• The Durotriges website
June 2008

Turnpike: Maiden Newton Trust

Formed in 1777-8 this founding act listed six road sections. However, not all were adopted before the trust expired on 31 Dec 1872.

The Maiden Newton Turnpike Trust [Show/Clear] was formed under the 1777-78 (18 G 3 c.95) Act and covered six sections of road.

The first was from Whistle Bridge, Stoford (south of Yeovil) in Somerset to Broken Cross, between Charmouth and Lower Burton on the Dorchester to Sherborne turnpike road (north of Dorchester). Its route was specified to go through Maiden Newton and not through the direct route via Long Ash Lane.

The second from the cross in Maiden Newton to a stream of water in Somerset near South Perrott (Lecher Water).

The third road from Furzemoorgate (now Birdsmore Gate) via Pilsdon Penn and Broadwindsor to Lenham's Water west of Beaminster.

The fourth road was from Bugler's Corner, Beaminster to the Dorsetshire Inn, Woolcombe near Evershot via Castley Down and Benville Lane.

The fifth route consisted of the Up Sydling Eweleaze to Cerne Abbas part of the ancient road from Cerne to Rampisham.

Finally a link from Frampton to join the Western Turnpike near Winterborne Steepleton.



See map below

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Maiden Newton Turnpike
Stoford - Charminster (old route)
Maiden Newton - South Perrott
Beaminster - Wollcombe (old route)
Up Sydling Eweleaze - Cerne Abbas
Frampton - Winterborne Steepleton

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Toll Houses

During the Trusts existance it had up to ten Toll Houses [Show/Clear] situated along the roads to collect tolls.


Catsley Down

Also known as Toller Down Gate. The tithe map of 1841, illustrated above, lists the following: Parcel 632 owned by the Trustees of MAIDEN NEWTON TURNPIKE Roads occupied by John MUNDAY. Described as: Catsley Down Turnpike House & Garden - 1 12 This maps shows gates across the Crewkerne - Maiden Newton and the Beaminster roads. In addition to the house (pink tint) is the outbuilding (tinted grey). The hedge to the north is the alignment of the old road that ran to join the main Maiden Newton, Crewkerne road near Hoar Stones before bringing it to the one tollgate.



Benville Lane

The tithe map of 1841, illustrated above, lists the following: Parcel 741 owned by the Trustees of MAIDEN NEWTON TURNPIKE Roads occupied by George RENDLE Benvill Lane Turnpike House - - 1. consisting of a small domestic building and outhouse. It is shown as TB, just to the west of the road junction, on the 1824 Greenwood map.

1840 New construction
Charminster 1840 toll house


This tollhouse was built on the 1840 construction to bypass Charminster village and provide a direct route to Dorchester without using another Trusts route.

Milestone Bridport 4, Axminster 6


Laterly the Trust had 50 miles of road along which stood milestones. Most were removed during WWII or through later road improvements. This milestone, on the old road to Charminster, was renewed after the 1840 new bypass road to Dorchester.

Side Bars


It is reported that the Trust include three side-bars to control access to the Turnpike. At present their location is not recorded.


Stone Bridges

Who was responsible for all bridge repairs seems uncertain.


Trust Members

The Trust Members

The trust chariman was ...

Public houses and inns
Image not available

Hostelries along the route

To serve the thirsty and tired travellers the following has been identified:
The Ship Inn, Charmouth
Penn Inn, West of Charmouth

Turnpike Trusts

By the mid 18th century it was apparent that the parish based road system with statute labour intoduced in the 1555 Act failed to provide the growing need to fund and develop an improved nationwide road system. A turnpike system had been introduced in 1663 as part of the Great North road improvement. In 1706 the first turnpike trusts were introduced in and around London. In 1752-3 the first trust, the Shaftesbury and Sherbourne Trust was introduced in Dorset.

The Trust, setup by a local group, empowered by an Act of Parliament, raised capital for new construction and repair of old roads recovering this out of tolls levied on the road user. Such Acts were for a period of twenty-one years and renewed through a series of local or statute, requiring new powers, continuation acts. Several trusts were consolidated as part of the General Turnpike Act of 1773 whilst others were split into Divisions. Later the rights to collect the tolls was leased to the hightest bidder. Initially it was expected that such Trusts would maintain the road, pay a dividend and repay the initial capital. Strangely most trusts continued to exist because they were a financial failure, unable to repay the capital and needing relief acts, rather than a success.

The term turnpike relates to the hinged gate, set across the road opened when a toll had been paid to the turnpike-keeper in his adjoining toll house. These were setup along the route as were milestones giving the traveller an indication of his progress. Once the roads had been improved old roads may be stopped or gated to eliminate toll avoidance.

From 1850s railways started to compete for long distance goods transport reducing road traffic and hence toll revenue. From the late 1870s Trusts were wound up and their powers expired. These, and other main roads, became the responsibility of the new County Councils formed in 1888.


Good, Ronald. “The Old Roads of Dorset”, Bournemouth, Horrace G. Commin Ltd, 1966 : Amazon
Eedle, Marie de G., “Horn Hill Tunnel”, Bridport, Eedle, 1994 : Amazon
The Book of Beaminster: And Local Village Life (Halsgrove Portrait).
Viner, David. "Discover Dorset - Roads, Tracks & Turnpikes", Wimborne, Dovecote Press, 2007:


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