RECORDS RELATING TO THE BARONY OF KENDALE.
INTRODUCTION TO THE MAIN ROADS OF KENDALE.
The Romans considered their roads as one complete system but with
the Teutonic migration and the consequent split up of the kingdom
into small sections, traffic became very local. The obligation to keep in
repair the highways and bridges—now no longer considered Imperially
—was thrust upon the various landowners who held their possessions
subject to certain services to the State. This duty, which subsequently
devolved upon the parishes and hundreds through which the roads
passed, became the basis of our English Highway Law.
The advent of the feudal lord and the right to hold market and fair (fn. 1)
to which merchants were attracted, also the frequent pilgrimages to
the great religious houses, revived to a certain extent the idea of
through traffic, but they also developed the highway robber. To check
this abuse the Statute of Winchester, 1285, further placed on the
landowner the liability of making good to the person robbed the loss
he had sustained in his district. (fn. 2) The Act provided that highways leading from one market town to another should be so opened out that there
should not be any "dike, tree or bush wherein a man might lurk to do
hurt, within 200 feet on one side and 200 feet on the other side of the
road, but it was not to extend to great Oaks or other trees so that they
be clear underneath." That wheeled traffic was possible upon these
highways is shown by a complaint of the Abbot of St. Mary's, York,
in 1309, that Walter de Styrkland and others assaulted his servants,
sent to carry the tithe corn and hay of his Church at Kirkby-inKendale, and took away the horses from his waggons and impounded
them. Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1309, p. 129.
In addition to these primary highways there were certain bridle
tracks that led from one capital messuage to another, or direct to the
adjacent town. And when it is considered that the knight and his
retinue would issue direct from his Hall, indeed that all personal intercourse with his neighbours and all conveyance of his goods would be
by a direct route, we can well understand how so many of these ways
pass right through the centre of demesne lands and even parks, as at
Dalton, Levens, Rydal and Wharton. Moreover, the great landowners
would be the first to employ farm carts, the first to drive at a later
date in their own private chaises and the most influential in obtaining
the best surface possible on their personal lines of communication.
Hence it is that so many of these byways by degrees became highways.
Bridges very materially assisted the revenues of the town or abbey,
not only by developing the traffic and power of trade, but by the right
obtained from the Crown to levy a toll for their use. Moreover, it was
considered a pious act to assist in maintaining these bridges, and, to
encourage the faithful, the bishops would often grant indulgences for
a certain time to those who would perform such public service.
Thus in 1379 the Bishop offered an indulgence to all who should
adequately contribute to the building of the bridge (ponte de Strowmondgate) which spans the Kent in the parish of Kirkby Kendall
in the Diocese of York. (fn. 3)
Guilds also sometimes appreciated the need and helped the transportation of their merchandise by making the necessary repairs; but
when such votive offerings were not forthcoming recourse had to be
made to taxes on the parish and tolls on the users, in the form of
"pontage" and "pavage." The fact that the streams which these
bridges spanned sometimes formed the boundary between two parishes,
frequently led to great dispute as to the responsibility, or need, or
manner of executing the repair. And with such contentions we can
easily understand why in the Quarter Session Records, there are
constant presentments for failure to repair bridges that were "ruinous,
broken, dangerous and in great decay." (fn. 4)
By an Act passed in 1555 (2 and 3 Philip and Mary, c. 8) " inasmuch
as the highways are become very noisom and tedious to travel in and
dangerous to all passengers and carriages," it was enacted that the
Constables and Churchwardens of every parish, should yearly call
together a number of parishioners, upon the Tuesday or Wednesday of
Easter week, and should then elect two honest persons of the parish
to act as Surveyors for the succeeding year, and further that every
householder should be proportionately liable to contribute labour for
four days to the needful work. The office of Surveyor was no sinecure
as he had to keep constant watch that no nuisances were allowed to
accumulate, that all grass and saplings were removed and that the
adjacent landlords trimmed their hedges so as to allow as much sun
and wind as possible to dry them; also he had to view the bridges and
to see that all water courses and dykes were kept scoured. On the
Sunday he had to appear before the parishioners to inform against any
who had used more than the legal number of draught animals in their
waggons, and if any failed to satisfy the conditions of the law he had
to make presentment of such persons before the Justices of the Peace.
All this work had to be done without remuneration and with the daily
fear of a penalty of 20 shillings if he failed to carry out the duties thus
thrust upon him.
By an amending Act of 1562 (5 Eliz. c. 13) the Surveyors received
greater powers and six days labour was exacted from the householders
either working themselves or by sending others to work in their places.
A third Act, passed in 1575 (18 Eliz. c. 10) made the Surveyors independent of the Churchwardens and responsible officers of the Parish,
although no special knowledge of road construction was asked of them.
Nor had such any inducement to study the subject since they knew
that at the end of the year their office would be given over to another
equally inefficient person.
