Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Turnpike roads
  Horses only on our turnpike roads !  

The first practical steam-powered railway locomotives were in use in Britain by 1830, and by 1850 the Victorians had increased the railway network to over 6,000 miles of track.
It was the huge growth in the new railways and their success in carrying industrial goods and passengers quickly and cheaply that put both canal companies and turnpike trusts out of business.


Steam power
on the road

Notice the man
in front with
a red flag !
You could probably
hear the thing
coming for miles !

Steam engine,1884
The people who invested money in the turnpike roads system were strongly committed to the horse and carriage and horse and waggon forms of transport.
As steam engines for the railways were steadily improved in the Victorian age, there were also trials of different types of steam powered wagons for use on the road. But the turnpike trusts did not want these 'steam carriages' to use their roads at all.
When the toll charges were revised as part of the 1834 Turnpike Act for Montgomeryshire the tolls for any machine not pulled by animals were set at a rate high enough to keep them off the roads.
  The 1834 Act said that "For every Carriage moved or propelled or set or kept in Motion by Steam or Machinery or any other Power or Agency than animal Power the toll to be 2/6 per Wheel for each wheel therof".
This meant that it would have cost ten shillings for a steam-powered wagon with four wheels to pass through just one tollgate, compared with just two pence for a horse and cart !
Perhaps the turnpikes could have competed with the railways for a bit longer if they hadn't forced steam-cars off the road by charging so much !
Bridge weight warning sign
Some of the later steam powered traction engines like the one in the Victorian picture were too heavy for many bridges. The old sign above is in Powysland Museum at Welshpool.

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