In 1858 the Government appointed a Royal Commission
to review the state of roads in Scotland. Their report,
entitled Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into
the State of Public Roads in Scotland was published
in 1859. It provides a comprehensive picture of roads
in each county in Scotland, detailing the extent of
the roads and the different types of road, how they
were financed and administered, and proposed radical
changes in their financing and administration.
The inquiry was held because of the growing dissatisfaction
with both the turnpike and statute labour systems. Turnpike
trusts were badly in debt and with little prospect of
repaying their creditors. Tolls were generally resented
and often applied unfairly which could lead to significant
costs for quite short journeys. The process of obtaining
parliamentary approval for a turnpike act and then having
to renew it 20 or 30 years later was cumbersome and
expensive. In addition, there could easily be a dozen
or more different trusts in a county, each of which
had its own administration and staff, that led to considerable
duplication of effort. In the background, the growing
railway network continued to divert traffic from the
There was also dissatisfaction with the statute labour
system. Although the early inefficiencies of the system
had generally been overcome by commutation, i.e. allowing
a monetary payment to be made in place of having to
work on the roads which was then used to employ competent
road builders, there were still difficulties. Each parish
or district administered its own roads, leading to duplication
of effort and there were a great many different ways
of assessing the commutation money which led to widespread
unfairness with some individuals and some parishes paying
more than others. In some places, it was difficult to
collect the finances.
The Inquiry had two aims: 1) To see if there was a
fairer and more economical way of funding the roads
other than by tolls or statute labour; 2) To gain an
overview of how roads were managed in each county and
see if improvements could be made.
In carrying out their inquiry, the Commissioners obtained
detailed returns from all the authorities concerned
with roads, whether turnpike or parish roads, and these
are presented in the report. The returns give details
of financing, administration, and the lengths of roads
of all types in each county.
They also took evidence from various individuals in
each county, both as to their involvement in the administration
or use of the roads, and their views on the two aims
of the inquiry, viz. improving the way the roads were
funded and the way they were managed.
In its final report, the Commission proposed:
- removing the turnpike road debt
- financing turnpikes by a uniform rate on lands and
property - any shortfall could be made up by strictly
- half the costs of new roads had to be met by the proposers
- this would avoid misuse of powers
- the roads were to be managed by Trustees, Commissioners
of Supply, County Road Board and County Surveyor
- merging all turnpike trusts in a county into one trust
- merging the statute labour roads in a county with
the turnpikes under the above management, with appropriate
- funding statute labour roads by a uniform rate of
This meant that all the roads in a county would be
under the management of the county and paid for by the
county. There would still be turnpikes but under the
one trust, with tolls allowed only if needed to make
up shortfalls and under stricter controls. The statute
labour roads would also be managed by the trust, with
appropriate local arrangements and would be funded by
The Inquiry was very influential in determining the
course of legislation. In particular, the Roads and
Bridges (Scotland) Act 1878 adopted many of its recommendations
resulting in the end of the turnpikes and the statute
labour system. All roads came under the County Road
Boards and were no longer classed as turnpike or statute
labour. A few years later responsibility for the roads
passed to the newly formed County Councils.
The Report contains much useful information about roads
in Ayrshire in the mid-1800’s both from the detailed returns
and the evidence given by various individuals about Ayrshire
At that time turnpikes in Ayrshire were administered by
10 trusts, responsible for 714 miles of road. They were
regulated by an 1847 Act.
|Names of Trusts
||Length of Roads
||No. of Tolls
Each district had its own secretary and treasurer and
separate accounts were kept for each district, and in
fact, for each road.
There were 640 miles of statute labour road in the county.
The Trustees were the same as for the turnpike roads and
in some areas the roads were managed by the District Trustees
whereas in others the roads were managed within the parish.
The Act stipulated that money raised in a parish had
to be used for that parish only, which required separate
accounts to be kept. A rate of up to 20 shillings per
£100 of real value could be levied on lands, teinds,
fishings, mills, mines, factories - a long list is given.
However, railways were not assessed as heavily as other
establishments. Some 20 of the 46 parishes in the county
paid the maximum rate; the lowest was 6s.8d.
A separate levy was applied to all bridges; half of the
£1400 raised each year was used for maintenance
and half for new bridges.
Four miles of turnpike in Ayr, and the bridge, were maintained
by the Trustees at a cost of £260 per annum. The
burgh spent a similar amount on streets every year, receiving
one third of the statute labour money raised in the parish.
There was also a causeway and fair custom levied in the
burgh which raised £120 per annum.
Responsibility for the 5 ½ miles of road in
Irvine was shared by the Trustees for the turnpikes,
the bridge, the statute labour roads and the harbour,
as well as the burgh.
In Kilmarnock, 9000 yards of roads were turnpikes;
the remaining roads were paid for by proprietors or
from the statute labour funds.
Thirty four witnesses were examined for their views on
the turnpike and statute labour systems as they were operated
and funded at that time, and how they might be improved.
Many of the witnesses held official positions, such as
clerk or treasurer to a trust, or a surveyor. The burghs
were also represented, as well as farmers and two persons
with manufacturing interests.
The responses were very close to those given in other
counties: a widespread dissatisfaction with tolls, the
need to raise funds in a fairer way, the need to reform
the management and operation of the roads, both turnpike
and statute labour. There were some differences between
the witnesses in how these aims could be achieved although
some general threads are apparent: there were too many
separate trusts, statute labour roads should be brought
together with the turnpikes, funds should be raised
by an assessment and the huge debts should be valued.
For the first aim of the Inquiry - to see if there
was a fairer and more economical way of funding the
roads other than by tolls or statute labour, one or
two felt tolls did have advantages particularly when
dealing with mineral traffic from mines and quarries
that caused so much damage to the roads. An assessment
on the land would bring in much less money. The others,
however, opted for an assessment though opinion differed
as to whether this should be from heritors and tenants
or horses. Some said it would be difficult to get the
money if it was on horses, especially from carters,
although one person did point out that they would pass
the rate on to their customers who would suffer as a
In fact, there is a sense of special pleading from
all the parties and little is said of the impact of
tolls and statute labour money on ordinary people.
Little was objected to in the statute labour system,
perhaps because they were funded by the desired option
for the turnpikes, i.e. assessment. It was however felt
that it would be sensible to amalgamate these with the
turnpikes under the same management or at least remove
the restriction that money levied in a parish should
be restricted to that parish.
The remarks on debt are interesting. Several said these
should be valued at their present worth and one recommended
ignoring the debt due to those whose land had risen
in value because of a road they had financed. It is
quite clear from the financial returns that huge sums
were owed; interest was often paid on these loans but
there was little prospect of the capital being repaid
except in one or two cases, perhaps where a road was
The three burghs of Irvine, Kilmarnock and Ayr were
a separate case with special arrangements in place to
cover the burgh‘s own streets, the statute labour roads
and any turnpike that entered the burgh. The causeway
custom levied in Ayr was an especial irritant to farmers
and others coming into Ayr.
The second aim of the Inquiry was to gain an overview
of how roads were managed in each county and see if
improvements could be made. There was wide agreement
that the 1847 Act was deficient in several respects.
With a Trust for each turnpike, there were far too many
tolls, a constant complaint. As the money could only
be used on that road, the less profitable suffered and
there was considerable duplication of effort with each
Trust needing its own set of accounts. There was general
agreement for a consolidation of Trusts, for freeing
up the funds for each road, and having the one management
for a district.
A number felt that statute labour roads could sensibly
be amalgamated with the turnpikes under the one management.
One or two other points are of interest. One was the
high cost of raising the 1847 Act. It had cost £4300
which is over £3 million in today’s prices. Colonel
Hamilton of Cairnhill gave considerable details of the
opposition in the county to Lord Elcho’s proposed Roads
Bill which would replace tolls and statute labour by
an assessment. Another was the remarks of Elias Cathcart
of Auchendrain, a landed proprietor who was involved
in the Maybole roads, which imply that not all Trustees
were diligent in attending to their duties. Several
witnesses referred to the impact of the railways which
seems to have been variable depending on the location.
The mention of sidings going directly to an ironworks
Overall, with the same picture appearing all over Scotland,
and with much the same opinions being expressed in each
county, it must have been reasonably clear to the Commissioners
what course of action had to be taken.
Despite there still being some strong opposition, as
evidenced for example by Colonel Hamilton’s account
of the reaction from landed interests in the county,
the reform movement did not lessen and eventually many
of the Commission’s recommendations were incorporated
in the 1878 Act. Effectively this was the end of the
turnpike and the statute labour systems, to be replaced
by a system that still operates today. This will be
examined in the next section.
