Turnpike trusts

Turnpike trusts were bodies set up by individual acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal roads in Britain from the 17th but especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak, in the 1830s, over 1,000 trusts[1] administered around 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of turnpike road in England and Wales, taking tolls at almost 8,000 toll-gates and side-bars.[2]

During the early 19th century the concept of the turnpike trust was adopted and adapted to manage roads within the British Empire (Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa) and in the United States.[2]

Turnpikes declined with the coming of the railways and then the Local Government Act 1888 gave responsibility for maintaining main roads to county councils and county borough councils.

Hyde park turnpike toll gate
The Hyde Park Gate in London, erected by the Kensington Turnpike Trust. This was the first toll point encountered along the Bath Road, upon leaving London.


The term "turnpike" originates from the similarity of the gate used to control access to the road, to the barriers once used to defend against attack by cavalry (see Cheval de frise). The turnpike consisted of a row of pikes or bars, each sharpened at one end, and attached to horizontal members which were secured at one end to an upright pole or axle, which could be rotated to open or close the gate.[3]

Precursors to turnpike trusts

Highgate wide
The Great North Road near Highgate on the approach to London before turnpiking. The highway was deeply rutted and spread onto adjoining land.

Pavage grants, originally made for paving the marketplace or streets of towns, began also to be used for maintaining some roads between towns in the 14th century. These grants were made by letters patent, almost invariably for a limited term, presumably the time likely to be required to pay for the required works.[4]

Tudor statutes had placed responsibility on each parish vestry to maintain all its roads. This arrangement was adequate for roads that the parishioners used themselves but proved unsatisfactory for the principal highways that were used by long-distance travellers and waggoners.[5] During the late 17th century, the piecemeal approach to road maintenance caused acute problems on the main routes into London. As trade increased, the growing numbers of heavy carts and carriages led to serious deterioration in the state of these roads and this could not be remedied by the use of parish statute labour. A parliamentary bill was tabled in 1621/22 to relieve the parishes responsible for part of the Great North Road by imposing a scale of tolls on various sorts of traffic. The toll revenue was to be used in repairing the road, however, the bill was defeated. During the following forty years, the idea of making travellers contribute to the repair of roads was raised on several occasions.[6]

Many parishes continued to struggle to find funds to repair major roads and in Hertfordshire way wardens on behalf of the vestries stood frequent trial at quarter sessions for their failure to keep the Old North Road in a good state of repair. In 1656 the parish of Radwell, Hertfordshire petitioned their local sessions for help to maintain their section of the Great North Road. Probably as a result judges on the Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire circuit represented the matter to Parliament.[7] It then passed an act that gave the local justices of the peace powers to erect toll-gates on a section of the road, between Wadesmill, Hertfordshire; Caxton, Cambridgeshire; and Stilton, Huntingdonshire for 11 years, the revenues so raised to be used for the maintenance of the road in their jurisdictions.[7][8][6] The toll-gate erected at Wadesmill was the prototype in England. Parliament then gave similar powers to the justices in other counties in England and Wales.[7] An example is the first Turnpike Act for Surrey in 1696, during the reign of William III for enhanced repairs between Reigate in Surrey and Crawley in Sussex.[9] The act made provision to erect turnpikes, and appoint toll collectors; also to appoint surveyors, who were authorized by order of the justices to borrow money at five per cent interest, on security of the tolls.[9]

The first turnpike trusts

Fyfield act 1738
The front page of the Act to create the Fyfield Turnpike Trust on the Great Road to Gloucester in 1738

The first scheme that had trustees who were not justices was established through a Turnpike Act in 1707, for a section of the London-Chester road between Fornhill (near Hockliffe) and Stony Stratford.[10] The basic principle was that the trustees would manage resources from the several parishes through which the highway passed, augment this with tolls from users from outside the parishes and apply the whole to the maintenance of the main highway. This became the pattern for the turnpiking of a growing number of highways, sought by those who wished to improve flow of commerce through their part of a county. [7]

The proposal to turnpike a particular section of road was normally a local initiative and a separate Act of Parliament was required to create each trust. The Act gave the trustees responsibility for maintaining a specified part of the existing highway. It provided them with powers to achieve this; the right to collect tolls from those using the road was particularly important. Local gentlemen, clergy and merchants were nominated as trustees and they appointed a clerk, a treasurer and a surveyor to actually administer and maintain the highway. These officers were paid by the trust. Trustees were not paid, though they derived indirect benefits from the better transport, which improved access to markets and led to increases in rental income and trade.[11]

