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The Sparrow's Herne Turnpike road was an eighteenth century English turnpike road from Londonmarker to Aylesburymarker.

Its route was approximately that of the later A41 trunk road, (excluding the modern bypass sections at Watford and Hemel Hempstead), and much of the original route is now numbered as the A4251. It followed the Edgware Roadmarker and ran through Watfordmarker, Kings Langleymarker, Apsleymarker, the Boxmoormarker area of Hemel Hempsteadmarker, Berkhamstedmarker and Tringmarker. It linked in with other turnpikes to the north forming a route to Birminghammarker.

The turnpike trust was set up in 1762 by around 300 landed gentry to look after about 26 miles of road between Sparrows Herne near Bushey and Walton near Aylesbury. It was the turnpike's depot at Sparrows Herne which gave the road its name.

The frequent use of the route by heavy carts carrying grain to London made it notorious for its rutted and pitted state even after being made into a turnpike.

The turnpike survived the coming of the railways until 1872, when it passed to the route's various parishes and highway boards to maintain and the tolls were removed.

Description

The original turnpike gates were:
  • Watford Gate at the bottom of Chalk Hill.
  • Ridge Lane Gate on the North side of Watfordmarker.
  • New Ground Gate just to the south of Tringmarker near New Ground Farm,
  • Veeches Farm Gate, west of Aston Clintonmarker – this was moved to Aylesburymarker in 1827 after the road was extended there.
  • In 1860 another gate was established at the top of Tring Hill.


Brick toll houses for these gates were built at a cost of around £25 each. Tollkeepers were appointed and paid 10s 6d a week for which they had to man the gate day and night and from which money they had to pay for the oil for the nighttime illumination of the gates with lamps.

In 1762 the maximum rate for tolls were:
  • Horse or beast drawing a coach - 3d
  • Packhorse (laden) - 1½d
  • Drove of oxen, cows etc - 10d per score
  • Drove of sheep, calves, swine - 5d per score.


References

  1. Sparrow Herne Trust Turnpike Marker, Lower High Street, Watford, Images of England, English Heritage National Monuments Record.
  2. Turnpike Post Opposite Brook Street, London Road, Tring, Images of England, English Heritage National Monuments Record.


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