Keighley and Kendal Turnpike
|Keighley and Kendal Turnpike|
|Length:||54 mi (86.9 km)|
|Existed:||1753 – 1878|
|Skipton - Addingham Turnpike
Skipton - Colne Turnpike
Kirkby Lonsdale - Milnthorpe Turnpike
The Keighley and Kendal Road was a turnpike between West Yorkshire and South Cumbria, the primary instigators being in Settle. It modified the ancient route through Craven. It necessitated the widening of bridges, the reorientation of the some of the towns it passed through and the relocation of inns and stables. It was of great benefit to commerce in the northwest but proved a financial loss in itself through underestimation of the cost of repairing the wear caused by heavy traffic. Unfortunately the Trusts's records were lost when it closed business so we must rely on the writings of other authorities for our limited accounts and figures.
The old roads 
Ancient highway were merely rights of way where the only road repair done was removing obstructions. Over soft ground a raised causeway of stones one meter wide was built for pack horses.:p.105 The only wide roads were Drovers' roads along hilltops. All roads crossed rivers at right angles wherever the valley was narrowest. For example the hilly road from Knaresborough brought more trade to Settle than the valley track from Keighley.:p.105 Travellers went on horseback or on foot: the principal exports were cattle and the imports came on packhorses. Bulk materials like hay, peat or rushes were dragged on sledges by oxen even when there was no snow.
Value of roads 
The Feudal right for towns to hold markets brought merchants and guilds to see the value in roads. Although in the south of England common carriers' carts began carrying merchandise they were not seen for a long time north of York or west of Exeter. In these distant parts all goods were carried by long trains of packhorses.:p.6
The commercial advantage in a new road through Craven was presented in a Settle broadsheet:
"The Woollen Manufacture has of late years been carried on and is daily increasing in Craven, for which it is better situated in every respect (save the scarcity of Coal) than any other part of the Country. Good Roads wou’d lower the Price of Coal at least one‐Third, this wou’d be a prodigious advantage to all the inhabitants, and such an encouragement to that Branch of Trade as wou’d render it General, by this means the Country wou’d become Populous and consequently the Value of Land greatly increased ... When the Roads are effectually repaired Goods may be conveyed from one Place to another in Carriages with less than half the Number of Horses now employed in carrying Packs and consequently at half the Expence."
Landowners with farm carts and private carriages were also influential in obtaining the best surface possible.:p.1
From manuscripts written for and against the K&KR turnpike we learn that the proposed length was 53 ¼ miles. They expected a yearly income of £1,005 15s. 6d., amply sufficient for the road's repair.:p.18 The papers estimated the Yorkshire section of 40 3/4 miles could be constructed by 1,648 men with 744 carts; and the Lancashire/Westmorland section of 12¼ miles by 205 men with 133 carts.
The acts 
"for repairing, amending and widening the Road from Kieghley in the West Riding of the County of York, to Kirkby in Kendal in the County of Westmoreland ... it is from the Narrowness thereof in many Places, and the Nature of the Soil, become very ruinous and in great Decay, and is not only almost impassable by Wheel Carriages, but very dangerous for Travellers, and is incapable of being repaired by the ordinary Course of Law."
It goes on to appoint over 500 local residents as Trustees to carry out the necessary works, giving them power to erect turnpike gates and toll houses, levy tolls, purchase land, and generally administer the working of the road.
In 1778 a second Act separated the Yorkshire portion of the road from the rest; in 1790 a third Act revised the tolls and certain exemptions were abolished. The life of the Trust was extended by further Acts in 1823 and in 1855.
Trustees and creditors 
There were c. 500 trustees. Their qualification was the possession of land of the annual value of £100, or property worth £3000. They were forbidden to make any profit out of the road. They never all congregated but met in local Committees of a minimum of 7 attendees.
The minute book for the Trust shows that most interest in the road came from Settle. The only really active trustee of Keighley was Josias Morley, attorney.
A number of wealthy men advanced money on the security of the tolls. A Mr. Cripps advanced over £5,000 between 1753 and 1756. The tolls would eventually have satisfied the creditors but the trustees, full of energy and public spirit, at once embarked upon many extra improvements financed by borrowing on the security of future tolls.:p.169
Toll charges 
The first Act fixed the maximum toll to be taken from travellers passing from end to end. Because there were initially 5 toll-bars the amount taken at any one bar was not to exceed one fifth of the total:
- Coach drawn by 6 horses or more, seven shillings and sixpence; and drawn by 4, five shillings; drawn by 2, three shillings and fourpence; drawn by 1 two shillings.
