many of which are continually travelling the road. He believed that the hill above Marlborough should be dealt with in the same way as that near Henley where ground from the top of the hill was laid at the bottom to render it less steep.
In an attempt to make the road shed rainwater he felt that the road was rather too much upon the round to be quite safe and thought there was a risk of his chaise overturning. Finally he recommended that that loose gravel be laid up in a causeway under the hedge of the north side of the road (so it would stay drier), wherever there is no footpath along the fields. This he thought would be kind and humane, and of great advantage to all such honest sailors and other passengers as are obliged to travel this road on foot. He recognised that this causeway would need little cuts in it to allow water to run off but a flat stone could cover these cuts. Many of his proposals were implemented but his last thought that when they met coaches should take the right hand of the road was too revolutionary to be adopted.
Maintaining the road could generally be achieved using Statute Labour but major projects normally had to be contracted out to specialists so the trust had to raise the money to pay for these. In 1776 the Colnbrook Trust paid £525 for the relaying of the carriage and footway in Colnbrook Town. This work was done by John Hill and Charles Hammerton of London, paviers. Hill & Hammerton were to find and procure 20 ton of new stone or pebble stones for the road and Purbeck square stones for the two-foot wide footpath. They were paid in four quarterly parts after completion of the work.
By the end of the 18th century, contractors were being used by some of the larger trusts to maintain the road. For instance on the Bath Road the Speenhamland to Reading Trust sought tenders for road maintenance on May 1800 and the Maidenhead Trust invited tenders in March 1806 (RM). These more professional road builders brought in materials from outside the region where possible (e.g. stone along the canals and rivers). For instance the St Clements trust in Oxford took boat loads of flints from Benson and Goring and hand picked stones and quarried stone from the Corallian ridge and Cotswolds. However, improved materials only gave full benefit when laid in the best manner and a survey of the Colnbrook Road in 1813 still found it too flat and wide so that it retained water in the winter and was dusty in the summer. William Mavor (1809) complained that throughout Berkshire we find fine gravel, flint and calcareous stone near at hand and it is therefore the fault of the trustees if the roads are not kept in the most repair but many are not sufficiently raised in the middle, the water tables are neither regularly made nor proper outlets to the ditches and ditches not scoured or hedges cut. The design of the roadway only improved dramatically as the ideas of McAdam were disseminated in the early 19th century. His guiding principle was to create a well-drained roadbed using course stones and to finish it with a slightly concave profile with the surface sealed by compacted fine stones. This Macadamising shed rainwater to the side ditches and gave a stable running surface for coaches (Fig 13.4a).
The trusts tried to remove all obstructions from the roads, other than their tollgates, to facilitate free movement of traffic. Taking down trees or buildings that obstructed the roadway was common but other gates also posed a problem, particularly prior to enclosure of the open fields. For instance in 1769 the farmers of Horton and Datchet complained about gates being removed from Ditton Green. Cattle were getting from the pasture into the Common Field and were damaging the corn. The trustees were reluctant to reinstate the gates and inconvenience travellers but a compromised was reached to use side gates. Widening the road was frequently stated as an important improvement made by turnpike trusts. The Bath Road at the Castle Gate on the outskirts of Reading was 60 feet wide and the Windsor Forest Trust was to widen the road to 60 feet in places. Encroachment onto the roadway by adjacent landowners was a constant problem throughout the period. For example, in the 1850s the Windsor Forest Trust was in dispute with Mr Wheddle over land opposite Reading Cemetery; Wheddle tried to reduce the width of the highway to 32 feet but compromised with the trustees at 34 feet, the width it remained until 1963! (RLS press cutting)
Street lighting was a relatively new concept, limited to improved towns. Where light was likely to fall on the road the trustees sought to maximise this and had the power to stop blacksmiths and other shops closing their shutters at night to prevent light falling on the road. The Colnbrook Trust installed lighting in the town of Colnbrook in 1770 for the greater safety of travellers. However, the trustees consulted the main mortgagee, Thomas Eyre, to confirm that he was happy for them to incur this new expense. The lights were installed by Mr Ogilby at a distance of 30 yards apart in Colnbrook and were to be lit from Michaelmas to Lady Day. The scheme was extended and in 1774 the Trust instructed its surveyor to cause eight lamps to be placed in the narrow and dark places of the town of Colnbrook and that the supernumerary gatekeepers be employed to light them. Reading had its own Improvement Act that covered lighting (Chapter 10) but the Reading to Puntfield Act of 1771 did give the turnpike trustees powers to properly light in the night-time the highway through towns & villages. The Maidenhead Trust paid £ in 1827 to a lighting contractor (BRO) for illuminating the streets of the town. Nevertheless lighting can be regarded as a benefit to urban areas only and the responsibilities were progressively transferred to Local Government Boards in the early 19th century. This was as well as the records of the St Clements trust in oxford show that the cost of as lighting for over 400 lamps in Oxford cost around £1500 per year in the 1850s, well in excess of toll income.
