Old Way Gate

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As the name suggests this is an old turnpike house that used to take money from people travelling on the road between Langport and Ilminster. The house that now stands here has changed over the years but a part of it is original and it still sits on the site that was used for the collection of tolls. Up until the mid 1700’s parishes maintained the roads in their area and Ilton would have had little more than dirt tracks at this time. But, as it was gradually realised that a better system was needed, over the next half century or so, many parliamentary acts were passed to deal with the problem of increased traffic on the roads! These acts gave permission to local people who were prepared to raise money by public loans in order to build or repair roads, to then make a charge, called a toll, for the use of the road and so to repay the loan. The tolls were collected at gates, or turnpikes, at intervals along each road. Travellers exempt from charges were those on foot, soldiers and Royal Mail coaches – all other users were charged a toll based on the size of the carriage or waggon, and the number of horses pulling it, or in the case of stock movement, the number and type of animals in the drove or flock. Especially high rates were charged for waggons and carts having wheel trims less than three inches in width, because it was thought that wider wheels would help to act as rollers on the road surface. Tollgates were not popular and were sometimes attacked and destroyed by mobs, particularly in the cities.

The parliamentary Act in 1803 for setting up the Turnpike Trust in Ilminster, included Ilton.