Former Stanley toll house, Holyhead
This building was one of a string of toll houses along Thomas Telford’s improved road for mail coaches between London and Holyhead. This section of the route was constructed in 1823. The Stanley tollgate collected payments from travellers at the western end of the Stanley Embankment.
The toll house, now home to a tearoom called Coffee Cups at the Toll House, is not in its original position. It was moved in the late 1960s because it stood in the way of a new water main. Each wall was painted a different colour and each stone numbered before the house was dismantled and re-erected at its present site nearby.
If the tearoom is open, notice the fireplace in the first room you enter. This was where the tollkeeper would await approaching traffic, which he could see through the angled windows. The family’s living quarters were in the room where the tearoom’s customers now sit. There were bedrooms upstairs. It’s said that the last tollkeepers, a Mr and Mrs Jones, raised six children here.
Photos on display inside show the toll house in its original position and during its rebuilding.
William Williams, keeper of the Stanley tollgate, was infuriated one day in July 1890 when Bostock & Bailey’s entire “circus and menagerie” passed the gate without paying! The man leading the procession said the man at the rear would pay, but he did not. There were 66 horses drawing vehicles and 17 horses which were led, so Mr Williams was owed 17s 11d – about £100 in today’s prices. A court ordered the circus to pay.
There was more trouble when a leopard escaped from the circus after the evening show at Cae Morgan. Employees and many local people searched the area with torchlights and guns, until dogs sniffed out the leopard in a drain and the runaway was captured. During another show, a jaguar broke loose and was captured “with some difficulty”, and a snake bit the female snake-charmer, who was “carried out in a fit”.
In the same month, circus proprietor Frank Bostock was fined by the county magistrates in Caernarfon after being charged by the RSPCA for allowing five horses to be worked while suffering from wounds.