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Coaching in the 1830s. Tring’s Rose & Crown and Bell Inns were once staging points for mail and passenger
coaches en route along the turnpike road
between London, Aylesbury and places further afield.


The following makes no claim to be a detailed treatise on the history of roads nor, for that matter, of those in the market town of Tring in north-west Hertfordshire to which this account relates.  It aims, instead, to provide readers interested in the history of the town with a résumé of the events that resulted in the town’s principal roads, much of the history of which ― so far as we are aware ― is lost in the mists of time.  We have also included some points of general interest concerning road travel in earlier times.  Our narrative is in the form of a compilation of notes and extracts taken, in the main, from old books, newspapers and records held in the Hertfordshire Archives.

Having completed two transport-related local histories, one dealing with the Grand Junction Canal (A Highway Laid with Water) and the other with London & Birmingham Railway (The Train now Departing),  we felt we ought to place on record something about the history of our local roads. This proved more challenging than we first imaged; indeed, we have only succeeded to a limited extent.

Because most of Tring is a product of the 20th century, we felt, rightly or not, that there was little to say about our modern estate roads that would interest potential readers other than students of estate planning, so we excluded that category.  This narrowed things down to our main roads and those in the old part of the town.  Here, the information, so far as we could unearth it, is scant.  Most of our principal roads date from time immemorial, and there is little on record until the main north-south road (later the A41) became a turnpike; even then, a lot of what the turnpike trust entered in their minute book doesn’t make particularly interesting reading.  Nevertheless, we have set out the gist of what we found, not only about turnpike administration but about other of our local roads and how they were used in bygone days.

The following narrative falls into three sections. For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the subject, the first section provides a brief historical background to roads in general.  The second section focuses on our local roads and their users.  The third section contains an overview of road building in England, from the Romans occupation to the present age.

These web pages will be updated as the results of further research become available.

Ian Petticrew & Wendy Austin

May 2015.

Coaching in the 1930s. This Dennis Arrow was delivered new to the Red Rover Omnibus Company of Aylesbury in 1931.
The journey between Tring and London was by now over roads maintained by county and metropolitan borough councils.



Although most of our sources are credited in the text, we have derived some of our background information on the town’s roads from the writings of past Tring local historians, Joseph Budd, Bob Grace, Ron Kitchener (we have also included two of Ron’s poems) and Arthur Macdonald.  Our thanks for help with research or the loan of photographs go to Tim Amsden, Michael Bass, Jill Fowler, the late Bob Hummer, Linda McGee, Ann Reed, the late Don Riddell, John Savage, Alex Thompson, and Shirley Thornhill.  And we thank the staff at the Local Studies Archives, Aylesbury; Hertford County Record Office; and the Watford Public Library for their assistance.