Harrison, in his Description of Britaine, written in 1557 says, " Now
to speake generallie of our common high waies you shall understand
that in the claie or cledgie soile they are often verie deepe and troublesome in the winter halfe. Wherefore by authoritie of parlement an
order is taken for their yearlie amendment whereby all sorts of the
common people doo imploie their travell for six daies in summer upon
the same. And albeit that the intent of the statute is verie profitable
for the reparations of the decaied places, yet sometimes, and that very
often, these daies works are not imploied upon those waies that lead
from market to market, but each surveior amendeth such by-plots and
lanes as seeme best for his owne commoditie, and more easie passage
unto his fields and pastures." Innkeepers were frequently chosen to
fill the office of Surveyor, when great temptation was offered to adjourn
to his house for a carousal. Doubtless this was the reason why an
Act of 1753, 26 Geo. 11, c. 30, prohibited innkeepers from being appointed.
We gain a description of our roads in 1634 by reference to a manuscript in the British Museum in which a traveller making for Carlisle,
along the Picts Wall, found the ways "mountainous, rocky and
dangerous." At Penrith, he speaks of the "stony ways" and
journeying toward Kendal "through such wayes as wee hope wee
never shall againe, being no other but clim(b)ing and stony, nothing
but Bogs and Myres o'r the tops of those high hills so as wee were
enforc'd to keepe these narrow, loose, stony, base wayes, though never
so troublesome and dangerous. . . . On wee went for Kendall,
desiring much to be releas'd of those difficult and dangerous wayes,
which for the space of eight miles travelling a slow marching pace we
pass'd over nothing but a most confus'd mixture of Rockes and
Boggs." (fn. 5)
It must be remembered that only in fine weather was the full width
of the narrow road available for wheeled traffic; at other times merely
the crown rose above the quagmire, and one can realise how frequently
this was blocked while recriminations were carried on by those travelling in opposite directions, as to who should make way for the other.
Under such conditions riding post was the usual and fastest form of
travelling, indeed it remained so even down to the first quarter of the
19th century. Private coaches could seldom manage more than
thirty miles a day and the diaries of the Countess of Pembroke (1672)
and of Bishop Nicholson (1702–1704) speak clearly of the difficulties
that they met with, although drawn by six horses, over roads that
"were no better than the roughest fell tracks on high ground and
spongy, miry tracks in the vallies."
It was the Civil War and the difficulty experienced in manœuvring
the contending armies that at length brought the attention of Parliament to bear upon the almost impassable state of the main roads.
By the Act of 1662 Surveyors received power to raise money by assessment in order to pay the parishioners with their teams for work that
could not be accomplished within the allotted six days of forced
labour. No waggons were to be drawn by more than seven horses or
with wheels less than four inches wide, and no weight carried greater
than a ton from October 1st, to May 1st, nor 30 cwt. between May 1st
and October 1st. There is also evidence that it was beginning to dawn
upon Parliament that it was obviously unjust and beyond the power
of a thinly scattered rural population to be called upon to pay for and
maintain a road that was almost solely used for through traffic.
Before 1675 John Ogilby had completed, with the authority of
Parliament, his wonderful survey of the fifty-eight principal roads in
England. By turning to his plates we find that he delineates the main
north road as coming up from Over Kellet to the Longlands Inn and so
by what is now a grassy lane to the Buckstone. This huge granite
block still stands in the hedgerow where for centuries it stood as a
landmark to guide the passer by. A short way beyond, the road is
now lost in fields, but we find a trace of it again in Dalton Park, where,
a few yards within its present boundary wall, a rude milestone can be
seen bearing the figure 10 upon it. Ten miles from Lancaster. Just
beyond the park there are a few cottages known as Heron Syke and
beside them can be seen another trace of the road while opposite to
them there is a brass plate marking the ancient boundary between
Lancashire and Westmorland; distant 243 miles 5 furlongs from
London according to Ogilby. The road then passes through Burton,
along the western boundary of "Holmes Park," "Frandon," over the
Peasy Beck near "Preston Chappell," over "Sallat Brow," to the
west of "Grove Chappell" i.e. the old Crosscrake Chapel, through
"Notclaf" and over "Neither Bridg" to Kendal at 256 miles from
London. At Otter Bank the route climbed straight northward over
"Betome Hill," past Whitwell and Selside Halls and so to the Plough
Inn and Forest Hall, the end of the first stage out from Kendal. Now
the route is only dotted as if it were a mere track past Wolfhowe, to the
west of Hollowgate farm, crossing the "Burrow flu" at the old High
Borrow bridge and following the west bank of Crookdale beck to Hawse
Foot. After climbing 1240 feet above Kendal the road now descends
and a quarter of a mile beyond the summit it can be seen returning and
crossing the modern turnpike diagonally towards and over Wasdale
Old Bridge. From here it passed by Bleabeck bridge and through the
present Granite Works, west of Shap Thorn and "the Stone Heaps" to
the old Greyhound Inn at "Shop," where the track becomes a double
lined road again.
A second plate delineates the cross road from Kendal to Cockermouth and shows it passing through "Barnside," over a stone bridge
at "Staulay," "Caston" (? Reston), a stone bridge at "Chapel on the
Inges," past "Broadyate a village" and thence over a high hill and
moor to Troutbeck stone bridge. Thence to Ambleside, through the
centre of "Ridale Park," and over a stone bridge at "Gresmere,"
from which point the route becomes a dotted track to a stone bridge
over Raise Beck and so enters Cumberland at 19 miles 6 furlongs from
Kendal. (fn. 6)
In 1703 we have an Order of Quarter Sessions that the surveyors of
highways within the "Barandry of Kendall" do sufficiently repair
the highways and enlarge the same where necessary and cut the bushes
or boughs of trees or hedges that hang into and are troublesome to
passengers, so as to make them good and sufficient for the passage of
coaches, carts and carriages before the 11th of October next. (K.
Order Book, 1696–1724). Again on 16th January 1712/13 "Whereas
it appears to the Court that several travellers have mistaken their way
from market town to market town in the Barony for want of guides or
posts to direct them," warrants were issued to the Petty Constables
to cause the Surveyors of Highways to erect posts of wood or stone at
every cross highway and every cross lane in the said ways with an
inscription thereon. (Ibid.).
Among the MSS. left by Benjamin Browne, the High Constable,
there is a Survey of the Bridges in Kendal Ward, dated 1712, also a
Survey of the highways in Kendal Ward, dated 1730. These MSS.
numbered 221 and 220 respectively are bound in the First Volume of
the late George Browne's manuscripts.
William Pearson quotes from a diary written by a volunteer who
served in the Duke of Cumberland's army, as follows:— "The
Deputy Lieutenants of Westmorland, on the 14 December, 1745, in
obedience to the command of the Duke, raised a party of the County
to demolish Wastel (old) Bridge, and also break up the road down to
Grayrigg Hawse in order to make the road from Kendal to Shap impassable for artillery and wheel carriages." (fn. 7) Another contemporary
writer recounts what trouble the Prince's soldiers had. "On the 16th
(December, 1745) the Main Body of the Army marched for Shap, but
the Rear-guard were obliged to stop at a farm (Forest Hall) four miles
from Kendal, by Reason that a great many of the carriages and
particularly the four-wheeled waggons, in which was Part of the
Ammunition, could not be forwarded because of the steepness of the
Hill, and Badness of the Road. But small carriages being got next
Day, and the Ammunition being shifted from the broken waggons,
they came that night to Shap, being the 17th; the main Body having
gone to Penrith that day." (fn. 8) At Levens Hall are preserved a number
of grenades which were discovered when a pond was drained at the farm,
showing that it was easier for the soldiers to cast aside some of their
weight than attempt to convey it over the fell.
And further it is highly likely that it was this invasion, and the
difficulties that the Hanoverians met with in coming into touch with
the Stuarts, that again brought home to the Government the vital
necessity for better roads throughout the country. Certain it is that
from this date Turnpike Acts became very numerous. Those interested in any particular road were expected to apply for their own Act
of Parliament, and with the Act, companies were formed and shares
taken out; gate-houses were erected and let to the highest bidder who
made what he could out of the tolls; Trustee meetings were held, and
after paying a dividend the remainder of the half-year's profit was
expended upon maintenance. As it was expected that the system
would last only for so long as it was necessary to put the road into a
proper condition, Parliament inserted a time limit into each Act,
usually twenty-one years, but at the end of each term it was generally
found necessary or advantageous to apply for a renewal of the Act, and
so the system attained a certain permanency.
It is difficult to say whether the roads or the companies derived the
greater benefit from the change. Arthur Young's six months tour
through the North of England, in 1771, clearly shows that, in some
districts at least, the roads were then in as bad a state as ever. Parliament however, was passing Act after Act for their improvement.
For instance in 1753 an Act was passed, 26 Geo. ii, c. 30, enacting that
the wheels of heavy waggons and carts must be nine inches broad,
under the penalty of £5 or the forfeiture of one of the horses, and to
further encourage the use of such wide wheels an amending Act,
28 Geo. ii, c. 17, exempted all such vehicles from toll for three years,
while waggons with six-inch wheels were to pay a reduced rate; if the
Trustees found this decrease of toll insufficient for their need, they
were authorised to raise the rate on all narrower wheeled vehicles by
one-fourth. Again in 1765, 5 Geo. III, c. 38, waggons and carts were
ordered to have their fore and hind axle-trees of different lengths, so
that the two wheels on each side of the waggon should not run in the
same track, but should roll a surface of at least sixteen inches in width.
But what Parliament needed most was an engineer, a man who could
bring scientific principles to bear upon road construction, and this need
continued until the days of the blind John Metcalfe (1717–1792),
Thomas Telford (1757–1834), and John Loudon Macadam (1756–1836).
Each of these insisted upon a thorough drainage, but while the two
former put all their faith upon securing a firm foundation, Macadam
totally disregarded it, contending that a well drained subsoil and an
impervious covering was all that was needed. Again, Telford covered
his rough stone with one-and-a-half inches of gravel to act as a binding
material, whereas Macadam preferred to break up the stone and leave
it to work in under the traffic and unite by its own angles. Macadam
also fought for a better administrative system, declaring that a living
wage would attract men of skilful training to the care of the roads and
was unsparing in his hostility to the six days Statute and pauper
Although in the south of England stage waggons, or carriers' carts,
began "to gall the roads" by carrying merchandise, they were not seen
for a long time much north of York or further west than Exeter. In
these distant parts all goods were carried by long trains of pack-horses,
whose narrow tracks appear to have gone straight from point to point,
regardless of all hills which might have been avoided to the relief of
both man and beast. Nicolson and Burn (vol. I, p. 66) say that some
354 pack horses weekly plied to and from Kendal with their "hotts"
or panniers laden with local manufactures and necessities. Generally
four gangs were on the London road, two travelling through Lancashire
and two through Yorkshire. One set was every week in London, one
in Kendal, and the other two on their road. The same horses went
through the whole journey which they accomplished in ten days.
Besides conveying packs some of them occasionally carried passengers,
reckoning a young lady as equivalent to half a pack. As can be well
imagined, the cost of this form of transportation was almost prohibitive. Coal in particular was seldom seen far away from such
points on the coast as where it could be conveyed by sea; indeed, at
this time it was commonly known as "sea-cole" or "sea-borne-cole."
However, with the introduction of Turnpike roads, the strong
wicker hampers of the pack-horses gave way to ill contrived and
springless carts with revolving axles; post-chaises were introduced
to Kendal in 1754, and the first stage waggon on the road between
London and Kendal was established in 1757. When room permitted
these carrier waggons were used by such persons as could not afford
to travel on horseback. Stage-coaches for the public conveyance of
passengers began to ply the country roads long after their general use
in London, and the first to arrive in Westmorland was in 1763, when
the "Flying Machine," drawn by six horses, made the inconceivably
jolty and uncomfortable journey at the rate of six miles an hour.
William Pearson says, "There was a long coach, shaped like a boat,
which would hold about a dozen persons inside, while, perhaps, a like
number might get up upon the roof. This heavy, lumbering vehicle
set out from Kendal early in the morning (by two or three o'clock) and
did not reach the metropolis till the afternoon of the third day !—two
nights and nearly three days on the road. I speak from woful experience." (fn. 9) A greater degree of perfection was reached in 1786, when
the Mail Coach began to run regularly between Manchester and
Glasgow, stopping at Kendal to rest before plunging into the wild
From this date vehicles of various types and sizes multiplied to such
an extent that by the year 1823 no fewer than twelve stage coaches
left the town of Kendal daily.
In 1862 an Act (25 and 26 Vict. c. 61) was passed that formed
parishes into districts for the management and repair of district roads
and created highway boards for the control of the highways. By the
Highways and Locomotives Act, 1878, Parliament abolished the
principle of Turnpikes and as the Trusts fell due handed the roads over
to Quarter Sessions, with power to levy rates on the whole county for
their maintenance, and supplementing them by a grant out of the
Exchequer. When County Councils were set up (1889) the management of the main roads was transferred from Quarter Sessions.
Heron Syke, Kendal, Eamont Bridge.
It would appear that almost immediately after the 1745, Rising a
scheme was set on foot for endeavouring to obtain a Turnpike Act for
this road, but that it met with sufficient opposition to delay it for a
time. A correspondent to the Agreeable Miscellany, writing on 23rd
December, 1749, refers to this early meeting as follows:—"It is an
Observation confirmed by the Experience of wise Men in all Ages, that
nothing is so detrimental and abnoxious to the Prosperity and Wellbeing of a Government, as the particular Jealousies and Quarrels of its
Subjects. . . . . . . A melancholy Instance of this manifestly
appears from the vigorous Opposition, that the Scheme for a Turnpike thro' the County of Westmorland has met with since it was first
proposed. A Scheme calculated solely to preserve and increase the
Trade and Prosperity of the County, as well as for the Ease and
Advantage of every Individual. At the first Meeting, about this Time
two Years, all the Company except two or three seemed desirous of
promoting so useful and necessary a Work. The Persons who then
opposed it, did not concern themselves for the Bulk of the People, or
in the least consider the true Interest of the County, but stuck wholly
to their own Emolument. . . . . . . The wrong and absurd Scheme
which they urged in Opposition proved how improper they were to be
consulted in Undertakings of that Kind. . . . . . . It gives me
great Pleasure to hear that the Spirit which shone forth at the Beginning of this Affair, and was so long unfortunately suppressed and
obscured has again blazed out with superior Strength and Lustre.
The subscription opened by the Gentlemen of Kendal and signed by
many others from different Parts is an Example worthy of the highest
Commendation. The particular Necessity there is for the Roads
being mended in Westmorland wants no Demonstration to those that
ever travelled a few Miles in any Part of the County. . . . I believe
it is universally allowed by all Parties that the Roads are excessively
bad, and even in some places dangerous to be passed."
