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The Turnpike Roads of Pilton 1763 – 1879


This short article by local Pilton historian Margaret Reed tells the story of the Turnpike Trust created in Barnstaple in the 18th Century and how this affected the roads in Pilton. Nationally roads had descended into appalling decay, making the passage of wheeled traffic virtually impossible. The Turnpike Act of 1707 opened the way to the development of Turnpike Trusts to address this situation. However the Barnstaple Turnpike Trust was not created until 1763. It had the intention only of upgrading routes leading to Barnstaple from other parishes. As a result two roads through Pilton were improved, widened and maintained, one to Bradiford and Braunton and the other to Shirwell Cross. Toll houses were built at a number of locations although it proved difficult to make the trust profitable and, when the railway came to Barnstaple in 1854 and then Ilfracombe in 1874, use of the turnpikes declined. The Barnstaple Turnpike Trust was disbanded in 1879 with a final flourish which left us with granite milestones at Westaway Plain and Bradiford.

Thanks to Margaret Reed for preparation of this article.

For more on the milestones of Pilton follow this link:

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