The Grimsby to Wold Newton turnpike act was passed in 1765, at the same time as a number of others in the north of the Lincolnshire Wolds; for example there was a branch from the Wold Newton turnpike which went to Riby. It was sponsored by various of the landed folk in the area who presumably hoped to stimulate trade through the port of Grimsby to their own advantage.
Until the advent of the turnpike, local villagers were responsible for the upkeep of the roads in their parish. In most cases this probably amounted to no more than filling in the ruts after the winter and wet weather, and knocking out ruts baked hard in the summer sun. On the chalk Wolds most busy routes would be worn down to the chalk - a relatively easy surface to maintain - but down on the marshes the roads would be seasonal quagmires and the busier the route, the wider the quagmire as travellers attempted to get round impassable terrain. As road transport increased in the 17th and 18th centuries the concept of charging travellers for using the road spawned the idea of the turnpike trust, each one created by individual act of parliament. A turnpike trust could borrow money to pay for road improvement and charge people for using it.
The Wold Newton turnpike, the only turnpike out of Grimsby, provided a route across the low-lying marshland surrounding Grimsby up on to the dry lands of the Wolds. From there, the traveller had to resort to the existing unimproved roads. The turnpike entered the village as the current road from East Ravendale, passed through what is now the North Farm yard and into the park, ending in front of the church. 18th century maps of the village show that from there, the road continued along what is now a footpath passing behind the Rectory before fragmenting into various routes to the south and south west. One branch headed off along the valley bottom which goes diagonally across Stack Yard field and another continued along to the south farm yard and through Horse Field to the south of the yard dividing at the right angle bend on the current road to the south of the village - the left fork heading off along the valley bottom towards Louth and the right fork along the valley in Fox Covet towards Binbrook Hall.
There were toll gates at Brigsley Beck (where the toll house still stands on the north side of the road on the west side of the beck) and further into town. Details of the tolls from 1785 to 1805 are accessible below.
It was probably a hare-brain scheme. Although the port of Grimsby had thrived in the middle ages, by the time of the 18th century it had long since silted up and declined. 60 years later there was an attempt at revitalising the fortunes of the port with the incorporation of the Grimsby Haven Company. Details of the subscribers for bonds in the Grimsby Haven Company in 1825, notably John Wright and John Walesby, both of Wold Newton, are attached below. The company installed lock gates at the mouth of the River Freshney and dredged a dock. At the time, the populations of Grimsby and Wold Newton were respectively about 1000 and 500.
The Grimsby Haven Company was a flop, largely as a consequence of bumbling and incompetent management. Grimsby was saved by the arrival of the railways and the development of the docks, as we see them today, by the railway company. Of course, the turnpike was eclipsed by the railway and such prosperity as it might have brought to Wold Newton was lost. Thank goodness!
An iron milestone still stands on the side of the road, two furlongs from the end of the road in Wold Newton.
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