Lancashire settled the question first and obtained an Act, 24 Geo. 11,
1751, for repairing and widening the road from Preston to Lancaster
and from thence through Carnforth, Over Kellet, Borwick, Priest
Hutton and Dalton Park to Heron Syke. Two years later Westmorland obtained its own first Turnpike Act, 26 Geo. 11, 1753, for widening
and repairing the continuation of this road northward, that is from
Heron Syke to Kirkby-in-Kendale, and from thence through the
Town of Shap to Eamont Bridge. The preamble states that "Whereas
the road is very ruinous, and some parts thereof almost impassable and
could not, by the ordinary course appointed by the Laws then in being
for repairing the highways, be amended and kept in good repair unless
some further provision was made. . . . May it therefore please Your
Majesty etc. etc. The names of the Commissioners are set forth, their
powers and duties are stated, the tolls authorised to be taken, the
penalties for omission and evasion and so forth, but as these do not
differ materially from the provisions usual to all Highway Acts, it is
not necessary to notice them.
After the space of twenty-five years a second Act was obtained,
19 Geo. III, 1779, for enlarging the terms and powers. The third Act,
40 Geo. III, 1800, continued the term for another twenty-one years,
but after fifteen of these years had passed it was found necessary to
apply for the fourth Act, 55 Geo. III, 1815, for making a new road
through the Aynam, at a place called the Lound, to communicate with
the intended Canal, and to rejoin the said road at or near a place
called Far Cross Bank.
A very interesting meeting of the Trustees took place on the 23rd
December, 1817, when the chairman took a comprehensive view of the
funds of the road. The annual income he stated to be £2068 and the
actual expenditure £1200, leaving a clear available surplus of £868.
Of this sum £800 belonged to the portion of the road from Heron Syke
to Kendal and only £68 to the northern section from Kendal to Eamont
Bridge. It would appear that it was the usual custom to assist the
northern out of the earnings of the southern section, but at this meeting Mr. C. Wilson contended that . . . . as it appeared reasonable
that the southern section might suffer shortly a material depression
from the effects of the Lancaster Canal being completed to Kendal, and
also from the effect of a proposed new Turnpike road from Carnforth
to Milnthorpe, and then to Kendal . . . . it would become advisable
to erect a new toll bar on the northern section, at or near to Shap,
which he calculated would produce £382, rather than divert the
southern surplus any longer. This was agreed to. With regard to the
proposed new and shorter road through Milnthorpe, the Rev. Henry
Sill of Burton thought that it might reduce their tolls to £240 a year,
and moved that a Committee be appointed to oppose the scheme and
that the expenses of such opposition be defrayed from the surplus
funds. A resolution that was carried by a majority of six in opposition to the chairman's wish.
The local newspapers for July 10th, 1819, tell of the widening of the
bridges at Farleton and Crooklands; tenders are invited the following
week for making the road beginning near the 7th milestone from
Kendal to Shap and ending on the summit of Hollowgate Brow; on
May 6th, 1820, for the building of a new bridge over the Bannisdale
Beck, and on October 21st, 1820, for making the diversion to avoid
Otter Bank. So great were these improvements that they drew forth
two letters of appreciation which appeared in the Westmorland
Advertiser for November 10th, 1821. "The alterations upon the
road betwixt Kendal and Penrith are of such a magnitude and extent
as will very soon avoid the steepest and worst parts . . . . . the first
alteration of the road takes place about 4 miles north of Kendal, avoids
the narrow lane (Otter Bank) through the village of Gateside, passes
the ravine of Bannisdale beck by an embankment and an immensely
high bridge, of a single arch, and joins the old road again near Forest
Hall. The new line of road will be opened to the public in the spring
of 1822. A second deviation has amazingly improved the ascent from
Hollowgate and the descent to High Burrow-bridge. . . . Soon after
passing the summit a third alteration, deviating to the right, and
crossing Wasdale beck by a new bridge misses the Dennings and
Wasdale-bridge Mills, and, it is hoped that this deviation will be
continued so as to avoid the Blea beck bridge and Wickerslack hills,
and afterwards rejoin the old road near the new toll-bar."
On July 15th, 1850, the Royal Assent was given to the 6th Act (13
and 14 Victoria) to amend the previous Acts and to continue the term.
A Table for a few odd years showing the net revenue produced at the
five Toll Gates, above the cost of collecting and excluding the revenue
from Stage Coaches.
||The revenue recieved from all the gates was
After the opening of the railways the revenue fell considerably.
||£15 10 0
Kendal to Keighley via Kirkby Lonsdale.
