Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Stands at the boundary between Higham Ferrers & Rushden, near to the Tollbar estate entrance
The tollgate house and three cottages stand next to the house where Archbishop Chichele was born in 1363, on the boundary of Rushden and Higham Ferrers parishes.

In 1882, when a fire destroyed 25 properties close by, these two stone buildings survived.

Nearby was the Hospital of St James, in Rushden parish, now St James' Close.
Tollgate house
Higham tollgate house on the right
Tollgate house & cottages
In the 1880s Mrs. Jane Lichfield was keeper of this gate. She had remarried to Mr. Wm. Wilby by 1890, and later became the bedeswoman who looked after the bedesmen. She was photographed with them in 1926, and died aged 90 in 1936.

The Northampton Mercury, 12th June 1775, transcribed by Kay Collins

Notice is hereby given, That the Tolls arising at the several Gates or Bars upon the Higham Ferrers Turnpike Road will be severally Lett by Auction to the best Bidder or Bidders for the same, for the Term of one Year, at the next Meeting, which will be held at the House of Robert Sanders, the sign of the Green-Dragon, in Higham Ferrers aforesaid, on Thursday the 23rd day of this instant June; and whoever happens to be the best Bidder must give sufficient Security, to the Satisfaction of the Trustees of the said Road, for Payment of the Rent agreed for.

NRO Ref: Acc 1948/172 Box 944

Appointment of Edw Parker, matmaker, as receiver & collector of tolls for borough, with tariff of tolls.

Extracts from J E Smith's typed notes, now deposited at
Northamptonshire Record Office (NRO) Ref: 285P/272-301

Tollgate Erected - The Tollgate at Park-Leys from Bedford Rd to Higham Park & Newton, erected about the year 1812 or beginning of 1813. Also Church Lane Gate to Newton.

The Trustees talked of removing “Westwood” gate close to park-Leys Gate but they did not.

Newton Road, simple Gate-bar was chained up against a garden wall. The Toll-house was where “Ward’s” Grocers shop stands.

Ditchford-gate, house & garden near Wellingborough-road.

Higham Toll-house in old Cottage with Bay window - Turn-stile.

Kimbolton-road, a Toll-gate & house at corner) now demolished - 1916)

Higham Turnpike Road, Oct 22nd 1814.
Meeting of Trustees, Higham Turnpike Road leading from Westwood-gate, Parish of Knotting, & Barton Seagrave Lane, held at House of John Mee, known by name or sign of 'Green Dragon' in Higham, Monday 31st Day of Oct Next at Eleven o'clock Forenoon, when & where the Tolls and Dues arising at the weighing Engine at Westward gate, also the Side-gates on the said road, at Park Leys (Dearloves turn on Bedford Road) and Church Lane (against Vestry Hall) in the Parish of Rushden, Tolls and Dues Produced last clear of all Expenses the several sums, following:-

Westwood Gate & Weighing Engine & Park Leys Side Gate £240
Higham Gate & Church Lane Side Gate £138
Irthlingboro Bridge Gate £252

(Mr Henry Skinner told me (on Wednesday Feb 5th 1908) that Bill Bird's father used to keep the 'Toll-gate' and lived there for years.)

The Northampton Mercury of October 21st. 1826

Higham Ferrers Turnpike Road

Notice is hereby given, That the TOLLS arising at the Toll Gates and Weighing Machine upon the Turnpike Road leading from Westwood Gate, in the Parish of Knotting, in the county of BEDFORD, through Higham Ferrers, to Barton Seagrave, in the County of Northampton, will be LET BY AUCTION, to the best Bidder, at the GREEN DRAGON INN, in HIGHAM FERRERS aforesaid, on TUESDAY, the THIRTY FIRST Day of October next, between the Hours of Eleven o'clock in the Forenoon and Three in the Afternoon, in the Manner directed by the Acts passed in the Third and Fourth Years of the Reign of His Majesty King George the Fourth, "For regulating Turnpike Roads", which Tolls were let for and produced in the preceding Year the several Sums following, that is to say.

