"the roads, since so many turnpike acts, are grown worse"

Turnpike trusts were bodies set up by individual Acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the Britain’s principal roads, from the 17th century.  At the peak, in the 1830s, over 1,000 trusts administered around 48,000 km of turnpike road in England & Wales, taking tolls at almost 8,000 toll-gates and side-bars.

The term "turnpike" originates from the similarity of the gate used to control access to the road, to the barriers once used to defend against attack by cavalry.  The turnpike consisted of a row of pikes or bars, each sharpened at one end, and secured at the other end to an upright pole or axle, which could be rotated to open or close the gate.

The first Turnpike Act was passed in 1696, for the repair of the highway between Reigate in Surrey and Crawley in Sussex. 

The Hyde Park Gate in London, pictured, was erected by the Kensington Turnpike Trust, and was the first toll point encountered along the Bath Road, when leaving London.