TOLL-GATES AND EOAD MANAGEMENT.
The first effective attempt to get the main road running from London to East Grinstead put into a proper state of repair and placed under organised management was made in the year 1717. Many of the users of the road became alarmed at the proposals and petitioned Parliament that they might be freed and exempted from any charge likely to be enforced in consequence of making good the highway, and that they might be at liberty to pass as usual to and from London free of expense. But their prayer was not listened to, and in the following year the Act was passed creating the Turnpike Trust over the road which ran from London, through Godstone to East Grinstead. At this time and for many years later an argument prevailed with Sussex people that if they made good roads through the county the French would immediately invade England and use the roads on their march to the Metropolis.
The Act in question set forth in its preamble that the road running from London to East Grinstead, by reason of the heavy traffic, was becoming " very ruinous and almost impassable for the space of five months in the year," therefore Trustees were appointed with power to erect turnpikes and charge tolls and devote one-third of one-half of the proceeds to amending the road from Croydon to East Grinstead. This Act was to continue in force for 21 years, but by 1720 the Trustees had expended £11,000 on the road over and above the amount of the tolls, and to enable them to borrow with greater ease the Act was extended for 23 years in all. In 1724 another Act was passed extending the Trust so as to include the road right through the town of East Grinstead and on to Highgate, which was then the entrance to Ashdown Forest.
The borrowing of £2,500 for repairing the road from Croydon to Highgate was authorised ; the meeting place