Posts Tagged ‘Toll road’

Signs indicate the boundary of the congestion ...

Image via Wikipedia

This map shows that the London Congestion charge is old hat. In 1857 we can see that there were almost 80 toll gates on trunk roads within six miles of Charing Cross. But by this time, toll gates were very much on the way out, thanks to the advent of railways. Financially, they had become unsustainable.

The great age of toll gates and turnpikes was the 18th Century. In the latter part of the previous century, turnpikes were established and run by trusts. They could only be set up through Acts of Parliament, the first of which was passed in 1663. The idea was that the trusts would take over responsibility from parishes to maintain major trunk roads. They would collect the tolls, manage the finances and fulfil their obligation to use those funds to maintain the roads. Interestingly, these trusts morgaged future takings in order to fund present projects, in many cases running up huge and unsustainable debts, a distant echo of many of today’s institutions.

Typically a coach and four might be charged 1/6 down to 1d for an unladen horse. Take another look at our map and you can see that this could make travel by road rather expensive and no worthy competition for the early railways of the mid 19th century and onwards.

Wikipedia has good introductory coverage here.

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