England’s 1835 Highway Act Codifies the Laws Relating to Highways

The Highway Act 1835 (5 & 6 Will 4 c 50) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was one of the Highway Acts 1835 to 1885.

Parish Boards
The Highway Act 1835 placed highways under the direction of parish surveyors and allowed them to pay for the costs involved by rates levied on the occupiers of land. The surveyor’s duty was to keep the highways in repair, and if a highway was out of repair, the surveyor could be summoned before the courts and ordered to complete the repairs within a limited time. The surveyor was also charged with the removal of nuisances on the highway. A highway nuisance could be abated by any person, and could be made the subject of indictment at common law.

The board consisted of representatives of the various parishes, called “way wardens” together with the justices for the county residing within the district. Salaries and similar expenses incurred by the board were charged on a district fund to which the several parishes contributed; but each parish remained separately responsible for the expenses of maintaining its own highways.

The amending acts, while not interfering with the operation of the principal act, authorize the creation of highway districts on a larger scale. The justices of a county could convert it or any portion of it into a highway district to be governed by a highway board, the powers and responsibilities of which would be the same as those of the parish surveyor under the former act.

New Road Offences
The Highway Act 1835 specified as offences for which the driver of a carriage on the public highway might be punished by a fine, in addition to any civil action that might be brought against him:

***Riding upon the cart, or upon any horse drawing it, and not having some other person to guide it, unless there be some person driving it.
***Negligence causing damage to person or goods being conveyed on the highway
***Quitting his cart, or leaving control of the horses, or leaving the cart so as to be an obstruction on the highway.
***Not having the owner’s name painted up.
***Refusing to give the same.
***Driving animals or a ‘carriage of any description’ on the footway.
***Not keeping on the left or near side of the road, when meeting any other carriage or horse. This rule did not apply in the case of a carriage meeting a foot-passenger, but a driver was bound to use due care to avoid driving against any person crossing the highway on foot. At the same time a passenger crossing the highway was also bound to use due care in avoiding vehicles, and the mere fact of a driver being on the wrong side of the road would not be evidence of negligence in such a case.
***The playing of football on public highways, with a maximum penalty of forty shillings.

Section 72
Section 72 provides: “If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon.”

This clause is referred to by the current Highway Code:
Rule 62: (use of cycle tracks).
Rule 64: “You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.”
Rule 145: “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.” (The offence of driving on a bridleway is covered by a later act)
Rule 157: (The Department for Transport cited this section in 2006 when it ruled that Segways could not be legally used on pavements in the United Kingdom.)


About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
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3 Responses to England’s 1835 Highway Act Codifies the Laws Relating to Highways

  1. carolcork says:

    Perhaps all the cyclists that ride on the pavement and all the drivers who park on the pavement here should re-familiarize themselves with the Highway Code!!

    • Carol, if one watches the horrifying video of the the motorcyclists surrounding the man’s SUV in New York and shutting down highways, perhaps a review is needed here in the U.S., as well.

  2. Pingback: History A'la Carte 10-31-13 - Random Bits of Fascination

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