Details are given below of the various turnpike trusts
by district, and summaries of statements by the various
This covered 19 roads (some of which were shared
with other trusts). The roads were:
|Names of Road
||Revenue 1857-58 (£)
||Expenditure 1857-58 (£)
|Ayr to Whitletts
|Whitletts to Galston
|Do. To Carngillan
|Ayr to Cumnock
|Do. To Low Bridge of Doon
|Do. To Maybole (by Monkwood)
|Do. To Maybole (by Alloway)
|Dalrymple Bridge Road
|Monkton to Coylton
|Belston to Wallston
|Wallston to Sandyford
|Ayr, by Dalmellington, to confines
|New Cumnock to Dalmellington
|Monkton to Tarbolton
|Littlemill to Dalmellington
|Moat Toll to Marchburn
|Cumnock Road to county march, by Craigdulart
The total debt for Ayr District was £22,723. There
was one surveyor for all roads, turnpike and statute
labour. His salary for the turnpike roads was £175 p.a.
The clerk had £60 on top of the £60 he was paid as general
clerk and the treasurer was paid £75.
The above is given in some detail for illustrative
purposes, though the original is more detailed still
with its account to the exact yard and to the nearest
shilling and penny. One or two interesting facts can
be gleaned from this. The Littlemill to Dalmellington
road is shown as existing at that time, when there had
been some doubt as to it having been built. The distance
that could be travelled on paying a toll varied from
8 miles for this road to just 2 miles on the Wallston
to Sandyford road. In these cases it would depend on
the toll levied although there is enough evidence in
the report to show some roads were much more expensive
to travel on than others.
The income generated per mile varies enormously from
the very profitable Ayr to Low Bridge of Doon at £103
per mile to less than £3 per mile for the Monkton to
Tarbolton road. Nine of the roads raised less than £20
per mile, four between £20 and £50, and three between
£50 and £100. In most cases expenditure was less than
income. For the two years given in the report (only
one is shown above) the Bellston to Wallston road only
spent about £5 each year against an income of over £50
per year, although the Wallston to Sandyford road had
spent £17 the previous year. However, it is probably
best not to read too much into these figures as debts
had to be paid off first before money could be spent
on the roads.
This had 16 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
|Kilmarnock and Flockside
|Kilmarnock to Monkton
|Kilmarnock to Irvine
|Kilmarnock to Lochgate
|Kilmarnock to Dundonald
|Kilmarnock to Stewarton
|Irvine to Littlemill
|Dundonald to Troon
|Braehead to Grassyards
|Fenwick to Kilmaurs
|Galston to Kingswells
|Kilmaurs to Gatehead
|Thornton Gate to Bowbridge Hill
|Kilmarnock to Craigie
|Riccarton to Treeswoodhead
|Fairlies Dam Dyke to Plelland
The total debt was £4,197.
There was one surveyor with a salary of £120 p.a. The
clerk had £40 and the treasurer £75.
This had 11 roads.
|Names of Road
|Ayr to Muirkirk
|| 5 ½
|Kilmarnock to Cumnock
|Irvine to Littlemill
|| 2 ½
|Ochiltree to Auchinleck
|Coylton to Lawers Bridge
|| 3 ½
|Dalmore to Bellstone
|Catrine to Barglachan
|Gachallan to Lawers Bridge
|Galston to Auchinleck
|Mauchline to Shaw
|Viewfield to Sorn Castle
The total debt was £17,214.
There was one surveyor with a salary of £66.13.4 p.a
and a travel allowance of £33.6.8. The clerk was paid
£25 and the treasurer £55.
This had 15 roads.
|Names of Road
|Ayr by Low Bridge of Doon
|Ayr to Maybole by Alloway Bridge
|South Water of Girvan, or Poundland Road
North Water of Girvan
|Maybole to Straiton
|Maybole to Dalrymple
The total debt was £29,611.
The surveyor was paid £80 p.a., the clerk £25 out of
fees from the toll keepers, and the treasurer £55.
This had 5 roads.
|Names of Road
|Girvan to Glenapp
|Daljarrock towards Newton Stewart
|Barrhill through Corwar
|Old Dailly by Penkiln
The total debt was £24,633.
