THE TOLL ROAD
To journey from Snodland to Malling in the old days, one took the road up the High Street, then left on the Birling Road, before branching off down ‘Hollow Lane’ to Ham Hill, then into Lunsford Lane and so on to Malling . There was no ‘ Malling Road’ running south from the ‘Bull’. A Turnpike Road from Strood to Malling was authorized and opened in 1825/6 with toll-gates at Strood , Snodland and Leybourne . New sections of road were built from the Bull direct to Ham Hill and from the end of Lunsford Lane to Leybourne . Annual bids were made by those wishing to collect the tolls and these were allocated to the highest bidders. Successful bids for the Snodland Gate generally averaged around £250 and were usually made by persons from far afield who then put in collectors to live in the toll-house and receive the money on their behalf. Administration of the road seems to have run smoothly and the trustees rarely needed to comment. At the meeting on 25 March 1850, an improvement was proposed at Holborough ‘by making the Road thro’ the Blacksmith’s Forge and across the Field in front of Mr Lee’s residence’. This was agreed if William Lee would pay for it; the trustees had insufficient funds to make the alteration, but would maintain it thereafter. So the old road past the mill and – more to the point – past William Lee’s front door was abandoned. He built the road on the line it still holds, adding an extended driveway, wall and gatehouse to his property. Other alterations had been made by William Poynder in the early 1850s and which were noted in the last manorial minutes of 1 January 1858:
William Poynder Esq. hath encroached upon the Manor of Snodland by holding a Court about 3 years ago at The Bull Inn, Snodland , and claiming and having enclosed a portion of the mill pond. And that certain other encroachments have been made by turning the road leading to the Bishop’s land. And that the said Wm. Poynder Esq. hath sold certain portions of the Manor of Snodland to the North Kent Railway for the sum of £200. And the Homage present lastly that the beforementioned encroachments have very much improved the locality generally, that is to say as far as the Pond and Roads are concerned.
On 23 March 1868 ‘Mr Lee having suggested an improvement in the Road at Holborough ; Ordered that it be carried out at an expense not exceeding £15 if Mr Shaw and Mr Drage upon viewing the spot approve it’. What this change was is not known.
15 March 1869: ‘Ordered that Mr Shaw and Mr Lee be empowered to ascertain what alteration can be made at the Snodland Gate to give a better view of things passing there and that a sum not exceeding £15 be expended for that purpose’.
19 March 1877: ‘The desirability of making a footpath along the side of the Road from the Bull at Snodland to Holborough for the convenience of the public having been considered: Ordered that if the Parish do carry out the same one third of the expense of contracting thereof be paid by the trust’. The Parish Vestry minutes show that this was done by public subscription at a cost of £290.
A year later the toll system ceased and the ‘little weather-boarded house’ for the toll-keeper was pulled down:
‘At a Special Meeting of the Trustees of the said Road held at the Institute at Snodland on Tuesday the 8th of October 1878. Present: W. Lee, Chairman; The Rev. J. G. Bingley ; W. H. Roberts Esq.
The Trustees took into consideration the disposal of the Toll Houses & Gates and the Malling Highway Board having given notice of their intention to take off a small portion of the site of the Snodland Toll House to improve the rounding of the corner of the Highway: there Ordered that the Toll House be pulled down and the Materials be sold.
Ordered that the remaining site thereof be offered to the owners of the adjoining Land for the sum of £12. 10s. – and if they decline to take it that the offer of Mr Bingley to purchase it at that price be accepted.
Mr Bulmer having agreed to purchase the Temple Toll House for £45: Ordered that his offer be accepted. Ordered that Messrs Burgess & Langridge’s offer to give 5 guineas for the materials of the Snodland Toll House, thirty shillings for the two Turnpike gates & posts at Snodland & Stroodand Twenty shillings for the small House and Side Bars at Ham Hill be accepted.
Ordered that a special Meeting be held at this place on Tuesday the 17th of December next at Eleven a.m. to finally wind up the affairs of the Trust. [Signed] William Lee.