North Westmorland: Main roads

The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby. Originally published by Titus Wilson and Son, Kendal, 1932.

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John F Curwen, 'North Westmorland: Main roads', The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932), pp. 3-8. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

John F Curwen. "North Westmorland: Main roads", in The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932) 3-8. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

Curwen, John F. "North Westmorland: Main roads", The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932). 3-8. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,


For an introduction to the main roads of Westmorland the reader should refer to the Records of Kendale, vol. iii, pp. 1 to 20.


It would appear that almost immediately after the Rising of 1745 a scheme was set on foot to obtain a Turnpike Act for this road; meetings were held in both North and South Westmorland but on account of considerable opposition the scheme was delayed.

Lancashire settled the question first and obtained an Act, 24 Geo. II, 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. II, c. 52, 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, c. 108, 1779, for enlarging the terms and powers. The third Act, 40 Geo. III, c. 22, 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, c. 37, 1815.

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 Christopher 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 . . . . 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.

As an application for an Act to enclose the Shap Common was to be brought before Parliament, a correspondent in the Kendal papers for November 28, 1812, suggested that the Trustees might divert the road so as to cross Wasdale Beck by a bridge higher up, by which the declivity to the Demings and the dangerous descent to Wasdale Bridge would be avoided. So it is interesting to note the Trustees advertising for this diversion on 12 June, 1819; and on 30 October following advertising for the diversion of Thrimby Lane through the village of Hackthorpe to Warren House Lane and so avoiding the ascent and descent of 80 feet over Hackthorpe High.

The old line of road can still be traced crossing the "Burrow flu" at the ancient High Borrow bridge and following the west bank of Crookdale beck to Hawse Foot. After climbing 1240 feet from 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 toward 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 where the track joins the present road.

On 15 July, 1850, the Royal Assent was given to the 6th Act, 13, 14 Vict., to amend the previous Acts and to continue the term.

A Table for a few odd years showing the net revenue produced above the cost of collecting. It will be noted how the revenue fell after the opening of the Railway:—

1812 1815 1819 1823 1841 1852 1860 1870 1880
Clifton £241 £315 £562 £309 £317 £124 £141 £113 £116
Shap £482 £288 £222 £54 £71 £66 £67


In the 16th year of George II, 1741–2, an Act was obtained for repairing and widening the road from Bowes to Brough. The second Act of 9 George III, 1769, continued the term and included the repairing and widening of the road from Blackhause Bottom, near Maiden Castle, to Kaber Cross; and also the road from Barras to the collieries at Taylor Rigg, Tan Hill and King's pits. The third Act, 31 George III, 1790, enlarged the terms and powers. The fourth Act was obtained in 53 George III, 1812. Soon after passing the Rey Cross the Turnpike leaves the line of the Roman road for about two miles, bending to the south in order to ease the gradient. Then the two roads run together to within a mile and a half of Brough where the Turnpike makes a sharp turn towards the north, across Augil Beck, leaving a footpath to indicate the direct Roman line to Verteræ.

The only Toll Bar on the Westmorland section of these roads, so far as can be ascertained, was at Mole Brow Bar-house, now corrupted to Barras, on the Coal Road, which in 1822 brought in a net revenue of £320. It was done away with in 1867.

In 26 George II, 1752, an Act was obtained for continuing the Bowes to Brough highway from the east end of Brough, by the end of Appleby Bridge to Lowther Bridge and thence to Eamont. With the exception of that portion to the west of Brougham, the road follows the direction of the great Roman Street, which, according to Nicolson and Burn, was very conspicuous almost the whole length of its course until a considerable portion was destroyed by the making of this Turn-pike. The second Act, 19 George III, 1779, continued the term and enlarged the powers. The third Act was obtained in 41 George III, 1800.

On 15 January, 1802, a presentment was made to Quarter Sessions that part of the highway from Appleby to Penrith, to wit in the parish of Brougham, beginning at a gate hanging across the said way at the end of Ric. Jameson's barn at Moorhouses and so toward Penrith to a ford across the river Eamont adjoining Brougham Castle, for a length of 1400 yards, is in great decay and a common nuisance and that the inhabitants of Brougham ought to repair the same.

Up to 1812 the Turnpike avoided this bad section and ford, turning westward past Brougham Hall to Lowther Bridge, but by a special Act, 52 George III, 1811, the now direct road from the east end of a close called Lord's Close in the parish of Brougham to the town of Penrith, was authorized to be repaired and maintained by the Trust. Powers were given also for the building of Brougham Bridge in the line of the said road. The Act was renewed, 3, 4 William iv, 1833.

