Oxford Mileways Act 1771: Nothing wheeled to be allowed on the pavement

The following part of the Act forbids anything with wheels (e.g. wheelbarrows, sledges) as well as horses and cattle from using the pavements of Oxford.

No Wheel-barrow, &c. to be driven on Foot-pavements

And be it further enacted, That if any Person or Persons shall, at any Time after the passing of this Act, run, drive, or cause to be run, driven, or drawn on any Foot-pavements within the said City or Suburbs, any Wheel or Wheels, Sledge, Wheelbarrow, or Carriage whatsoever, or shall roll any Cask, or wilfully ride, drive, or lead, or cause to be rode, driven, or led, any Horse or other Cattle, on any of the said Foot-pavements, other than in Cases of absolute Necessity; such Person or Persons shall forfeit and pay, for the first Offence, the Sum of Five Shillings, for the Second Offence, the Sum of Ten Shillings, and for the Third and every other Offence, the Sum of Twenty Shillings.

No wheelbarrows

Prams and Bicycles

Perambulators and bicycles had of course not been invented in 1771, but when the time came, these were dealt with equally ferociously both in the city and university courts.

1861: “The Crusade against perambulators”

In February 1861 Sarah Gale, the nursemaid of the Cornmarket tailor Ephraim Pottage, was brought before the City Court and charged with “wheeling a perambulator on the pavement”. This pram presumably contained Master Alfred Tom Pottage, then aged about 15 months. Her employer argued that it was impossible to take a child in a pram from Cornmarket to the University Parks without using the pavement, but this cut no ice, as the nursemaid had broken the law. Alderman Isaac Grubb remarked that “if perambulators were allowed on the pavement, they could not refuse to allow bakers to wheel their barrows of bread there”.

Pottage and pram

By the time the advertisement below appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 6 May 1876, perambulators were becoming cheaper and more popular.

JOJ 6 May 1876

1870: Three pavement cyclists fined in Vice-Chancellor's Court

Here is an extract from Jackson's Oxford Journal of 12 February 1870 relating to three pavement cyclists who appeared before the the Vice-Chancellor of the University (and thereby Judge of the Chancellor's Court) Francis Knyvett Leighton, together with the Senior Proctor, at the Vice-Chancellor's Court. They were all found guilty of cycling on the pavement (the first at the south end of the Banbury Road, and the second two in Parks Road. They were each fined ten shillings with eleven shillings costs (the equivalent of at least £50 each today).

Cycling convictions

The unlucky Nicholas Pogose, who was only aged 17 when he was caught cycling on the pavement, died of typhoid at the age of 20 on 18 March 1872.

The following article published in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 2 November 1895 shows that by this date perambulators were tolerated on the pavement, but that cyclists were fined at Oxford City Police Court even if they were only pushing their bike:

Manning bike fine

Percy Manning – who was studying at Marcon's Hall (a private hall of the University) with a view to retaking his Finals in 1896 – later became a well-known Oxford antiquary.

Stephanie Jenkins