Although records show that some coal and sandstone were being carried from the village as early as the mid-14th century the tracks used were of very poor standard and were virtually impassable in the rainy season.
Reports in the early 18th century commented that “coal carriages compressed the clay so much that the water lies in pools up to the horses’ bellies”. As an answer to this problem, Acts of Parliament set up a number of Turnpike Trusts in Leicestershire from 1726. The Trusts were empowered to construct metalled roads along the lengths of which were situated bars or gates, which were opened to allow passage on payment of a toll. Tolls were fixed according to a scale, depending upon the type of vehicle, animal or traveller passing the point, the tolls being advertised on a Toll Board on a pole or adjacent building.
The Ashby to Loughborough Turnpike ran along the northern boundary of the village (the present A512 ) and in 1760 the Hinckley to Melbourne Turnpike, passing though the village, was built with two branches: one from Ibstock to Measham and the other from Coleorton to Breedon. In the village and adjacent Peggs Green were Hoo Ash gate, Froggatts Lane gate and Limby Hall Lane bar.
The tollhouses were built, often in isolated locations, to a hexagonal plan so as to afford unobstructed views along the roads. Since fair amounts of money were kept there, they had very stout doors near to which was tethered a savage dog and it was usual for there to be “a loaded gun and a brace of pistols hanging near the fire place”.
One of our member’s families had a long tradition of being Toll house keepers. Mr. Walker reports that the keeper had to be totally trustworthy and was usually appointed from the artisan classes. A condition was applied that “No person keeping a victualling house, ale house or house of entertainment or who shall sell wine, beer etc. by retail shall be capable of toll collection”.
To minimize the effects of heavily loaded wagons damaging the roads, tolls were fixed according to the width of wheels. The total toll cost for a horse and gig travelling the road from Hinckley to Staunton Harold was 18 pence and the cost for a horseman would have been about 8 pence. Despite the high costs involved in carrying heavy loads, by 1838 trade was so considerable that the Trust’s surveyor reported “The road is getting very much out of repair owing to the enormous quantity of lime carried in loads of 5 to 7 tons and drawn by eight horses for seven months”. The Turnpike Trust survived until 1880 when the road had degraded to such an extent that ” in their present state the roads would disgrace the wildest Irish village”.