The Kendal Papers for 8 July, 1815, advertise a meeting of the Trustees for the purpose of taking into consideration the expediency of erecting a gate across the end of the lane leading to Bolton. Again on 12 August for erecting a gate on the road emerging from Long Marton and another on the lane emerging from Crakenthorpe.

The fourth Act was obtained in 57 George III, 1817; and the fifth 18, 19 Victoria. All these were repealed and other provisions made by a fresh Act, 19, 20 Victoria, c. 72, 1856.

Net revenue produced above the cost of collecting:—

Year. Lowgill. Butts Hill Copeland Beck. Bolton Lane. Long Marton Lane. Temple Sowerby. Brougham Bridge.
1815 £328 £328 £210 £172
1816 £342 £342 £172
1817 £325 £270 £174 £172
1820 £325 £320 £252 £252 £194


A combined Act was obtained for these three roads in 1 George III, c. 43, 1760; a second Act in 22 George III, c. 3, 1782; a third Act in 44 George III, c. 60, 1804; and a fourth Act in 5 George IV, c. 15, 1825. All these Acts were repealed when new provisions were made by the fifth and last Act of 13, 14 Victoria, c. 13, 1850.

The Orton to Shap road took 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 Scales to Shap Thorn and the Stone Heaps.

The Tebay to K. Stephen road took the place of the old pack-horse 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 to Kelleth Rigg End, where an Inn and extensive stabling refreshed both man and beast. After passing north of Brownber and over Scandale Beck the track climbed along to Waitby, near the modern school. At Gelberts was an Inn. From Sandwath Bridge the track followed Green Sike Lane until the Soulby road was reached and so to the Eden which was crossed by a ford about 150 yards below New Bridge and there is still a deep track up just beyond Eden Mount. From Winton Townhead it continued to Heggerscale and Wrenside crossing the Belah at a place called Wolf Crag Gill. At High Ewbank there were three Inns, evidently an important halting place. From here a branch turned off past Tan Hill for Arkengarthdale and Richmond, while the main track continued on to Bowes and Barnard Castle.

Net revenues received from the Toll Bars:—

Year. Scattergate Borrow Bridge K.Stephen
1814 £101 £141 £64
1817 £75 £141 £66


This was a combined Act obtained in 2 George III, c. 38,1761, for repairing and widening the roads from K. Stephen High Lane Head through Ravenstonedale, Rawthey Bridge, Sedbergh and Casterton to Greeta Bridge; and from Brackenbar Gate near Askrigg through Sedbergh to Kirkby-in-Kendale; and also the road from the Four Lane Ends in Marthwaite through Firbank to the Turnpike road on Grayrigg Hause leading from Appleby to Kirkby-in-Kendale. It was renewed 24 George III, c. 70, 1784.

The third Act of 45 George III, c. 27, 1805, provided for an increase in the tolls between Sedbergh and Kendal, viz.:—carts laden with coals, cinders, wood, heath, furze, ling, turf and flaws, or sods for fuel, were no longer to be exempt as formerly, but to pay a half toll. All three Acts were repealed and new provisions made by the fourth Act of 7 George iv, c. 72, 1826.

The last Act was obtained in 14, 15 Vict., 1851.

The net revenue of the Ravenstonedale Toll Bar was £53 in 1813, £65 in 1816, and £64. 10s. in 1825.


In 1814 an application was made for an Act for altering, widening and repairing the road from or near to the town of Brough, in the county of Westmorland, to the county boundary near Silver Keld Well and from thence through the Townships of Lune and Holwick in the parish of Ronalkirk in the North Riding of Yorkshire to the town of Middleton in Teesdale in the county of Durham. It does not appear that the Act was obtained before 57 George III, c. 15, 1817. It was renewed 16, 17 Victoria, 1853, and again in the following year.

There were Toll Gates at Milking Stile, near Brough, also at the east end of Mickleton and at Step End Gate near Middleton.


An ancient pack-horse track came down the Vale of Mallerstang, past Nateby, Pot Gill and Hartley and then linked up with the Barnard Castle route at Winton.

This Act was obtained in 6 George IV, c. 12, 1825, and on 19 October, 1829, Quarter Sessions filed the completion "of a Turnpike road from K. Stephen into the Sedbergh and Kirkby Kendal Turnpike road, and from the said Turnpike to Hawes and a new branch from Hawes to the village of Gayle, with a certificate that this new line of road was properly made and fit for the reception of travellers. This Act was repealed and new provisions were made by the Act of 15, 16 Vict., c. 89, 1852.