Tollgate Stanway: A Brief History

Throughout the 17th, 18th and most of the 19th centuries (1600s – 1800s) the parish was
responsible for repairing and maintaining the highways of England and Wales. Within each parish
every able bodied resident was subject to a duty of statute labour which required them to
undertake 6 days a year of unpaid labour repairing the roads. Needless the say this was less than
popular and very much avoided! As such the roads fell into a bad state of repair.

Turnpikes and Tolls
Due to the increasingly poor state of the roads and the increasing road traffic during the Industrial
Revolution of the 18th century, the government began a new system to ensure the roads were fit
for purpose. This involved Parliament passing several acts which established turnpike trusts. A
turnpike was a toll-gate set up across a road with travellers along that road being able to pass
through the gate only upon payment of a toll. The revenue collected from the tolls would be used to
repair and maintain the road. The amount charged varied according to road user and was usually
based on the size of the wheel of the road user's wagon!

The Toll-gate in Stanway

The first act relating to roads in Essex was passed in 1695 and allowed the county justices to
establish turnpikes on parts of the London to Harwich road including a stretch between Kelvedon &
Stannaway co[m]monly called Domesey Road.1 Therefore, it seems that the toll-gate located atT
Stanway began its life at the very end of the 17th century and would have been one of the first tolls
established in the county. The entire road was managed under the turnpike system after a further
Act in 1725.

End of Tolls
The advent of the railways reduced many trusts to a state of chronic insolvency and the roads
began to fall into a state of bad repair once again. As such, from 1864 onwards, Parliament began
a positive policy of winding up as many trusts as possible and the toll-gate at Stanway was no
longer used. Despite the Colchester trust being wound up in 1870, and the maintenance of roads
from the County rate since 1888, the Acts relating to Essex turnpikes were not formally repealed by
Parliament until July 2006!

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