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ROAD DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH YORKSHIRE AND NORTH DERBYSHIRE, 1700-1850


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#1 Bayleaf

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:45 PM

This article first appeared in the Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society, Vol 10, and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Society, and with the assistance of Gramps.(References in [] are listed at the end.)



ROAD DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH YORKSHIRE AND NORTH DERBYSHIRE, 1700-1850
By G. G. HOPKINSON, M.A.


[ This was the last of the articles which Mr. Hopkinson had left with me before his untimely death. Apart from checking the typing and a few references, I have left it as he wrote it.—Ed. ]

THE PARISH ROADS 1700-60


In the early eighteenth century, there were only four places of any size in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire—Sheffield, Chesterfield, Rotherham and Barnsley. Each of these towns owed something of its importance to the fact that it stood at a point where a main road connecting the North with the Midlands and with London crossed one or more of the routes traversing the district from east to west.

Each of these two road systems had its own particular importance. In general, although this generalisation must not be pressed too far, it may be said that the trunk routes were important primarily for passenger traffic and the cross country routes for the transport of goods.

From the purely economic standpoint, the latter system was much more vital to the life of the region than the former, as it not only tied together the different geological formations in this area with their variety of products, but also connected it with the increasingly valuable markets of South Lancashire and with navigable water at Nottingham on the Trent, Bawtry on the Idle and with Doncaster—and after the river was improved to that point, with Rotherham—on the Don.

The most important trunk route crossing the district during the reign of George the First was that linking Nottingham with the woollen towns of the West Riding.[1]
This entered Derbyshire at Pleasley. It then crossed the magnesian limestone ridge with its well-drained soils and easy gradients to within a few miles of Rotherham, where it bridged the Don. The road then climbed out of the valley to Barnsley, before crossing the moors to Huddersfield.

The southern portion of this road carried a certain amount of packhorse and waggon traffic conveying Sheffield goods southwards[2] Much more important, however, was the passenger traffic between the West Riding and such towns as Nottingham, Leicester, Northampton and London.

The correspondence of the Spencer family of Cannon Hall, Cawthorne, shows that, when they journeyed south they invariably rode along this road to Nottingham, where they hired a coach to their destination. In addition, their letters and diaries make clear to what extent this route was used in the second quarter of the century—by London merchants visiting the West Riding on business; by Yorkshire ironmasters travelling to the capital in search of orders; by partners in the Derbyshire lead mines journeying to London for conferences with capitalists financially interested in the soughs which drained the Peak; by local lawyers and their witnesses en route for Westminster and by the gentry of the region travelling to Town on pleasure.

It is probable that this road was at the height of its importance during the early decades of this century, as it was soon to lose much of its goods traffic to the Don Navigation and much of its passenger traffic to turnpikes giving more direct access to the south.

The second road linking north and south was that from Leeds, through Wakefield, Barnsley, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Duffield to Derby.[3] Compared with the route further to the east, it was a bad road, clinging to the ridges wherever possible and characterised by hills of remarkable steepness where it was compelled to descend to the valleys.

Goods traffic on the section between the river port of Wakefield and the Barnsley district was heavy. English timber was brought by river from the Yorkshire plain; charcoal and Cumberland ore for Barnby Furnace; Knottingley lime for the thin, poor soils of the grits and the coalfield; groceries and luxury goods from London—all were carried along this road.

Store cattle and sheep, bought at the Fairs at Ripley and Stagshawe Bank in the north, were driven in considerable numbers along this road, to be fattened before sale to the butchers in the towns.

South of Barnsley, traffic does not seem to have been so heavy, as other places on this section of the road had independent connections with other river ports, nearer to them than Wakefield. Traffic on this part of the road seems to have been short distance—farmers attending markets at Chesterfield, Sheffield and Barnsley; merchants travelling to the Fairs there or people having business with the lawyers or estate offices in those towns.
At Barnsley, where these two trunk roads met, they were crossed by the most northerly of the longitudinal roads traversing the district. This entered Yorkshire from Manchester at Saltersbrook. It then crossed six miles of open moor and heath to Penistone. After passing through Barnsley, it headed for navigable water at Doncaster.

Another road diverged from this route at Hartcliffe Hill in Penistone, continued past the two forges at Wortley and then ran through the heart of the nailing country to Rotherham, the head of navigation on the Don from 1733 to 1751. Both roads carried a considerable volume of coal traffic. In addition, they carried cheese, salt and Manchester goods eastwards. The waggons and packhorses which brought these goods returned laden with hemp, flax and linen yarn.[4]
The most important road centre in the region was Sheffield.[5] On the northeastern side of the town, three roads converged on Lady's Bridge; the first, through Attercliffe from Worksop, the second from the inland port of Bawtry on the Idle, and the third from Doncaster and Rotherham.

Along the Worksop road, building stone and English timber entered Sheffield. From Bawtry, Rotherham and Doncaster came German steel, wainscotting from the Baltic, Dutch linens and groceries from London.

The packhorses and waggons which brought these commodities to Sheffield, returned with the products of its industry—forge iron, nails, tools and cutlery. On the west, Sheffield was linked with Lancashire by a road which climbed up to Crookes, ran over the moors to Redmires and Stanage, dropped down into the Derwent Valley near Hathersage and continued through Chapel and Manchester.

Eastwards, this road carried Manchester goods and Derbyshire dairy produce to Sheffield and millstones and lead from the quarries and smelting mills around Hathersage, through to Rotherham and Bawtry.

Westwards went a greater variety of products—timber for the lead mines, corn and groceries for the mining population, coal from the pits at Attercliffe and Wadsley, brought to Lydgate to be collected by teams from the Peak, linen yarn imported from the Continent up the Don and scythes from Norton to be sold across the Pennines. This road, despite its heavy gradients and lack of metalling over the moors, was also used by the coaches of the gentry on their way to Buxton.6
Chesterfield, the chief town of the Hundred of Scarsdale, was a road centre almost as important as Sheffield.

Three roads entered the town on the east: the first from Bawtry and Worksop, the second from Bolsover and the third from Mansfield. On the Worksop road, waggons laden with lead, forge iron and bags of nails set off from the town to Bawtry, returning with foreign timber and groceries.[7]

The Bolsover road connected the town with the main Nottingham road from Sheffield and after 1708 was used by a direct waggon service to London.[8]

On the Mansfield road, the heaviest traffic westwards was in malt, made from the barley grown on the magnesian limestone ridge, separating Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, which was transported through the town by packhorse across the East Moor to Stoney Middleton in the Peak, where the carriers were met by packhorses from Manchester to take the malt into Lancashire and Cheshire.

Eastwards, the most important traffic was coal carried from the pits lying at the foot of the magnesian limestone ridge in Derbyshire, to Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
On the west, Chesterfield was connected with tracks across the moors with the bridges over the Derwent at Matlock, Darley and Rowsley. Lead ore from the mines at Winster and Wensley was carried along these to be smelted at Kelstedge and Ashover.

Sheep and cattle were driven along these three routes over the East Moor to feed on the limestone pastures of the Peak in summer, returning in autumn to be fattened near the towns, before sale to the butcher.

The most southerly of the cross country routes climbed out of the Derwent valley near Matlock up to the East Moor, before descending to Oakerthorpe, where at Kendall's Inn, it crossed the main road from Derby to Chesterfield. At this point, it was joined by another road, running through the lead mining districts around Crich and Wirksworth to Ashbourne.

From Oakerthorpe, this road headed for navigable water at Nottingham, through Alfreton, up the steep hill out of the Erewash valley and onwards through Watnall and Nuttall. The familiar traffic pattern of lead moving eastwards and coal and malt westwards was repeated on this road.[9]
In addition to the long distance traffic through the district, there was a heavy volume of internal traffic, particularly connected with the iron industry. Iron ore and charcoal were carried in large quantities to the blast furnaces at Rockley, Chapeltown and Barnby in Yorkshire and at Wingerworth, Staveley, Foxbrooke and Whaley in Derbyshire.

