THE HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD - Online Book

The rise and progress of the town and the history of its institutions & people.

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156                    HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD.
for the local Trustees was fixed at the Crown Inn; and, for the first time, all coaches and persons on horseback were ordered to be allowed to go free on the days of election of Members of Parliament in Surrey or Sussex. Funds running short, another Act was passed in 1731 putting on additional tolls of one penny for animals and threepence to sixpence for vehicles. Six years later Parliament again dealt witli the matter and continued the Acts for 15 years after March 25th, 1762, and as and from July 25th, 1737, doubled many of the existing tolls. A general Act passed about the same time fixed very severe penalties for those who interfered with the toll-gates or their keepers. They were to undergo imprisonment for three months and to be " once publickly and openly whipt" in the market place of the nearest town to which the offence was committed.
The whole of the general laws relating to turnpike roads in England were embodied in one Act passed in 1768. Specific widths of wheels and weights were defined for every class of vehicle, and the Turnpike Trustees were empowered to erect cranes, machines or engines at each toll-gate to weigh all vehicles and charge all overweight 20s. per cwt. No four-wheeled vehicle was allowed more than eight horses and no two-wheeled vehicle more than four, but the number could be increased during times of deep snow and ice. Every vehicle with wheels less than six inches wide had to pay half as much again as the specified tolls, and after 1776 this penalty for light running traps was increased to double the amount set forth in any previous Act of Parliament. In the same year all tyres were first compelled to be fiat and the nails sunk so as not to rise above the surface.
This is a copy of the notice as to weights posted on the East Grinstead toll-gate 130 years ago:
Table of Weights Allowed in Winter and Summer (including the Carriage and Loading).
Summer.              Winter,
tons. cwts. tons. cwts.
To every Waggon upon Rollers, of the Breadth
of 16 Inches ........................ 8 0 .. 7 0
To every Waggon with 9 Inch Wheels, rolling
a Surface of 16 Inches on each Side...... 610 .. 6 0
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