- Wagon or Cart drawn by 6 beasts of draught, twenty shillings; by 5 or 4, five shillings; drawn by 3 or 2, three shillings and fourpence; drawn by 1, one shilling and sixpence.
- Horse or Mule, not drawing, five pence each.
- Drove of Cattle two shillings per score.
- Drove of Calves Hogs or Sheep one shilling per score.
- Foot travellers free.
There were many exceptions entered in the Act to placate various interests. No tolls were charged on the carriage of fuel, building materials or manure; on corn taken to the cornmill; on cloth or wool taken to a fulling mill, or on live stock going to water. No tolls were charged to residents going to church on Sundays, to the funeral of a neighbour or to vote at an election, or to the Royal mail.
In 1753 the Settle Trustees appointed Joshus Parsons, Stone mason, for the road up Brayshaw Scar
"Cast 7 yards wide between the ditches, and well and equally formed in a turnpike like manner, and sufficiently raised when the grounds are low or soft; low places to be raised as much as possible and high places to be taken down to make road as near as can be level, and no bank to ascend more than five inches in the yard. . . . He is to keep the road in good condition for one whole year. All to be done for £105 per measured mile.":p.169
In 1754 they made a contract with John Birtwhistle of Skipton to build a road from Settle to Long Preston at 11s. 9d. per rod (£28 per mile) “to be stoned 16 inch thick” but it was reported in 1758 to be “too narrow, rarely exceeding five yards”.
It was initially agreed that the standard width of the turnpike road would be 7 yards, of which 5 yards were to be metalled.
In 1770 part of a highway in Settle was widened to ten yards.:p.178
In 1778 near Ingleton part of the road is recorded as being 12 yards wide.
There were medieval bridges at Kildwick and Settle and both were widened to accommodate the turnpike traffic. The underside of the both bridges shows the older portion with its ribbed arches quite distinct from the new. Before the addition was made Settle bridge was only 10 feet wide including the parapet.:p.165
Toll bar profits 
In 1758 a meeting held at Skipton decided to erect a sixth toll gate at Settle bridge. However this proved unprofitable for it was easily avoided by using either Kendalman’s ford or the alternative route by Stainforth or Helwith Bridge so in 1778 it was removed. Everywhere native residents made a good living by guiding travellers round the bars so many gates were repositioned in 1823.
In 1833 at the five gates between Ingleton and Skipton the takings per year were:-
- Greet Bridge Gate (Ingleton) £324
- Clapham Gate £452
- Runley Bridge Gate (Long Preston) £486
- Hellifield Gate £474
- Holme Bridge Gate £349.:p.171
But there were always attempts to evade payment of tolls turnpike: in 1756 John Scot of Keighley unloaded his cart before passing through to reduce the toll; in 1757 William Smith broke open the bar at Steeton and in 1758 Mr. Jefferson rode through the fields to avoid payment. It was found the best location for securing tolls was at a river bridge. However in many towns local residents made a handsome profit out of guiding strangers across the old ford.
Some gate keepers were suspected of dishonesty for it was difficult to check their takings so by 1758 they were no longer employed by the Trustees but each gate was let at a fixed rent. And in later years usually let out to one contractor e.g., Messrs. Bowers of Hunslet.
Unfortunately the rise of railway transport caused revenues to fall considerably:p.11 halting the improving schemes. Despite all endeavour the K&KR Trust was a commercial failure having incurred debts of nearly £34,000.
The losses 
By 1827 all the important aspects of the road had been completed and the Trust was in debt by £34,000.
The key problem proved to be miscalculation of the cost of maintaining the road e.g., in 1762 they allotted only £20 a year for seventeen miles between Keighley and Skipton. Nobody foresaw the wear and tear that would be caused by the great increase of traffic.:p.172 Royal Mail coaches paid no toll at all yet
"these machines from their great weight and from the speed with which they are driven do amazing damage to the roads over which they pass, and will soon either occasion a bankruptcy in some districts or an increase in the rate of tolls”
In 1877 instructions were given “that the gates must be taken off their hinges at 12 o' clock of the 1st November and put aside and sold as soon as possible".:p.172 The investors received back, on average, only 54% of the money they had advanced. Most of the capital had come from the northwest end of the road.