Pig iron from these was distributed to the forges at Attercliffe, Sheffield, Wadsley, Roche, Staveley and Carburton. From these, forge iron was sold to the many edge tool out-workers in the area as well as to the slitting mills at Rotherham, Renishaw and Wortley.

These latter supplied bunches of rod to warehouses at Eckington, Ecclesfield, Hoyland, Howbrooke and Chapeltown, from which they were distributed to nailers in the vicinity. After the bags of nails had been collected, they were then transported, together with pig and forge iron, to Bawtry or Rotherham, to be forwarded down river to Hull.

If the figure of 20,000 outworkers employed in the Hallamshire trades in 1725 be accepted, the number of pack animals and waggons employed in distributing their raw materials and collecting the finished articles must have been large indeed.[10]

Topographically, the district with its rapid alternation of ridge and valley was a difficult one for road construction. Geologically, neither the Coal Measures nor the Magnesian Limestone formation provided good road making material for maintenance. Blast furnace slag, favoured by many village Surveyors of the Highways, although cheap and easily available, broke up quickly under the stress of heavy traffic.

Again the whole area, apart from near the four towns, was thinly populated. This fact, combined with a small rateable value and long mileage of road in many parishes, especially those on the East Moor, made it inevitable that, so long as each parish remained responsible for the roads within its own boundaries under the Act of 1555, long sections of the cross country routes should be nothing better than mere tracks.

These difficulties were often accentuated by a narrow localism, which could not see beyond the immediate interest of its own township. In Derbyshire, the Minutes of Quarter Sessions at the end of the seventeenth century, record a number of cases in which townships protested against performing Statute Labour in their own particular part of the parish. Across the Yorkshire border, this same spirit can be seen at work in Ecclesfield.[11]

In this parish, admittedly a large one—it stretched from Howbrooke Dyke to Blackburn Bridge, a distance of seven miles and from White Lane to Malin Bridge, a distance of six miles—there were no less than sixteen highway authorities and although only one warrant was issued by the West Riding Quarter Sessions for the appointment of a Surveyor, there were, in fact, twenty to thirty officials acting under this one warrant.

In 1751, the inhabitants of this parish expressed their opinion that this was the most suitable system as the parish was too large to be administered as a single unit. They defended this extreme sub-division on the grounds that the Surveyors "may attend the repairs of them [the roads] without neglecting their own private concerns"—a sentiment as to the duties of parish officers which would certainly have won universal approbation throughout the whole area.

Supervision by the Justices, with such excessive decentralisation, seems to have been extremely lax, as it was admitted that "Officers always kept the assessments themselves and either lost or destroyed them afterwards".

Again, when Nether Lane, the old main road from Sheffield to Chapeltown, was indicted in 1752, the parish of Ecclesfield repudiated all responsibility for its condition, thrusting it back on the township, which excused itself for its failure to keep the road in good condition on the grounds that the road was but little used by its inhabitants but "was perpetually torn up by Heavy Carriages with Coals for the use of the other parts of the Parish".

This narrow localism also expressed itself in a reluctance to spend money on the roads, a fact made very obvious by the few Surveyors' accounts remaining for this period, which contain little beyond a list of names of persons liable for Statute Duty, with crosses opposite these to represent the number of days worked. Apart from Chesterfield and its neighbouring townships—Newbold, Tapton and Hasland—no North Derbyshire parish consistently levied Highway Rates over any number of years during this period.

Road presentments before the Derbyshire and West Riding Quarter Sessions show that many of these main roads were in bad condition at this time. The township of Brightside Bierlow was indicted in 1700, 1729, 1734 and 1736 for the disrepair of the road out of Sheffield to Doncaster; in 1726, Nether Hallam was presented for the poor condition of the road' from Sheffield to Halifax; nine years later, the town of Rotherham was prosecuted .for its failure to repair its roads.[12]

In Derbyshire, Somercotes was indicted in 1738 and in 1746 on account of the road from Nottingham to Alfreton being "ruinous". The township of Palterton was presented in 1741 for the bad condition of the Chesterfield to Mansfield road. Three years later, Dore was prosecuted for the disrepair of the Sheffield to Manchester road. The parish of Brampton was indicted in 1749 for its failure to keep the main road linking Bakewell and Chesterfield in good condition.[13]

The general practice was for Quarter Sessions to levy a fine on the parish which was remitted when a certificate was furnished by a Justice to the effect that the road had been repaired.

Petitions to Parliament initiating turnpike legislation are unfortunately couched in the stilted jargon of the lawyer and convey little of value to the historian. Nevertheless, the persistent references to the difficulty of vehicles passing each other on the roads of the district and of using the roads in the winter, probably convey a general truth.

It is, indeed, likely that with the exception of such winters as those of 1739-40 and of 1747, when the roads were frozen as hard as iron, so that they were as good as in summer—the phrase is that used by the South Yorkshire ironmaster, William Spencer[14]—there was comparatively little traffic on the roads in winter. The account books of coalmasters show that coal was heavily stocked during the winter months and that it only began to move freely in May.

The same conclusion may be arrived at from a study of the correspondence of various business men during this period. In the third week of August, 1735, Richard Dalton, a Sheffield timber merchant, wrote to the Hull importers with whom he did business, asking them to forward the deals he had ordered "before ye roads grow bad".

At the same time, he was in communication with an Amsterdam firm from which he purchased wainscotting, informing them that as it had been shipped up the Idle to Bawtry, it would probably have to be brought to Sheffield in bad weather "which will be a great Inconvenience to me as well as more charge as I told you before wee have part Land Carriage and Carters will have more wages when Roads are bad".

In November, he wrote to Hull, complaining to the importers about a shipment of Russian and Swedish iron and Stockholm deals which had arrived at Aldwark on the Don—"I am afraid they must remain there till Spring". Simultaneously, he wrote to Amsterdam that some of the boards had arrived in Sheffield but "I don't expect any more of them this Winter the roads are grown so bad".

Later letters show him refusing offers to supply deals in October 1738 and in the same month two years after "for they will come up heavily now as we have near five miles land carriage most of them as bad as any in England".[15]

As late in this period as 1758, Anthony Tissington, the manager of one of the most important collieries in north-east Derbyshire, at Swanwick, could write to its owner that heavy rains in October had damaged the roads to such an extent that coal traffic had become impossible.[16]

A pamphlet supporting the turnpiking of the road from Chesterfield to Mansfield shows that from Pleasley, the road into Derbyshire was built from slippery flags or simply consisted of heaps of loose stones "thrown together in a chance manner without gravel to bind or cover them" with the result that waggon traffic on this road was impossible in winter.[17]

Heavy summer rains could reduce the roads to a quagmire, as can be seen from a letter written by Thomas Simpson, a Doncaster merchant, to Mrs. Copley of Sprotborough Hall, asking permission to hale boats through her land on the grounds that "by reason of ye great rains yt have happened this summer ye roads have been and still are almost impossible for Carts and Carriages which have occassioned a great Scarcity of Coals at and below Doncaster".[18]

Bad road conditions naturally increased the cost of road transport to such an extent that it was out of all proportion to the freight charges on the inland navigations. An undated memorandum drawn up by William Spencer—probably in the thirties— shows that despite the difference in distance, the cost of sending bar iron by road from Wortley Forge to Rotherham and from there to Hull by water was approximately the same.[19]
In winter, transport costs doubled, as carriers attempted to recoup themselves for the loss of time resulting from delays on the unmetalled roads of the period, badly broken by rain and heavy traffic. [19]

It is therefore apparent that the roads in this district, as maintained under the Act of 1555, severely handicapped its economic development. This system had failed
to provide anything more than moorland tracks on vital lines of communication and nowhere had it resulted in roads which could be used all the year round. The expansion in coal mining, the increase in the output of lead, the growth of the secondary metallurgical industries, the development of the manufacture of glass and pottery and the continuous increase in food production, were all placing a growing burden upon a method of road maintenance ill-prepared to sustain it.

