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Nottingham’s London Road Turnpike

August 18, 2011

Drivers on Nottingham’s London Road, along the A60 from the A6008 roundabout near the present BBC building to Trent Bridge, are following the route of an ancient road.

There was once a mile of marshes and flood plain between the city of Nottingham and the river at Trent Bridge.  Up to the 18th century these were common lands criss-crossed by the channels of the river Leen.   A series of wooden bridges were replaced in about 1766 by stone structures and by 1790 a single ten arch bridge was erected.    It was badly maintained, and in 1795 it had to be pulled down after flood damage.

In 1796 an Act of Parliament established a Turnpike Trust for the route from the north side of Trent Bridge to the west of St. Mary’s Church. The new turnpike ran alongside the new Nottingham canal, which extended from the river Trent to the town somewhere about Poplar, and had been opened in 1793.  The city section of canal still exists and forms part of the Trent and Mersey navigation.   The new turnpike crossed the Meadows upon arches that permitted the floodwater to get away.  Traces of some remain today.

The road was a great success.  With the owners investing the income on upkeep, and competing to draw traffic from the canal, it was well maintained and busy.  It became a favourite promenade from Nottingham.  The picture dates from about 1808.

It is not known exactly when the tolls were done away with, but they certainly lasted until 1860.

Jim Thornton

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