The surveyor was paid £70 and bother the treasurer
and clerk about £32 each.
This had 2 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
| Stewarton, by Dunlop Village, to
|Auchenharvey and Kingston
There was no debt in this district.
The surveyor had a salary of £22, the clerk £10 and
the treasurer 5% of the toll rents.
This had 4 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
The total debt was £3266.
The surveyors salary was £57.17.0 and the clerk and
treasurer each received 5% on the revenue
This had 2 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
The total debt for these two roads was £20,890.
The surveyor was the same person as for Irvine and
was paid £22.3.0. The clerk and treasuruer were paid
at 5% of the revenue.
This had 3 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
|Clerksbridge, by Beith, to Kilwinning, and Branch
|Kersebridge, by Beith, to Coldstream Bridge
|Beith to Oldhall Bridge
There was no debt, and the first road had a surplus
The surveyor was paid £40 and the clerk was allowed
3% on the revenue and the treasurer 2%.
This had 2 roads (or parts of roads).
|Names of Road
| Largs to Dalry by Howrat, with branch
|West Kilbridge to Dalry
The total debt was £12, 207. The second road had no
The surveyor was paid £20 and the clerk and treasurer
each had an allowance of 5% on the revenue.
clerk to the General Meetings of Road Trustees was examined.
He referred to the 1847 Act, the 10 districts, and having
separate accounts for each district and for each road.
He submitted a return for the roads in the Ayr district,
including details of the conversion money raised in
Although he felt the toll system was fair to all road
users, he thought that it would be a benefit if toll
bars could be redistributed and if some consolidation
of trusts could be made but there were no powers in
the Act to do this. He spoke at some length about the
road debt and the heavy cost that would arise if this
was to be cleared.
Referring to possible ways of funding the roads, he
thought that a system that included a graduated tax
on horses would meet with opposition from hill farmers
who would feel they used the roads less than farmers
in the lowland areas. He thought it would be difficult
to recover the assessment from carters. As carriage
of minerals generally caused a great deal of wear and
tear on the roads, any system should allow for a greater
rate to be levied from mines and quarries.
He noted that the cost of obtaining the Road Act had
been £4300. The income tenants (presumably those
who rented the tolls) received was about 6 per cent
of the revenue raised by the tolls. Of the 713 miles
of turnpike, 427 miles were charged at the full rate
allowed by the Act, 240 miles at half rate, and 46 miles
at a third rate.
John Tennant, a
farmer of Creoch, Ochiltree, had strong objections to
toll-bars as inconvenient and expensive, an opinion
he said, that was held by many farmers. They would prefer
an assessment on their farms in place of tolls.
He noted that owing to much of the traffic being diverted
to the railways, the turnpikes were now in much the
same position as the statute labour roads.
He thought the roads officials were very good but referred
to the £4000 it had cost to get an Act through
Parliament. Another complaint was having to pay causeway
custom in Ayr when townspeople did not and when country
people spent a lot of money in the town. The assessment
should be raised on the occupiers. He thought it would
be an advantage if some of the farmers joined the Trustees.
James Wilson, Treasurer
to the Kilmarnock District of Turnpike Roads gave details
of all the roads administered by the Trust, and explained
his duties as Treasurer. He thought it would be better
if all the roads in the District were brought under
the one Trust, with one management and one set of accounts.
Redistributing the tolls would be advantageous.
He could not envisage a cheaper method of collecting
money for the roads than tolls, noting that those using
the roads most paid the most through tolls. In the case
of collieries and ironworks, where great damage had
been done to the roads, there was no other way of getting
money from them other than by tolls.
clerk to the Statute Labour Trustees in the parishes
of Kilmarnock, Fenwick, Kilmaurs and Riccarton gave
details of how the system worked in these parishes.
Kilmarnock came under a separate act for statute labour.
He thought that although a re-arrangement of toll bars
would be beneficial, the toll system did ensure that
those who used the roads most, paid the most. It would
be a benefit if all roads in a district were under the
He noted that parish roads were mostly used by people
in each parish, and thought that the statute labour
roads had not been much affected by the railways. He
felt that if tolls were to be replaced by an assessment,
Kilmarnock would be unwilling to be assessed for roads
in the county.
