One of the earliest references to roads in Coseley appears in a writ to the Sheriff of Stafford in 1290 about John de la Ho, who was detained in Stafford jail for the death of Richard de Bradeleye. The murder took place on the highway from Dudley to Bradley, which must have passed through Coseley and would have been no more than a well-used dirt track.

After the Passing of the Turnpike Acts in the early 18th century, the situation began to improve. Before that, roads were at best well-worn cart tracks. Most roads had deep ruts and so where unsuitable for wheeled vehicles and could be impassable after heavy rain. Pack horses were usually used instead of wheeled vehicles, and fitted with panniers called "dassells" on which to carry heavy items such as coal or iron.

The Acts allowed authorised Trustees (usually made up of local businessmen) to collect tolls for 21 years in return for repairing a particular road. Accordingly turnpikes (a gate or barrier) were set up to collect the tolls. Parliament created the first turnpike trust in 1706 and their numbers rapidly grew, so much so that by 1830 there were around 1,100 of them, created by some 4,000 separate acts. The tolls were paid by users once a day for the whole length of the road, and regular users could pay quarterly.

At some turnpikes, toll houses were built for the keepers and their families. One local toll house, from Woodsetton, has been preserved and is now on display at the Black Country Living Museum.

Woodsetton toll house in its original location.

The Woodsetton toll house at the Black Country Living Museum.

The exact number of toll gates in Coseley is not known, but in 1875 a few still remained. They were at Bunkers Hill, Cann Lane (Hurst Road), Deepfields, Ladymoor, Littleworth, and Woodsetton. Many of the tolls were let by auction. The following notice appeared in a local newspaper:

Notice is hereby given that the tolls arising at the several Toll Gates and Toll Bars, upon the Turnpike Road leading from Wombourne through Sedgley to Bilston and Princes End, in the County of Stafford, will be let by auction. To be let to the best bidder at the house of Julia Ebery, the Court House, in Sedgley, on Friday, the 25th. day of November, 1831. .... For the previous years it produced £370 clear.

Dudley, 24th. October, 1831.
William Fellows, Jun'r. Clerk to the Trustees of the said Turnpike Roads.

By the middle of the 1870s, turnpike trusts in Coseley were rapidly disappearing. In 1851, Coseley, Brierley and Ettingshall had adopted an Act of Parliament that allowed them to set up Highway Boards to give them full control of the public roads in their area. Another possible factor was the increasing cost of maintaining the roads.

Birmingham New Road

Birmingham New Road.

The A4123 Birmingham New Road on the western side of Coseley was built in the 1920s to relieve the A41 Holyhead Road between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Construction was carried out by Robert McAlpine & Sons at a cost of £573,750. The road took three years to build and was designed as a through road, avoiding town centres. It was officially opened on the 2nd November, 1927 by the Prince of Wales, who with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, travelled along the road to a civic reception in Wolverhampton. Work began on upgrading the road to a dual carriageway in 1939. It was completed at a cost of £39,000.

Birmingham New Road.

Return to
  Return to
the Contents
  Proceed to the
19th century