1 ROCHDALE TO ELLAND via BLACKSTONE EDGE TURNPIKE TRUSTS
The Blackstone Edge Turnpike Trust was established in 1734 to repair, amend, enlarge and widen the existing road between Rochdale and Elland. The wording indicates an existing road for much of the route but that the Trust could have created an improved road over Blackstone Edge itself. Whether this included the so called ‘Roman Road’ isn’t certain - see separate page.The first tolls were collected in 1734. A further act was obtained in 1754 to widen the road but some 10 years later the road was declared unusable such that a further act was necessary.
The increased use of wheeled carts and waggons created pressure for a more easily graded route than that provided by the improved Packhorse Road. The 1760’s therefore saw work to divert and alter the Turnpike Road between Littleborough and Gatehouse including the present course of Blackstone Edge Old Road around Windy Bank. It is likely that around this time the road between Stormer Bar and the White House (now a track) was constructed - see map above).
The trust also straightened the road between the Rochdale Canal Bridge and The Rake as well as purchasing land and demolishing properties around Gatehouse.
Prior to 1780 to 1820 the Turnpike through Littleborough passed to the north of the old Parish Church and through the Falcon Yard where the horses were changed, stabled and the coach house was located as shown on the plan above
During the 1770s ands 1780s, the Trust determined that work to divert the road between Littleborough and Hurstead must include demolition of a smithy (see above plan) and other buildings in Littleborough before any new works could begin.
This decision is very likely to refer to the construction of the New Road in Dearnley which is confirmed by Tate’s map of 1785 which only shows the old road via Whitegate whereas Greenwood’s 1818 map shows the two alternative roads between Husted (now Hurstead) via Wuerdle to Stubley. On the 1851 OS Map the old road appears to have been blocked off east of New Street presumably to ensure that users didn’t avoid paying their toll at the Stubley Ticket Gate on the New Road. By 1850 the Old Road was under local authority maintenance. Whether a ticket gate (or Toll Bar/booth) was located at Whitegate or later at Greengate is to be confirmed.
The improvement works between Hurstead and Littleborough included changes to the route through Littleborough itself which included the construction of Church St between Morgan St and Hare hil Road avoiding the route over James Hill which previously ran between the Royal Oak and the Wheatsheaf. This was later used for housing in 1818. (See plan below)
The growth in coach travel led to further improvements. In 1819 lots were let for the construction of the current Halifax Road via the Moorcock which was completed in 1820/1. This complemented the previously completed new road between Stormer Bar and the Coach and Horses (or White House as it was increasingly called). In 1825 the whole length of the ‘new’ road from the Rake to The Coach & Horses was complete to the satisfaction of the Inspector General of Mails (for the use by Mail Coaches). Some 6 coaches operated daily between Rochdale and Halifax – Shuffle, Perseverance, High Flier, Defiance, Duke of Leeds and Commerce.
However, in 1824 John McAdam reported to the Trustees that the road “was in a very bad condition etc” and placed much of the cause being that the Trust relied too heavily upon the Parishes for maintenance and repair rather than doing it themselves.
Coaches ceased to operate over The Blackstone Edge Turnpike in 1843 following the opening of the Leeds and Manchester Railway through Summit Tunnel and the Turnpike Trust was finally dissolved in 1872.
FEATURES ALONG THE TURNPIKE ROAD
Whilst it is not 100% certain that the first turnpike went via ‘Old Road’ in Wuerdle and Whitegate in Dearnley, the name gate in street and local names often recalls where toll gates were located. The Greengate Pub in Hurstead could indicate a Toll Gate in the area, which possibly took over from one in Whitegate when the New Road was constructed.
The Dearnley Toll House and Gate was located opposite New Street on the corner of Watling St. It was called Stubley Ticket Gate in Toll Adverts. Ticket usually applies to small wooden buildings and the 1851 map indicates such a structure in front of a house. At one time the keeper was ‘Old Bob Highley’. The location of the Whitelees Gate is unclear but it was on the Littleborough side of the junction with Whitelees Road so that local traffic to/from the mills near Featherstall would not pay tolls for very short journeys. Whitelees Gate is not shown on the 1851 map.
In the rear porch of the Falcon Inn is a 1657 datestone recording when the yard and stables served as the focal point for stage coach travel over Blackstone Edge. The current Holy Trinity Parish Church was built between 1815 – 1820, being some 15 yards (approx 15 metres) north of the old church (pictured) which originated from around 1471. As the old chapel was located much nearer to the River Roch it was no doubt located south of the ‘newer’ Turnpike Road whilst the replacement church was positioned on vacant land to the north.
