Morley Parish Council

Serving the people of Morley Derbyshire

Clerk/RFO: L Storey
P O Box 8108, Derby
Derbyshire DE1 0ZU

Chapter 6

The whole problem of road building was shirked during the Middle Ages, and it was not until industries began to develop in the eighteenth century that the necessity for improving the roads compelled some reforms. Throughout the period 1600 to the late 1800S each parish was responsible for the upkeep of roads in their own district, and so there was one more job that was annually laid on the shoulders of one of the villagers. Everyone in the village had to help with road repairs and the Overseer of the Highways had to organise this and see it was done properly. Labourers had to work four to six days a year doing unpaid statute labour; landowners had to supply teams - horse and cart and two men for four days a year. Often in Morley there was also a levy which paid for materials and implements. If the Overseer was a weak man or busy on his own affairs little was done. On one occasion at least however, an enthusiastic and active Overseer was appointed but this was unusual enough for the Vestry to record its vote of thanks for 'his particular attention to and spirited amendment of the roads in the parish seer' (1773).

The Reverend Robert Wilmot seems to have managed to encourage attention to the roads for in 1792 he writes with pride 'the highways are all put in good repair... In-1777 the bye-roads were almost all of them impassable in winter for carts and waggons, now there is not in the whole Township more than 200 yards of that a chaise cannot pass on at any time of year'.

A list of the tools owned by the Overseer of the Highways in 1788 consisted of one large one cavil, and two hacks. Some of the entries in the Highway accounts give a picture of the type of work done.

1789 Pd. for materials and labour

120 loads stone 4d per load £2. 0s. 0d

60 loads of stone 4d per load £1. 5s. 0d

hacked in the toads thro! the parish £1. 1s. 0d

4 days widening the lane 6s. 0d

John Turner throwing up-the road £1. 12s.0d

J.Roome 42 days work & getting sand for covering £2. 16s. 0d

Pd. to last surveyor to balance his acct. £5. 9s. 3d surveyor of the Turnpike Rd. £4. 14s. 0d

Pd. Sml.Slater opening the water course on the moor 3s.10d

1794 Isaac Fisher's bill for 6 Guide posts £4. 11s. 0d

John Rotherham's Bill for writing Guide Posts £2. 12s. 6d

1795 for levelling and sofing* in the Lime Lane £2. 5s. 0d

two wiskets 1s. 0d

1798 Starbuck repairing Moor Gate wall 1s. 6d

Bonnington repairing Moor Gate wall 1s. 6d

Scouring moor ditch 4s. 6d

1799 Hacking in Toad Lane. 7s. 0d

Hacking in Moor Lane 7s. 0d

Laying a causeway in Toad Lane 5s.10d

1806 Repairing bridge at Ferreby Brook 1s. 0d

A new riddle 3s. 6d

2 shovels 7s. 0d

1822 clearing out the brook in Potters Lane 1s. 6d

Cash to Mrs.Sam'l King for ale for statute duty £1.4s. 8d.

Mr. Sam'l King's bill for repairing Hacks Hammers £1.15s. 8d

Mr.Green for hack helves and new male 17s. 7d

1823 Thatch & thatching John Kerry's house (the. toll house) 3s. 6d

1824 lock. for Pound Gate (enclosure for.stray animals) 1s. 0d

1829 more thatch for Kerry's house £1. 1s. Od

(* sough - ditch or drain)

The Turnpike Road

An industrial country needs a good network of communications - road, river and canal and rail.

This need became increasingly obvious as the Industrial Revolution gathered force in the eighteenth century. Morley's interest in canal is was limited to the Little Eaton which carried the stone brought down to it from the quarries near Brackley Gate. The railway line skirts the boundary of the parish and played no part in Morley's history. The roads however, were not left solely in the care of the of the Highways.

In 1764 a group of men prominent in the country came together for the purpose of forming a Turnpike Trust Commission to organise the road fron Derby to Mansfield. They had an Act of Parliament passed enabling them to make a good road over this stretch and to recompense themselves for their capital outlay by charging to11s. They hired a surveyor (James Wilder) who was the skilled man in charge of the whole road, and who saw that the various contractors carried out their work effectively. Richard Beresford, for instance, contracted 'to make a substantial good road from Smalley Common one mile on Morley Lane towards Derby' for 2/9d a yard and Anthony Turton of Ripley did the same from 'Ferribay Brook to Vincent Fisher's in Morley' for 2/-d. A yard. This was to be a road 18 feet wide with a immure of at least 15" - 18" of gravel or stone and the hedges to be cut back.