The first action of a new trust was to erect turnpike gates at which a fixed toll was charged. The Act gave a maximum toll allowable for each class of vehicle or animal – for instance one shilling and six pence for a coach pulled by four horses, a penny for an unladen horse and ten pence for a drove of 20 cows. The trustees could call on a portion of the statute duty from the parishes, either as labour or by a cash payment. The trust applied the income to pay for labour and materials to maintain the road. They were also able to mortgage future tolls to raise loans for new structures and for more substantial improvements to the existing highway. [11]

Tollgates London 1801
Map of the Turnpike Tollgates in London 1801.

The trusts applied some funds to erecting tollhouses that accommodated the pikeman or toll-collector beside the turnpike gate. Although trusts initially organised the collection of tolls directly, it became common for them to auction a lease to collect tolls. Specialist toll-farmers would make a fixed payment to the trust for the lease and then organise the day-to-day collection of the money, leaving themselves with a profit on their operations over a year.[11]

The powers of a trust were limited, normally to 21 years, after which it was assumed that the responsibility for the now-improved road would be handed back to the parishes. However, trusts routinely sought new powers before this time limit, usually citing the need to pay off the debts incurred in repairing damage caused by a rising volume of traffic, or in building new sections of road.[11]

The growth of the turnpike system

Woodstock Rollrt 1751tolls
The schedule of maximum tolls allowed on the Woodstock to Rollright Turnpike Trust on the Great Road to Worcester in 1751

During the first three decades of the 18th century, sections of the main radial roads into London were put under the control of individual turnpike trusts. The pace at which new turnpikes were created picked up in the 1750s as trusts were formed to maintain the cross-routes between the Great Roads radiating from London. Roads leading into some provincial towns, particularly in Western England, were put under single trusts and key roads in Wales were turnpiked. In South Wales, the roads of complete counties were put under single turnpike trusts in the 1760s. A further surge of trust formation occurred in the 1770s, with the turnpiking of subsidiary connecting roads, routes over new bridges, new routes in the growing industrial areas and roads in Scotland. About 150 trusts were established by 1750; by 1772 a further 400 were established and, in 1800, there were over 700 trusts.[12] In 1825 about 1,000 trusts controlled 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of road in England and Wales.[13]

The Acts for these new trusts and the renewal Acts for the earlier trusts incorporated a growing list of powers and responsibilities. From the 1750s, Acts required trusts to erect milestones indicating the distance between the main towns on the road. Users of the road were obliged to follow what were to become rules of the road, such as driving on the left and not damaging the road surface. Trusts could take additional tolls during the summer to pay for watering the road in order to lay the dust thrown up by fast-moving vehicles. Parliament also passed a few general Turnpike Acts dealing with the administration of the trusts and restrictions on the width of wheels – narrow wheels were said to cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the road.

The rate at which new trusts were created slowed in the early 19th century but the existing trusts were making major investments in highway improvement. The government had been directly involved in the building of military roads in Scotland following a rebellion in 1745, but the first national initiative was a scheme to aid communications with Ireland. Between 1815 and 1826 Thomas Telford undertook a major reorganization of the existing trusts along the London to Holyhead Road, and the construction of large sections of new road to avoid hindrances, particularly in North Wales.

By 1838 the turnpike trusts in England were collecting £1.5 million p.a. from leasing the collection of tolls but had a cumulative debt of £7 million, mainly as mortgages.[14] Even at its greatest extent, the turnpike system only administered a fifth of the roads in Britain; the majority being maintained by the parishes. A trust would typically be responsible for about 20 miles (32 km) of highway, although exceptions such as the Exeter Turnpike Trust controlled 147 miles (237 km) of roads radiating from the city. On the Bath Road for instance, a traveller from London to the head of the Thames Valley in Wiltshire would pass through the jurisdiction of seven trusts, paying a toll at the gates of each. Although a few trusts built new bridges (e.g. at Shillingford over the Thames), most bridges remained a county responsibility. A few bridges were built with private funds and tolls taken at these (e.g., the present Swinford Toll Bridge over the Thames).