13.6 Watering the Road & Pumps
In dry weather the road surface became very dusty and some trusts, notably those on the Bath road, employed water carts to wet the road and minimise this nuisance. Some thought that the suppression of dust was requested by Beau Nash to satisfy the coach travellers but the minutes of the Colnbrook Trust show that it was those behind the coaches who raised the complaints. In 1763 the trustees instructed their surveyor to get a water cart made to water the town of Colnbrook, it having been represented at this Board that the dust is very troublesome to the inhabitants, so much small gravel being laid on the structure to preserve the pavement. The practice of watering the road as not universally liked and John Middleton (1798) complained about over enthusiastic watering being a financial burden on the trusts. By the folly of this practice the roads are kept many inches deep in mud whereas if they were raked and swept clean, winter and summer, there would neither be dust in such quantities as offend nor any of the present obstruction.
The trusts along the Bath Road installed pumps specifically to supply the water for the water carts (Fig 13.6a). As early as 1767 the Old Brentford Trust had erected pumps on the road west out of London. (RLS press cutting 1963). The Reading Mercury in 1767 claimed that for 4 miles outside each town, reservoirs were placed at one mile intervals to fill water carts. These carts carried 4 tons of water and had double shafts and 9 inch whets. In 1827 the Colnbrook Trust spent £759 to dig wells, install pumps and buy new carts to water the Bath Road. They purchased 14 pumps from Fowler & Co of Lambeth and eventually there was a pump every 2 miles along the Bath Road through Berkshire, with 15 between Reading and Newbury (Phillips 1983). Harper (1899) stated that pumps survived on the Bath Road west of Cranford and on sections of the Exeter Road. Several still remain on the Bath Road either side of Reading, though these have sunk so they no longer look high enough to fill a barrel mounted on a cart. A fine example, standing 2 metres high has been re-erected in Colnbrook. The turnpike trusts were empowered to raise special tolls to pay for watering. For example the renewal Act for the Colnbrook Trust in 1826 includes provision to get water, erect any engine, pump or machine in ponds and rivers etc and from March to October allowed the lessees of the tolls to collect a one penny toll on all horses over and above the toll before granted. The letting of tolls on the Twyford & Theale Road in 1826 specifically mentions that the toll income includes this watering toll (RM), although the Pangbourne branch was exempted (Fig 13.6b). An advertisement (RM) from Feb 1845 calling for proposals from Persons willing to Contract for Watering, illustrates the arrangements for watering. On the Twyford & Theale Road, the eastern District of the High Bath Road was divided into 5 sections and the Western District into seven sections. The watering season ran from March to October and the trustees provided one water barrel per section. The Contractor had to provide proper and able-bodied men to work the pumps and the road must be watered twice daily in dry weather (except Sundays).
Watering of the dusty roads continued into the early 20th century when it was replaced by tar spraying and our current concept of the road as a black strip first emerged.
14 Management of the Road
The trustees exercised their powers to minimise wear and tear on the highway and to facilitate the efficient flow of traffic along the road. Parliament passed several General Turnpike Acts to give all trustees stronger powers to regulate use of the roads. Many of these were intended to reduce the weight of vehicles and outlaw practices that would damage the fabric of roads and bridges. The number of horses pulling wagons and coaches was restricted, the width of wheels on large wagons had to be greater than 9 inches and the maximum weight of wagons was severely limited in the winter season.
The individual turnpike Acts gave very specific powers to trustees to manage particular nuisances along the specified stretch of road. The earliest Acts mentioned nuisances that affected the fundamental use of the road such as overhanging trees and encroachments. Each new Act seemed to add to the annoyances that trustees faced and by the early 19th century a long list of particular nuisances or dangerous practices often appeared in each Act. The Reading Basingstoke Act of 1822 is typical; it stated that no-one should:
Ride upon any footpath or causeway
Drag timber or stone along the road rather than on a wheeled waggon
Bleed or farry any horse
Slaughter, burn or dress an animal
Allow pigs to root up the road
Ride on the shafts of a waggon
Not hold the reins on a coach
Not keep to the left or near side
Prevent persons from passing
Make a fire or fires commonly called bonfires or set off fireworks
Play football, tennis or cricket
Fly a kite within 80 feet
Bait or run for the purposes of baiting any bear
Encamp on side of road
Leave a loose horse
Leave a carriage unattended
Leave stone blocks on the road
Take sand and scrapings off the road
Plough too close to the road
Unload dung, soil, ashes, compost or manure
Suffer water, filth, dirt or other offensive matter to flow into the road
Beasts carrying iron in bars or basket panniers to project more than 30 inches from the side of the horse
Prevent light from windows fronting road shining into road
Reading Water Company having an immediate right to lay pipes or clean drains
The Windsor Forest Trust (1827) had additional powers to prevent anyone laying hay, straw etc on the road to make into manure. The Twyford & Theale trust could prevent anyone hanging out linen or cloth on fences adjacent to the road. The Act Shillingford to Reading Act of 1826 obliged drivers to keep their carriages on the left-hand side of the roadway over the new bridge, on pain of a fine of up to £2.
15 Traffic on Turnpikes West of London
Directories of common carriers into London appeared after the mid-17th century. The earliest records are patchy and sometime ambiguous and it is not clear how many of these services were packhorses or simple carts. Nevertheless, it is clear that by the end of the 17th century significant numbers of carriers were using wagons to carry goods along the main highways into London. Although the Great North Road attracted the most comment because of the number of heavy maltsters wagons, the number of common carriers using the roads from the west was at least as great (based on analysis of London Directories). What is not clear is how much additional wagon traffic there was from farmers and clothiers hauling their own goods from the West Country towards London.
In the early 17th century when the earliest surviving directory of carriers into London was published in the Carriers Cosmologie (Taylor 1637) there were 8 Carrier services per week through Reading and 18 joining them at Maidenhead from along the Henley Road. A further 7 passed along the Salisbury Road through Bagshot to join them at Hounslow. Over the following 200 years the number of services along these western roads increased, though not as dramatically as might be expected from the sustained increases in trade and improvements in road transport over the period. By the late 18th century there were 30 carrier services to London through Reading, with smaller increases on the other roads (Fig 15.1a). This contrasts with 113 services per week at a similar point on the Coventry Road. However, the size of the vehicles and the weight of goods carried along the western roads would have risen dramatically. Packhorses could carry only one hundredweight each and primitive carts only carried a few hundredweights. A typical wide-wheeled stage waggon from the early 1800s, as illustrated in Fig 10.1d, could carry several tons of mixed merchandise. The Turnpike Acts restricted this vehicle to carry no more than 6 tons of goods in the summer season and 4 tons in the winter. These carrier services terminated at several different market towns along the full length of the main highways. Towns like Reading benefited from these through services and there was no particular need for a large number of local wagoners in Reading to assure the traders of a regular service (see RUTV 17). In general, carriers from the remoter towns were at an advantage since they benefited from lower costs, particularly of horse provender, in the provinces (Gerhold 1998).
Stagecoaches had only just begun to appear in England at the time of the 1637 directory, and none of the few services were on the roads west of London. However, by the late 17th century there were 55 coach services per week passing through Reading, making this the busiest coach route out of London (RUTV 17). There were fewer destinations served by coaches than by carriers on the Bath Road. Stage coaches predominantly ran long distance services from London to Bath/Bristol or medium distance services making a one-day journey to London from the Reading area. Very few of these services ran on a Sunday. A notice in the Reading Mercury of Aug 1787 the Newbury Justices announced to coachmasters, waggoners & drovers of cattle on the road between Bath & London, travelling within the District on a Sabbath will be prosecuted with the full rigour of the law.
A detailed survey of traffic along the Bath Road was conducted by Mr Dinorben Hughes in 1834, as part of the case to construct the Great Western Railway (Reeve 1981). Over the period of a fortnight there were;
Vans & wagons
Coaches with 4 horses
Coaches with 2 horses
Coaches with private horses
Carts laden with timber
Drawn by 2230 horses
drawn by 287 horses
drawn by 21 horses
drawn by 34 horses
drawn by 31 horses
drawn by 22 horses
The traffic is clearly dominated by horses pulling wheeled vehicles (6600 horses). It is assumed that the miscellaneous horses were unladen extra animals rather than pack animals. The relatively small number of cattle suggests that this crossing was not one of the main drove roads, irrespective of the time of year.
Assuming that the vans and waggons had on average 4 horses drawing (6 on stage wagons and 2 on vans) there appear to be a similar number of freight vehicles and passenger vehicles using the Bath Road at this point. These data suggest that about 800 long distance wagons/vans and 800 passenger coaches passed over Maidenhead Bridge over the fortnight; this equates to around 60 full sized coaches per day, assuming that very few coaches ran on a Sunday. Records on scheduled coach services (Bates) would suggest that x ( y %) of these were public services. Based on typical tolls, this would raise £z/a in till income; the actual tolls from Maidenhead were £c/a in 1834.
Records of the total number of vehicles using a turnpike are rare and a detailed breakdown of when the traffic used the roads is even rarer. A few records of tollgate income on a weekly basis have survived. Income from the tollgather on the Egham road in the late 18th century (GLA) shows very little variation from week to week (Fig 15.2a), except for a rise from the normal £14 to £19 in the last week in October (Halloween) and the week before Christmas. The former corresponds to the Michaelmas Fair in Basingstoke and latter was presumably the result of an increased flow of traffic to the London Markets. The income from three gates on the Windsor Forest Road in 1759 show an interesting pattern that may reflect increased vehicle traffic to attend Fairs and Markets (Fig 15.2b),. In the weeks beginning August 13th and Sept 24th the Loddon Bridge Gate nearest Reading took around £5 in toll as compared with a more normal £1-3s. The Blacknest Gate nearest the Bagshot did not show these increases but took significantly more in the week of June 18th. One of the main fairs in Reading is on Sept 21st accounts for one of the weeks when traffic was high at Loddon Bridge.
A receipt for printing toll tickets for the Aldermaston to Basingstoke Trust has survived. This trust purchased batches of 500 tickets for its Pamber End Gate in May, July, Sept and Oct 1841 at 2/6 per batch. The Baughurst gate had one batch of a 1000 tickets. This suggests that on average 1500 tickets lasted the Pamber End gate four months. At that time coach horses paid 6d and a waggon horse 4d and so assuming a minor road such as this had small vehicles, the average toll might be ten pence. In a year Pamber End Gate might then yield £187; the joint income from letting the tolls of two gates was £287 at this period, indicating that on the smaller turnpikes the lessees must have retained a significant portion of the tolls for expenses.
The turnpike traffic may have been light compared with modern traffic flow but it still had a rush hour. In 1834 there were 22 coach services along the Bath Road. An analysis of the departure times of services from London in 1828 shows that 9 left in the early morning (most at 6am), 9 left in the late afternoon (most between 4 and 5m) and 5 left at 1 p.m. The journey time to Bath was generally 15 hours so the morning coaches arrived at Bath in time for dinner at 10pm and the afternoon coaches ran through the night to arrive at 7am for Breakfast. The 1am coach departures were particularly fast 12-hour coaches. The rush hour in Reading, 5 hours from London was lunch time and late evening.
Part D: Decline and Fall
16 Competition with Other forms of Transport
16.1 The Competitors
Road was not the only means of getting goods and people between places. The turnpikes allowed existing traffic to move more freely and had attracted new traffic as trade and travel increased during the 18th and early 19th centuries. However, competition with other forms of transport put limitations on traffic growth and improvements elsewhere altered the competitive position of road transport. The competitive position between different forms of road transport also fluctuated as technical improvements were introduced. The impetus for turnpiking the Bath Road had come from those interested in carrying passengers and a steady increase in the speed, comfort and safety ensured that the turnpikes maintained a good income from stagecoaches, private carriages and postchaises on hire. The number of carrier services using the Bath Road grew much more slowly than coach services during the 18th and early 19th centuries suggesting that a substantial proportion of heavy bulk goods were being carried by barge rather than wagon. Carriers were subject to serious competition at the bulk, slow delivery end of the transport market but their business was also limited at the high value end of the trade. Coaches advertised to carry small parcels and delivered them more rapidly than the service from a lumbering wagon. Mail carrying was a licensed monopoly and until the 1780s was undertaken by postboys on horseback. However, these were often slow and vulnerable to highwaymen and it was not until 1784 when John Palmer successfully ran a coach carrying mail along the Bath Road. Subsequently the Post Office commissioned stage coach operators to run daily services along the main routes out of London.
Coach traffic must have been less important on other routes such as the Reading to Basingstoke road or the north/south roads through Newbury and Hungerford. Carriage of goods by public and private waggon would have been important sources of toll income and on some roads drovers with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep could be contributors if they could be intercepted at key crossings. Unlike some northern and western roads, packhorse trains were relatively uncommon on the turnpikes across the relatively easy ground along the Thames Valley. Until the 1750s trains of horses did travel up from the West Country but became a decreasing proportion of traffic latter in the century.
16.1 The Canals & Rivers
Throughout the period considered here, carriage by boat or barge was normally the lowest cost method of carrying bulk goods and so was the preferred method for heavy commodities. Improvements of river navigation in the early 18th century was followed by the creation of totally new cuts with the opening of the Basingstoke canal in 1794 and the Kennet and Avon in 1810. Very few passengers were prepared to tolerate the slow journey along a river or canal and so travel by road was the preferred route for almost all traveller until the mid 19th century.
Transport by water was generally less predictable and slower than road transport. Owners of large barges would wait until they had a full load before setting sail and often there was insufficient water to carry the large barges through some reaches of the river in summer. The traffic carrying goods to and from new wharves and quays beside the canals provided the turnpike trusts with new opportunities to collect tolls on wagons and carts using their roads. However, this windfall income was not always directly accessible as was illustrated at Farnham (see Sec 6.3.2). Here those using the market successfully petitioned to prevent tolls being levied on traffic carrying goods between the canal wharf to the Farnham market.
However, a proportion of all goods was always carried by water and sequential improvements in roads, rivers and canals resulted in the corresponding changes in the competitive position of each mode of transport. The trustees of the Reading to Puntfield Turnpike said in their evidence to Parliament in 1728 that soon after the Act first came into force (about 1715) their toll income was £520/a but after improvements to the Kennet navigation their income fell to £320/a. The Kennet Navigation had opened to traffic in 1723 (Phillips 1980) and allowed agricultural goods to be carried by barge from Newbury to London, and the barges to return with coal and manufactured goods. It must be assumed that the fall in toll income on the turnpike arose from a reduction in carrier traffic, not coach traffic. Given that each category might represent a half of normal traffic flow, it suggests a very substantial amount of goods carried between Newbury and Reading was transferred onto barges.
There is evidence from the letters of a Wiltshire clothier that urgent items were carried by wagon but heavy, less urgent items were brought by barge from London to Newbury and that road transport was only used for the final pull through Andover. (Mann 1963). A letter of 29th March 1773 from Henry Hindley of Mere to Mr Barnard (his agent in Newbury?) states I have an account from London of 8 fatts yarn being on board P. Smith’s barge, and that he sailed 24th inst. I think if I send up wagons from thence this day sennight that the barge will be with you by that time….. write a line to Mr Edward Hatherell at New Barn near Andover and advise him when the barge will be with you, he may send his waggon for 2 of the fatts in proper time.
Although attempts to improve the Thames navigation were made, particularly in the 1770s after improvements on the Kennet, vested interests worked against this. In evidence to the Committee considering the Great Western Railway in 1834, several merchants complained about the inadequacies of water carriage to Reading (Jackman 1966). Mr Hine of Bristol said that one delivery of sugar from London had taken 2 months to reach him, instead of the more normal 13 days. Mr Davis of Reading complained that in Jan 1834 his order of tobacco and sugar had taken a month to reach him from London and the goods had been injured by exposure to moisture. In addition, travel by water could only reach a few favoured towns, although this does include many of the most important towns such as London, Reading and Oxford. Valuable goods continued to be sent by road. In 1834 Messrs Wilkins, Marley, Morris and Venables, each gave evidence to the Parliamentary Committee that Saxony wool, bought into east coast ports, was carried to the West Country by wagon to avoid delays on the canal. The risk of damage or delay in transit meant that manufacturers in the West Country preferred to send their woollen goods to London at 5s per cwt, or even at a penny a pound by coach rather than take the 2/9 per cwt proffered by canal carriers. (Jackman 1966)
Long-distance coaches were the main source of toll income for turnpikes along the Bath Road. The combination of improved design in coaches, good management of horses and better engineered roads allowed coaches in the 1830s to maintain speeds of over 10 mph for long distances. The better roads also allowed alternative methods of propulsion to be tried. Sir Goldsworthy Guerny illustrated that steam powered vehicles could attain steady speeds of 16 mph and there appeared to be enthusiastic support for a trail services from Windsor. An attempt to demonstration of steam power on a grander scale came to a sad end through a combination of opposition from vested interests in the coaching trade and bad luck. In 1829 he was making good time along the road from London to Bath when a crowd in Melksham began shouting "Down with machinery", stoned the engine and brought it to a halt. Steam engines on rails proved a more unstoppable force.
