Newbury and Chilton Pond Turnpike Records 1766-1791
Edited by Jeremy Sims
Published by Berkshire Record Society in 2017
ISBN: 978 0 9573937 3 8
The Berkshire section of the Andover, Newbury and Chilton Pond turnpike ran from Wash Water, just south of Newbury, to the pond just west of the village of Chilton on the Berkshire downs. Here it met the turnpike from Oxford. From Newbury, a short spur ran to the Newtown river, south of Sandleford, where it met the turnpike from Winchester. The road, which in the twentieth century became the A34, thus formed an important link in the route from Southampton and Winchester to Oxford and the Midlands.
The surviving records of the turnpike trust – comprehensive minutes and detailed accounts for the period 1766 -1791 – make this the best documented of all Berkshire's eighteenth-century turnpikes. Through them we learn how the road was planned and how the funds were secured to get the turnpike trust established. They show the practical difficulties of raising and spending money and of negotiating with interested parties, and show also how the road was maintained and improved and how attempts were made to control its use, documenting such matters as the acquisition of land, the erection of gates and gatekeeper's houses, the installation of milestones (and the pursuit of those who defaced them: in 1784 one guinea reward was offered for information leading to the conviction of the person who defaced the stone at East Ilsley), the purchase of materials, as well as illustrating how the trustees dealt with encroachments (and ensured that neighbouring landowners kept their trees and hedges from obstructing the road), and checked the weights of wagons (in 1775 a set of weights and scales was purchased for the keeper of the Donnington gate) and the width of their wheels. Along the way we meet a great many of the people who, in way or another, were connected with the turnpike trust. There were the promoters of the project and the turnpike trustees, the people who subscribed money, the officers of the trust — the clerks, the surveyors, the gatekeepers and other servants of the trust — as well as many of the local users. Editions of turnpike records are relatively rare among the publications of English county record societies.
This volume is a rich source, not just for the history of this trust but also for the wider story of turnpikes in Berkshire and beyond.