Search This Blog

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Toll Gates and Toll Charges

The roads in Britain were so bad that the Government empowered the Turnpike Trusts to set up toll roads, the tolls collected to be used for the maintenance of the roads. This started in the 17th century but had no real impact until the 18th century when most of the trusts were set up. The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman, as recorded by hosier Richard Hall records how the travel by 1800 at the end of his long life had improved over earlier periods.
Journal of a Georgian Gentleman

The tolls were of course resented and there were always arguments over the tolls and attempts to avoid them, written of amusingly by Georgette Heyer in her Regency novel ‘The Toll Gate’.
The Toll-Gate

Certain people were exempt; churchgoers, and those not going beyond 100 yards of the gate.
The wages of a toll keeper could vary from the badly paid on infrequently used roads at 8/- a week up to 25/- on a heavily used road that might expect to take £14 to £19 every week in tolls.
Sometimes the toll fee would open one or more extra toll gates along the way; the ticket issued to prove payment of toll could be shown to do so. It was the traveller’s bad luck if he was not going so far!
Note that the narrower the wheels the more damage would be done to the road and the fee therefore concomitantly higher.

Person/carriage/livestock passing
For every horse, mule, ass or other beast except dogs drawing any coach, landau, barouche, chariot, chaise, chair, horse gig, curricle, whisky, cart, wagon, wain, timberframe, cart frame, drag or other vehicle when drawn by more than one horse or other beast, such a carriage having wheels less than 4½ inches
4½d per horse
As above when drawn by one horse or other beast only
As above when drawn by more than one horse or other beast with wheels 6 inches or upwards
3d per horse
As above when drawn by one horse or other beast
As above with wheels between 4 ½ inches and 6 inches with more than one beast
3¾d per horse
As above  but only one beast
For every horse, mule, ass or other beast drawing any cart with wheels of every breadth when drawn by any such animal
NB 2 oxen or neat cattle drawing count as one horse

For every dog drawing any truck, barrow or other carriage for the pace of 100 yards or upwards

For every horse, mule, ass or other beast laden or unladen and not drawing
For every carriage moved or propelled by steam or machinery or by any other power than animal power
1/- per wheel
For every score of oxen, cows or neat cattle and so in proportion for any greater or less number
10d [ie ½d per beast]
For every score of calves, sheep, lambs or swine and so in proportion
5d [ie ¼d per beast]
For every ridden horse

1 comment:

  1. I'm most familiar with the role of tolls as revenue streams...were they "farmed" for collection the way salt taxes might be in France and some of the civic republics and principalities of Italy??

    I gotta say that my association of toll collection with revenue steams was so total tha, until I read your schedule of collections, I had never thought about the obvious rationale for such collections in the maintenance of the roads themselves!!! Silly me, eh??

    And yet, are you aware of any examples, of the sale of the collection rights to someone else leading to a situation where the money that came in up front did
    not yield enough to repair a bad road adequately??? Or is there a point at which Parliament legislates an end to toll collection farming?? Or was this never practiced in Enland as it was on the continent??