TURNPIKE LEGISLATION

This situation was not, of course, peculiar to this area. It was, in fact, general throughout the country. The solution to the problem was everywhere the same—the adoption of the principle of making road users pay for road repairs through tolls paid to Turnpike Trusts.

The first roads in the region to be turnpiked were the cross country roads carrying the heaviest volume of goods traffic. In 1739, an Act was obtained to turnpike the road from Bakewell, through Chesterfield, to Worksop, primarily with the object of improving the route from the lead mining districts in the High Peak through the river port of Bawtry on the Idle.

However, little use was made of the Act and when it was renewed in 1758, no attempt had been made to turnpike the road from Bakewell to Chesterfield and despite an expenditure of £5,225, only some six miles of the Worksop road had been repaired, the remainder being "founderous". [20]

The most northerly of the cross country routes, that from Doncaster, through Barnsley and Penistone, to the boundary of the West Riding at Saltersbrook, was made into a turnpike in 1740, thereby giving through communication with Manchester, as the road on the other side of the Pennines had been turnpiked in 1732. Although it had been no part of the original scheme, a clause was added to the Bill in the Committee stage whereby the Hartcliffe Hill road to Rotherham, then temporarily the head of navigation on the Don, was made into a turnpike, largely to facilitate the distribution of goods from Aldwark.

Between the beginning of the War of Austrian Succession and the opening of the Seven Years' War there was a lull in turnpike development in the district. During the next eight years, there was a spate of Acts, by which almost all the cross country routes were made into turnpikes.

In 1758, the road from Little Sheffield over the moors to Hathersage, through Castleton to Sparrow Pit Gate on the Chapel-en-le-Frith Road was turnpiked. This Act also turnpiked another road which crossed the county boundary near Barbers Field Cupola, dropped down to Grindleford Bridge, climbed steeply up the Sir William Hill, continued past the important group of lead mines on Eyam Edge, clung to the narrow ridge overlooking the moors on every side towards Hucklow, dropped to Tideswell and continued forward through Fairfield to Buxton. [21]

Both these roads joined branches of the Sherbrooke Hill Trust's roads into Lancashire, turnpiked some years earlier. To contemporaries, they were "the finest roads imaginable"; made from small stones covered with clay, sand and fine gravel, consolidated by frost and winter weather. [22]

In the following year, three more important cross country routes were turnpiked. To the east of Chesterfield, the road through Heath and Glapwell was turnpiked to Mansfield. Despite an expenditure of some £4,000 on its repair, the road was in wretched condition in 1780, threatened with indictment with a falling income at a time when heavy expenditure was essential.[23]

To the west of the town, the main road through Brampton, over the East Moor to Curbar Gap— where the Trust constructed a new road, straight as an arrow, totally ignoring all gradients—down the precipitous slope into the Derwent valley, up Middleton Dale to Hernstone Lane Head, where it met the turnpikes from Buxton, Sheffield and Manchester, was also turnpiked.

In addition, this Act authorised the Trust to turnpike the roads between Calver and Baslow bridges and from the latter through Hassop and Great Longstone to rejoin the main road at Wardlow Mires. Finally, in that year the most southerly of the cross country roads from the lead mining areas around Crich and Winster to the Trent at Nottingham was turnpiked by the Newhaven Trust. By 1777vthis authority had spent £8,465 on repairing the road and three years later, they, claimed to have expended a total of some £17,000 on putting this and other roads connecting it with the turnpike linking Ashbourne and Buxton into repair.[24]

In the following year, the road from Chesterfield to Matlock was turnpiked, largely through the efforts of Thomas Holland of Ford Hall, Higham, who did much to raise an interest in the scheme and to solicit subscriptions for it from local landowners and lead merchants. This Act also turnpiked two branch roads across the East Moor, both constructed by the Trust with almost Roman directness, down to the bridges at Rowsley and Darley, thereby improving communications between the lead mining areas to the west of the Derwent and the smelting plants at Kelstedge and Bowers Mill.

In South Yorkshire, the road linking the two river ports at Tinsley and Bawtry were turnpiked in that year. Four years later, an Act was passed turnpiking the road from Tinsley to Rotherham, then along the magnesian limestone ridge east of the Don, past Conisborough and its Norman castle, through Warmsworth into Doncaster. Arthur Young, with his customary forthright language, condemned the part from Tinsley to Rotherham as "execrably bad, very stony and excessively full of holes".[25]

In the same year, another Act turnpiked the road from Attercliffe, through Handsworth and Anston to Worksop. Turnpiking cannot have improved this road very much as twenty-two years later, the first two miles out of Sheffield were denounced as "execrable", the next two as "so cut up and bad as hardly to be safe" and the remainder as "all rugged and jumbling".[26]

Finally, in that year, an Act set up the High Moors Trust, which "turnpiked a series of secondary roads connecting the turnpikes running out of Chesterfield to Worksop, Sheffield, Hernstone Lane Head, Rowsley, Darley and Matlock. In less than a decade, the main east to west roads out of Sheffield, Chesterfield and Alfreton had been turnpiked, so that the lead mining areas of the Peak, the coalfield, the agricultural districts of the magnesian limestone ridge and the river ports serving them were linked by a number of turnpikes, spaced at intervals of about twelve miles distance from one another. It is, however, obvious from the reports of travellers that turnpiking did not mean any automatic improvement in condition and that comparatively large sums of money might be expended on repairs with few results.

These years also saw the turnpiking of the main trunk routes from north to south. In 1756, the road from Derby to Sheffield through Chesterfield was made into a turnpike. In the following year, largely through the influence of Lord Strafford, the road linking Wakefield with Sheffield was turnpiked. At first, the weight of tolls was resented by its users, but the Trustees defended their scale of charges by the assertion that its critics "must own the vast amendment it is, from'the uncommon badness and inconvenience of the Road before the Turnpike was established "and by what undoubtedly was true, that many of the existing turnpikes were at that date in bad repair through failure to charge adequate tolls.[27]

These roads not only opened up a new route to Bath, Bristol and the West of England but also to the capital, reducing the old trunk route through Mansfield and Rotherham by the end of the century to the status of a mere country highway, of purely local importance.

By 1764, the framework of the turnpike system in the region had been built up. The Trusts created by Parliament had, however, in general only taken over the existing roads and repaired them. As wherever possible the preturnpiked roads had followed the ridges which dominate so much of this countryside, the turnpikes inherited the severe gradients where these roads descended into the valleys. Even where the Trusts had been compelled to build new lines of road to replace the tracks across the East Moor, these roads terminated in hills of exceptional severity. Such slopes could be negotiated by packhorses but the expansion of wheeled traffic in the shape of mail coach and stage waggon demanded the easing of these gradients. As a result, the War of American Independence saw the passing of a number of Acts to construct new turnpikes or to improve old ones with this object in view.

Communication between Hallamshire, with its important cutlery and edge tool industries and Liverpool, through which a considerable part of its produce was exported to America, was still, despite the turnpiking of the roads through Sparrow Pit and Tideswell, extremely difficult, as traffic had to negotiate such hills as the Sir William or the Winnats.

In 1781, an Act constituting the Greenhill Moor Trust, authorised it to turnpike an easier route off the Chesterfield Turnpike through Holmesfield, past Owler Bar to Hathersage Booth, down the steep slope to Hazelford Bridge, and on to Hathersage. Forward from Hathersage, the road remained a difficult one, as a Frenchman discovered riding along it one fine autumn day at the end of the century, when his experiences prompted him to write that travelling along it was as disagreeable and as tiring as riding along ordinary roads in the depth of winter.

In 1809, the Sparrow Pit Trustees prepared estimates to expend some £9,000 on improving their road on Dore Moor, near the Odin Mine at Castleton and at Mam Tor through to Chapel-en-le-Frith. Two years later, they obtained the necessary statutory powers to effect these improvements whereby the long hauls up from Hazleford Bridge and through the Winnats were at last eliminated.