By the Highways and Locomotives Act, 1878, Parliament abolished the principle of Turnpikes and when the Trusts fell due handed the roads over to Quarter Sessions, with power to levy rates on the whole county for their maintenance, supplementing them by a grant out of the Exchequer. Later, by The Local Government Act 1888, County Councils were set up and the management of the main roads transferred to them.:p.7
Before the turnpike ca.90 pack horses continuously worked the route from Kendal through Yorkshire. Their panniers were wicker hampers to carry local manufactures and necessities. The cost of this form of transportation was almost prohibitive. For example Coal was seldom seen far away from coastal harbours.:p.6
When the Turnpike opened the pack-horses first gave way to crude carts with revolving axles. Post-chaises were introduced to Kendal in 1754, and the first stage waggon in 1757. Staging meant maintaining speed by frequent changes of horses. Many inns became posting houses that kept horses to let for the next stage at 1s. to 1s. 6d. per mile, returning with the next party coming the reverse way.:p.179 When room permitted these carrier waggons were used by people who could not afford to travel on horseback. The first passenger stagecoaches arrived in Westmorland in 1763. In 1786 the Mail Coach began to run regularly. In the early 1800s the Union coach ran from Kendal to Keighley each way on alternate days. By 1840 there were daily services from Kendal to Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale.:p.5 Wealthier travellers hired postchaises or had their own vehicles.
Changes in the towns 
In 1782 The original route out of Keighley was Spring Gardens Lane – Hollins Lane – Hollins Bank Lane. It was superseded by a new road: Bar House Lane – Keighley Road. the B6265.
In 1786 to serve Keighley’s expansion North Street was created:p.7 and from its south end the Union coach departed from The Devonshire Arms coaching inn. This was located at 2 Church Street on the corner of High Street and can be identified by its classical pedimented doorcase.:p.14
Keighley was to become an intersection with other turnpikes including the Two-Laws to Keighley branch of the Toller Lane - Blue Bell turnpike (1755) from Bradford to Colne; the Bradford to Keighley turnpike ( 1814); and the Keighley—Halifax turnpike.
Settle made a proviso that no Gate could be set up nearer to Keighley than Steeton. In 1752–53 the initial The Keighley and Kendal Turnpike followed Hollins Bank Road with the Toll Bar situated at the bottom of Steeton Bank. An Inn named “The Pack Horse” was located nearby.
In 1753 a new bridge was built over Steeton beck.
The first toll gate on the turnpike was set up in 1753 at "Steeton Cross" at the foot of the hill. In 1782 when the new road under Hawkcliffe was made, the toll-bar was removed to what is now called "Old Bar-house" to intercept the traffic by Old Bar-house Lane as well as that by the new road.
Nos. 14 –20 High Street during the second half of the 18th century was an inn called The Star, but its license and name were moved to a new inn built at the road junction on the main turnpike road to the north.:p.24
Nos. 44 and 46 Upper School Street during 1770s became "The Goat’s Head" standing on the original route of the Keighley to Kendal turnpike. Following its realignment the inn name and license was moved to its present building opposite the Station Road junction.:p.25
In the early 19th century the toll road was diverted under Hawcliffe along the line of the present A629 that runs through the north side of the village.:p.10
The bridge was widened at Kildwick.
Coaches passing through in 1822 were:
- Mail Gig from Bradford: arriving 10 am; departing to Skipton immediately. Returning at 12 noon then proceeding to Bradford.
- Royal Alexander Coach to Leeds: 6 a.m. returning 9 p.m. daily, Sundays excepted.
- Royal Union Coach: departing quarter past 3 to Skipton daily excluding Sundays; half past 1 to Leeds.
The White Lion Inn was also the Post Office. Thomas Robinson was both publican and post master. By 1834 that position had passed to Richard Robinson.
The Kildwick to Snaygill section of the turnpike was constructed 1763 – 1786 but the Minutes for that period are lost. This section of road is still in use today as the A629 and runs between the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool canal keeping very close to the line of the earlier canal.
Skipton became a crossroads between the Keighley-Kendal Turnpike, the Skipton-Addingham Turnpike and the Skipton -Colne Turnpike. To follow the Kendal route today take the A65 through Gargrave, Hellifield and Long Preston however after Cleatop take the B6480 through Settle.
Daniel Defoe wrote "Settle is the capital of an isolated little kingdom of its own surrounded by barren hills.":p.163 Settle obtained a market charter in 1249 but because of its remote isolation continued to see mostly only local commerce.
Converting the rough uneven track into a turnpike changed the whole character of Settle, ending its isolation and making a connection with the growing industrial towns. The minute book for the Trust shows that most of the interest in the turpike came from Settle and records show many of its financiers were from hereabouts.
