18th Century Congestion Charging

Paying to use London’s roads is not a new idea. I have just come across a map showing turnpike gates (tolls) which were like the 18th Century equivalent of congestion charging. Instead of a single zone there appear to have been 16, each demanding a fee. It is unclear whether cyclists and taxis were exempt from paying, or whether the tolls had any effect on reducing congestion! An interactive version can be found here. I have also included a map of the current zone for comparison.

Courtesy David Rumsey Maps
Courtesy TFL


  1. Sean

    Not exactly congestion charging, these were roads that were mainly privately built and the toll paid for supposed upkeep and a profit to the owners, and I can see my high street too!

  2. Duncan Smith

    Good find James! It shows the privatised hap-hazard way London developed. I can’t make much sense of the colours- some kind of Sunday market-day discount?

    BTW I can remember Peter Hall describing a system of payment for horse drawn vehicles entering ancient Rome, so these are definitely not new.

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