The Westwood Gate, with the Weighing Machine and Side Gate at Park Leys
The Higham Ferrers gate with the side gate at Rushden
The Irthlingborough Bridge Gate

And will put up either together and in one Lot, at those Sums, or by Parcels, and in several lots, at such Sums, for such Term not exceeding three years, commencing on the first Day of January next, and under such Conditions as the Trustees shall think fit.

Whoever happens to be the best Bidder must at the same Time pay one Month in Advance of the Rent at which such Tolls may be let, and give Security, with sufficient Sureties, to the Satisfaction of the Trustees of the said Turnpike Road, for Payment of the rest of the Rent by monthly Instalments in advance during the Continuance of his lease.

CHAS. H. HODSON. Clerk to the said Trustees.
Wellingborough, 29th September 1826.
Transcribed by Ann Cooper

Documents listed in the catalogue of Higham Ferrers solicitors, Simpson and Mason, deposited at Northamptonshire Record Office. [not studied]

NRO Ref: Simpson & Mason Accession 1948/172

Box 944

1837 H.F.

Notes on town fairs and charters, enclosing a complaint of the toll collector of non payment by Mr Dearlove for his sheep at the fair.

Box 944


Appointment of Edward Parker, mat maker, as borough collector of tolls, with tariff of tolls.

Extracted from NRO Ref: 285P/297 - A note book of Joseph Enos Smith - Typed by John Collins, 2008

Westwood Tollgate stood at the edge of Rushden parish on the main Turnpike Road (now the A6) to London. The Salt-box stood at the turning for Newton Bromswold.

Will Bird of Rushden was “keeper of the Salt-box side gate, afterwards keeper of Westwood gate & after he left, his mother kept it on several years”, so he told me this morning April 10th 1916. “The Salt-box had what they called a half-roof”.

Daniel Darnell from Souldrop and William Groome of Higham were at sometime Keepers of Westwood tollgate.

The Westwood tollgate was pulled down about Nov 30th 1876. It was in use when I was organist at Souldrop & on one very wet day I was glad to take shelter in the little house; the rain came down in torrents. I went on to Souldrop drenched & borrowed a Suit of Fred Darnell (one of my Choir young men) so went to Church in a Day suit. JES.

1875 Rushden: Coach & Tollgate

About 1875-6 the Westwood Tollgate was taken down (I have the exact date somewhere). A Mr Thomas? Bird whose father lived at and kept the Westwood Gate for about 20 years so Thomas? told me yesterday, Monday, August 9th, 1926, as we were sitting on the Green opposite the church, he said that his father lived at the old Saltbox Tollgate at the corner of the Newton road [? or Avenue Road] which turns off the main Bedford road to Newton before he went to Westwood gate. Also that Daniel Darnell kept the Westwood gate before Bird’s father so that would be about 1845 to 1855. Then Bird’s 20 years from 1855 to 1875. This Thomas Bird who told me that he was almost 81 years of age & that he remembered The Old Coach with 4 horses & a page or postillion on the 1st horse, & that he (Bird), often used to ride down to Rushden on the step as they knew him well, coming through the gate so often. He said the worst thing they had to do was letting the Foxhounds through. I suppose they had to count them.

The person mentioned as the keeper from 1855-1875 was my 2x gt grandfather Mr George Edward Bird. He can be found on the 1851 census living at Side Gate and then in 1861 & 1871 at Westwood Gate. George must have moved into one of the Dearlove's Cottages after the Tollgate was taken down because that is where he is living in 1881. He had 10 children in all and his grandson, Jesse Bird, was well known locally as the Pearly King along with his wife Margaret (Peggy) as his Queen.

Received via email - November 2008 from Lynn Morris (nee Bird)

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the Transport index
Click here to e-mail us