High Ham and Ashcott Turnpike Trust                 (updated 23rd Sept 2013)

This trust was created in 1826 to turnpike a single road out over the Somerset Levels  Its main responsibility is a minor road over the marshes from Langport to Meare.

List of Acts

High Ham and Ashcott

Langport Eastover to Meare

6 Geo4 c39














High Ham to Ashcott 1826

An Act for more effectually repairing and improving the Roads leading from Pick's Hill, near the Town of Langport Eastover, in the County of Somerset, through High Ham, Ashcott, and other Places, to Meare, in the said County. [11th April 1826.]


Select Committee on State of Roads 1840

John Samuel Warren of Langport Eastover (clerk to the trust) reported

There are 9.5 miles of road through 5 parishes – all repaired by the parishes as trustees have no disposable income to lay out.

3 toll gates

The roads are stated to be in “some parts good but the greater part is bad repair” – no part under indictment for want of repair.


In “Return of length of road in each Turnpike Trust in England & Wales” Parl. Papers 1847-48 – (dated May 1848)

Trust reported 10 miles 3 furl. 44 yds (slightly more than in 1840)


Report to Secretary of State 1852/3


The Local Act for improving and repairing this road (the 7th of George IV, cap. 39.) was passed in the year 1820. Its term would have expired with the session of 1848, but has been continued by the several Turnpike Acts Con­tinuance Acts until the 1st day of November 1853.

The total sum borrowed upon this Trust amounts to £3.240., which is secured by sixty-five mortgages. The whole of this debt remains due, together with arrears of interest calculated to the 31st of December 1851 at five per cent., amounting to the sum of £2.266. 2s. 2d.

The road belonging to the Trust is thus described:—" The distance from Picks Hill (one mile cast of the town of Langport) where the road branches out of the Langport, Somerton, and Castle Cary Turnpike Road to Pedwell where the road crosses the Taunton Turnpike Road is six miles and two chains. From thence, after crossing the Taunton Turnpike Road to where the road crosses the Bridgwater Turnpike Road at Ashcott, is seven furlongs four chains; and from thence to Meare, being the termination of the road, is three miles, four furlongs and two chains, making the total length of the road ten miles, three furlongs and eight chains.

" There are two turnpike gates on the road, besides one .side gate; the two gates are about five miles spate, and they .clear each other, as well as the side. gate—(although two tolls are allowed by the Local Act.) The rate of tolls received is three-quarters of the maximum rate fixed by the Act."

The accounts show that the toll receipts have been very small, seldom exceeding £150, per annum, and are now reduced much below that sum. The parish aid has amounted to £160, yearly, which has been entered in the annual returns as a cash payment to the Trust, and the expenditure thereof has been thus shown:—£67. for manual labour, £60. for team labour, and £33 for materials. But the clerk has recently made the following statement:—" The parishes on the line of the road do all the, repairs thereof, except the turnpike gates and houses, and occasionally the bridges, instead of paying the £160. composition." The funds of the Trust, after paying the costs of repairing toll houses, the expenses of management, and incidentals, have been applied in paying portions of the interest since the year 1836. The amount of interest paid from 1837 to 1851 inclusive (during fifteen years) has been at an average rate about £3. 4s. per cent, per annum.

The Trustees of this road (fearing the Local Act might be left out in the Annual Continuance Act) held meetings in April last for the purpose of availing themselves of the Turnpike Arrangement Act (the 14th & 15th of Vict. c. 38.) and on the 8th of May last an application was made to the Secretary of State, dated the 5th of May 1852, for a Provisional Order to the following effect:-— " We, the undersigned, being four of the Trustees or Commissioners acting under and in pursuance of the said recited Act of the seventh year of the reign of King George the Fourth, do hereby apply to you for a Provisional Order for reducing the rate of interest upon the said debt to the sum of three pounds per centum per annum as from Midsummer last, and for extinguishing the whole of the arrears of interest thereon up to that date, amounting to the sum of £2.190. 2s. 2d. And we do hereby certify that the consents of persons entitled to the sum of £2.900. out of the sum of £3,240. secured on the said tolls or revenues, being more than the amount required by the said Act of the fourteenth and fifteenth years of the reign of Queen Victoria, to such application, have been given."