By the mid 1830s the London to Birmingham railway was illustrating that steam trains were far more popular than horse drawn road coaches for mass transportation. When the Great Western Railway was completed from London to Bristol in 1841, the coach traffic along the whole of the road fell precipitously. Worse still for the towns along the Kennet valley, the new lines of communication ran through North Berkshire and left towns such as Newbury and Hungerford isolated. In 1842 two coach services per day still ran through Hungerford (Pihlens 1983) but the trend was clear, with adverts of feeder coach services to the Great Western line at Faringdon Road Station, 14 miles to the north, along the Besselsleigh Turnpike. Rail fares were less than coach fares but not by a significant amount. A second-class fare was still 2p/mile,whereas coach rates may be up to 3d per mile. Third class rail fares could be as little as one penny a mile but there were cheap and slow alternatives by road, although this might effectively be 4d/mile with tips. The great advantage of the train was that it was fast and relatively comfortable. The first trains managed 25 mph, more than twice the speed of the crack coaches and journey to London could be made there and back in a day from many provincial towns. Freight rates were also much lower by train. Wagon rates from Oxford to London were over £3 per ton whereas by rail they were 30s and would have been 25s had they not had to haul the goods by waggon from Steventon to Oxford along the turnpike (Jackman 1966).
The railway along the Kennet valley reached Hungerford in 1847 and the remaining long-distance coach services were extinguished. By 1862 when the line to Devises was completed, the long distance coach and waggon services along the Great West Road would have been mere memories.
Those turnpikes that had previously raised large sums from tolls on long distance traffic suffered a catastrophic loss of income around 1840 (Figs ccc ). The trusts along the Bath Road were particularly affected as the Great Western Railway took away much of the passenger, freight and drovers traffic almost over night. Lewis Levy who farmed many of the tolls around London told a Committee that on the Colnbrook Road to Windsor and the high road to Maidenhead this time 12 months, the stage coaches paid £18 per week; now they pay very little more than £4 and a few shillings. Even though there was an increase in local traffic to stations, this was in most cases insufficient to compensate for the loss of income from long distance traffic. The pattern of road use also changed as on the Henley to Maidenhead road where travellers turned off down the unturnpiked lane though Wargrave to reach Twyford station rather than go to Maidenhead station and pay the tolls at Hurley Gate (Searle 1930). On the other hand trusts that adjoined new railway stations (e.g. Shillingford to Reading) saw an increase income as the amount of local traffic rose. Those trusts that had borrowed heavily were of particular concern to the authorities who saw no prospect of them being saved without serious financial burdens on local ratepayers and parishes. The report of a Parliamentary Committee on The impact of the decline in traffic and proposals to abolish Statute Labour (PP) investigated the effect of the changes on the payment of mortgages by the turnpike trusts. This gives a convenient summary of the financial position of trust around Reading as the competition from rail travel began to bight (Appendix 6).
