Meltham and Wessenden Head Turnpike Road
The Meltham and Wessenden Head Turnpike was a 3-mile long toll road linking Meltham to the Greenfield Road, and forms the modern-day Wessenden Head Road.
The Meltham and Wessenden Head Turnpike Trust managed the turnpike.
The road is now known as Wessenden Head Road, but was often referred to as "New Road".
The Meltham and Wessenden Head Trust was established by an Act of Parliament in May 1825 for "making and maintaining a Turnpike Road from Meltham in the Parish of Almondbury, to the Greenfield and Shepley Lane Head Turnpike road, near Wessenden Head, in the Township of Austonley, in the West Riding of the County of York":
Whereas the making and maintaining of a Turnpike Road, to commence at or near to the Swan Inn in the Village of Meltham in the Parish of Almondbury, in the West Riding of the Country of York, and passing from thence to and through the Townships of Austonley and Marsden. and joining the Greenfield and Shepley Lane Head Turnpike Road upon the Commons, at or near to a certain Place called or known by the Name of Wessenden Head, in the Township of Austonley, would be of great Benefit and Advantage to the Public, by opening a shorter Communication than there is at present between Meltham and several populous and manufacturing Villages near it, and Ashton-under-Line, Stayley Bridge, and other populous and manufacturing Places in the Neighbourhood of the same.
A road had first been proposed following the Meltham Enclosure Act of 1817 but delays in the carrying out the Enclosures led a further Act in 1830. The description for this new road was reported in 1818 as follows and it may have been envisaged as a dead-end private road to provide access to the enclosed common land above Lower Colders:
One PRIVATE CARRIAGE and OCCUPATION ROAD, of the Width of Twenty-four Feet, where the same passes over old inclosed Land and of the Width of Sixty Feet, where the same passes over the open Common, commencing at the Town Street of Meltham, South of and near to the Swan Public House in Meltham aforesaid, in the Occupation of Mr. John Garlick, and entering from the said Town Street into an old Inclosure, called the Elmet, belonging to Thomas Shaw, Esquire, and now in the Occupation of Mr. James Garlick, near to the North-East Corner thereof, and extending thence in a South-Westwardly Direction, over said Inclosure, to the South Side thereof, thence nearly in the same Direction, along the same Side thereof, to the South-West Corner of the same old Inclosure ; thence in the same Direction, over other old Inclosures, to the North End of an ancient Messuage or Dwelling-House, belonging to John Taylor ; thence in a straight Line, and in nearly the same Direction, over several other old Inclosures, passing about Twenty Yards to the South East of an ancient Messuage or Dwelling-House, called Lower Colders, towards and unto the open Common ; thence extending nearly in the same Direction over Open Common, towards and unto Top of Town-Slack, and from thence to a Spring called Clarke’s Spring, over Part of the Common called Liggin Platts, to Great Gruff, and thence extending in a Southwardly Direction over Part of the Common, called Fleike Moss, to Rustry-Syke-Clough, near which Place it enters the Township of Marsden, which above described Road we call The Fleike Moss Road.
In 1840, the Parliamentary Commissioners for Inquiring into the State of the Roads in England and Wales reported the following details of the road:
- 2 miles and 1,699 yards with 1 gate
- 2 miles and 374 yards lay within the township of Meltham, 1,043 yards in Marsden-in-Almondbury, and 282 yards in Austonley
- "The part in Meltham is most of it in bad repair; also the part in Anstonley; the part in Marsden-in-Almondbury is in tolerable condition"
The 1854 O.S. maps of the road show two toll points at the following locations, starting from Meltham:
- Brink Toll Point — situated near the parsonage and the junction with Wellands Lane (now Tinker Lane)
- Waterhouse Hill Slack — situated at the property known as Wentworth and marked as a chain
Despite a statutory requirement to erect milestones, it appears the trust did not do so and none are marked on the 1854 map.
With the abolition of turnpike roads in 1870s, the upkeep of the road became a contentious issue. In December 1877, the Clerk of the Marsden-in-Huddersfield Local Board wrote to Huddersfield Corporation complaining about the poor state of the road, and threatened that the Corporation would be liable for injuries or causalities. In response, "several members said the Board had nothing to do with the road in question." In 1898, the Meltham District Council wrote to the County Council to request that the costs be split between the Marsden, Holmfirth and Meltham Councils.
The route of the turnpike road is shown below, along with toll point locations:
- West Yorkshire Archive Service (reference: QE/20/2/100) — plan of the proposed road (29/Nov/1824)
Notes and References
- "Meltham Inclosure" in Leeds Intelligencer (09/Nov/1818).
- Marked as "Clerk's Spring" on the 1854 O.S. map.
- Marked as "Laggin Plat" on the 1854 O.S. map.
- Marked as "Flake Moss" on the 1854 O.S. map.
- Marked as "Rushy Sike Clough" on the 1854 O.S. map.
- Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (28/Dec/1877).
- Huddersfield Chronicle (19/Mar/1898).