Did blackout bashing signal end of historic toll house?

When did Shifnal Toll House toll its last?

Shifnal toll house became the site of Bert Greatbatch's garage.
Shifnal toll house became the site of Bert Greatbatch's garage.

The distinctive and historic building on the eastern outskirts of the town stood on the junction of the busy Wolverhampton road and Park Lane.

Today, as our modern picture of the scene shows, it is long gone, its encounter hastened by an unfortunate encounter with a lorry.

The same scene today.

According to a respected Shifnal local historian, the late Sylvia Watts, writing in her book Some Shifnal Buildings and People, the toll house was built as part of Thomas Telford’s improvements to the Holyhead Road in the 1820s.

“Telford himself designed the toll houses,” she writes.

“He designed four types, the two storey type which stood here being the least common. A living room, kitchen and toll room were provided downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.

“The toll gates were removed in 1886. Bert Greatbatch used the toll house as a petrol station in the 1920s and 1930s until it was accidentally demolished by a lorry in the blackout during the Second World War.”

Shifnal toll house became the site of Bert Greatbatch's garage.

However, a report carried in the Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News of October 15, 1955, points to it being bashed by the lorry much later than that, although we haven't been able to turn up a report which pinpoints when it happened.

Accompanied by a photograph showing a pile of debris on the toll house site, the Journal’s 1955 report says: “The pile of rubble which was once Shifnal’s old toll house at the junction of Park Street and Park Lane has been an eyesore and a danger to road users for too long.

“This is the view of Shifnal Parish Council who, disturbed by the length of time this position has existed, are to send a deputation to meet the Wrekin MP Mr Bill Yates at Wellington to-day to see if he can help expedite matters.

“The Toll House was for many years a petrol filling station on the sharp bend of the Shifnal to Wolverhampton road on the outskirts of the town. It closed during the war and plans to reopen it did not materialise.

“The octagonal-shaped structure gradually became derelict and the position was made worse some 18 months ago when a lorry crashed into one side wall, necessitating the pulling down of the roof as it was unsafe.

“A pile of bricks and rubble now mark the spot.”

And today, of course, not even that. Modern houses occupy the toll house site.

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