Operation of turnpike trusts


Round house at stanton drew
The Round House (Old Toll House) at Stanton Drew

The quality of early turnpike roads was varied.[15] Although turnpiking did result in some improvement to each highway, the technologies used to deal with geological features, drainage, and the effects of weather, were all in their infancy. Road construction improved slowly, initially through the efforts of individual surveyors such as John Metcalf in Yorkshire in the 1760s. 19th-century engineers made great advances, notably Thomas Telford and John Loudon McAdam. [16]

The engineering work of Telford on the Holyhead Road (now the A5) in the 1820s reduced the journey time of the London mail coach from 45 hours to just 27 hours, and the best mail coach speeds rose from 5-6 mph (8–10 km/h) to 9-10 mph (14–16 km/h). McAdam and his sons were employed as general surveyors (consultant engineers) to many of the main turnpike trusts in southern England. They recommended the building of new sections of road to avoid obstructions, eased steep slopes and directed the relaying of existing road-beds with carefully graded stones to create a dry, fast-running surface (known as Macadamising). Coach design improved to take advantage of these better roads and in 1843 the London-to-Exeter mail coach could complete the 170-mile (270-km) journey in 17 hours.

Social impact

The introduction of toll gates had been resented by local communities which had freely used the routes for centuries. Early Acts had given magistrates powers to punish anyone damaging turnpike property, such as defacing milestones, breaking turnpike gates or avoiding tolls. Opposition was particularly intense in mountainous regions where good routes were scarce. In Mid Wales in 1839, new tolls on old roads sparked protests known as the Rebecca Riots. There were sporadic outbursts of vandalism and violent confrontation by gangs of 50 to 100 or more local men, and gatekeepers were told that if they resisted they would be killed. In 1844, the ringleaders were caught and transported to Australia as convicts.[17] However, the result was that toll gates were dismantled and the trusts abolished in the six counties of South Wales, their powers being transferred to a roads board for each county.[18]

The end of the system

By the early Victorian period toll gates were perceived as an impediment to free trade. The multitude of small trusts were frequently charged with being inefficient in use of resources and potentially suffered from petty corruption.

The railway era spelt disaster for most turnpike trusts. Although some trusts in districts not served by railways managed to increase revenue, most did not. In 1829, the year before the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened, the Warrington and Lower Irlam Trust had receipts of £1,680 but, by 1834, this had fallen to £332. The Bolton and Blackburn Trust had an income of £3,998 in 1846, but in 1847 following the completion of a railway between the two towns, this had fallen to £3,077 and, in 1849, £1,185.[19]

The debts of many trusts became significant; forced mergers of solvent and debt-laden trusts became frequent, and by the 1870s it was feasible for Parliament to close the trusts progressively without leaving an unacceptable financial burden on local communities. From 1871, all applications for renewal were sent to a Turnpike Trust Commission. This arranged for existing Acts to continue, but with the objective of discharging the debt, and returning the roads to local administration, which was by then by highway boards. The Local Government Act 1888 gave responsibility for maintaining main roads to county councils and county borough councils. When a trust was ended, there were often great celebrations as the gates were thrown open. The assets of the trust, such as tollhouses, gates and sections of surplus land beside the road were auctioned off to reduce the debt, and mortgagees were paid at whatever rate in the pound the funds would allow.

The legacy of the turnpike trust is the network of roads that still form the framework of the main road system in Britain. In addition, many roadside features such as milestones and tollhouses have survived,[20] despite no longer having any function in the modern road management system.


To Be Let The Tolls Cribbin, Llanfihangel and Pencader Gates 1826

Poster advertising the letting of tolls, 1826.

Honiton TH

The surviving Copper Castle Tollhouse on the Honiton Turnpike.

Beedon MS

A surviving milestone at Beedon on the Chilton Pond to Newtown River Turnpike.

Gargrave Milepost - geograph.org.uk - 1331010

Milepost on the Keighley and Kendal Turnpike at Gargrave: Settle 10 3/4, Kendal 40, Skipton 4 ¾ and Keighley 14 miles.

Dust by coach

A stagecoach approaching Oxford along the Henley Turnpike Road. The dust is thrown up from the Macadamised surface. Early 1800s.