17 The end of the Turnpikes and Modern Developments
During the 1830s there was a growing feeling that turnpike trusts were not the best means of financing road improvement and maintenance. The philosophy of he who benefits from the improved road should pay for it directly was changing to one in which free movement and communication was more important. An article in the Illustrated London News captured the spirit of the time in 1857 when it said Money must of course, be had for the construction and repairing of highways; but is it necessary to collect it on that old system of stand and deliver, in which Claude Duval and Dick Turpin were such illustrious adepts? (Phillips 1981). A Select Committee in 1836 (PP) concluded that the toll system is vexatious and expensive to collect…..it tends to check communication. They thought that the principle of the user pays is not sensible in a civilised country where every individual benefits by facility of communication. However, witnesses could not agree on an alternative method of financing, such as rates or vehicle taxes. Nevertheless it was concluded that consolidation of the many smaller trusts was desirable. Mr Levy giving evidence to a Committee illustrated this with examples on the Bath Road. The Colnbrook Trust owed only £1000 but the Maidenhead Trust owed a great deal. Consolidation would remove two sets of clerks and trustees and the whole paraphernalia and the tolls could be lowered, though the Maidenhead creditors might get nothing (Searle 1930). The large debts that some trusts had incurred, secured against future toll income was particularly worrying since it made it difficult to see to whom the debt would fall if a trust was wound up. Since local parishes feared that ultimately they would inherit the debts the discrepancy between debts on adjoining trusts was an obstacle to some mergers that might have led to more efficiencies of scale. Through new Acts passed in 1830s, the powers of the turnpikes trusts were eroded in an attempt to check extravagance, promote economy and stop the growing evil of debt. Trusts such as the Shillingford to Reading Turnpike, which had borrowed heavily to build the bridge, were prevented from borrowing more money and stringent controls were paced on their financial arrangements. In 1833 Statute Labour had been abolished and the parish surveyors began to levy rates. When there were problems with the turnpike the trust had to get a local JP to make the parish contribute. This was seen by many as an unwanted burden and generated resentment that was added to the general dislike of paying tolls.
In 1845, as the impact of lost traffic and falling revenue began to seriously affect turnpike finance the trusts took action to tighten their belts. The Reading to Basingstoke trust met at the George in Reading to decide which of such creditors should be repaid. The Windsor Forest Trust met to agree a reduction in the interest paid to its creditors. This process of slow disengagement from debts continued through the next two decades as trustees tried to remove liabilities so that the trusts could be wound up legally. Although toll income fell after the building of the railways, as the Bedfont Trust admitted to a Parliamentary Committee, so did the wear and tear of traffic. As a result, once they had weathered the dramatic changes immediately following the opening of the Great Western Railway, the trusts settled down to a new position, carrying the smaller carriages and carts that brought goods and passengers to the local railway stations. Surveyors restricted their maintenance to part of the carriageway and some roads narrowed as grass grew where once coaches and waggons once ran.
In 1862 the Rural Highways Act empowered JPs to combine turnpike trusts into Highways Districts. By the late 1860s trusts were either not renewing their powers or were being terminated by General Acts of Parliament. This became a flood in the 1870s until most turnpikes in Berkshire were officially wound up by 1878 when legislation transferred responsibility for dis-enturnpiked roads to the new County Councils (Dates of closure are in Appendix 1).
17.2 Closure of Turnpikes
The closure of a trust not only meant the abolition of tolls on the road but also the repayment of all loans and mortgages that the trusts had acquired during almost two centuries. Although several trusts had reduced their debts to insignificant levels in the 1830s, others still carried substantial debts. These debts could only be paid by liquidating the material assets of the trust; these assets were mainly property. Tollhouses and ground beside the roads had to be offered first to owners of adjoining ground and only if an agreement could not be reached was it sold on the open market. Unfortunately the sums raised by such restricted sales were sometimes insufficient to repay all the bonds but overall the community felt liberated from the burden of a system of infrastructure finance that no longer reflected the priorities of the age.
The tollgate on the Bath Road west of Reading was removed in 1864 as the outward pressure of urban development made rates a more acceptable way of financing the maintenance of what was now a sub-urban road. The Datchet gate was cleared in 1863 (Gameson 1981) and in 1868 the Windsor Forest Trust demolished all its gates, except Lilly Hill. The sites were sold to defray the debts; the Loddon Bridge site and garden was sold to Thomas Colleton Garth of Hurst for £44 and the sites at Coppid Beech and Blacknest raised £12 and £28 respectively by sale to Edward Micklem of Reading, Richard Brooker of Binfield and Alexander Shipley, brewer, of Windsor (BRO). Closure of some trusts did require some careful negotiations. By 1869 the Basingstoke, Odiham & Alton Trust had discharged all its debts and had a considerable surplus, whereas the adjoining Odiham to Farnham Trust had debts that could never be discharged (it owed £758 but had a toll income of less than £150/a). At a joint meeting of both trusts it was agreed that a merger could be achieved without injury to the creditors, so that in 1870 the roads together could be thrown open to the public (BRO).