The main road from Duffield northwards, through Chesterfield to Sheffield, was characterised by no less than eleven hills with gradients more severe than one in nine, on which ten horses were required to drag waggons. The section between Sheffield and Chesterfield was largely rebuilt under an Act of 1795, which empowered the Trust to abandon long stretches of the road, notorious for their poor condition—they were immediately indicted once the Trust had abandoned them—above the River Drone, around Coal Aston and Old Whittington and to construct new roads down the valley, thereby both decreasing the gradient and straightening the course of the turnpike.[29]

South of Higham, a new road, running across less undulating country than the old Derby Turnpike, had been built under an Act of 1786, through Shirland and Alfreton to Swanwick, from where in 1802, a new turnpike had been constructed past Butterley Works, through Ripley down to Derby.

Although this new route from Sheffield to Derby was still very hilly, it was so much superior to the old road, turnpiked in 1756, that it speedily superseded it as the main artery of north to south traffic.

North of Sheffield, the Wakefield Turnpike had difficult hills at Chapeltown, Tankersley and Hoyland. A somewhat easier road northward was obtained by turn-piking the road to Penistone in 1777. In 1805, another Act authorised the turnpiking of the road from Wadsley to Langsett, giving northbound traffic access to the woollen towns of the West Riding and traffic heading west into Lancashire an easier route to the Saltersbrook turnpike.

By Waterloo, little remained to be done in the way of turnpiking. With one exception, the schemes carried out were small and of little consequence. Revenue in all cases proved disappointing. Almost all proved from the standpoint of their shareholders abortive investments. In 1818, an Act was obtained to turnpike the road from Brampton Bierlow on the Tankersley to Rotherham road with Hooton Roberts on the main road from Doncaster to Rotherham.

Three years later, constructed across 23 miles of open moorland, with what contemporaries considered to be a remarkably easy rise and fall—it was even described as a "level road"[30] —a new turnpike was opened from Sheffield to Glossop, to facilitate communication from the former town to Manchester.

In 1826, the road from Barnby Moor on the Great North Road near Blyth was turnpiked through to Maltby on the turnpike linking Sheffield and Bawtry. In the following year, another short road connecting two turnpikes out of Mansfield— those to Chesterfield and Ashover—was made into a turnpike from Tibshelf to Temple Norrhanton.[31]

A decade later, the construction of a new road from the obelisk on Birdwell Common to Ruggen House linked the Wakefield and Penistone turnpikes out of Sheffield, thereby giving traffic to the former town the advantage of a road with much smaller gradients than that turnpiked in 1757. Three years later, a series of lanes in the triangle between the Worksop and the Sheffield roads out of Chesterfield and the main road from Sheffield to Worksop was turnpiked.[32]

In 1841, the Tinsley and Doncaster Trust obtained an Act empowering them to build a new road from Swinton Station on the North Midland Railway through to their road at Conisborough. The object of this branch was partly to open up a new line of road to the railway, partly to supersede an old road, down in the Don valley, always liable to floods and partly to divert traffic from Swinton to Doncaster on to the Tinsley to Doncaster Turnpike, thereby increasing its revenue.[33]

The last turnpike authority to be created in this area was for the road from Tinsley to Doncaster, set up in 1849. Peculiarly enough, this same road was the subject of the first turnpike legislation in the district, as the Don Navigation in their Act of 1726 received powers to make a road from Lady's Bridge to Tinsley "either sett and pitched with boulders or trench'd thrown up and gravelled at least seven yards wide".

In return, the Navigation was to levy a toll of a penny per ton for the use of the road. Although the need for this road arose in 1751 when the river had been improved as far up as Tinsley, the Company proved very dilatory in building it and it was not until 1758 that the contract was awarded for its construction.

The road soon proved a financial liability to the Navigation, costing £3,500 a year more to maintain than was received in tolls, as the road was badly cut up by many narrow wheeled vehicles on their way to the wharfs at Tinsley. As a result, when in 1760, an attempt was made to turnpike the road from Bawtry to Tinsley, the Navigation eagerly seized the opportunity to petition Parliament that their road should become part of the new turnpike.

The Bawtry Trust, naturally, had no wish to bear this burden and successfully resisted this plan of the Don Company to shift part of their legal liabilities on to shoulders much less able to bear it. [34]

A second opportunity came for the Navigation to rid itself of the road when it was proposed to construct a canal from the terminus of the Don Navigation at Tinsley into Sheffield in 1815. Using every opportunity to intimidate the Canal Company by threatening it with prolonged opposition in Committee, the Navigation was successful in its efforts to compel the Canal Company to take over the responsibility for the road.

Its new owners soon found that it was costing them oves £1,600 a year to maintain. Further, in 1828 the road was indicted and the Canal Company forced to tear up the boulders and macadamise it.

With the opening of the railway from Rotherham to Sheffield and the consequent decrease in their revenue, the Canal Company decided that there was no necessity for them to continue to repair the road. Soon, it developed ruts so large that it was alleged that a man might lie down in them and not be seen. Naturally, the road was indicted and much to their surprise the townships along the road—Brightside Bierlow, Attercliffe and Tinsley—found that, despite the various Acts of Parliament concerning the road, they were legally still responsible for its maintenance.

Faced by such a verdict, they sued the Canal Company, which by a turn of the wheel of fortune, had ironically enough once more become the property of the Don Company. As the latter was adamant in its determination to have finished with the road and the parishes equally obstinate in their belief that they had no responsibility for it, the ensuing litigation proved costly. Finally, the two parties were persuaded to meet at Pontefract Sessions in April, 1849, and in the following month, with Sheffield Town Council, the Doncaster to Tinsley Trust and Earl Fitzwilliam holding watching briefs—they were equally interested in the provision of a good road with low tolls between Sheffield and Tinsley—it was agreed that a new Trust should be set up.

The Navigation, however, had to pay £2,000 towards putting the road into good repair and to give the townships compensation for their legal expenses. Once the Bill had gone through Parliament, the Trust had to negotiate with the Midland Railway Company as to the siting of the toll bar at the Sheffield end of the turnpike, the Railway Company finally making an annual ex-gratia payment of £100 to prevent it being positioned between their station and the town. [35]

It is thus evident that the smooth passage of a Turnpike Bill through Parliament was dependent upon the success of the preliminary negotiations between the various parties interested in a particular road—local corporate bodies, business interests concerned, other Trusts and above all the local landowners. Particularly vital was the support of the aristocracy, whose capital, territorial power and political influence in Parliament were all essential at each stage in the promotion of a Bill.

In South Yorkshire, the most important of all families were the owners of the Wentworth property. Their interference can be discerned in a number of turnpike schemes. In 1764, a group of merchants and landowners in and around Sheffield planned to turnpike the road from Rotherham to Pleasley. In view of the importance of this road at this time and that the roads northward out of Barnsley had already been made into turnpikes, it was hoped that the intervening section from Barnsley to Rotherham, then in poor condition, might also be made a turnpike road.

While the Bill was in the Committee stage, Fenton, the Marquis of Rockingham's able lawyer and agent, suggested that a clause might be added to it, turnpiking the road from Rotherham to Tankersley, on the main Sheffield to Wakefield road. As this road ran through the Wentworth property, its value might be expected to increase with the improvement of communications.

As this was a much longer road than the more usual route between the two towns through Wombwell, Fenton attempted to quieten opposition to the project by calling in Metcalfe to survey the two roads to prove that the longer road would actually be cheaper to put into good condition, as part of it was "already a Road thrown up & Covered in the Manner of a Turnpike".

Fenton also arranged to supply witnesses to give the required evidence before the Committee and despite local hostility to the scheme, a clause was tacked on to the Pleasley Bill, authorising the turnpiking of the road through the Rockingham property.[36]

In the same year, another Bill was introduced to turnpike the road from Doncaster to Tinsley, avoiding Hooton Roberts on the Wentworth estate. On Fenton pointing out the disadvantage of this to the Marquis, he intervened to persuade the promoters of the Trust to restore the road to its original line.