David Brown and Thomas Rennie,
the Clerk and Treasurer for Maybole District, provided
details of the roads in the district. Among the debts,
two were owing to Lord Ailsa for the Culzean Road and
the St Murray Road. They also owed him money for the
construction of a bridge on the Maybole to Dalrymple
Road. For a couple of the roads they refer to the debt
owed to proprietors through whose land a road passed.
If they had borrowed the money from banks, this still
had to be paid by them even if they received nothing
from the Trust. With regard to the North Water of Girvan
Road, much expense had been incurred in opposing the
Maybole and Girvan Railway.
They felt that there would be advantages in consolidating
all the roads in the district. Although there were cases
where the number of tolls was oppressive (an example
is given of three tolls having to be paid within one
mile in Maybole) it was hard to see how the number of
tolls could be reduced if evasion was to be avoided.
With the bars being placed near to Maybole it was possible
for farmers to cart coal for many miles without payment.
They also acted as clerk and treasurer for the statute
labour roads, of which there were 100 miles in the district.
The rate varied from parish to parish. Money raised
was spent within the parish.
William Murdoch and James Wilson,
Clerk and Treasurer for the Mauchline District (and
also for the statute labour roads) gave details of each
road. On the Kilmarnock to Cumnock Road they had made
a new entrance from this road into Kilmarnock and were
intending to improve the road at Purrock Bridge with
money provided by the railway.
Walter Andrews and William Brown,
Clerk and Treasurer for Girvan District, gave details
of the returns they had submitted. In Girvan, the main
street was a turnpike, with tolls at each end of town.
Other roads were maintained by the statute labour funds.
There were 44 miles of statute labour roads in the
parishes of Girvan, Ballantrae and Colmonell. The 29
separate roads were under the one surveyor. Funds raised
in a parish were applied in the parish.
Clerk and Treasurer of Stewarton District, gave details
of the two roads in the district. He said that people
in Stewarton disliked the tolls and farmers would travel
2 or 3 miles to avoid one. They would not like tolls
to be replaced by an assessment on tenants or land when
so many other use the roads. They would prefer most
of the funding to come from the public purse.
William Love, Clerk
to the Beith District, gave details of the three roads
in the district. The surveyor also covered the statute
labour roads in Beith, Kilbirnie and Dalry parishes.
The railways had not affected revenue although some
traffic may have changed the roads used.
Prior to the Act of 1827, these roads were one Trust;
some of the Trustees wished to return to this situation.
He also dealt with Largs where there were two roads.
He noted that it would be necessary to call upon three
guarantors of a bond for £2000 in order to help
in repaying the debt.
John Smith, Clerk
and Treasurer for the Irvine District gave details of
the four trusts in the district. He referred to £100
of damage that had been done by the sea on the Kelly
Bridge Road, north of Largs.He also spoke about the
two trusts in the Lochlibo District.
He was also clerk to the statute labour roads in Irvine,
Kilwinning, Dreghorn, Ardrossan and Stevenston parishes.
The surveyor for the turnpike roads deals with these,
except in Stevenston where two of the trustees carried
out these duties. One third of the statute labour money
in Irvine parish was paid to the burgh. Rates varied
in parishes from 12s 6d to 20s. per £100 of real
rent. The average cost of maintaining the turnpikes
was £25.14.0 per annum per mile and £11.11.11
for the statute labour roads - the higher cost for turnpikes
was probably due to the amount of traffic on them.
Surveyor for the turnpike and statute labour roads in
Ayr and Mauchline Districts noted the high cost of maintaining
roads in towns due to heavy traffic, pavements, and
obtaining road materials.
He thought it was more economical to have management
of both types of road and that it would be beneficial
if revenues could be diverted from particular parishes
and particular turnpike roads so that they could be
used where most needed.
He noted the dissatisfaction with the toll system and
felt this could be alleviated if trusts were consolidated
and tolls re-sited so that payment only had to be made
every 5 or 6 miles. Having to keep separate accounts
for each trust led to a great deal of unnecessary work.
He thought that having an assessment in place of tolls
would be more unfair than tolls, and that it would be
difficult to collect a horse assessment.
John Douglas Boswell,
a landed proprietor and collector of bridge money and
county rates explained how the bridge money was levied
by assessment. The money was for bridges on both turnpikes
and statute labour roads, with half going on new bridges
and half on maintenance. He thought that the assessment
on railways was less than it should have been.
If the roads funding from tolls, statute labour and
bridge money was replaced by an assessment it could
be a burden on farmers who were not near the towns and
did not use the markets, as well as dairy farmers distant
from the towns.
A rate on horses would be preferable although it would
be difficult to collect the money from carters. With
the general feeling that there were too many Trusts
and too many tolls bars, it would be better if Trusts
were consolidated and some toll bars re-sited, and placed
at least four miles apart. The causeway custom levied
in Ayr, which was not paid by those living there, should
William Bone, Treasurer
for Ayr District, of both turnpike and statute labour
roads, said that there were 19 turnpikes and gave details
of each. On three of the roads, income from tolls had
been affected by the railways. The statute labour money
was raised from occupiers and from houses, and varied
William Brown of
Greenockmains, a Road Trustee, thought that the present
system of funding was as good as any, although it would
be better if the trusts were consolidated, perhaps into
the three divisions of the county, viz. Kyle, Carrick
and Cunninghame. If they had a common fund, and the
one management, things would be much simpler. The existing
Act prevented this from happening and the current debt
was also an obstacle to this. Consolidation would also
allow the toll points to be re-sited thus removing a
source of grievance.
In talking about how money could be raised if tolls
were abolished, he felt that a tax on horses could be
oppressive, giving an example from Muirkirk.
of Shewalton, proprietor and acting Trustee in
Kilmarnock and Irvine Districts, said that he generally
agreed with the previous speaker. He was in favour of
consolidation of trusts and reduction of the number
of tolls, and of having both turnpikes and statute labour
roads under one management. It would be better if statute
labour roads were combined into districts.
of Perceton, proprietor and acting Trustee in Kilmarnock
and Irvine Districts, would opt for an assessment as
well as a rate on horses. This should be classified
so as to allow for less use of the roads by a farm horse
than by a cart horse. Although it could be difficult
to raise the money from carters there could be ways
of doing this, perhaps by it being paid by the employer
or contractor. He, as a proprietor of mineral works
and collieries, used this system successfully.
He would favour a consolidation of the smaller trusts
and would amalgamate the turnpike and statute labour
roads. If the road debts were valued, this would greatly
reduce the amount of the overall debt.
Auchendrain, a landed proprietor with an involvement
in the Maybole roads was in favour of abolishing tolls
and replacing them with a graduated assessment on horses.
This would be much cheaper especially if the turnpikes
and statute labour roads were brought under one system.
He gave an example of oppressive tolls which could be
avoided if the roads were amalgamated.
He thought it would be beneficial if those paying the
assessment could be represented on the management -
at present their influence was limited to noting if
their landlord attended the meeting of the Trustees.
The general budy of Trustees should have powers to see
that the District Trustees did their duty.
He thought the debt should be revalued.
of Craigie, a proprietor, referred to his interest in
roads matters and said that he had prepared the last
Ayrshire Roads Act and had been in charge of its progress
through Parliament. Prior to the Act there had been
Districts but it was thought better that the different
roads should be kept separate, the idea being that money
raised on a road should be spent on that road and not
another. The Act had no four or five mile clause, hence
tolls could be found at lesser distances.
A difficulty in placing statute labour roads along
with turnpikes was that turnpikes could contract a debt
whereas statute labour roads could not. Many of these
roads were now as good as turnpikes. The present funding
of the statute labour roads was an improvement on what
went before when, for example, the rate on houses was
uniform, despite differences in their value.
He believed tolls were a fair system. If replaced by
an assessment it would be essential to assess minerals
at a higher rate than property because of the damage
caused by such traffic.
He distinguished two kinds of debt: one owed to parties
with no interest in the lands a road passed through;
the other to landed proprietors whose estates had benefited
from the road they had subsidised. As their estates
had increased in value because of the road he would
not be concerned if they only received interest on the
debt and not on the original sum.
He thought the £55,526 owed as interest should
be written off as hopeless, provided it was owing only
to the landed proprietors who had already benefited
from the roads.
Colonel J F Hamilton,
Cairnhill, vice lieutenant and convenor of the county,
said he agreed generally with the preceding witness
although he would not go quite as far on debts owing
to landowners who had benefited by a nearby road. The
way forward would be to have the debts valued.
He could see the difficulties in finding a fair method
to pay off debts, although he did note that the present
Act, by keeping roads separate, did not help when feeder
roads into major turnpikes could have helped each other.
He was of the opinion that all roads in the county
were economically managed.
He handed in copies of resolutions passed at two meetings
of the county (Commissioners of Supply) on the subject
of tolls and, in particular, on Lord Elchos proposals
for a Roads Bill which was intended to provide
for the abolition of tolls, and of statute labour services
or conversion money, as far as regards public roads
or highways in Scotland.
The first meeting (January 1858) completely disagreed
with the proposed Bill saying that the case had not
been made that it would reduce the supposed excessive
cost of containing the funding from tolls and ignored
the fact that tolls allow the people who use the roads
to pay for them. The roads in the county were kept in
excellent order in an economical way and with good prospects
of reducing the roads debt. They deprecate the
change proposed, and will resist the same by every means
in their power. This resolution was to be forwarded
to every county in Scotland.
The next meeting, in June, reinforced their objections.
A workable, efficient and economical system would be
replaced by one that was experimental and that would
remove the burden from those who ought to bear it, those
who used the roads most. They deprecated the proposed
imposition on heritable property and tenants in
accordance with the usual convenient and summary method
so frequent in recent legislation saying that
mining and trading interests who used and damaged the
roads most would thereby escape paying what they should.
They argued that, as the bill was permissive, there
would be difficulties in moving into a county where
tolls were still levied and were unhappy that burghs
were to be excluded. Other objections were a cumbersome
machinery and its treatment of the road debt.
The Committee then instructed the Convenor to contact
the member of parliament for Ayr with a view to submitting
their objections to the Commons.
of Ayr thought the present system "cumbrous, vexatious
and needlessly expensive to the public, as well as unfair."
There were too many tolls close to each other because
of the number of small Trusts. It would be better if
the roads were managed by the County Trustees under
a general board for Scotland along with some government
inspectors who would inspect the roads and the accounts.
He would raise half the money on horses, and the other
half on lands and heritages, including minerals. He
noted the considerable profits made by some tollmen.
He thought that burghs could be a problem as they would
wish to retain the management of their roads, and their
causeway customs. Regarding debt, he thought that those
whose estates had benefited from a nearby road should
still be paid what was owed them, although all debts
should be assessed at their present day value.
Provost of Kilmarnock, said that there were tolls on
all the turnpikes entering the town. None ran completely
through the town, although they entered it for some
considerable distance. The statute labour money went
first of all to highways specified in the Police Act
and thereafter to side streets. The Police Commissioners
could call upon proprietors to make up shortfalls on
the side streets, and for pavements on the main roads.
Statute labour money was levied at the maximum and was
the only source of income for the roads as no customs
were levied. He suggested there would be benefits if
tolls could be replaced by an equitable assessment and
a way found of allowing the burgh to deal with all roads
within the parliamentary boundary.
farmer near Ayr, said that he had compounded his tolls
for carting produce to Ayr at £5 per annum. He sometimes
used the shore otherwise it would have been over £10.
Farmers near Ayr would prefer an assessment to tolls,
although opinions differed on how best this could be
surveyor for the Beith, Irvine and Largs district of
turnpikes, as well as statute labour roads in Beith
District and some parishes in Irvine District, said
that statute labour roads would need more funding to
make them as good as the turnpikes. Mineral traffic
caused much wear and tear on the roads and required
considerable outlay to keep a road in good condition.
It would be better if both classes of road were worked
together and if a common trust was formed for the roads
in a district; it would be more efficient and economical
and tolls could be re-sited in a fairer way. There could
be a case for larger districts, e.g. Cunninghame.
Using a worked example he argued that tolls were the
best way of gaining revenue from mineral works and carriers.
He noted that an assessment on horses that applied before
the 1847 Act proved very difficult to collect, as did
the 3 shillings on householders.
Finally, he thought it would be useful if Trustees
could convert some parish roads into turnpikes.
John Gray, town
clerk of Ayr burgh, said that they received one-third
of the statute labour money raised in the parish which
was paid into the common funds. There was no assessment
for the streets which were paid for out of the common
good. A causeway and fair custom was still levied and
paid into the common good. The funds available were
not quite sufficient for maintaining the streets.
If tolls were replaced by an assessment, he thought
it better to keep the burgh separate from the rest of
the county. If they had to look after all their streets
under a heavy assessment they would prefer that the
toll system remained.
a farmer, gave details of his costs in using the roads.
