Turnpike trust

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Turnpike trusts in the United Kingdom were bodies set up by Act of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal highways in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak, in the 1830s, over 1,000 trustsParliamentary Papers, 1840, Vol 280 xxvii.

During the early 19th century the concept of the turnpike trust was adopted and adapted to manage roads within the British Empire (Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India & South Africa) and in the USA. As to these, see Toll Road.

Etymology

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

Precursors to turnpike trusts

Tudor statutes had placed responsibility on each parish to maintain all its roads. This arrangement was adequate for roads that the parishioners used themselves but proved unsatisfactory for the principal highways that were used by long-distance travellers and...
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