An 18th century tollhouse used to charge travellers as they passed through Yorkshire in the 18th century has been saved after rural leaders struck a deal with Natural England and the owner of the decaying rare building.
The Grade II-listed Punchard Gill tollhouse was built to collect money from drivers after the Reeth to Tan Hill road in Arkengarthdale was turnpiked in 1770, allowing the transport of smelted lead from nearby Swaledale. The coalfield at Tan Hill also saw increased traffic on the route.
One of 13 vulnerable tollhouses in the National Park, it has been deployed as a farming store for the past century, but was listed on the Buildings at Risk register because of its urgent need for repair work.
“There is so much history linked to this building – it’s fantastic to see it restored to its former glory,” said Dr Margaret Nieke, Natural England’s Historic Advisor.
“It shows how Natural England’s agri-environment schemes are helping to safeguard the historic environment in this much-loved part of the Yorkshire Dales.”
The building’s position, at the edge of enclosed land and the start of moorland, made it difficult for drivers of wheeled vehicles to avoid paying tolls. Censuses held by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority suggest it was occupied by roadmakers, a cattle jobber, coal merchants and coal miners during the 19th century, although it is thought to have been largely unoccupied after the 1880s.
Punchard Gill’s current owner, Paul Harker, said the tollhouse had been “deteriorating rapidly” before experts stepped in to reroof it, rebuild stonework, renew external joinery and improve the guttering.
“With the help of the Authority and Natural England, a thorough renovation has taken place,” he added.
“The building has now been preserved for future generations.”