See also

External links

Further reading

General publications

  • Albert, W. (1972). The Turnpike Road System in England 1663–1840. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-03391-8.
  • Copeland, J. (1968). Roads and their Traffic, 1750–1850. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-4219-3.
  • Holroyd-Doveton, E. (2016). Turnpike Roads for Local and Family Historians. Digger Press. ISBN 978-1-684191-25-3.
  • Wright, G. N. (1992). Turnpike Roads. Shire Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-7478-0155-X.

Local publications

  • Cossons, A. (1994). Coaching Days – The Turnpike Roads of Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: Nottinghamshire County Council Leisure Services.
  • Cossons, A. (2003). The Turnpike Roads of Leicestershire & Rutland. Leicester: Kairos Press.
  • Freethy, R. (1986). Turnpikes & Tollhouses in Lancashire. privately published.
  • Gloucester Record Office (1976). Gloucester Turnpike Roads. Gloucester Record Office.
  • Hurley, H. (1992). The Old Roads of South Herefordshire - Trackway to Turnpike. The Pound House.
  • Jenkinson, T. (August 2011). "Turnpikes and Toll-collectors". Family Tree Magazine.
  • Jenkinson, T.; Taylor, P. (2010). The Toll-houses of North Devon. Polystar Press. ISBN 978-1-907154-03-4.
  • Jenkinson, T; Taylor, P. (2009). The Toll-houses of South Devon. Polystar Press. ISBN 978-1-907154-01-0.
  • Morley, F. (1961). The Great North Road - A Journey in History. London: Macmillan.
  • Phillips, D. (1983). The Great Road to Bath. Countryside Books.
  • Quatermaine, J.; Trinder, B.; Turner, R. (2003). Thomas Telford’s Holyhead Road. Report 135. Council for British Archaeology.
  • Rosevear, A. (1995). Roads in the Upper Thames Valley. privately published.
  • Smith, H. (2003). The Sheffield and Chesterfield to Derby Roads. Sheffield: privately published. ISBN 0-9521541-5-3.
  • Taylor, W. (1996). The Military Roads in Scotland. Argyll: House of Lochar.
  • Viner, D. (2007). Roads Tracks and Turnpikes. The Discover Dorset series. Wimborne: Dovecote Press.
  • Williams, L. A. (1975). Road Transport in Cumbria in the nineteenth century. London: George Allen & Unwin.


  1. ^ Parliamentary Papers, 1840, Vol 280 xxvii.
  2. ^ a b Searle 1930, p. 798.
  3. ^ Tupling 1952, p. 3.
  4. ^ Harvey 2010, p. 151-163.
  5. ^ Pawson 1977, p. 70–71.
  6. ^ a b Records of Turnpike Trusts National Archive. Accessdate 6 December 2012
  7. ^ a b c d Webb. English Local Government. pp. 157–159
  8. ^ Statute, 15 Car. II, c.1.
  9. ^ a b Turnpike Trusts: County Reports of the Secretary. p. 4.
  10. ^ "House of Lords Journal". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  11. ^ a b c d Webb. English Local Government. pp. 159-165
  12. ^ Pawson 1977, pp. 341, 260.
  13. ^ Hampshire Maps University of Portsmouth. Accessdate 6 December 2012
  14. ^ Parliamentary Papers, 1840, Vol 289
  15. ^ Parliamentary Papers, 1840, Vol 256 xxvii.
  16. ^ The Turnpike Trust Archived 25 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Schools History.org, Accessed July 2011
  17. ^ The Rebecca Riots Powys Digital History Project
  18. ^ Riden 1987, p. 139.
  19. ^ Tupling 1952, p. 18.
  20. ^ "Turnpike roads in England". Retrieved 22 December 2012.
Further reading
  • Ward, M & A (2011), The Toll House, Medlar Press., ISBN 978-1-907110-18-4

External links


1706 (MDCCVI)

was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1706th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 706th year of the 2nd millennium, the 6th year of the 18th century, and the 7th year of the 1700s decade. As of the start of 1706, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923. In the Swedish calendar it was a common year starting on Monday, one day ahead of the Julian and ten days behind the Gregorian calendar.

A466 road

The A466, also known as the Wye Valley Road, is a road from Hereford, England to Chepstow, Wales via Monmouth, Tintern and the Wye Valley.

The road was largely developed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries by turnpike trusts in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. It replaced the River Wye as the principal means of transport to Tintern before the construction of the Wye Valley Railway in the late 19th century. The A466 remains an important route for local residents and tourists, and now provides access to the old Severn Bridge on the M48 motorway.

