PAY UP: Barnard Castle’s tollhouse in Bridgegate
PAY UP: Barnard Castle’s tollhouse in Bridgegate

A SPECIAL talk will explore an intriguing point of local history, and question the documents used to explore it.

On Thursday, March 14, 6.30pm to 8pm, Durham County Record Office invites the public into the world of 19th century turnpikes for horse-drawn vehicles and the trustees who managed the equivalent of today’s motorway toll roads.

The Bowes and Sunderland Bridge Turnpike Trust ran the local toll road from Bowes via Barnard Castle, Staindrop and Bishop Auckland to Sunderland Bridge (now the route of the A67 and A688) between 1748 and 1870.

In the mid-19th century the trustees had a unique problem with the recovery of toll arrears. This session shows that you can’t always take what is written in original historical documents at face value and reveals a hidden secret.

Dawn Layland, education and outreach archivist at Durham County Record Office, said: “These unusual spotlights on local history really open up fascinating discussions and show how human error haunted our Victorian ancestors too.

“This talk will offer a really good insight into how to interpret archives, and how questionable sources can still tell us something amazingly interesting about the past.”

This discussion will be led by David Butler, archivist and local historian, and is part of the successful 2019 programme of Third Thursday Talks.

Booking is essential and costs £5 per person. Book a place at