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1867: The challenges of maintaining Cuckfield roads after the abolition of turnpike gates



The usual nomination of Overseers took place on Monday afternoon, at the Talbot Hotel. After the

nomination, the Clerk read the report of the Surveyors of the parish roads, just at this juncture a very important document.

It stated that early in the Parochial year a personal survey bad been made of the state of the roads, and that they had been successful in procuring stone, and had also very effectually drained a portion. The abolition of the turnpike gates on the Cuckfield and Hodges Roads, combined with the increased traffic caused by public works, had increased their outlay considerably.

They had done their best to improve and keep up the roads, but regretted that those who had so liberally come forward to purchase the abolition of the gates, had not done something towards repairing the Hodges Road; it was completely worn out and exhausted, and but little benefit to the ratepayers at the north part of the parish.

As regards the footpaths, they have extended the causeway to Bedlam House, and recommended their successors to raise and improve it as far as the Steeple House, and continue the stone-pit at Whiteman’s Green; to drain the roads where necessary, and carry out the improvements commenced; and regretted that the necessity must ensue of levying larger amount of rate than heretofore.

They also expressed their disapproval of forming so many useless and unnecessary roads at Hayward’s Heath, and called the attention of the Vestry to the Act introduced into the House of Commons by Mr Hugesson, relating to turnpike roads and the observation made by Mr Walpole, that in his opinion the House would not be able to deal effectually with the question until they turned the permissive Act for the creation of highway districts into compulsory measure.

The report was received and adopted, and a vote of thanks given to the Surveyors for the manner they had conducted their business, and a long discussion followed on the measure suggested by Mr Walpole, to which the opinion of the Vestry was decidedly adverse.

The following gentlemen were elected as Surveyors for the succeeding year:—Mr Caffin, Mr Coates, Mr Longhurst, and Mr Packham.

Mr Coates, in answer to Mr Best, stated that he calculated it would require a rate of 8d. or 9d in the pound next year, instead of 7d., to keep the roads in order.

Illustration: An Old Coachman's Chatter, by Edward Corbett, 1923



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