In 1801, when it was proposed to extend the Greenhill Moor Turnpike through to Sheffield by a road branching off the turnpike to Chesterfield, a mile outside the town, through Abbeydale and Ecclesall Woods, thereby opening up a route competitive with the Sparrow Pit Road, the Trust sought the support of Earl Fitzwilliam, who had property along the new road in Ecclesall. In promoting the Bill, they had aroused the hostility of the Duke of Norfolk, one of the largest shareholders in the Sparrow Pit Road, as the new road would render a large section of the older turnpike "almost useless and unprofitable".

While the Greenhill Moor Trustees were appealing to the public spirit of earl Fitzwilliam by assuring him that their new road would be "a much leveller as well as a more warmer road and with better materials than the present mountainous and exposed road over the High Moors", the Sparrow Pit Trust were appealing to the Dukes of Norfolk and of Devonshire for their support in the rejection of "this idle project" in Committee and considering how to draw the attention of Members interested in road questions to their case.[37]

Finally, a compromise was agreed upon whereby the Greenhill Moor Trust were to pay the Sparrow Pit Road £100 annually as compensation for the loss of traffic. In 1840, the promoters of a Bill to turnpike the road from Greenhill Moor to Eckington wrote to the fifth Earl, who owned a small detached property along this road, asking for his vote in the Lords, which he agreed to give in this particular case, although expressing his dislike for turnpikes in general. [38]

The political influence of the nobility could be sufficient to block turnpike Bills which they considered to be detrimental to their own interests. In 1780, the Gander Lane Trust considered carrying forward their turnpike from Sheffield to Clowne as far as Budby, on the main road from Worksop to Kelham. They employed the Sheffield firm of Fairbank to make the plans; and in 1782, advertisements were inserted in the local papers to the effect that the Trust intended to apply for an Act to turnpike two roads from Clowne and Renishaw Bridge to Budby and in addition, what was notoriously a bad road, that from Bolsover to Chesterfield.[39]

No application was, however, made to Parliament at this time. Eight years later the project was revived. It was asserted that the turnpiking of these roads would serve many ends. It would give through communication by turnpike between Lancashire, the Great North Road and Lincolnshire; it would improve transport between the newly established cotton and woollen mills at Cuckney, their suppliers and customers in Lincolnshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire; it would enable malt made for the Lancashire market at Newark to reach its destination more rapidly and it would facilitate the supply of lime from the magnesian limestone ridge to farms on the poor sandy soil around Cuckney.[40]

Although the project received support from Sheffield, Rotherham and Newark and from the Duke of Kingston and Lord Bathurst, it was opposed from the beginning by the Duke of Portland. Unfortunately, the correspondence fails to disclose any reason for his attitude, although it may have been connected with the petition of the Mansfield to Rotherham Trust against the Bill, alleging that the proposed extension ran parallel to their own road for many miles, that their turnpike was in good condition, that their tolls were moderate and that subscribers had invested their capital "on the implied Faith of Parliament, that no needless new Road should at any Time be made to their Detriment"[41]

The Bill was lost by a large majority as a result of "the formidable and united Exertions of the Portland, Devonshire and Bedford families "supported by such"auxiliary troops—as Edmund Burke and Michael Angela Taylor" who attended "not only to vote but to make Speeches". A second attempt made in 1811 was more successful, as although some sections of the road had to be sacrificed to the opposition of the Duke of Portland, power was obtained to turnpike the road from Clowne through Cuckney to Budby.[42]

Second only to the interests of the nobility to be considered were those of the gentry. In 1758, the Sheffield promoters of the turnpike to Buxton, with their minds fixed on the through traffic to Manchester, naturally wished the road to be as straight as possible across Tideswell Moor. To achieve this they planned to avoid Tideswell itself and to route their road through Wheston. The former proposal alarmed the gentry who lived in the town, as they had no wish to see Tideswell left a rural backwater.

The latter proposal angered Robert Freeman, the most important landowner in Wheston, who was completely antagonistic to the idea of a turnpike cutting through his land. This opposition proved so strong that the Trust was forced to re-route the road through Tideswell and to avoid Wheston, with the result that the turnpike ran up and down Monksdale, with particularly atrocious gradients.[43]

In the same year, when the Hernstone Lane Head Turnpike was being considered, it was feared in Tideswell that it would result in tolls being imposed at the junction of the three turnpikes on the moors, on coal led from Cheshire. Pressure brought by the local gentry was sufficient to secure a promise that no such tolls would be exacted.[44]

In the last decade of the century, the line of the Sheffield to Chesterfield Turnpike through Norton Park was laid down according to the wishes of the Shore family, the most important landowners in the village, who had no wish to have the road too near their home.[45]

Nor could the interest of the business community be neglected. In 1740, Cavendish Neville of Chevet, a landowner with property south of Wakefield, wrote to William Spencer of Cannon Hall, asking him for his support for the proposed Saltersbrook Turnpike over the moors to Lancashire. Spencer replied that his backing was assured as the advantages it would bring would more than outweigh the sole disadvantage he could foresee—that improved communication would enable wheat grown on the Yorkshire Plain to be sold around Barnsley, thereby lowering farm rents in that district.[48]

The Influence of the Cutlers' Company, with an eye to better roads linking Hallamshire with Lancashire and the desire of the Wortley family to improve the roads through their property, were responsible for the inclusion in this Bill of a clause whereby the road from Hartcliffe Hill in Penistone, past the forges at Wortley, was to be turnpiked.[47] Nevertheless, despite these preliminary negotiations, a fierce wrangle arose in Committee between Wortley and the Earl of Effingham, on whose Rotherham property there were collieries, as to where the toll gates were to be placed on the Hartcliffe Hill road, Effingham naturally wishing them to be so sited as to cause the minimum interference with coal traffic. [48]

The Act turnpiking the road from Newhaven House to Nottingham, passed in 1759, contained clauses giving concessionary tolls to coal and lead. The lowered tolls on coal were probably the result of a letter from Anthony Tissington, the manager of Swanwick Colliery, much of the production of which was sold as fuel for the Newcomen engines at the Winster lead mines on this road, to Thomas Thoroton, M.P., the owner of the property, asking him to press for this in the House.

The concession given to lead probably resulted from correspondence between Nicholas Twigg, the leading lead merchant in mid-eighteenth century Derbyshire, and Isaac Bonne, agent to Robert Banks Hodgkinson of Overton Hall, Ashover.

Twigg, who had shares in both the Winster mines and in the Ashover smelting plant, wrote to Bonne to appeal to Hodgkinson, then living in London, to use his influence with Members of Parliament to secure the incorporation-of a clause in the Act, lowering tolls on lead ore carried over Darley Bridge, in order to prevent an increase in the production costs of pig lead.

TURNPIKE FINANCE


Shareholders in the various Trusts in the area, so far as can be ascertained from the somewhat scanty number of lists of subscribers available, were almost exclusively local landowners, coalmasters and merchants, all of whom might expect to benefit financially by the improvement of communications around Sheffield.

Complete lists of shareholders exist for four Trusts controlling roads to the east of the town. The chief subscribers to the Rotherham and Pleasley Turnpike were the Dukes of Portland and of Leeds; the Earl of Holderness; Gilbert Rhodes of Barlborough Hall; E. Sacheverall Pole of Park Hall, Barlborough, and John Hewett of Shireoaks. The Earl of Holderness, Rhodes and Hewett were also shareholders in the Attercliffe to Worksop Turnpike.

Other subscribers were the Duke of Norfolk, William Mellish of Blyth Hall, Henry Athorpe of Dinnington Hall, Noble Champion of Worksop and the Rev. John Stacey of Ballifield. The Duke of Leeds, the Earl of Surrey and Rhodes were included amongst the principal shareholders in the Gander Lane Trust.

Other subscribers were the Duke of Devonshire, Francis Sitwell of Renishaw and John Parker of Woodthorpe. Three other shareholders in this Trust were John Inkersall, one of the most important edge tool makers in the district; George Townshend, the lessee of the Norfolk collieries in the Park; and Samuel Peach, a Sheffield coach proprietor.