The promoters of this Turnpike met with the usual opposition before
they obtained their Act of Parliament. There are some interesting
MSS. preserved in the British Museum (fn. 10) for and against the scheme,
in which we learn from the opposition that the length of the road is
53¼ miles, the Westmorland Section being 12½ miles, and that there
were 2058 men and 917 carts available for statute labour, which
together with an assessment of 6d. in the pound would raise a yearly
income of £1005 15s. 6d., a sum amply sufficient for the road's repair
without any Trust.
||Length of Section.
||Labour and assessment.
|Keighley to Casterton
|to K. Lonsdale
The Act was obtained in 26 Geo. 11, 1752; a second Act for continuing the term and altering and enlarging the powers in 1778, and a
third Act, 40 Geo. III, 1800, was obtained for the Westmorland and
Lancashire sections only.
In 1818 a Notice is given in the local papers of an intention to apply
for another Act to authorize the consolidation into one Act of the
powers of this Trust with the K. Lonsdale to Milnthorpe Turnpike
Kendal via Milnthorpe to Dixies
and from Milnthorpe via Hang Bridge to Clawthorpe.
This Turnpike Act was obtained 32 Geo. 11, 1759, "for repairing,
amending and widening the roads from the southwest end of Nether
Bridge, Kendal, by Sizergh fellside to Levens Bridge and from thence
through the town of Milnthorpe to Dixies, and from the town of Milnthorpe to Hang Bridge and from thence to join the Heron Syke Turnpike Road at the guide-post near Clawthorpe Hall." The second Act
was obtained 20 Geo. 111, 1779, with additional powers, and the third
Act about the year 1801.
At the south corner of Levens Park there is an old road branching
off via Deepthwaite and Wath Sudden to Kirkby Lonsdale. A mile
stone at the junction is inscribed To Kirkby with a hand pointing to
the left and the date 1757. On the side To Milnth with a hand
pointing to the right and To Kendal with a hand pointing to the left.
The Kendal papers for December 31st, 1819, report that "the
Trustees are going to make immediately a very considerable improvement by deviating from the old road, for a length of 180 roods,
commencing at the smith's shop on the north side of Sizergh Fell (i.e.
where the Strickland Arms now stands), to the gate at Heaves Lodge
and thereby avoiding the hill at Sizergh Fell which is an elevation of 81
feet and at a rise of three inches in the yard. The deviation will be
shorter than the old road and will probably cost £1000." The level
curve of the modern road round by Brettagh Holt Lodge is very noticeable. The old highway at Leasgill was by what is now known as the
"Low Road" but instead of widening this, the Trustees took the
Turnpike over the top of Leasgill Brow.
The fourth Act was obtained 3 George IV (1822).
The papers for March 13th, 1823, advertise for the making of a
deviation at Heversham, extending for 155 roods, commencing "at the
corner of the School House Barn and extending southwards to a field
belonging to Henry Smithies, at Bull Copy Brow, near Milnthorpe."
The present Heversham School now stands upon the site of the old road
which can be easily traced in the field beyond. Again the Kendal
papers for March 27th and April 10th, 1824, report that "the workmen
have at last cut through the hill between Heversham and Milnthorpe,
and that the new road is expected to be opened to the public before
The fifth Act was obtained 13 and 14 Victoria, 1850, continuing the
The net revenue produced at the Toll gates, excluding the Stage
|Helsington, produced in
||1817 and 1818
||1822 and 1823
|Leasgill Gate, produced in 1822 and 1823
|In 1844 the revenue from
||Tolls on both gates =
||State Coaches and not let
|In 1850 both gates were let for
Appleby via Orton and Grayrigg to Kendal; Orton to Shap; Tebay via Kirkby Stephen to Brough.
The Orton to Shap Turnpike road has taken the place of the old
track that came up from Grayrigg, not crossing to the east of the Lune
at Tebay, but which went straight northward via Roundthwaite, Birkbeck and Shales to Shap Thorn and the Stone Heaps. The Tebay to
Kirkby Stephen Turnpike road has taken the place of the old packhorse track that forded the Lune between Dillicar and Low Carlingill
and thence passed up Tebay Gill where a bridal road still exists, past
Cooper's Land to the west of Gaisgill station. Here it was necessary
to traverse some low lying ground and again ford the Lune before
reaching the firmer ground past Raisgill Hall and above Kelleth to the
Rigg End, where and Inn and extensive stabling refreshed both man and
beast. After passing north of Brownber and over Scandale Beck by
the ancient county bridge, the track climbed along to Waitby, passing
near the modern school and so through Kaber to Stainmore and
A combined Turnpike Act was obtained for these three roads in
1 George III, 1760, being an Act for the repair and widening of the
road from the Borough of Appleby through the Township of Orton to
Kirkeby in Kendale; and from Orton to the Turnpike road near Shap;
and from Highgate near Tebay, in a part of the Highway between
Appleby and Kirkby in Kendal, through the town of Kirkby Stephen
to the town of Market Brough.
The second Act was obtained in 22 George III; the third Act in
44 George III, 1804; the fourth Act in 5 George IV, 1825, and the fifth
in 13 and 14 Victoria, 1850; each continuing the term and altering or
enlarging the powers.