With reference to the above application, the clerk was requested to state the estimated annual income in future, the amount of the yearly interest at the proposed reduced rate, the expenses of management, and the amount of surplus applicable to the payment of the principal debt. To which the clerk replied on the 21st of May last as follows:—

" The estimated annual income in future it is almost impossible to guess at, but if there be no alteration of circumstances it may be estimated at from £120, to £140.; but if the Somersetshire Central Railway be made, which I understand there is no doubt of being done in the course of one or at most two years, as the Act, I believe, has passed the Commons, and they should place their station where they have fixed on for it, the tolls will be worth nearly, if not quite, double the amount mentioned above. The yearly interest on the debt at the reduced scale will be £97 4s• The expenses of management do not now amount (including repairs to toll houses and gates) to more than about £20. per year, and these figures would give (were we to allow the tolls at £180, per year) a surplus of about £13. per year, but should the tolls increase by the making of the railway there would be a surplus of from £100. to £150. per year."

On the 26th of May the following letter was transmitted to the clerk to the Trustees:—

"Road Office, London, 26th May 1852.
" Sir,    High Ham and Ashcott Road.

" With reference to the application of the Trustees of the above road for a Provisional Order to reduce the rate of interest to 3 per cent., and to extinguish the whole of the arrears,

 I am directed by Mr. Secretary Walpole to inform you, that as the toll income for the last two years has not exceeded £107. per annum, with no certainty that the revenue will be increased in future, the funds appear to be insufficient, after paying the expenses of management, to allow the payment of so high a rate of interest as 3 per cent., and at the same time leave an annual surplus for the reduction of the bonded debt. Mr. Secretary Walpole must therefore decline to grant a Provisional Order unless a much larger reduction of the rate of interest is made, so as to allow a sufficient annual sinking fund to be applied in the liquidation of the bonded debt, especially as the whole burden of repairing the road rests with the parishes.

" I am, Sir,

" Your obedient servant,
" James F. H. Warren, Esq.          (Signed)       " James McADAM."

In November last it was intimated to the clerk in answer to his inquiries, that the Secretary of State would probably not consent to grant a Provisional Order to allow a higher rate of interest than two per cent. On the 6th of December directions were given by the Trustees to proceed with the application to Parliament to-renew the Act:'

It is now proposed to repeal the existing Act, and to take other and more effectual powers for the term of twenty-one -years, , The road is described in Clause 1, as well as the boundaries of the several parishes .through which the road passes, which agree with the existing Act, section 3. In Clause 3, for transferring the property and liabilities of the Trust to the new Trustees,: the usual exception is omitted for such debts and liabilities as are now proposed to be extinguished. It is not proposed to continue the present tolls after the repeal of the existing Act, but the tolls payable upon and after the passing of the new Act are specified in clause 8, and are similar to the tolls allowed by the present Act, but which full tolls are not collected.

It is also now proposed to take the following additional tolls:—for every carriage moved by steam or machinery, not exceeding 2s.6d.; and for every dog or goat drawing any cart, &c., one penny.   Clause 10, directing the tolls, as per margin, to be paid but once in a day, differs from section 11 of the existing Act, which appears to be worded so as to make horses, &c. returning or re-passing with the same carriage again liable to toll; in lieu of which it is now proposed to make the difference of toll payable in case of returning with any carriage liable to a higher toll.    Clause, 11 allows two full tolls to be taken for passing along the whole line of road, as in section 12 of the present Act; but only one toll is now collected upon the road, all the gates being cleared by one payment.   Clause 14 appears to be unusual, and is not contained in the existing Act.   Clause i6 contains special exemptions from toll as at present allowed by the Local Act, section 15.   Clause 17 permits the toll to be reduced without reference to the consents of creditors as in section 16 of the existing Act.


List of Roads

(road identified and mapped in “Somerset Roads – the Legacy of Turnpike, by Bentley and Murless 1985”)

UC road from Meare to Langport


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Known Tollhouses (extracts from Tollhouse National database) 3 sites identified of the 3 reported by the Trust in 1840 (survivors in bold)

Road Classification Number



OS Grid Ref- Prefi




Civil Parish

Location (Name or Number)

Road or Street (see across)



erected by (Turnpike Trust or Authority)

Bibliographic refs

Revised 23rd Sept 2013

Old County

UC road

 Ashcott to Meare

Heathway Bar






ridge W of Meare



; ; ;

High Ham and Ashcott



UC road

 Ashcott to Meare

Ashcott Turbary






nr Buscott Farm



; ; ;

High Ham and Ashcott



UC road

High Ham to Ashcott










; ; ;

High Ham and Ashcott





Known Milestones

In the Milestone Society Database, no milestones are identified along this road. Based on the mileage reported by the Trust in 1840, would expect 10.