A4 road (England)

The A4 is a major road in England from Central London to Avonmouth via Heathrow Airport, Reading, Bath and Bristol. It is historically known as the Bath Road with newer sections including the Great West Road and Portway. The road was once the main route from London to Bath and the west of England and formed, after the A40, the second main western artery from London.

Much of the route is now paralleled by the M4 motorway, which carries the bulk of long distance traffic in this corridor, leaving the A4 primarily for local traffic, though sections in London and Bristol particularly are still major through routes.

Ceffyl Pren

The Ceffyl Pren ("wooden horse") was a traditional Welsh form of mob justice. It was a form of ritual humiliation in which offenders would be paraded around the village tied to a wooden frame. The custom was similar to practices known in England as "rough music" or in Scotland as "riding the stang". It seems to have persisted until the mid 19th century. In later times, an effigy was sometimes burned instead. The justice of the Ceffyl Pren was administered by a jury led by a foreman, with all of the men involved seeking anonymity through the use of blackened faces and female garb. This bizarre tradition led to the adoption of "female impersonation" as one of the key features of the Rebecca Riots which swept across South and West Wales in the period 1839-1844 in protest against tollgate charges and the corruption of the Turnpike Trusts.

Adulterers, harsh landlords, the fathers of bastard children who hid behind the hated provisions of the 19th century Poor Law making the mother entirely responsible for her own predicament, all faced the frightening, embarrassing (and not infrequently painful) effects of these riotous affairs .

Haselbury Bridge

Haselbury Bridge (sometimes called Haselbury Old Bridge) is a stone built bridge dating from the 14th century in Haselbury Plucknett in the English county of Somerset. It is a scheduled monument and Grade II* listed building.The two arch bridge was built of local Hamstone and carries a small road over the River Parrett. Each of the arches has a 3 metres (9.8 ft) span. The bridge is 4.1 metres (13 ft) wide including the parapet on each side.In the 17th century it carried the main route between Salisbury and Exeter and later marked the boundary between the Chard and Yeovil Turnpike trusts. The bridge was bypassed in 1831.

John Loudon McAdam

John Loudon McAdam (23 September 1756 – 26 November 1836) was a Scottish civil engineer and road-builder. He was the inventor of "macadamisation", an effective and economical method of constructing roads.

List of turnpikes in Connecticut

This is a list of turnpikes built and operated by private companies or non-profit turnpike trusts in the U.S. state of Connecticut, mainly in the 19th century. While most of the roads are still maintained as free public roads, some have been abandoned.

List of turnpikes in Maryland

This is a list of turnpike roads, built and operated by nonprofit turnpike trusts or private companies in exchange for the privilege of collecting a toll, in the U.S. state of Maryland, mainly in the 19th century. While most of the roads are now maintained as free public roads, some have been abandoned.

List of turnpikes in New York

This is a list of turnpikes built and operated by private companies or non-profit turnpike trusts in the U.S. state of New York, mainly in the 19th century. While most of the roads are still maintained as free public roads, some have been abandoned.

List of turnpikes in Virginia and West Virginia

This is a list of turnpike roads, built and operated by nonprofit turnpike trusts or private companies in exchange for the privilege of collecting a toll, in the U.S. states of Virginia and West Virginia, mainly in the 19th century. While most of the roads are now maintained as free public roads, some have been abandoned.

Metropolitan Turnpike Trust

The Metropolitan Turnpike Trust (officially the Commissioners of the Turnpike Roads in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis North of the River Thames) was the body responsible for maintaining the main roads in the north of the conurbation of London from 1827 to 1872. The commissioners took over from fourteen existing turnpike trusts, and were empowered to levy tolls to meet the costs of road maintenance.

Rebecca Riots

The Rebecca Riots took place between 1839 and 1843 in South and Mid Wales. They were a series of protests undertaken by local farmers and agricultural workers in response to perceived unfair taxation. The rioters, often men dressed as women, took their actions against toll-gates, as they were tangible representations of high taxes and tolls. The riots ceased prior to 1844 due to several factors, including increased troop levels, a desire by the protestors to avoid violence and the appearance of criminal groups using the guise of Rebecca for their own purposes. In 1844 a Parliamentary act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to turnpike trusts in Wales was passed.

