Development of Marple

Bridges, Highways and Turnpikes

An examination of the main land transport routes in the Marple area.

Author: Anthony W Jones.

Published: Marple Local History Society, 2004.

A5 booklet, 52 pages, 9 illustrations.


ISBN: 09540582 1 6


  • Bridges
  • Highways
  • Turnpikes
  • Chapel-en-le-Frith - Marple Turnpike
  • Stockport - Marple Turnpike
  • Glossop - Marple Turnpike
  • Demise of the turnpikes


We travel daily along the roads of Marple without giving a thought to their origins, to the history that we pass by, unnoticed.

We never give a thought for the travellers of bygone days, when the road was little more than a track, or to the people who toiled to build and maintain the parish highways.

Mesolithic flints, originating from the other side of the Pennine hills, found at the Mellor Archeological dig show that man has been making tracks between here and there for thousands of years and would have found ways of crossing rivers by way of bridges, from fallen trees to the modern structures of today.

Paths or tracks would have been made where there was a need for people or goods to go from place to place. Most of the traffic would be very local, probably only between farms and villages. Hand loom weavers and farmers would take their goods to Stockport market to sell them. In later years the creation of mills increased the trade with people from other areas. This can be seen from some of the Turnpike Acts that claim the poor state of the roads caused problems with such trade.

Places have changed greatly in the last 200 - 300 years. Mellor was a large area consisting of hamlets and farms with a moor but no village centre. Moor End was built mainly about 1780 when mills began to appear. The centre of what is now Marple was Norbury Smithy, at the junction of Stockport Road, Station Road and Church lane.

The roads today do not always follow the course of the old road. The original route may have gone from farm to farm, or to other important places such as river crossings, but over the years new routes have been created. A person on foot or horseback can manage a steep hill but when people began to use carts and waggons new, less steep routes had to be found.

With the introduction of Turnpikes around 1800 toll bars were set up and the location of these can indicate where the new Turnpike road met an existing road.

Some are obvious such as Rose Brow (by the Windsor Castle public house) and Dan Bank, whilst those at Hague Bar on Strines Road and 'Old Slurry' at the junction of Knowle Road and Longhurst Lane are less so.

Over the last two hundred years the roads in the area have changed considerably. No longer are the main highways little more than a dirt track full of pot holes. Today Marple has roads leading to all the neighbouring towns and the road surface is well maintained and generally free of pot holes !