The Lockwood and Meltham Turnpike was a toll road linking Meltham and Meltham Mills to Lockwood via Netherton, and forms the modern-day Meltham Road and Huddersfield Road (B6108).
The Lockwood and Meltham Turnpike Trust managed the turnpike, which was in existence from 1818 to 1874.
Prior to the building of the turnpike road, anyone travelling from Lockwood to Meltham would have liken taken one of the following routes (the modern names of the roads are given):
According to historian Philip Ahier, several plans were submitted for a new route in the early 1800, with the first being a "plan of an intended Turnpike Road from Lockwood to Meltham" surveyed in October 1809 by J. Johnson. Further plans were submitted in 1814 and 1817.
The Lockwood and Meltham Turnpike Trust was established by an Act of Parliament in May 1818 for "making and maintaining a Road from Lockwood to Meltham, and a Branch of Road to Meltham Mills, all in the Parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the County of York":
Whereas the making and maintaining of a Turnpike Road, from the Huddersfield and Woodhead Turnpike Road at Lockwood, in the Pariſh of Amondbury, in the Weſt Riding of the County of York, to Meltham in the ſaid Pariſh, (in or through the ſeveral Townſhips, Hamlets, Diſtricts, or Places of CroſIandhalf Lockwood, Netherton, South Croſland, and Meltham, in the ſaid Pariſh of Almondbury), and a Branch therefrom to Meltham Mills in the ſaid Pariſh, would be of great Benefit and Advantage to the Public, and to the Owners and Occupiers of Land on the Line of the intended Road, and in the Neighbourhood thereof, by opening a ſhorter and better Communication than there is at preſent between Huddersfield and Meltham, and Meltham Mills, and other populous Places, and by better enabling the Owners and Occupiers of ſuch Lands to procure Lime for manuring and improving the ſame ; but as ſuch Purpoſes cannot be effected without the Aid and Authority of Parliament.
The initial toll charges listed in the Act were:
Upon payment of the toll, a ticket bearing the name of the relevant toll gate was issued and this allowed the payee to return along the road toll-free during the same day. The tolls were collected at three locations:
As was usual for Turnpike Acts, a number of exemptions were laid down, such as people attending church, clergymen visiting the sick, and anyone transporting a body for burial. Nor were charges to be made for anyone transporting materials to and from Dungeon Mill.
The following public notice was placed in the Leeds Intelligencer (05/Oct/1818):
TO ROAD MAKERS. TO BE LET BY TICKET.
At the House of Mr. George Hare, the Rose and Crown Inn, in Huddersfield, on Thursday the 22d Day of October Instant, at the Hour of Eleven in the Forenoon, in such Lengths as shall be then and there specified and agreed upon, and subject to such Conditions as will be then and there produced, the Forming and Making the Bed of the most Part of the new intended Turnpike Road leading from Lockwood to Meltham, and the Branch of Road to Meltham Mills, all in the Parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the County of York.
Specifications and further Particulars may be had on Application to Mr. Thomas Abbey, of Lockwood, near Huddersfield, Surveyor.October 2d, 1818.
In the Rev. Joseph Hughes' The History of the Township of Meltham (1866), he wrote of the new road:
The turnpike road from Huddersfield to Meltham was begun in 1819. An act for amending, improving, and maintaining of which passed in the session of 1825, in the 6th year of George IV, must have conduced greatly to advance the social condition of the people, by affording them facilities of intercourse with their Huddersfield and other neighbours, and opening out markets from which their ancestors were necessarily excluded. The completion of this road gave a considerable impetus to trade and industrial pursuits of every description, and inconsequence of it, improvements of various kinds at first gradually, and then rapidly succeeded, and made way for each other.
The new road was in use by 1822, with carrier Samuel Siddal operating a service from Huddersfield to Meltham three days a wekk. In a public notice placed in the Leeds Intelligencer (06/Feb/1823), it was reported that the sum of £250 had been collected after deducting expenses during 1822.
A further act of Parliament was successfully applied for in May 1825. During the same year, a separate act was passed to build the Meltham and Wessenden Head Turnpike road, which provided a route from Meltham to the Greenfield and Shepley Lane Head Turnpike at Wessenden Head.
The forming of Huddersfield Corporation in 1868 meant that tolls could no longer be collected by Trusts within the boundary of the incorporated borough, which included Lockwood, and the Corporation became responsible for the upkeep of the roads within their boundary. The Trust according moved the Dungeon Wood toll gate into the South Crosland district in August 1871:
Removal of the Dungeon Wood Tollgate — On Tuesday, workmen were engaged in removing the Dungeon Wood toll-bar to a new position, beyond the limits of the borough of Huddersfield. The new position is at the bottom of the Big Valley, near the junction of the roads from Netherton to Huddersfield, and the former place to Armitage Bridge. The removal of the bar is one of the results of the recently obtained Improvement Bill by the Huddersfield Corporation. During the progress of removal many persons expressed a desire to know when a similar fate would befall the Lockwood bar, and also hoped the Corporation would not be partial in its action, but would compel the removal of every toll-gate to beyond the limits of the borough.
By the early 1870s, with an increasing amount of traffic being carried by the Meltham Branch Line, much of the costs of repairing the road were being paid by the ratepayers of South Crosland and Meltham. In early 1874, the Trust had intimated that they did not intend sending a renewal application to the Turnpike Trust Commission and the assumption was that control would therefore be handed over to the local district councils.
However, by April 1874, it had become apparent that the Trust would seek a further renewal and Edward Brook of Meltham Hall, together with James Kilburn of the Meltham Local Board, made formal objections. On Friday 8 May 1874, the Turnpike Trust Commission under the chairmanship of Lord George Cavandish heard representations from Huddersfield Borough Surveyor John Henry Abbey and from Kilburn on behalf of the Trust and the objectors respectively. Abbey reported that the tolls received in the previous three years had averaged around £160 per annum.
Kilburn then pointed out that the turnpike caused logistical problems with the transport of goods to and from Meltham Mills and Meltham Railway Station, estimated at between 13,000 to 14,000 tonnes per annum. The most direct route passed through Harewood Toll Point and would therefore incur toll charges, so nearly all the goods traffic was sent via a longer route to avoid unnecessary tolls.
After deliberating, the Commission panel ruled that the Lockwood and Meltham Trust be ended when its current application expired on 31 October 1874 and that all toll bars be removed by the end of the year. The Huddersfield Chronicle reported that "on the decision of the committee being delivered, the welcome news was at once telegraphed to Meltham, where it was received with unbounded pleasure."
Under the terms of the Turnpike Act, the Trustees were required to erect milestones at appropriate locations. A total of four are marked on historic maps and they can still be found at the following locations:
The route of the turnpike road is shown below, along with milestones and toll house locations: