The Turnpike
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The Turnpike

The main road through Red Lodge was turnpiked in 1768 and known as the Newmarket to Thetford Turnpike Road. A Turnpike Trust was formed which levied tolls to upkeep and improve the road although in 1795, according to local newspapers, the bridge at the Red Lodge was destroyed by a torrent of water and the mail coach was diverted via Freckenham and ChippenhamBury and Norwich Post, (J539/4 S.R.O.B.). At the same time, on the turnpike road at Chalk Hill, a mail coach fell into a 'deep and awful gulf ' and the passengers and four horses diedHerbert Tomkins, Companion into Suffolk, Methuen & Co. Ltd.(1949). The trust erected gates and appointed a toll collector and so it must have been at this time a tollgate house was built between the brook and the Red Lodge. In September 1776 the toll collector, John Flower, was called out to open the gates and was confronted by a man on horseback waving a pistol and demanding the toll money. 

Flower was shot in the shoulder and his frightened wife handed over the takings of 15 guineas and some silver. The robbery was committed by a short man with a red lapelled waistcoat, white fustian frock (coat) and black hair. Someone answering the description had been seen in the neighbourhood selling scissors and knives and had offered a watch for sale. The suspect said his name was Giles and that he was born in Cavenham. He claimed to be a butler from the Half Moon in Bury but eye witness reports stated 'he looked more like a pot boy'. The tollgate keeper was expected to recoverIpswich Journal, (J585/13 S.R.O.B.).

Newspapers advertised the letting of the tolls and the meeting held in the Bull Inn, Barton Mills in January 1850 decided to let to the best bidder, by auction, the Red Lodge gates which the previous year had been let for 130Bury and Norwich Post, (J539/13S.R.O.B.). The last mail coach had passed through the gates in 1846.

Census returns show that James Melton of Pakenham was the last foreman of the turnpike. In 1866 the toll house, gardens and outbuildings were sold by the trust to Nathaniel Barnardiston for 30Conveyance, (613/813/8 S.R.O.B.).22 Tollgate Cottage was still in existence in 1918 and a new bridge across the brook was built by West Suffolk County Council in 1933.

2000 Susan Cook

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac