Way markers - otherwise known as mileway stones or milestones - go back to ancient days and were installed to direct travellers from town to town. Initially these were just piles of stones which later developed into more detailed standing stones, and these were the forerunners of today’s signposts as seen on all roads throughout the country.

During the reign of Elizabeth I, roads were in a bad state and the government implemented a method of raising money to address this. Landowners were required to contribute towards the repair of the roads within their area. Boundaries were marked using mileway stones, one for each main point of the compass, and the landowners within these areas, controlled by the mayor, had to contribute to the upkeep of the roads.

Although this was successful in that it provided finance for the upkeep of the roads within urban areas, it did not help the roads in rural areas which were in a very bad state, due to the constant use of waggons with metal wheel rims, and ruts grew deeper making some roads almost impassable and progress slow. So, in 1621, a bill was presented to Parliament to establish toll houses at the entrance of towns. In this way travellers instead of landowners could be charged for using the road and pay towards the upkeep.

Following this, in 1697, William III enforced the installation of way markers to direct travellers and drovers to the nearest market town.

Eventually turnpike were created and toll booths or turnpikes, (the term originating from the long sticks, or pikes, that blocked the way until a fee was paid), were installed throughout the country to raise finances within the local areas. Franchises were created by auction for an annual fee (in the region of £360 pa) to enable local businessmen to profit from the tolls with the stipulation that milestones had to be erected nearby so that the traveller knew where he was and the distance to the towns on the route. It was stipulated that these milestones had to be white with black lettering so night travellers could read them by lantern. Unfortunately, income was often not sufficient to cover road repair costs and funds had to be contributed from government coffers to supplement toll income.

Basingstoke had several turnpike tolls monitoring major entrances to the town. Situated at Kempshott, Worting, Eastrop, Chapel Street (near the South View cemetery) and also The Kiosk Toll House situated at the entrance to the Memorial park on Hackwood Road. Another example still in existence today is the rather unique ‘round’ house on the Reading Road at Chineham, now a private residence.

Further out of town, tolls existed at Dummer, Mapledurwell, Oakley, Overton, Newnham, Ashford Hill, Baughurst, Burghclere and Pamber - each one covering routes into Basingstoke.

In 1773, weighing machines were installed at Basingstoke and Stockbridge to check for overweight waggons. If found to be so, extra charges were made.

Charges varied according to the mode of transport. In 1796, the fee of 3d was charged for horses and mules with an increased sum if they were drawing waggons with narrow wheels. This increased in time to include droves of livestock. Only one payment had to be made in a 24hour period with proof of a previous entry in the form of a supplied ticket. Exemptions were allowed for people attending church or soldiers on the march.

Occasionally turnpikes had to be moved to prevent travellers by-passing them by journeying across the downs.

In 1878 the turnpike trusts ceased, the concept not being financially viable due to the onset of the railways, leaving huge debts for the government of the day. Eventually all signs of their existence disappeared except for the occasional milestone which can still be discovered hidden amongst tall grass or weeds.