T is for turnpikes

One of the interesting thing about the A-Z blogging challenge is how some themes have emerged which hadn’t occurred to me before. None of these are cutting edge or open up exciting areas for research but are a bit quirky and I like the quirky.

One of these is the highways and attempts to improve them. ‘J is for...’ mentioned in passing that numerous people were amerced in C16 for failing to maintain a highway or for obstructing a highway ( or even both at once) and that the same old ‘highways’ are still poor after rain. For ‘poor’ read ‘rivers’...
this is still technically a ‘road’ and is theoretically open to four-wheeled traffic. A nearby sign, ‘Do not follow sat nav’, is sound advice.

hurst road Mar 30 2014 thumbnail

It is perhaps not a great surprise then that a Turnpike Trust was established in an attempt to improve the roads. The first turnpike ran from Haslingden (4 miles west) to Todmorden (about eight miles east) and marks the southern boundary of Springhill. It was built in 1789, said to be by Blind Jack of Knaresboro’ and to have cost £3000. It was subsequently extended in 1815 to run along the various valleys to Rochdale and Burnley.

Ashworth (‘A is for...’) had shares in the Turnpike Trust. One of his collieries (‘C is for..”) had two entrance roads, one each side of the tollbooth to allow customers from either direction to exit without paying. So the colliery he part owned helped customers avoid tolls on the turnpike he part owned ...no wonder the latter is said never to have returned a profit.

Quite why the turnpike went to Todmorden when the main market was Rochdale is interesting but it does at least explain the signpost at a turnoff in Haslingden labelled ‘Todmorden’ when the two towns are separated by rather more than two bits of moor.