The Sitwell, Rhodes and Parker families were shareholders in the Clowne and Budby Turnpike. Other subscribers included the Duke of Portland, Earl Manvers, the Bowdens of Southgate House and Appleby, Walker and Company of Renishaw Ironworks[49]

The chief shareholders in the Sheffield to Penistone Trust were the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Bute, the Town of Sheffield and the Company of Cutlers. Other subscribers were Thomas Steade of Onseacre; Thomas Rawson of Wardsend, the leading tanner in the district; J. and G. Kenyon, edge tool and steel manufacturers; and Thomas Broadbent, the lessee of a number of grinding wheels on the Norfolk property in Sheffield.[50]

When the road was improved in 1825, over half the additional capital was provided by the Wortley family and the Thorncliffe ironmasters, Newton, Chambers and Company. Capital for the parallel road from Sheffield to Wakefield was largely provided by the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Strafford, the Marquis of Rockingham and Sir Thomas Wentworth.[51]

Another South Yorkshire Turnpike Trust, set up in 1809 to improve the road from the north end of Rotherham to Pottery Lane in Swinton was largely financed by Earl Fitzwilliam and his heir Lord Milton. The remainder of the shares were taken up by such local families as the Walkers of Masborough, the Rents and the Bingleys, all interested in one way or another in. heavy industry and coalmining.

On the west of Sheffield, the Dukes of Norfolk, Rutland and Devonshire were the most important shareholders in the Sparrow Pit Trust. Other subscribers were Vincent Eyre, the Duke of Norfolk's agent, and the Reverend William Bagshawe, a member of a family owning estates at both ends of the road.[52]

When, in 1812, the Trust was empowered to construct a new road from Fox House to Banner Cross, the Duke of Devonshire lent it £6,000 for this purpose. He and the Duke of Norfolk were chiefly responsible for making it possible to finance the Glossop Turnpike, as when it proved impossible to raise the necessary capital, the two Dukes gave their personal security that interest due would be met—a step which induced investors to lend the necessary finance.

Two roads joined Ashover, with its lead mines and smelting plants, with the coalfield. Most of the capital for these Trusts was provided by local landowners, partners in the lead mines and in the lead mining cupolas. Prominent amongst them were the Duke of Devonshire, Godfrey Clarke of Somersall, John Woodyeare of Walton and Robert Banks Hodgkinson, all of whom had property adjacent to the roads. Amongst the shareholders in nearby lead mines or cupolas were Peter Nightingale, Richard Wilkinson, Isaac Bowne, John Twigge, William Milnes and various members of the Bourne, Towndrow, Allen and Willamot families, the latter group all connected with the most famous of eighteenth century Derbyshire lead mines, the Gregory Mine beneath Ravenstor in Ashover.

Information as to shareholders in other roads is fragmentary. The Duke of Devonshire, as befitted his position as the most important landowner in North Derbyshire, subscribed liberally to the Trusts controlling the roads from Sheffield to Duffield, from Nottingham to Newhaven and from Chesterfield to Hernstone Lane Head. When, in 1812, the latter Trust constructed a new road connecting Chesterfield with Baslow, planned to eliminate the worst of the gradients over the East Moor, the capital for this was provided by the Duke. When the Third District of the Newhaven Trust turnpiked the road from Wirksworth Moor to Longstone in 1759, the money necessary was provided by John Barker of Bakewell, lead merchant, and by two Chesterfield men, Francis Slater, a merchant, and Bernard Lucas, a grocer.
Few owners of Turnpike securities can have congratulated themselves upon their choice of investment.[53]

The exceptions were shares in Trusts controlling long stretches of road, such as the fifty-eight miles long Hernstone Lane Head Trust, the thirty-one miles long Nottingham to Newhaven Road, the Sheffield to Wakefield Trust with its twenty-two miles of main road or the Tinsley to Doncaster Trust with its thirteen miles of trunk road, all of which paid regular dividends of about 5% until the early Railway Age.

These bodies could meet the heavy administrative and legal expenses inevitable in running such organisations, which could easily bankrupt a short Road with a small revenue from tolls—for example, the Tinsley to Doncaster Trust spent well over £1,100 in 1841 in obtaining powers to turnpike four and a half miles of road between Swinton and Conisborough.

Inadequate income resulting from control of too small a length of road must be ascribed as the cause of financial situations such as that of the four-mile-long Temple Normanton to Tibshelf road, which, turnpiked in 1827, converted £1,261 of unpaid interest into capital eight years later, or that of the Rotherham to Swinton Trust, set up in 1809 to turnpike three miles of road, which in 1821 similarly converted £1,733.

Indeed, in too many cases, shareholders must have re-echoed the words of a Sheffield lawyer, Bernard Wake, written in 1817, that money invested in Turnpikes was "in innumerable instances, after the lapse of time—considered as lost to their original lenders and their families for ever or is treated as a Property of little value".[54]

This accusation was levelled specifically at the Attercliffe to Worksop Trust, controlling some sixteen miles of road, which had a deplorable financial record. After borrowing £4,000 in 1767, it raised another £3,000 in loans over the next three years. In 1817, with arrears of interest, the debt of this Trust amounted to £12,500. This position was not the result of too short a road, nor of corruption, malpractice or incompetence on the part of the Trustees. It arose solely out of selfishness of the business community of Sheffield.

When the Trust was set up initially, an agreement was made with the Town that no toll bar was to operate nearer to Attercliffe than Blacksmith's Smithy. The consequence was that a large volume of traffic used a part of the road without payment. In 1782 the Trustees, realising the danger of this to their finances, decided to introduce a Bill to put up another bar nearer Attercliffe. This provoked the Master Cutler to attend a meeting of the Trust to remind it of the previous agreement.

Two years later, the Trustees once again reconsidered this step, but the idea was abandoned when it was realised that their financial position was so desperate that they could not afford the luxury of opposition from the Town when their Bill came up for renewal.

In 1786, another attempt was made, supported by Vincent Eyre, agent of the Duke of Norfolk. Once more the Master Cutler intervened, vigorously denouncing the proposal at a meeting at which it was asserted that any such step would increase the price of coal from the pits at Attercliffe, that other collieries would follow suit and that, in all, a new toll bar would cost the Sheffield cutlery trade another £500 annually in fuel.

Hence, the continued failure of the Trust to meet its obligations and the revolt of its shareholders against the diversion—or so they considered it—of tolls from the payment of interest to the repair of the road. Their protest was, in fact, successful, as an agreement was made between them and the Trustees whereby, when the Tolls amounted to over £1,000 a year, 5°/c was to be paid to them as current dividend and another 5 % to wipe out arrears.[55]

Another road with a similar financial history was the Gander Lane Trust, controlling thirteen miles of road between Sheffield and Killamarsh. In 1831, it was paying interest due in 1820; by 1840, it had converted £2,543 of unpaid interest into capital. Once more, the same reason—traffic which paid no tolls—was the cause of this unhappy plight.

When the Trust was formed, it took over the road from Intake through the Park into Sheffield, which formerly had been a private road owned by the Duke of Norfolk. In return, the Trust agreed that no tolls should be collected nearer Sheffield than the entrance to the Park or from coal mined on the Norfolk property at Woodthorpe and Gleadless.

In 1821, the Trust decided to introduce a Bill to authorise it to place a new toll bar between the Deep Pits and the town. The lessees of the Norfolk collieries immediately petitioned the Duke against this proposal on the grounds that it would increase the price of their coal in Sheffield at a time when they were beginning to feel the competition of coal mined in the Dearne Valley brought in by the newly opened Tinsley Canal. The influence of the Duke was such that the Act contained a clause explicitly confirming the complete exemption of coal mined on the Norfolk property from payment of toll.[56]

Economic decay was yet another factor in the financial plight of a number of Trusts. Most of the turnpikes around Ashover had been made either to facilitate the transport of coal to that place or of lead away from it.

While the Gregory Mine there was prosperous, the Mansfield Road paid an annual dividend of 5% from the time it was formed to 1780. With the decline in lead production, so its traffic slackened and by 1823 the Trust was twelve years behind in the payment of interest.

The record of the Chesterfield to Matlock Trust was even worse. It had encountered difficulties even when lead output was high, as its Act gave exceptions and concessions to various articles transported on the road. As lead output fell, revenue decreased so seriously that it was only paying interest due in 1804 in 1828.

The High Moors Trust, which crossed the various arms of the Matlock and Hernstone Lane Head Turnpikes, was another road to suffer not only from the decay of the lead industry in Ashover, but also from the general depression in that industry throughout Derbyshire in the early thirties, caused by the competition of the much cheaper Spanish metal. As the demand for coal for smelting and pumping declined, its tolls fell off so much that by 1843 the Trust owed £4,500 in unpaid interest.

Some Trusts owed their precarious financial position to competition from other roads. The Hartcliffe Hill road was one of the first turnpikes to lose its through traffic by the opening of a competitive road. Turnpiked when the Don had been made navigable to Aldwark, its importance disappeared when the river was improved to Tinsley and the Sparrow Pit Road offered more direct communication with Manchester. By 1762, its tolls were insufficient to keep the road in repair, much of it, indeed, having relapsed into the hands of the parishes through which it ran.[57]

The Sparrow Pit road, in its turn, lost much of its Lancashire traffic when through communication was established with the West Riding. Heavy traffic in coal and lead kept the Trust solvent until the opening of the French Revolutionary Wars. The collapse of lead mining in Eyam, competition first from the Greenhill Moor Turnpike and later from the Snake Road, however, placed the Trust in such a difficult position that by 1840 it owed its shareholders £4,476 in back interest.

Many of the Trusts were, therefore, insolvent on the eve of the Railway Age. The abolition of Statute Labour, with the loss of income derived from its composition, only drove them nearer to complete bankruptcy.

Then came the competition of the railways, which in a decade reduced the income of the Tinsley to Doncaster Trust to a sixth of what it had been in 1840;

caused the Treasurer of the Sheffield to Wakefield Trust to suspend payment of interest the day the North Midland Railway was opened;

led to such a diversion of traffic from the Worksop to Attercliffe Turnpike to the Chesterfield Canal between Worksop and Eckington, where goods could be transferred to the North Midland line, that it proved impossible to let the toll bars by auction;

almost ruined the section of road controlled by the Sheffield to Duffield Trust which ran parallel to the railway from Chesterfield southwards and plunged the Glossop Road so deep in the morass of bankruptcy that, by 1849, the two Dukes in fulfilment of their guarantee, had been compelled to advance £10,700 to pay off the arrears of interest.

The Trust was so badly hit by railway competition that at a time when it cost £2,900 annually to repair the road, its income dropped to between £300 and £500 a year. Indeed, Sir George Grey of the Road Office proposed that in view of "the hopeless financial position" of the authority in the middle of the century, the road should revert to the public, a suggestion which naturally found no favour with the shareholders, so' that the Trust dragged on another twenty-five years before it was abolished. [58]

THE CONDITION OF THE TURNPIKE ROADS


In view of the financial weakness of so many Trusts, it is reasonable to suppose that many of their roads were in poor condition. Aiken, a competent witness, writing in 1795, of the turnpikes in the Sheffield district, asserted that the majority of them were bad and damned fifty years of turnpike maintenance when he wrote that "more attention is now beginning to be paid to them than formerly".[59]

Across the county boundary in Derbyshire, the turnpikes seem to have been in better condition at this period, as Thomas Brown, the Reporter of the Board of Agriculture, found them to be good—a verdict substantiated by the most reliable of all witnesses on Derbyshire at this period, Farey, who wrote that, in general, its turnpikes were above the average in the country.[60]

Nevertheless, he had a number of criticisms of roads badly repaired. The High Moors Turnpike, mended with pottery refuse, was in a poor state of repair.

The road into Sheffield near Intake Bar on the Gander Lane Turnpike was repaired with such big pieces of ganister that even the heavy coal carts using it were heavily jolted about.

Another road in a similar condition was that from Chesterfield to Matlock. All three of these roads were hard hit financially. In 1824, the Trustees of the Worksop to Attercliffe Turnpike admitted in their Minutes that their road needed reconstruction from end to end.

In 1829, the Post Office complained bitterly about the condition of the road from Derby to Alfreton, alleging that coaches on it threaded their way, like ships at sea amongst shoals.

In 1840, the western part of the Saltersbrook Turnpike was under indictment, as was part of the road from Swinton into Rotherham. It is, therefore, plain that some Trusts were in no financial position to maintain their roads in good condition.

Harsh criticism was also expressed as to the condition of the main trunk route through from Wakefield to Derby, controlled by only two Trusts, one of which was at least as strong financially as any in the area. In 1829, a Surveyor's report on the section from Wakefield to Sheffield, referring to the appalling gradients at Mount Vernon and Chapeltown, asserted that only a small mileage on this road was "compatible with the present rapid method of travelling in this country".[61]

Another accurate witness, Sir Richard Phillips, writing in the same year made the same point when he wrote of the Barnsley Road out of Sheffield that "Postillions and stage coachmen execrate it as the worst stage for horses in the Kingdom".[62]

On the eve of the Railway Age, the whole route from Derby to Wakefield was "reckoned one of the worst roads in England by travellers and coachmen".[63]

To appraise the condition of the turnpike roads in this district with any degree of accuracy is, however, an impossibility. Too many records have vanished; without them it is impossible to feel the pulse of the system, to assess its vitality. Nevertheless; the weight of evidence suggests that there was dissatisfaction with many roads.

In addition to financial difficulties, the organisation of the Trusts was not conducive to the construction of good roads. Too often, the clerk, a lawyer such as John Charge of Chesterfield or Bernard Wake of Sheffield, seems to have been the dominating personality on many Trusts, who inevitably looked at things through legal glasses, being ignorant of engineering matters.

There, too, seems to have been a dearth of men trained in the science of civil engineering. The Glossop Trust employed the younger J. L. McAdam for a period but his services were soon dispensed with on the grounds that the Trust could not afford them.

Men like Thomas Fall, a brickyard owner, the Surveyor of the Sheffield to Chesterfield Trust in the forties were probably representative of the general run of Turnpike Engineers at this time.

Turnpike Trusts found it difficult to retain the loyalty of their Trustees, it often being difficult to obtain a quorum to hold the statutory meetings. When they were held, men such as John Gorell Barnes of Ashgate, chairman of the Mansfield Trust, Malkin, a banker who served on the Committee of the Duffield Trust, and W. A. Ashby, the agent at Chatsworth of the Duke of Devonshire, however interested they might be in this work, could not supply the place of the professional engineer.

Many Trusts found it difficult to make arrangements to maintain their roads. As an example, the Attercliffe to Worksop Trust, between 1788 and 1810 let contracts for repairing its roads to three different contractors, each of whom left the road in worse condition than he found it, so that finally it was threatened with indictment. Some Trusts, trembling on the verge of bankruptcy, solved this problem and eased their finances by handing over a portion of their tolls to the village Surveyors of the Highways along the Turnpike, who then assumed responsibility for its repair.

Nevertheless, despite all these defects, a century of turnpiking left its mark on the economic life of Hallamshire and Scarsdale. Enclosure came rapidly on the heels of turnpiking, as the huge wastes of the Peak and the extensive commons on the Coalfield were crossed by them.

Enclosure, too, paid its debt to turnpiking, as many Enclosure Acts made provision for straightening the course of turnpikes and for a system of secondary roads serving them.

The great decade of turnpiking during the Seven Years' War was accompanied by the inauguration of a large number of new fairs and markets for beasts and cereals.

Many of the major ironworks, such as the Adelphi Works near Duckmanton and the Chapeltown Works, were wholly dependent upon roads for the assembly of their raw materials and the distribution of their products.

The production of lime in the Peak was stimulated by turnpiking as was the output of coal on the western edge of the field.

