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The Turnpike Gate, coaching scene. Large reproduction print.

The Turnpike Gate, coaching scene. Large reproduction print.

by Cooper Henderson, C.

Originally engraved by John Harris after C. Cooper Henderson. Originally published in 1839.

Wearing his nightcap, and coat over his nightshirt, a pikeman stands beside his cottage waiting for the coach to pass so that he can close the gate and return to bed. Pikemen were fined heavily if they did not have the gates opened in time. In the interests of speed, mail coaches travelled toll-free in England, but the guard had to blow his horn 250 yards before the gate to warn the pikeman to open up. The name is derived from the pole (or pike as it was known) that lay across the road and was swung back or 'turned' to allow travellers to pass.

From the time of Charles II, turnpike roads raised money for maintenance of highways, from the people who used them. Tolls varied from gate to gate. Coaches usually paid two shillings, one-horse gigs paid sixpence. Local traffic and essential farm products, like the mail, were granted free passage.  Maintenance of roads was a responsibility of each parish, but most parishes had little interest in the responsibility, little money, and little knowledge in road building. 

English roads were often impassable in winter, otherwise very rough, and suitable only for pack horse traffic and wagons dragged through mud by cart horses. Some villages were inaccessible by road most of the year. Those that were self-sufficient were not concerned about this. Some landowners resisted the introduction of turnpikes as they did not want ‘foreign ways’ introduced, and farmers resented competition at market; so well-kept turnpike roads often alternated with rough parish roads.

Vintage coaching print with slight age-discolouration/foxing. 51 x 38cm (20 x 15 inches). Image approximately 315 x 448mm (12 3/8 x 17 5/8 inches).

Stock Number: daCoaching11Price: $30.00