Ever seen a coal post whilst Geocaching?
We live on the borders of Greater London and Surrey and frequently see ‘coal-tax posts’ whilst out Geocaching. After reading the very informative cache pages I thought it would be quite nice to highlight this small, at present, but ever increasing mini-series of Geocaches placed to celebrate a part of London’s old history. We’ve now found five Geocaches located near to these posts but we’ve got a long way to go if we want to visit the other 200(ish) potential markers. But why are they there?
Creating a ring with a radius of approximately 15 miles around the centre of London the posts were erected under the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act of 1861 to collect taxes for the importation of coal and wine into the capital. The act stipulated that it was only those living within the boundary that would have to pay this levy, which obviously made it very unpopular, and eventually the act was completely abolished in 1890 less than thirty years after the erection of the posts.
We should be thanking those old Londoner’s who paid these taxes though as they ensured that a lot of the bridges into London were made free from toll, which is great news for us living so close to Hampton Court Bridge, although I’m sure those tolls wouldn’t still be standing today but it does give you a bit of an insight into how tough it would have been to live in London knowing that those outside the boundary lines weren’t paying the extra tax.
Many of the markers are placed near rivers and railway lines to aid the easier collection of taxes but quite a few are dotted around some of the old footpaths and bridleways to stop the cheeky few who were attempting to smuggle in crates of wine on their horse and cart! Or at least that’s how I imagine it might have been, I’m sure everyone was very honourable back in the day 😉
There are five different forms of these coal markers, we’ve only been lucky to find the more traditional ones but now that we know a little bit more about it we might check a few of the others out if we’re passing. For posts so small it’s also quite strange to know that some of them have Grade II building listings, something I never realised wasn’t just reserved for buildings…Geocaching…you live and learn!
To find Geocaches located near to these posts have a peruse through Merstham Mafia’s Bookmark List to locate the nearest one to you.
Happy hunting! 🙂