New Road, London
The New Road was a turnpike road built across fields around the northern boundaries of London, the first part of which opened in 1756. The route comprises the following modern-day roads: Old Marylebone Road, Marylebone Road, Euston Road, Pentonville Road, City Road, and Moorgate.
In 1755 various influential residents of St Marylebone, Paddington and Islington, at that time separate villages close to London, petitioned Parliament for the right to provide a Turnpike trust road by-passing the northern boundaries of the then built up area of London. The road was intended initially as a route for cattle and sheep to be driven to the live meat market at Smithfield from the various roads approaching London from the north and north-west, thus avoiding the congested east-west route via Oxford Street and High Holborn.
The road would leave a point very close to the junction of the Harrow Road and Edgware Road and head due east past the northern end of Marylebone Lane to Tottenham Court, and from there via Battle Bridge, St Pancras, to the top of St John's Street in Islington, a short distance from the market.
The proposal was referred to a Parliamentary Committee, which, despite opposition from the Duke of Bedford, recommended approval; it suggested that responsibility for the road be divided between two existing trusts, the St Marylebone (for the section from Edgware Road to Tottenham Court, plus a side street that became Portland Road) and the Islington (for the section from Tottenham Court to the Angel, Islington).
Royal assent for the Act was granted in May 1756. The road was to be a minimum of 40 feet (12 m) wide, and no buildings were to be allowed within 50 feet (15 m) of the edge of the road. In fact the road was built to a minimum width of 60 feet (18 m), and very rapidly. The engineering at first was fairly crude, involving mainly cutting down hedges and filling in ditches, and the route was bounded by fence posts.
At first, each of the administering trusts retained the tolls exacted as travellers passed its gates, but the tickets issued were also valid across the section operated by the other trust.
Five years later the road was extended at its eastern end south-eastwards to Old Street and onwards terminating near Moorgate.
As examples of revenue, the St Marylebone trust exacted £400 in 1757, which had risen to £700 in 1764.
The route was to become a very important transport link. In due course it was improved and metalled. During the remainder of the eighteenth century the northern edge of the built-up area of London moved northwards towards the road, finally engulfing it, though the 50 feet (15 m) building margin was enforced.
Certainly by 1829 much of the road was bordered by fashionable houses, and it was in that year that the first horse omnibus service in London was established by George Shillibeer. His example was followed by many others, and the route became the main artery for such traffic for the remainder of the century, linking the sought-after north-western suburbs of 'Tyburnia' with the financial centre (the City of London).
In the twentieth century, with the advent of motor buses and other motor vehicles, the route became an important orbital road for the northern part of inner London, and became part of the inner ring road.
Currently the route of the road as far as the Old Street roundabout forms the northern boundary of the London Congestion Charge area. Traffic can use the route free of charge, but a charge applies when accessing the roads to the south.
Sheppard, Francis, Local government in St Marylebone 1688-1835 : University of London Athlone Press (1958)