History of the boundary and the marks

The early railways

Contrary to what is sometimes stated (eg by Firth) the area within which duties were levied was not altered by the Act of 1838: some of the regulatory provisions applied to the area within 25 miles of the General Post Office in St Martins le Grand but the area of collection of duties was unaffected. The Act also instituted the system of "drawbacks" whereby coal could be brought into London and taken out again free of duty if it was not unloaded from the ship in which it came.

However, the duties were in fact extended at this period owing to the construction of the first railways into London and the consequent steps taken by the City to maintain their revenue from the coal duties. The course adopted was that of ensuring that provisions were inserted into the Act authorizing a particular railway, requiring the payment of duties on coal brought nearer to London than a certain point specified in the Act, which point was to be marked by a boundary stone or post.

Provisions were included in eight railway Acts, resulting in six boundary marks being erected:

Railway Company Act Section of Act Position of mark Opened
London and Birmingham London and Birmingham Railway Act 1833 230 At tunnel entrance Cashio township, Watford parish 1837
London and Southampton London and South Western Railway Act 1834 213 Junction of Basingstoke Canal and Wey Navigation 1838
Great Western Great Western Railway Act 1835 228 East side of Colne, Hillingdon parish 1838
South Eastern South Eastern Railway Act 1836 173 Parish of Lympsfield, Surrey Route altered before construction
Northern and Eastern Counties Northern and Eastern Railway Act 1836 206 Hamlet of Hoddesdon, Broxbourne parish 1841
Eastern Counties Eastern Counties Railway Act 1836 260 Boundary of Shenfield and Mountnessing parishes 1843
Thames Haven Thames Haven Dock and Railway Act 1836 254 Road from Orset to Horndon on the Hill Not actually constructed
London and Brighton London and Brighton Railway Act 1837 258 Boundary Gatton and Merstham parishes 1841

These six boundary marks are presumably the three Type 4a and three Type 4b obelisks, described under Types of boundary mark: Type 4, which still exist today.

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