The Toll House on Littleborough Rd. was built by the Retford and Littleborough Turnpike Trust, inaugurated by Act of Parliament in 1825. The Turpike road ran from a bridge over Moorgate Beck on Spittle Hill in Retford and terminated at the River Trent Ferry at Littleborough. This Turnpike was managed by Trustees called the “Sir W.B. Cooke and Company”, this was a private Bank located in Retford and known locally as “The Retford Bank” or the “The Foljambe Bank” which is a reference to the Foljambe family who were Trustees.

At Littleborough there was a large Chain Ferry that carried traffic across the river to the connecting road in Lincolnshire. However the original plan when the 1825 Act was passed was to build a bridge at Littleborough. £4,834 (worth £285,000 in 2010) was raised to fund repairs to the road and the construction of the bridge, but this amount was insufficient due to the engineering difficulties. The plan was later abandoned and a new bridge was constructed at Dunham on what is now the A57 route to Lincoln.

There was several other Toll Houses on this Turnpike-road, one 8 miles west at Retford on Spittle Hill another on Leverton Road near the S bend and one on the hill near to the Vicarage at Sturton Le Steeple. In 1850 the Toll charges were: A horse or mule not drawing was charged 1½d at each Toll House. General Tolls were 9d per horse or 4d per ass drawing a coach or gig. Other beasts drawing wagons or carts was 6d each but 9d if more than 3 beasts. In 1852 amendments to the Act allowed for an increase of 50% to tolls and made provisions for “Carriages propelled by machinery”. Income from tolls in 1834 was £235 by 1850 this had risen to £340 this would indicate that about 4500 horses were passing through the tolls each year. In spite of this regular use the turnpike-road never made a profit and had to be subsidised in most years by Parish contributions, for example in 1849 a further £234 in aid was granted from the associated Parishes.

This original toll house has six sides and known locally as the “Three penny bit house” which is an erroneous reference to an old coin that had twelve sides. There are three rooms on the ground floor and a further three on the first floor. The windows are constructed so that the roads can be observed in each direction. The window that faces Littleborough is where the Toll charges were displayed. Two stone posts just to the east of the building were part of the original toll gate and catch gate.


Image of Littleborough Toll House
Littleborough Toll House



In 1932 the Trent Bridge at Gainsborough was no longer tolled and free access to Lincolnshire was now available by one of the few alternative river crossings. It is no coincidence that in the same year the Toll Bridge at Dunham was opened, this carries the main A57 road across the River at the site of the former Dunham Ferry.

The arrival of the Railway in the late 1800’s meant that travelers no longer wanted to use slow uncomfortable horse drawn carriages and preferred the improvements that railway travel brought. These developments signaled the demise of the Littleborough Ferry and it was abandoned about 1910 after it was sunk in a collision with a large barge. Since then the Littleborough Road has been used by local traffic only and no access to Lincolnshire is possible. The introduction of railways meant that many Turnpike Companies were no longer viable. Many went bankrupt or were abandoned, leading to the Local Authorities taking over the role of highways maintenance and that included the Retford-Littleborough turnpike-road.

1877 the Toll house and premises were sold by the Trust to the Osberton Estate and later sold into private ownership in 1976 in which it remains.