He thought that any assessment had to take into account
the nature of the farm as the benefit each farm (tillage
farms and grazing farms) gained from the roads varied
widely; he recognised that this would be difficult and
suggested basing it on the amount under crop. It would
be useful if some of the tenants could become members
of the Road Trusts.
farmer near Patna, said many were unhappy with tolls,
although the difficulty was to find a good substitute.
He pointed out that an assessment whether on rental
and/or horses would apply unequally on different types
He gave local examples of how the tolls were unequally
distributed and the costs that could arise on some journeys
because of this.
In his opinion the best system would be to consolidate
Trusts which would allow re-siting of tolls, placing
turnpikes and statute labour roads under the one management,
and allowing some tenant farmers to join the trust.
farmer in Straiton, gave examples of how much he paid
for the use of the roads. It cost 2s.1/2d to go to Ayr
and 1s.5d. for a cart. He paid £4 p.a. for the statute
labour roads. When sending his sheep to Falkirk, the
cost on average was 6s. per score, or £90 p.a.
He said that opinion was divided among tenant farmers
on how to replace tolls. The two common proposals were
an assessment on land and/or horses.
farmer in Dundonald, detailed his expenditure for use
of the roads. Most of the farmers in his area would
rather have an assessment; he personally would prefer
it on horses.
If it were on horses he conceded that this would not
cover the use of roads by sheep and cattle, although
he did not think it should rest solely with lands and
heritages. Carters should have to pay three or four
times more than farmers.
Another problem with assessment on rental was how to
gain a sum equivalent to the tolls paid by the two freestone
quarries which took the stone to Troon from where it
went to Glasgow by rail.
He would include some tenant farmers in the management
of the roads as they could provide information about
roads on which Trustees might never travel. Turnpike
and statute labour roads should be amalgamated.
John Guthrie of
Holmes in Kilmarnock, a farmer, gave details of his
use of the roads and what he paid on them. It was widely
felt that tolls should be replaced, being too many and
inconvenient to pass through although he could see the
difficulties in any assessment on lands and/or horses.
In his locality the roads were not much affected by
mineral workings as these were carried by railways.
He would amalgamate the turnpikes with the statute
labour roads, in districts, with one surveyor, and would
include some tenant farmers and some elected members
in the management of the roads.
Provost of Irvine, said that the burgh received one-third
of the statute labour money of the parish which was
applied to these roads in the burgh. The rest of the
streets were paid out of the burgh funds. Some of the
turnpikes came within the burgh boundaries and the Turnpike
Trusts maintained the bridge and its approaches, towards
which the burgh gave them a sum of £300. The presence
of a toll at the north end of town had had an effect
on its expansion in that direction, although generally
there were few complaints about the tolls.
He thought it would be best if the burgh roads were
managed along with the county roads and that any system,
perhaps consolidation of Trusts to reduce the number
of tolls, would be preferable to the present arrangements.
a proprietor with ironworks in Dalry, Kilwinning, Auchinleck,
Muirkirk and Ardrossan said that his works had rail
sidings so had little effect on the roads and paid little
tolls. If they were replaced by an assessment on lands
and heritages they would not be affected greatly. Removing
the tolls would be a relief for householders who had
to have coal delivered by cart up to 12 times a year.
He was in favour of replacing tolls with an assessment
on lands and heritages - owners and occupants each to
pay half. A rate on horses would have its difficulties:
with carters the cost would be added to the carriage
with the result that ordinary people would end up paying
more. Tolls, generally were an inconvenience and often
not well placed.
He thought the roads were not well-managed, especially
the parish roads; and that there were too many tolls
- every parish road seemed to have a toll when it joined
a turnpike. He gave an example of a 25 mile route on
which there were 7 tolls.
With the heavy traffic taken off the roads by the railways,
some of the Trusts seemed to have more money than they
needed - in places they had used it for widening the
road when this was no longer needed.
Parish roads should be amalgamated with the turnpikes
with one management for the county. Even if tolls continued
there would still be benefits to consolidating the Trusts,
and applying the six-mile clause.
Finally he thought that too many were employed in having
to collect tolls whereas the Valuation Roll system could
be adapted for assessments. Debts should be valued to
see what they were worth at present.
Next (Ayr County Council -
The Road Board)