Toll gates were put up at Little Chester and Smalley. For some years 1766 - 1786 there was considerable disagreement about whether a subsidiary gate or chain should be put up at the Smithy at Morley. Decisions on matters like these were made at the meetings the Commissioners held every few weeks. (Their minute books are to be found in the County Archives at Matlock). Reading the minutes is almost like watching a jack¬-in-the-box:/p>

June 1765 'A gate to be immediately erected on the side of the Turnpike Road ... at the Smithy Shop in Morley Liberty leading from Morley to Morleymoor'.

Aug. 1765 The gate at Morley to be taken down as 'the continuing of the gates will not answer the purposes of the act'.

Aug. 1766 John Gregg to take over the care of the Turnpike Gate at Morley at a wage of 6/ a week.

Dec. 1766 John Gregg to take over the Toll House at Smalley; the chains at Morley to be immediately taken down.

Apr. 1767 Chain to be immediately put across Turnpike at Morley and Thomas Slack of Horsley Park to collect the toll.

Oct. 1767 The chain at Morley Smithy to be taken down and discontinued.

And so it went on. By 1779 however, the had at least a house for when the chain was ordered to be taken down, on that occasion Samuel Martin the collector was 'to quit and deliver the possession of the house in which he no dwells, erected by order of the said Commissioners near the said chain'.

When the chain was up at Morley half to was taken there and half at Smalley. There is no direct evidence but it does seem possible that it was rivalry between Smalley and Morley for the money to be gained that led to this disagreement. After 1785 the Commissioners ended their policy of appointing and paying toll-keepers themselves, and instead the various gate were offered each year to the highest bidder. Obviously the Commissioners wanted the maxim number of gates since this was their sole source of income and consequently Morley's gate never again disturbed. It was let at sums varying from £114 in 1785 to as much as £300 the 1830s.

Through Morley's gate a lot of coal was carted from the collieries at Smalley and Mapperley. There were stringent regulations about the weight of loads and too the width of the wheels on these heavy wagons was prescribed at 'not less than 9" x 2"'. The Commissioners were careful to follow up reports of and to exact fines for these offences. A weighing machine was set up at Morley in 1787. Traffic within the village did not have to pay tolls of course but the cost of goods coming to the village did rise. The Overseer of the Poor in his accounts records the tolls on a cartload of coal as 1/- and the cost of transport as only 6d.

The Turnpike Trust claimed a proportion of the Statute Labour work as it was maintaining one of the roads through the parish. In 1765 Isaac Brentnall, sometime Morley Overseer of the Highways received 7/- a week for organising this work in Morley, Smalley and Breadsall. He was dismissed in 1767 but they must have had trouble without him for in 1770 there are threats of prosecution if the Statute work is not done.

Macadam was one of the great road-builders of the nineteenth century and of course it is his name that has been used to describe tarmac or macadamized roads. In 1825 the Commissioners decided 'to avail themselves of Mr. Macadam's attendance at Derby' and in 1826 he was employed by them on the Derby - Mansfield Road.

Tolls continued to be collected throughout most of the nineteenth century. Mr. Tomlinson took over the Morley Gate as late as 1872 although officially all roads were to be cared for by groups of parishes financed by a highways rate after 1862. England's turnpike roads had once been the envy of all Europe, but the record of complaints in the minutes of the Derby - Mansfield turnpike show how poorly these roads were maintained by the middle of the nineteenth century. Breadsall Hill in particular was so dangerous on account of the potholes (three feet in diameter and up to eighteen inches deep) and boulders in the middle of the road, that a carrier sued the Trust for £20 in 1872 - £15 for his horse which died from its injuries and £5 for damage to his cart. The money put up a century before for the purpose of improving th roads had become simply an investment which paid half yearly dividends to their heirs. The Trust was eventually wound up in 1875, and the Toll Gate House put up for sale was bought for £100 by Mr. Robert Sitwell. Originally there was only one door to this building facing on to the Mansfield Road. Set into the wall on the other side of the door were the rings into which the chains were hooked when stretched across the road during the period of the payment of the tolls. Mr. Robert Leeson, who was the owner from 1903, built another room on to the north-east side of the building, thereby making a second entrance. It was demolished in September 1929 to make way for the widening of the road. The blocks of quarried stone from which it was built were later used to build a bungalow a few metre further along the Mansfield Road to the north east. The original roof slates and three of the window frames were also used for the new building. Behind the Toll Bar Cottage property on a small strip of land is a public well. This was formerly used by most of the houses around as it was the nearest source of drinking water.