Ambleside to Kendal, and Plumgarth via Crook to Windermere.
A combined Turnpike Act was obtained in 2 George III, 1761, for
widening, repairing and amending the road from Hesket by Yewe's
Bridge to Cockermouth, and from thence by I. orton over Whinlatter
to Keswick; and from Keswick by Dunmail Raise and Ambleside to
K. Kendal; and from Plumgarth's Cross to the Lake called Windermere. The second Act was obtained in 23 George III, and the
third in 44 George III, 1804.
The fourth Act, passed 5 George IV, 1824, only concerned so much of
the above roads as lay within the county of Westmorland. The
preamble states, "whereas certain parts of the roads situate in the
townships of Grasmere and Rydal and Strickland Kettle are very
dangerous and incommodious to travellers by reason of the steepness
and narrowness thereof and it would be of great advantage of the lines
were altered or diverted, may it be enacted etc. that so far as the
former Acts relate to Westmorland they may be repealed and that
instead thereof this Act shall from henceforth take effect.
At the first meeting of the new Trustees held on 13th April, 1824, it
was resolved that Mr. Russell do stake out the line of deviation commencing near the slate quarry at Rydal and proceeding from thence to
Grasmere. On 16th October following, power was given to let the
deviation of road at Gilpin Bridge. From this time forward considerable widenings and straightening out of bends took place as can be seen
by reference to the Ambleside Turnpike Road Book of Proceedings
preserved in the county muniment room.
On 11th January, 1875, a Notice was received from the Local
Government Board that the Trust was to expire on 1st November
next and requesting the Trustees to make all necessary arrangements
for winding up the accounts and pulling down the several Toll Gates.
On 23rd December following it was shown that a balance of £832 remained to the credit of the Trust, which sum was divided between the
various townships through which the road passed in proportion to the
mileage in each.
The net revenue produced at the Toll Gates excluding the revenue
from Stage Coaches:
||Plumgarth and Staveley.
||For the four gates
||Plumgarth, Staveley and Bonning Gate chain.
||Waterhead and Grasmere.
|Including the revenue from Stage Coaches.
||For the five gates
Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh, Casterton to Greeta Bridge; Brackenbar Gate via Garsdale and Sedbergh to Kendal;
Marthwaite via Firbank to Grayrigg Hawse.
This was a combined Act obtained in 2 George III, 1761. It was
renewed in 1784, 1805 and 1826 but in the following year it was
repealed in favour of 7 George IV for deviating, extending and altering
some of the said roads. The new Act was renewed in 1851.
At the four road ends in Marthwaite there are two milestones. On
one is inscribed To Covuan Bridge seven miles and on the reverse
a hand pointing to the right To Borrow Bridge six miles. On the
second stone below a hand pointing to the right To Sedbergh two
miles, and on the reverse below a hand To Millthropp eight miles
Beware of the (wat)er.
Kendal to Kirkby Ireleth
via Newby Bridge to Bouth and Penny Bridge.
William Pearson1 says that the old road Kendal to Ulverston by
way of Underbarrow and Cartmel-fell, was in its ancient state, "a
mere track, from five to six feet wide, as may yet be seen in many
places, particularly below the Underbarrow toll-gate. . . . Improved
as the road was, it still followed the old track first marked out by the
pack horses; passing over two mountains, where there were long and
steep declivities—Underbarrow Scaur, and Staveley Brow, near to
Fell-foot. . . . . The old and most direct road, thro' Crosthwaite, is
now almost deserted; in fact, grass grows upon it on the summit of
Cartmel-fell." Again the Rev. F. R. C. Hutton says2 "The old
pack-horse track from Ulverston to Kendal ran right past Witherslack
Church . . . you may track it from Towtop to Whitbarrow. . .
Subsequently to the Pack-horse time came the mail coaches, which
also came past the Church and up Towtop, the farmer at Kay Moss
making quite a living by keeping horses to drag the coaches up the hill.
The house just below, with its large stables, was a halting place. It
was called the Spa Inn."
The Act for the new road was obtained in 3 George III, and continued
in the 24th and 39th George III and again in 1 George IV, 1820.
The net revenue produced at the Toll gates, excluding the Stage
||Underbarrow Scar Foot.
||Lowfield and Holmes Green.
Milnthorpe to Kirkby Lonsdale.
An Act for repairing, widening and improving the Public
Highway leading from Milnthorpe to Kirkby Lonsdale, was obtained
in 37 George III, 1796. An amendment of this Act was obtained
in 59 George III, 1819, "for more effectually repairing the road
from the Toll House Beck in the Township of Ireby, co. Lancaster, to
Kirkby Lonsdale, in the co. of Westmorland, and through Kirkby
Lonsdale to Millthrop." That is to say that the Keighley to Kendal
Trust and the Kirkby Lonsdale to Milnthorp Trust are now amalgamated.
Carnforth to Milnthorpe and Levens to Greenodd.