The course of the new turnpike road was decided before the end of 1753 and the contract for its construction was given in 1754.:p.173. So radical were the changes that of the 8 1/2 miles through Settle only 250 yards of the old road were used.
The first improvement was the straightening of the road to Clapham, which had hitherto made a wide detour through Giggleswick village and Lawkland. The new road was constructed beneath Giggleswick Scarr and over Brunton.
The ancient route from Long Preston ran straight up a hill to 1,025 feet then descended precipitously through Upper Settle. It proceeded thus because the Ribble valley used to be soft and swampy before field drainage and dredging of estuaries.:p.105 The new route from Long Preston came up from the valley through Duck Street, thence renamed Duke Street. The Golden Lion Inn that once faced the Market Square was realigned in 1754 onto Duke Street so that coach traffic could be better catered for. The advent of wheeled vehicles began a golden age for the Inns.
The turnpike benefited the textile industry by forming close ties with large industrial towns. For example Clayton and Walshman established the first cotton mill in Yorkshire: Low Mill in Keighley, then built the Langcliffe Cotton Mill in Settle and imported skilled workers from Keighley.:p.210.
The heavy industries: quarries that exported Agricultural lime and dressed sandstone for masonry; and factories that imported coal welcomed the turnpike for easy access to the new Leeds and Liverpool Canal port at Gargrave.
Kirkby Lonsdale 
From Kirkby Lonsdale the turnpike did not prefigure the A65 but rather the B6254, passing Marsergh, Lupton, Old Hutton and Natland to reach Kendal. At Kirkby Lonsdale it met a turnpike from Milnthorpe on the coast. In 1818 the Keighley to Kendal Trust and the Kirkby Lonsdale to Milnthorpe Trust were amalgamated.:p.18
Early travellers to Kendal complained of eight miles of "nothing but a confused mixture of Rockes and Boggs" Riding horseback was the fastest form of travelling for the road was "no better than the roughest fell tracks on high ground and spongy, miry tracks in the vallies." It became evident that it was unjust and beyond the power of the thinly scattered rural population thereabouts be called upon to maintain a road used for through traffic.:p.4
"Whereas the road is very ruinous, and some parts thereof almost impassable and could not, by the ordinary course appointed by the Laws then in being for repairing the highways, be amended and kept in good repair, unless some further provision was made.":p.7
In 1703 by Order of the Quarter Sessions of the Barony of Kendall the surveyors of highways was to make the roads good and sufficient for the passage of coaches, carts and carriages:p.5
By 1823 twelve stage coaches left Kendal daily on the various turnpikes.
- Brayshaw, Thomas; Ralph M Robinson (1932). The Ancient Parish of Giggleswick. London: Halton and Co.OCR copy by North Craven Historical Research Accessed 30 September 2012
- Introduction To The Main Roads of Kendale British Historyac.uk. Accessed 30 September 2012
- From Keighley to Skipton – a journey of 1900 years by Graham Taylor; Farnhill VillageWebsite. Accessed 10 October 2012
- Pamphlets and Tracts, 213, i, 2 (60–62) the British Museum
- Brigg, John J (1927). The King’s Highway in Craven, with sketch maps.
- Rennie; Broun and Shirreff (1793). General view of the Agriculture of the West Riding of Yorkshire. London: W Bulmer & Co.
- Keighley Town Center Conservation Area Assessment, Transportation, Planning and Design Department, The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Accessed 3 December 2012
- Exley Head History of a Yorkshire Village David Kidd. Accessed 21 October 2012
- Steeton Conservation Area Assessment Transportation Planning and Design Department, The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Accessed 4 December 2012
- Baines's Directory and Gazetteer Directory; professions and trades for Kildwick; Genuki -- UK &Ireland Geneolgy. Accessed 29 October 2012
- Settle.org.uk Accessed October 2012
- Being a Relation of a Short Survey of 26 Counties, briefly describing the Citties and their Scytuations, and the Corporate Towns and Castles Herein. By a Captaine, a Lieutennt. and an Ancient, All three of the Military Company at Norwich. British Museum MSS. 34754, pp.19–20
Category:Toll roads in the United Kingdom Category:Roads in Yorkshire Category:History of Yorkshire Category:Transport in Yorkshire Category:Transport in Cumbria Category:History of Lancashire Category:Ancient trackways in England Category:Historic trails and roads in the United Kingdom