Road pricing in the United Kingdom

Road pricing in the United Kingdom used to be limited to conventional tolls in some bridges, tunnels and also for some major roads during the period of the Turnpike trusts. The term road pricing itself only came into common use however with publication of the Smeed Report in 1964 which considered how to implement congestion charging in urban areas as a transport demand management method to reduce traffic congestion.Road pricing schemes in place in the UK as of 2012 include road congestion pricing in London and Durham; the London low emission zone which is a pollution charge scheme only affecting trucks with less efficient engines entering London; and the M6 toll, the only existing toll road on a strategic road in the UK. The Dartford crossings toll was retained as a demand management tool in 2003.

The various local and any national road pricing schemes were promoted by the 1997–2010 Labour government which were then abandoned following strong public opposition. A heavy goods vehicle (HGV) road user charging scheme had been proposed by the 2010–2015 coalition government together with a suggested new ownership and financing model to fund new road construction.

Toll houses of the United Kingdom

A tollhouse or toll house is a building with accommodation for a toll collector, beside a tollgate on a toll road or canal as found in the United Kingdom.

Toll road

A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private road (almost always a controlled-access highway in the present day) for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance.

Toll roads have existed in some form since antiquity, with tolls levied on passing travellers on foot, wagon, or horseback; but their prominence increased with the rise of the automobile, and many modern tollways charge fees for motor vehicles exclusively. The amount of the toll usually varies by vehicle type, weight, or number of axles, with freight trucks often charged higher rates than cars.

Tolls are often collected at toll booths, toll houses, plazas, stations, bars, or gates. Some toll collection points are autonomous, and the user deposits money in a machine which opens the gate once the correct toll has been paid. To cut costs and minimise time delay, many tolls are collected with electronic toll collection equipment which automatically communicates with a toll payer's transponder or uses automatic number plate recognition to charge drivers by debiting their accounts.

Criticisms of toll roads include the time taken to stop and pay the toll, and the cost of the toll booth operators—up to about one-third of revenue in some cases. Automated toll-paying systems help minimise both of these. Others object to paying "twice" for the same road: in fuel taxes and with tolls.

In addition to toll roads, toll bridges and toll tunnels are also used by public authorities to generate funds to repay the cost of building the structures. Some tolls are set aside to pay for future maintenance or enhancement of infrastructure, or are applied as a general fund by local governments, not being earmarked for transport facilities. This is sometimes limited or prohibited by central government legislation. Also road congestion pricing schemes have been implemented in a limited number of urban areas as a transportation demand management tool to try to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

Toll roads in Great Britain

Toll roads in Great Britain, used to raise fees for the management of roads in the United Kingdom, were common in the era of the turnpike trusts. Currently there is a single major road, the M6 Toll and a small number of bridges and tunnels where tolls are collected. In addition, there are also two UK road pricing schemes, the London congestion charge and the Durham congestion charge.

Transport during the British Industrial Revolution

Transportation of goods to factories, and of finished products from them, was limited by high transport costs along roads to their destinations. This was not too severe in the case of light valuable materials such as textiles (woolen and linen cloth) but in the case of dense materials such as coal, it could be a limiting factor on the viability of an industry. In contrast, freighting goods by water, whether on rivers or coastwise was much cheaper. Canals brought the first major change to transportation, and were usually built directly from the mines to city centers, such as the famous Bridgewater Canal in Manchester. Tramways were also common using horses locomotion.

Turnpike trusts in Greater Manchester

Turnpike trusts were bodies set up by Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom during the 18th and 19th centuries. The trusts had powers to collect road tolls for the maintenance of principal highways. The length of turnpike roads within what is now Greater Manchester varied considerably, from the 0.5 miles (0.80 km) Little Lever Trust, to the 22 miles (35 km) Manchester to Saltersbrook Trust.Turnpikes contributed significantly to England's economic development before and during the Industrial Revolution. Although the trusts were abolished in the late-19th century, the roads themselves broadly remain as modern routes, and some of the original toll houses and roadside milestones have survived.

The metropolitan county of Greater Manchester was created in 1974 and so the turnpike trusts predate its existence. Greater Manchester lies at the conjunction of the historic county boundaries of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire; many trusts operated roads which crossed those ancient county boundaries. The list below is divided according to historic county, with the first part of the name of each trust determining which table it appears in.

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