Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Welshpool and district
Turnpike roads
  Breaking down the tollgates  
Drawing by
Rob Davies
The fares charged by stagecoach operators included the cost of passing through tollgates along the route. Since most regular passengers were usually among the better off, the turnpike toll charges were not a great worry for them. Better roads meant a more comfortable (or less uncomfortable !) journey, and they were willing to pay extra for that.
But it was very different for those who were not well off but had to pass through tollgates with carts or packhorses to take their goods into town to sell at the weekly market, or for farmers who had to pay to drive their animals through.
Drawing of tollgate wreckers
A drawing
from 1843
of the
1843 engraving of rioters In the very early years of Queen Victoria's reign the turnpike road toll charges led to the famous Rebecca Riots. Around this time the lives of most of the poor were terribly hard, there were troubles in agriculture and in the flannel industry, and the hated new workhouses were a threat hanging over the very poorest people in the community.

The Rebecca Riots started in south Wales in 1839, just two years after Victoria became Queen, with violent attacks on tollgates. The rioters were men who disguised themselves with women's bonnets and skirts.
Many gates were smashed to pieces with axes, and gatekeepers were threatened. There were no serious incidents at Welshpool but tollgates around Rhayader were attacked in 1843, and the leaders of the riots were later transported.

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For more about the Rebecca Riots see our pages on Rhayader.
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