The very long Reading and Hatfield Turnpike Trust road, 51 miles, interconnected with other turnpike roads, and came into use in the 1760s. At the Hatfield end it began at what was then the Old Fiddle public house (now Old Fiddle Cottages), making a connection with the North Road. It was one of the last such roads to be transferred to the Highways Board in 1881. Many tollpoints were on side roads, people paying before they entered the main road. At Smallford this was the first toll across the main road itself, and was gated across the main road, and across the end of Oaklands Lane (formerly called Sandpit Lane).

The door of the brick toll house – where the paddock is now – opened diagonally onto the junction with a window able to view all parts of the junction. It is shown on the left of the photo below.

Horsehoe Village

The Trust franchised the work of toll collecting to someone, who would have ensured that this and nearby toll points, such as at Nast Hyde and Colney Heath Lane, were staffed and the tolls collected. The “toll farmer” as he was known, paid the Trust for a price set by it, the toll farmer anticipating that he would be able to make a profit to cover his costs. He was also responsible for ensuring that toll evasion was kept to a minimum; after all, his livelihood depended on it.

The toll house was demolished in 1935, when the county council made road improvements to the corner. In the photograph below the toll house is on the left, and in the background is the Four Horseshoes beer house. Today, the site of this building, can be seen from the strip of land between the main road and the front boundary of Notcutt’s Garden Centre (which includes the bus layby).

Three original mile posts remain in situ: at Ellenbrook (junction with Mosquito Way), outside the former Popefield Farm, and east of the entrance to Oaklands College. They were all cast by a forging business in Reading.

Mile post


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