Bishop Nicolson in his dairy for October 16th, 1704, writes:—"In
company w[ith] a deal of Kendale friends, to Levens. . . After ye rocky
way to Warton I took leave of ye Vicar and other friends fro Kendale."
His route would be via Beetham, Slack Head and the Yealands to
Warton; but if he had wished to turn aside into Furness he would
have had to go round by the village of Beathwaite Green, the Long
Causey, Old Sampool bridge and then mount up behind Whitbarrow
Lodge, then called High Fell End, and so either by a mountainous
road to Newton and Newby Bridge, or down by Turner Hill to Witherslack Town End and so across the mosses via Highstock and Ulpha
Bridges to Pool House Bridge, now known as Wilson House Bridge,
and so to Lindale and Cartmel.
In the Kendal papers for August 2nd, 1817, there is a notice of a
meeting, held at Newby Bridge on the 25th of July, to consider the
propriety of applying to Parliament for an Act to establish this
Turnpike so as to avoid the Lancaster Sands and saying that "the
present mountainous track of road by land beggars description." Mr.
William Miller, a Surveyor of Preston and one of the Commissioners
under the Witherslack Inclosure Act, produced a sketch plan, whereupon he was asked to make an accurate survey with an estimate of the
supposed expense. His plan is interesting as it shows what lanes were
then existing, what portions of them it was intended to widen and
straighten out and what new lengths of roadway would be needed.
For instance it shows a new road almost entirely from Carnforth to
Homer Hall, when it enters an old track for 1¾ miles and then becomes
new again to the Inn at Hale. By straightening out twists opposite
to Beetham Hall it makes for Beetham but instead of passing direct
to the church and turning by a right angle to the old bridge it now
takes a new curve and crosses the Bela by a new bridge into the old
track to Milnthorpe. The road from Levens Bridge to Beathwaite
Green formerly ran, for the distance of one furlong, alongside the north
bank of the river and then took a sharp right angle bend direct to
Beathwaite Green. That portion beside the river became discused and
a new road is made, cutting across the old road, direct to a new Sampool Bridge, situated about one furlong below the old bridge. Instead
of mounting up behind Whitbarrow Lodge a new length of road is
made along the flat all the way to Meathop Bridge. Here the old
track is kept to until half way up Lindale Brow, when instead of
turning round to the church, the Brow is continued up by a new curve
until it meets again the old track from Grange to Newton. Instead of
turning down to Ayside a short length of new road is shown passing
straight onward, and again, within a mile of Newby Bridge instead of
going round by Canny Hill a straight road is proposed to meet the
Kendal to Ulverston road near the Bridge. But this last named
Turnpike went round by Bouth and Penny Bridge and so we find a
new and much shorter road now proposed through Backbarrow and
Haverthwaite direct to Greenodd. By the 12th September, 1817,
the Committee were able to report that the subscriptions had already
amounted to £7500.
The Act, however, was not passed until May in the following year
(1818) for "Making and maintaining a Turnpike Road from and out
of the Turnpike Road leading from Ulverstone to Kendal at or near
Green Odd, into the Turnpike Road leading from Millthorp to Kendal
at or near Levens Bridge, and a continuation of the said Road from and
out of the said last mentioned Turnpike Road at or near Millthorp, to
join the (Burton) Turnpike Road leading from Lancaster to Kendal,
at or near Carnforth."
The Act provides that the road through Warton Meadows is to be
raised so as effectually to prevent it being flooded and that it should
be covered to a width of 21 feet with broken stone, 17 inches thick at
the crown and 11 inches at the sides. It also provides that in the
event of the Trustees of the Lancaster to Heron Syke road diverting
their road so as to go direct from Tewitfield to Carnforth, instead of
round by Kellet, according to their late Act of 43 George III (1803), and
by so doing making it unnecessary for the Trustees of this Milnthorp
to Carnforth road going beyond Low Hyning and so saving at least
two miles, then the Trustees are to hand over to the Trustees of the
Lancaster to Heron Syke road the sum of £1000 towards enabling them
to make such alteration.
The Kendal newspapers for May 30th, 1818, congratulate the public
on the passing of the Act and mention that it received "the Royal
assent on Saturday last." By February 20th, 1819, advertisements
appear for the building of a new bridge over the Bela at Beetham,
upon the line of the intended turnpike; and by October 9th, 1819,
for the building of a Toll House and Gate to be erected near Wilson
House and another Toll House to be erected at Beetham.
An Act to amend and continue the original Act was passed in
13 Victoria, Session 1850.
It is interesting to note that during the construction of the road over
the mosses, the surveyor had Juniper cut from off Whitbarrow Fell,
made up into bundles and rolled down the hill, to be laid on the raw
moss top for the metal of the Turnpike to lie upon.
New revenue of the Toll gates.
||(with Wilson House)
For considerable information concerning those roads that were
constituted Main Roads and placed in Schedule A. at the Easter
Session of 1883, see the Quarter Sessions Minute Book for 1886–89.