& Brenda Fox
Turnpike Roads and the work of the Milestone Society.
Tue 12 Mar 2013
introduction explained the Milestone Society is a national
registered charity set up in 2001 currently with 400 members.
The Lancashire group, of which John and Brenda are a part, was
set up 2 years ago. This talk was not only to explain about the
society’s campaigns to conserve milestones and waymarkers but
also about turnpike roads and toll houses.
explained that because of the terrible state of roads turnpike
trusts were set up by Acts of Parliament from 1706 to the
1840’s. These trusts were set up locally in order to raise money
in order to improve road conditions. This involved road
building, their straightening, widening and repair. Charges or
tolls were levied on those who used the road. The term
‘turnpike’ came from the spiked barrier at the tollgate.
Lancashire’s first turnpike in 1725 was between Liverpool and
Prescot. Maps were used to illustrate the growing extent of
turnpikes across Lancashire at various times throughout the 18th
and 19th centuries. Tollgates were built near junctions and
those manning them were housed in an adjacent tollhouse.
Tollhouses were built in different styles and various examples
of these were shown that still exist in north and central
Milestones were a feature on all turnpikes and Brenda took us on
a journey along the A6 from Broughton, north of Preston, to
Lancaster to illustrate this. They were in various states of
wear and tear but a complete set exists between Broughton and
Garstang. Many were defaced during the World War II to confuse
potential invaders and were not restored. Sadly, further losses
have occurred due to weathering, being hit by vehicles and hedge
cutting equipment and some have fallen victim to theft. This is
despite the fact that milestones are classed as a Grade II
The front page of the Part of the Act to create the Turnpike
Trust on the Great Road to Gloucester in 1738
Rutted road before the Turnpikes
Brenda went on to say that during
the turnpike era road improvements, particularly the type
developed by John Loudon McAdam, were being adopted by trustees.
Turnpikes, however, declined with the advent of canals and,
furthermore, by railways. Consequently, turnpike trusts were
wound up by the late 19th century with responsibility of roads
being passed to local councils.
Why should milestones be conserved? John explained they are one
of the few vestiges that remain of the first national road
system since Roman times. He concluded by stating the Milestone
Society’s activities and how we can help by spotting milestones
and reporting any damage or theft.
example of the effects of theft on the milestones. The left
image shows all that remains of the milestone near to Lower
Wheelon on Whinns Lane, the former A674 Blackburn - Chorley
Road. On the right is the stone in 2002 before the theft. The
next milestone towards Chorley at Gorse Close has recently been
An example form the Milestone Society database.
They also have an
excellent website which allows viewing and downloading.