Business was facilitated by the coach services linking Sheffield with London, Manchester, Selby, Leeds, Birmingham and the intermediate towns. Whatever may have been the defects of the turnpike system, a comparison of the district in 1740 and a hundred years later, shows such a difference in the scale of economic development in every field—ruling out the contribution made by the inland waterways—as to justify, from the national standpoint, what capital was invested in the Trusts.

No doubt, too, many a landowner with minerals on his estate, contemplating his rent books and his royalty accounts, felt that after all, his turnpike shares, however far behind they were in the payment of interest, were one of the soundest long term investments he had made.

I should like to thank all who have made this article possible. The Trustees of the Chatsworth Settled Estates kindly gave permission for research at Hardwick. The Clerks of the Peace facilitated research in the archives of the Derbyshire County Council and of the West Riding County Council. As always, Miss Meredith and her staff gave every possible assistance in work on the various collections in the Local History Department of the Sheffield Central Library. Finally, I wish to thank the Earl of Wharncliffe and the Trustees of the Fitzwilliam Settled Estates for permission to use their manuscripts deposited in the Sheffield Central Library.

1 H. Moll. A Set of 50 New and Correct Maps of England and Wales. 1724. Plates, 30, 40 and 41.
2 Journals of the House of Commons. XXIII, 302:
3 The northern section of this road is shown on Dickinson's "New and Current Map of the South Part of the County of York", 1750.
4 Journals of the House of Commons. XXIII, 613.
5 R. E. Leader, "Our Old Roads", H.A.S. Tram., vol. 2, pp. 7-23.
6 Case against the Inhabitants of Sheffield for not repairing part of the road to Hope. 1777 Tibbitts Collection Nos. 413/9170. Sheffield Central Library.
7 Journals of the House of Commons. XIX. 222, 226, 230 and 233.
8 The Diary of Benjamin Granger of Bolsover. D.A.J., vol. IX.
9 Journals of the House of Commons. XII, 493; XIX, 223.
10 A Case in relation to the improving and completing the Navigation of the River Dun. H.A.S. Tram., vol. 5, p. 248.
11 Case against the Inhabitants of Ecdesfield for not repairing Nether Lane 1752. Tibbitts Collection. 413/J-8, Sheffield Central Library.
12 Highway Index, West Riding County Council Offices, Wakefield.
13 Portfolio K. Presentments of Highways. Derbyshire County Council Offices, Derby. (Now Matlock—Ed.)
14 Letter dated 18 Jan., 1740. Letter Book of William Spencer re forges, woods etc. No. 3, Spencer of Cannon Hall Correspondence. Sheffield Central Library.
15 Letter Books of Richard Dalton. Bagshawe Collection 5/4/1-3. John Rylands Library, Manchester.
16 Turner MSS. Flintham Hall, Notts. Letter dated 12 Oct., 1758.
17 Case on behalf of the Bill—for repairing the Roads from Chesterfield to the town of Mansfield, n.d.
18 Letter dated 10 Oct., 1724. Copley MSS. Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Leeds.
19 Winding up Wortley Forge business. No. II. Spencer of Cannon Hall Correspondence. Sheffield Central Library.
20 Journals of the House of Commons. XXIII, 60.
21 Sheffield and Buxton Turpike Road. 1758. Road from Sheffield to Tideswell: F.B. 13, pp. 38-49; and F.B. 14, pp. 36-37. Fairbank Collection. Sheffield Central Library.
22 Travels in England (1761), pp. 65. M.D. 1769, Sheffield Central Library.
23 Journals of the House of Commons. XXXVII, 566.
24 Journals of the House of Commons. XXXVI, 250; XXXVII, 566.
25 Arthur Young "A Six Months Tour Through the North of England" (1770), vol. I, p. 132.
26 Rev. T. Twining "A Country Clergyman of the Eighteenth Century" (1776), p. 47.
27 Sheffield and Wakefield Turnpike Trust. Letters, Tibbitts Collection 363/16. Sheffield Central Library.
28 B. Fauyas Saint Fond "Travels in England, Scotland and the Hebrides" (1799), vol. 2, p. 309.
[No marker for note 28 found in the original text]
29 Sheffield and Derby Turnpike. Part of the Road from Sheffield to Chesterfield. 1797. Fairbank Collection, ERO 109 R.
30 Derby Mercury, 5 Sept., 1821, col. II.
31 A map of the intended Turnpike Road from . . . Temple Normanton ... to the Mansfield and Tibshelf Road at Tibshelf Side Gate. 1825. Jackson Collection. No. 1786. Sheffield Central Library.
32 Greenhill Moor and Eckington Turnpike Road. C.P. 20 (128-200). Fairbank Collection. Sheffield Central Library.
33 Tinsley to Doncaster Road. New Line. C.P. 22 (127-227). Fairbank Collection. Sheffield Central Library. Tinsley and Doncaster Branch Roads. Minute Book No. 1. West Riding County Council Offices, Wakefield.
34 Journals of the House of Commons. XXVIII, 808, 828, 857, 860, 890, 900, 908 and 914.
35 Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Feb. 17, 1849; March 17, 1849; April 14, 1849; July 14, 1849, and Dec. 8, 1849.
36 Miscellaneous Letters, Feb. to April, 1764. R.5. Wentworth Woodhouse MSS. Sheffield Central Library.
37 Turnpikes (Baslow). F.106.G. Wentworth Woodhouse MSS. Wheat Collection. 1273/1. Sheffield Central Library.
38 C.P. 20 (30). Fairbank Collection. Sheffield Central Library.
39 Derby Mercury, 3 Oct., 1782, col. 10.
40 Reasons for supporting the Bill for the intended turnpike road from Clowne ... to Budby. Barlborough Hall MSS.
41 Journals of the House of Commons. XLVI, 167.
42 Journals of the House of Commons. LXV, 61; LXVI, 71.
43 Turnpike Road Papers. Tibbitts Collection Nos. 362 and 404. Sheffield Central Library.
44 Letter dated 27 Jan., 1759. Bagshawc Collection 13/3/296.
45 Letter dated 19 Dec., 1794. Correspondence of John Bagshawe with Shore family. Bagshawc Collection 8/4.
46 Letter dated 12 Dec., 1740. Letter Book of William Spencer No. 4. Spencer of Cannon Hall Correspondence.
47 Doncaster to Saltersbrook Turnpike. 1747. Wharncliffe MSS. No. 111. Sheffield Central Library.
48 Letter dated 26 Feb., 1741. Letters from William Marjden. No. 10. Spencer of Cannon Hall Correspondence.
49 Barlborough Hall MSS.
50 Beauchief Muniments 198. Papers relating to the estate of Thomas Steade. Sheffield Central Library.
51 A. W. Goodfellow "Sheffield Turnpikes in the Eighteenth Century". H.A.S. Trans., vol. V, p. 78.
52 Beauchief Muniments 85. Papers relating to Turnpike Roads. Sheffield Central Library.
53 Turnpike Accounts at Derbyshire and West Riding County Council Offices returned under I. Geo. IV. cap. 95.
54 Observations Intended to show that the Mortgagees of the Tolls of Turnpike Road have a right to dear payment of their interest. By a Mortgagee. 1817.
55 Minute Book. Attercliffe to Worksop Trust. W.R.C.C., Wakefield.
56 Deed Box 25, Norfolk Estate Office, Sheffield—now in the Sheffield Central Library, S246.
57 Journals of the House of Commons, XXIX, 159.

58 Glossop Road. C.P.G. 12/16. Parliamentary Business. Fairbank Collection. Sheffield Central Library.
59 J. Aiken "A Description of the Country from 30 to 40 miles round Manchester", p. 551. 60-4. Farey "Agriculture and Minerals of Derbyshire", vol. 3 (1817), pp. 206-279.
61 Printed Report of James Mills on the Sheffield to Barnsley Turnpike Road 1829.
62 A Picture of England, p. 326.
63 A Few General Observations on the Principal Railways Executed in the Midland Counties—with the Author's Opinion on them as Investments, p. II (1838).