Turnpikes and tolls
The rapid growth of industry from the late 18th century onwards, required better roads for transportation of finished goods and for the general movement of people around the country, specially in the burgeoning cities.
Individual Acts of Parliament were introduced for turnpike trusts to be formed. These were locally promoted road improvement / maintenance schemes and were financed from the tolls that were collected from people using the highways. A ‘pike’ was placed across the road as a barrier, and “turned” to let people pass once they had paid their fee – hence “turnpike”.
St George’s Rd, at the heart of Woodside, was formerly a lane leading from Anderston and known as Rosehall St. When the church of St Georges-in-the-fields was built, it became the road to St George’s . The road was widened when made a turnpike in 1841, but the state of the road was a constant source of complaint to the authorities. Despite the tolls that were charged to use the road it was said to be “either swimming with mud or flying with dust and the pavements were execrable”.
Many of the roads had toll houses built to accommodate the people collecting the money. It was the round tollhouse at Garscube Cross that gave rise to the other name, the “Round Toll”, which is still in use today.
The turnpikes declined with the coming of the railways, and a number of them had already run up debts. In 1878 an Act of Parliament ended the private ownership of tolled turnpikes and passed responsibility for construction and maintenance to the local authorities.
St Georges Cross was a major transport hub and had the distinction of running the first tram line in the city to Eglinton Toll. At the formal opening on 19 August 1872, the streets on the route thronged with spectators. Sixty years later, the Jubilee procession also ran from the Cross and attracted huge crowds. Early trams were horse-drawn, with the first electric trams being introduced in 1900.