When it closed in 1870 the Colnbrook Trust raised £1694 by the sales of the assets. The greater part of this was the sale of strips of land adjacent to the turnpike. Smaller sums came from selling the weighing engine at Colnbrook Gate (£26-10s), the gate, post and rails (£8-10s) and the heath stone pitching (£4-10s). The Harlington Toll house raised £8, toll board £1-5s, the pumps £5 and the water cart £16-10s. These funds paid off all remaining debts and left a surplus of funds to be paid out to the parishes in proportion to the length of road. The Reading to Basingstoke Trust was wound up in the same year and the trustees decided to demolish the Old Basing Gatehouse since it was erected partly in the turnpike road. They offered the two remaining pieces of ground to the owner of the adjoining land, Lord Bolton, but failed to agree a suitable price. Lord Bolton only offered £55 against the initial proposal of £100 from the trust. Presumably the ground was then offered for open sale. Owners of adjoining property seem to have got good deals; the site on the Maidenhead Castle Hill Gate was sold to the Grenfells of Taplow for £15 (BRO).
Some sites were particularly valuable where they could be developed for other purposes. Richard Lisley of Godalming, miller, paid £100 for the tollhouse by Aldermaston Bridge in 1877. The elegant two-storey tollhouse at Thatcham Gate raised £220 when sold to George White of Henwill & Brighton in 1880. Even the site of a demolished property was of value; William Jeffery Strange, a brewer from Aldermaston, bought the site of the Donnington Gate, next to the inn for £50.
The closure of the Shillingford to Reading Turnpike are recorded in the minutes book for 1874 shows that the trustees took pains to ensure that they handed over the highway in a good condition. The trust had been scheduled for closure in one of the general Acts for termination of turnpikes of the previous year. In July 1874 the trustees surveyed the road and the infrastructure to assess what had to be done. They ordered that all the milestones be repainted, Mr Honeybourne was paid £67 to fix damaged stones on Shillingford Bridge and the Swan Inn at Pangbourn was ordered to repair damage to the riverbank. They concluded that two of the tollhouses could be sold but two others, at Pangbourn and Pangbourn Lane Reading should be demolished and the space taken into the road (presumably they protruded too far into the roadway). Fortunately the last toll-board from the Pangbourn Lane Gate was saved and is now in the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading (Fig 17.2a).
The surveyor was ordered to prepare to remove the gates at midnight on 31st October and the assets were put up for sale, initially to the adjoining landowner if they made a reasonable offer. The tools raised 10s and materials from the demolition of the Pangbourn Lane and Pangbourn gates raised £10 from Mr Adams and £13 from CJ Broadway. They were responsible for removing gateposts and clearing the ground. Winterbourne tollhouse and garden was sold to Charles Greenwood for £90 and Shillingford tollhouse to Mr Hatt for £65 (BRO). The adjoining garden was sold for £5 to John West. From these funds the trustees settled all bills and made donations of £5 to each of three long serving servants of the trust; John Lovegrove of Basildon, Geo Eckellt of Tilehurst and William Allen of Moulsford, who had each served for more than 30 years, presumably as local surveyors on the three districts along the road (see Sec 8.1.2). The residual funds (about £400) were distributed to the parishes in proportion to the length of road, having made allowance for the quantities of road making materials left in each parish. Pangbourn also got £12-4s on the dissolution of the Twyford & Theale Trust payable to the surveyor of the parish upon which will fall the repair of part of the road (BRO); this sounds rather inadequate but was at least a payment not a liability.
The day tolls were abolished was an occasion for celebration. In 1972 when the Hounslow Turnpike Gate was closed just before midnight about 100 persons were seen hurrying in the direction of the tollhouse opposite the Bell Inn where the bars cross the Staines and Bath roads. The Toll keeper, apprehending danger, absconded 5 minutes before 12, taking the last days takings which were said to be unusually large. The crowd waited patiently till the church clock gave the first strike of 12, when several of them made a rush at the Gates, lifting them from their hinges, and bore them off in triumph. They deposited one in a roadside ditch and the other at the front door of the Bell Inn. A similar demonstration was expected at Brentford but did not occur (Searle 1930).
Tolls generally remained in place on
bridges for rather longer than on roads. Since
17.3 The Legacy
Just as the turnpike trusts made use of
the road network bequeathed to them by early generations, so the County
Councils and later the Department of Transport placed new layers of paving on
the ancient highway routes. Many of the old turnpikes were adopted as major
Roads and were eventually given Trunk Road status when road travel again became
the dominant means of surface communication in the late 20th century. Hence the road network that we
use today remains the greatest legacy of the turnpike trust. A more tangible
legacy are the milestones that have been re-set at the side of many of the main