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Copy of Map showing the Toll-Gates and principal Bars within six miles of Charing Cross, exhibited to Lord Palmerston by the Toll Reform Committee. The whole of the side-bars are not shown: they are upwards of one hundred in number.
Source:The Illustrated London News, June 6, 1857.
This Committee seeks an abolition of all toll gates and bars within a radius of six miles from Charing cross, particularly on those roads north of the Thames which are now out of debt.
In 1855 the Dublin toll-gates were abolished by Act of Parliament, although the roads were then in debt.
In 1825 the question of the removal of the gates in the metropolitan streets north of the Thames was considered by Parliament. The following is an extract from the Committee Report (1825):—
The very small extent of the trusts, their particular situations, and the necessity of placing the toll-gates of each separate trust within its own little jurisdiction, have had the effect of fixing the toll-gates round London in situations the most inconvenient and vexatious to travellers—an inconvenience which has augmented with the great increase of the suburbs of London, whose intercourse and commerce within the limits of Middlesex has become as upon the streets of provincial towns; hence the frequent payments, stoppages. and vexatious delays have become very serious grievances, which still continue to increase, to the great diminution of the value of property.
An Act was passed (7 Geo. IV., cap. 142) to carry out the recommendations of this report. Thus Parliament, before the passing of the Reform Bill, intended to apply a remedy for this nuisance in the metropolitan streets (north), but after a lapse of thirty years we find, on a re-investigation, that there are now under this commission:—
1st—Sixteen tariffs of tolls and sixteen districts. Two horses pay in one district (City road) a toll of twopence; in the ninth district, four-pence; but in others sixpence.
2nd—In 1830 it had seventy-one gates and bars, and in 1856 they were increased to 117, and, the mileage being 123 miles, there is an obstruction to nearly each mile.
3rd.—Within four miles of Charing cross the gates and bars are eighty-seven, being sixteen more than in the whole trust in 1830.
The city of London, where there are no toll-gates, is represented in the Commission by its four M.Ps. Westminster, with one toll-gate, is represented by its two M.Ps. The Tower Hamlets, where there are many gates, is not represented by its two M.Ps.; and the largest district (the 9th), covering nearly the whole of the two boroughs of Marylebone and Finsbury, is not represented by its M.Ps.
The Commission has now the control of 123 miles of road, of which there are 112 miles "tolled," or subjected to the nuisance of turnpikes; but 11 miles are "toll free." The repairs of the 112 miles cost about £35,000, or about £340 per mile; but the repair of the 11 miles cost about £15,000, or £1400 per mile. The 11 miles untolled are situate in the heavy traffic districts, such as Knightsbridge, St. Margaret's, Westminster, Paddington, Marylebone, &c., but the 112 miles are situated in such places as Kentish town, Holloway, Hackney, Kingsland, Stamford hill &c. Thus the suburban districts, after paying for their own suburban roads at the rate of £340 per mile, are taxed for the repair of roads, at the rate of £1400 per mile, in the crowded thoroughfares near Belgravia and Tyburnia—a double injustice.
The "City tolls," collected within the City have been abolished by the Corporation of London; but the City-road toll, just outside Finsbury square, is continued by the Commissioners appointed to remove the (north) metropolitan gates.
The Islington gate, about a mile and quarter from the General Post office, is continued by the same Commissioners.
The gates at Notting hill and at Kensington are in two separate districts; the inhabitants cannot pass within their own parish without paying two tolls, and on the parallel roads there are other gates within a mile, and all these gates are continued by the Commission.
There are many other instances of equal nuisance, such as the numerous gates and bars at Kilburn, Hackney-road, and other places.
The operation of the system of toll-gates is in every way most injurious, particularly in the depreciation of property outside the toll-gates. The contrast between the value of houses within the bars, as compared with those outside, is obvious, and entails serious lose.
Toll-gates have the injurious effect of causing the erection of stables, cowhouses, cattle-sheds, and slaughter houses, within the gates, to save the expense of tolls, thus causing great injury to the health of the inhabitants inside the gates.
One of the greatest objections to the system of turnpikes is, that it is a wasteful and offensive mode of collecting a tax, entailing a loss or deduction on the gross receipts, difficult to estimate, but of large amount, as the number of men and boys employed is great, and the profits of the contractors or farmers of the tax necessarily very considerable.
It is also an impost pressing heavily and unequally on those whose callings require them to use horses and carts, such as the dealers in coals, timber, and provisions.
The toll gates also act most prejudicially to residents beyond the bars, as they discourage public conveyances travelling beyond the turnpikes, and thus, while impeding the development of the omnibus and cab trade, depriving the neighbourhoods outside of the gates of the advantages which those dwelling within them now enjoy.
Committee of the House of Commons have reported against the turnpike and ticket system in England, as Commissions have done in Ireland; and Government has began a good work for Ireland in removing the Dublin gates.
This Committee, therefore, pray her Majesty's Government to introduce a measure for an early removal of the gates within the six-mile radius north of the Thames, and now under the control of the Metropolis Roads Commissioners; and as to the other roads within the same radius, and upon which there are debts due, the Committee respectfully ask for a Commission of Inquiry—not as to the admitted and settled question whether the removal of all metropolitan bars would be an advantage, but to report on and suggest the best mode of providing a substitute in lieu of toll-gates, and the payment of the bonded debt.
Herbert INGRAM, Chairman.
Toll Reform Committee, Office, 19, Strand, London, May, 1857.
The deputation which waited on Lord Palmerston on Wednesday, the 20th of May 1857, consisted of the Right Hon. Lord Robert Grosvenor, M.P.; T. S. Duncombe, Esq., MP.; Herbert Ingram, Esq., MP.; C. S. Butler, Esq., M.P.; E. W. Watkin, Esq. M.P.; Charles Mackay, Esq., LL.D.; Matthew Forster, Esq.; P. H. Le Breton, Esq.; Professor Spooner; Mark Lemon, Esq.; J. R. D. Tyssen, Esq.; Thos. Slater, Esq.; A. Lines, Esq.; John Dangerfield, Esq.; R. Margetson, Esq.; J. W. Turner, Esq.; Francis Toulmin, Esq.; Mr. J. E. Bradfield, Hon. Secretary; and Messrs. Lugg (Bermondsey) and Geo. Harding and A. Knox (Camberwell).
In the Map engraved upon the preceding pages, the dotted lines and initial letters show the Postal District, and the black spots denote the situation of the toll-bars; in addition, there are upwards of 100 side-bars, within a radius of six miles of Charing cross, which are not marked.
Source:The Illustrated London News, June 6, 1857.