Milestones and Toll Houses of Cumbria
by
Jackie Huck

Wendy Higgins welcomed everyone to the April meeting of Orton & Tebay Local History Society, held at Orton Market Hall where she introduced Colin Smith, who gave a fascinating talk on ‘Milestones and Toll Houses of Cumbria‘.

 Colin gave a brief history of the development of the road network over the centuries, from early Roman roads, to packhorse tracks and turnpikes. He explained the background to the payment of tolls and listed average prices, which could make it quite expensive to enter and leave townships. It was noted that The Royal Mail was exempt and that Turnpikes had to be open when they were due, to allow uninterrupted passage; burial parties were also exempt
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 He showed maps of the local area, which illustrated how the road network from Shap to Orton was established, and to Tebay and Appleby
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 He has collected photographs of many local milestones and showed a number of interesting examples, but he said how sad it was that many have been destroyed, moved or allowed to fall into disrepair over the years, 95% are under threat and 5% are lost annually
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 He also showed slides of boundary stones and toll houses. Toll houses are notable as having a front which juts out, with windows on three sides so the keeper could keep a good watch. They are also very close to the road edge, some stepping right out onto the roadway
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 The Milestone Preservation Society charity, was established in 2001 to identify, conserve and interpret milestones for public benefit.
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 Wendy thanked Colin for his talk, and the evening finished with refreshments.



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