The Rake Inn was another Coaching Inn being located at the bottom of the steep climb of the First Turnpike Road to Blackstone Edge. It was known as the Hayrake around 1832. The Toll Road took an easier route around the north side of Windy Bank House before climbing to Gatehouse where local residents believed a gate was located with tolls collected at Rough Farm. Beyond Gatehouse the road passes through the deep cutting at the summit possibly dug by the Turnpike Trust. The road crosses an embankment past the Lydgate Mill and Lidiet Green (the cottage considerably lower on the west side) again possibly work by the Turnpike Trust. Rough Farmhouse, shown painted white in the photograph was an early Toll House. Drovers watered their animals in the Clough below the bridge. Beyond Rough Farm and High Peak there is considerable uncertainty regarding which route the first Turnpike took to cross over Blackstone Edge. Is the so called ‘Roman Road’ actually a Turnpike Toll Road? If so, the roadway which runs in front of the cottages (and earlier mill) at High Peak was the first Toll Toad. However, it is clear that difficulties in climbing the ‘Roman Road’ led to a revised alignment which is now followed to Stormer Bar. This Turnpike crossed over the later ‘new’ road and took a lower, more northerly route to the White House.
The Dearnley Toll House and Gate was located opposite New Street on the corner of Watling St approx where the steam tram is located above. It was called Stubley Ticket Gate in Toll Adverts. Ticket usually applies to
small wooden buildings and the 1851 map indicates such a structure in front of a house. At one time the keeper was ‘Old Bob Highley’ The location of the Whitelees Gate is unclear but it was on the Littleborough side of the junction with Whitelees Road so that local traffic to/from the mills near Featherstall would not pay tolls for very short journeys. Whitelees Gate is not shown on the 1851 map.
In the rear porch of the Falcon Inn is a 1657 datestone recording when the yard and stables served as the focal point for stage coach travel over Blackstone Edge. The current Holy Trinity Parish Church was built between 1815 – 1820, being some 15 yards (approx 15 metres) north of the old church which originated from around 1471. As the old chapel was located much nearer to the River Roch it was no doubt located south of the ‘newer’ Turnpike Road whilst the replacement church was positioned on vacant land to the north.
The Rake Inn (known as the Hayrake around 1832) shown middle right in the picture below, was another Coaching Inn. It was located being located at the bottom of the steep climb of the First Turnpike Road to Blackstone Edge. The improved Packhorse road went in front of Windy Bank located on top of the hill whereas the 1760’s road curved around it passing to the right of the terraces in the middle of the picture. The new 1820 Toll Road is on the left as it heads towards Bent House.
Beyond the Rake Inn, the 1820 road (A58) passes close by the 17th Century ‘Old Bent House’, the original home of the Stott Family who were Yeoman Farmers and Carriers. They carried goods between Rochdale and Halifax over Blackstone Edge during the 17th & 18th centuries. The Moorcock Inn used to be Swaindrod Farm and was first licensed around 1840 with the landlord being recorded as Thomas Butterworth in 1843. Just around the corner was The Shepherd’s Rest Pub previously called Fence Nook (1851 – 1872) and licensed between 1851 and 1915. It became a Transport Café, then The Nook Restaurant and later a private dwelling in 2005.
Stormer Hill Bar, formerly Toll Bar Cottage (or Bar House) was originally constructed in 1838 being later extended with a porch provided in 1911. The Toll House was constructed where the two Toll Roads crossed as is clearly shown in the adjacent photograph. The A58 passes alongside the Bar House with the ‘Old’ road crossing east west on the north side of the building. A weighing machine was provided at many toll gates including Stormer Bar.
Both Turnpike routes combine on the approach to the White House (previously known as the Coach and Horses), another Coaching Inn
Beyond Windy Bank the 1760 road climbed to Gatehouse where local residents believe a gate was located with the tolls collected at Rough Farm. Beyond Gatehouse the road passes through a deep cutting through the summit probably dug by the Turnpike Trust. The road later crosses an embankment past Lydgate Mil and Lidiet Green cottage, again possibly work done by the Trust. Rough Farmhouse, shown painted white in the photograph below was where the tolls were collected. Drovers watered their animals in the clough below the bridge. The location of the toll building suggests that the first toll road followed the Packhorse Road which runs in front of the cottages (and earlier mill) at High Peak. However, much uncertainty exists as to which route was followed over Blackstone Edge. The 1760 route to Stormer Bar is that crossing over Oil Mill Bridge
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