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Wiltshire Community History

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Turnpike Cottage, The Down, Trowbridge

Turnpike Cottage, The Down, Trowbridge Date Photo Taken 2003
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

This is the last remaining thatched building in the parish of Trowbridge. It was built as a turnpike cottage, probably in 1768. In that year the Trowbridge Turnpike Act of 1751-2, setting up the commercial trust, was renewed and the road from Trowbridge to Hilperton Marsh, through Frog Lane and the Down was turnpiked. This meant that wheeled vehicles and animals were charged for using the road, and houses were built for collecting the turnpike tolls. The house on the Down has a reproduction board showing the tolls that were charged. The houses were built so that the toll house keeper could sit inside watching the road in all directions for traffic. There would have been a gate across the road, which the keeper opened once the toll was paid. After the town cemetery was opened in 1856 it attracted so many visitors that the turnpike trust had to build a new house and gate nearer Hilperton Marsh than the Down so that visitors could reach the cemetery without paying a toll. The turnpike houses were normally referred to by their gates, often painted white, so the house on the Down would have been called the Down Gate.

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