This page contains material
on the users of the Roads into
Directories of common carriers into
In 1637 when the earliest surviving
directory of carriers into
Stagecoaches had only just begun to appear
A detailed survey of traffic along the
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 being ridden 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
Records of the total number of vehicles
using a turnpike are rare, a detailed breakdown of when the traffic used the
roads is even rarer. A few records of toll gate income on a weekly basis have
survived. Income from the tollgather on the Egham
road in the late 18th century shows very little variation from week
to week, 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
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 a 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 may still have had its rush hour. In
1834 there were 22 coach services along the
In the 17th century the better
class of traveller could afford to take private
coach. Pepys travelled in
this manner from
Speed, convenience, cost and comfort were
the features that mattered to coach passengers. In the early 17th
century there were no practical alternatives to the large lumbering coaches
that took at least one long day, and in winter two days, to reach London from
places such as Oxford (a distance of 60 miles). The
Stage wagon services were much slower than
coach services, and in the early days some used oxen rather than horses to drag
the wagon. In Nov 1746, Thomas Florey advertised The
Even in 1746 some carrier services were
still performed with packhorses, exemplified by an advert in The Reading
The Winchester, Southampton, Rumsey, Ringwood, Pool,
Alresford, Marlborough, Calne, Chippenham, Ramsbury, Hungerford and Thatcham
waggons lye at the said
However, an advert from 1750, clearly shows
that the larger long-distance carriers such as Leader from Abingdon used horse
teams, in this case three 6-horse teams to provide the weekly service; the
Highworth Stage wagon now in the possession of the widow Leader of Abingdon,
together with 18 good able horses, and all the utensils thereof belonging, are
to be disposed of, the said widow being in an ill state of health. Enquiries of
John Hall at the
NB there is a large stock of good hay and corn.
The cost of a wagon was not enormous, the wagoners main cost was provender for the horses (Gerhold 1990). An advert in 1782 declared ; To be sold a Broad Wheel Waggon: That will carry 6 tons, having 4 very good wheels, a new bed, six joists, the price is £14-14s. For further details enquire of Mr Gutteridge at the Anchor, Reading. In 1798 a strong broad wheel road wagon and 2 narrow wheel waggons, with harness and 8 horses was advertised for auction. This might be regarded as a typical small carrier business.
The Wokingham carrier, advertising in July 1752, is typical of the wagoners on services through east Berks.; Oakingham waggon, Sets out from Jasper Blanford’s in Oakingham every Tuesday and calls at the Red Lion and Hinds Head in New Bracknell and at Sunning Hill Wells, the Crown in Egham and the Red Lion in Staines, arriving at the Spread Eagle in Gracechurch Street every Wednesday morning about 4. Sets out from the Spread Eagle the same day and returns to Oakingham every Thursday, carries goods and passengers at the most reasonable rates. Performed if God permits by Jasper Blanford.
Then in December 1798 Joseph
Earley (nephew of the late Mrs Poole and 14 years servant in the business) and
William Wright of the Peacock Inn,
A waggon sets out from
A waggon will also set out from
Another waggon will also set out from
The waggons stop at Kings Arms, Twyford; Quart Pot, Maidenhead; White Hart, Slough; Waggon & Horses at Colnbrook and Old White Horse Cellar, Black & White Bears, Piccadilly
The design of horse-drawn vehicles changed during the turnpike era. In part this was a mutually beneficial process by which the roads were improved permitting the use of lighter and faster vehicles. The easier journeys created more traffic that generated more tolls to further improve the road. In parallel with this, vehicles carrying heavy goods were forced to adapt their design to cause less damage to the road. Higher tolls were levied on vehicles that had narrow wheels since it was thought that these were a major cause of wear on the compacted gravel highway.
Although the detailed designs changed, the basic classes of road user remained the same.
The main classes of passenger traffic
The main classes of goods traffic
v Horse riders (for the fit)
v Private coaches (for the rich)
v Postchaises (for the wealthy)
v Gigs (for the yeoman or professional)
v Stage coaches (for the well-off)
v Farm waggons and carts
v Carrier’s carts
v Stage waggons
v Droves of cattle and sheep
All of these had to pay a toll to use the turnpike road. The basis of the tolls changed over the years but generally it was commercial traffic and the wealthy traveler who were levied most heavily
For instance a return journey along the
v on a horse - one toll payment of 3 pence
v in a two horse post coach - a charge of 15 pence per mile for 6 miles each way on the hire of the postchaise and postillion and toll of 6 pence for the horses and 3 pence for the coach; i.e. 1 shilling toll, giving a total charge of 16s.
v A coach & four - twice the hire charge of the two-horse postchaise and 3 pence for each horse and 6 pence for the coach, i.e. 1/6 rising to 2 shillings toll in 1826
v An inside passenger on a stage coach - the equivalent 3d per mile for a journey but could expect to pay a third as much again in tips say 4s for the return journey (the driver and guard on the Bath Road coaches would expect a half crown tip each time the driver changed). Note that the wage of a toll collector was about 20s/week, so even a short coach ride was a beyond the average working man.
Some might take a cheap ride with a carrier, sometimes at their peril, but most people would have walked, carrying their goods.
There is no record of the number of travelers using this road but an estimate can be made based on the toll income. In the 1820s the collection of toll at the Pangbourne Lane Gate was let for about £400/a. The salary of a toll collector was probably about 20s/week (the trust paid the keeper at Shillingford Bridge 8s/week in 1852 but a Parliamentary Committee was told gate keepers in Essex were paid 25s/week in 1836). Assume another 10% for other running costs and lessee’s profit suggests the total toll taken at this gate was around £500/a.
A coach and four paid 1/6 to travel through the gates, but other vehicles such as carts paid less so say an average toll of 1s. Thus, the toll income equates to the sale of 10,000 tickets per year, i.e. 192 per week or, allowing for only a few tickets on Sunday, about 30 tickets per day. About two thirds the vehicles paying at Winterbrook might also pass through Pangbourne without further payment, giving say another 10 per day. A similar number of vehicles would have traveled in the other direction so traffic through Pangbourne would be about 4 vehicles in each direction per hour – not quite the frenetic traffic flow that we are used to.
The fact that the number of carrier services using the Bath Road grew much more slowly than coach services during the 18th and early 19th centuries is evidence 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.
River and canal transport provided
competition for goods traffic throughout this period, but there were no real
alternatives to road for passenger traffic. However, stream trains would
provide a much faster and cheaper means of travel than the horse-drawn coach.
When the Great Western reached
However by the end of the 19th
century road traffic was relatively unimportant save for cycles and light,
horse drawn vehicles. A few nostalgic coach trips were run along the
This page created by Alan Rosevear 14th Jan 2008.