The Finance Act 1908

The Finance Act 1908 came into action because of the surge of popularity in motor vehicles. The amount of cars had began to take its toll on the UK’s road surface, which were at the time predominantly built from mud, layers of stone and shoddy gravel.

For two hundred years, turnpike trusts had been scrutinised. The poor didn’t use the roads but were expected to help maintain, pay and abide by the turnpike acts. Tampering or deliberately damaging turnpike polls in the 17th century could be punishable by death.

After the industrial revolution, engineers helped to design a smarter system. John Loudon McAdam was responsible for Macadamisation, a process of building a hard road surface by using broken stones placed in symmetrical, tight patterns and covered with smaller stones.

McAdam’s method was simple, yet effective at protecting roadways. He discovered that massive foundations of rock upon rock were unnecessary. Asserting that native soil alone would support the road and traffic upon it, as long as it was covered by a road crust that would protect the soil underneath from water and wear.

This design led to the bitumen-based binding called Tarmacadam. This tar was modified by adding small amounts of Portland cement, resin, and pitch.

Using this method of construction, Nottingham’s Radcliffe Road became the first tarmac road in the world.

In 1909, the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act provided grants to local authorities for approved highways works. The Finance Act 1909-10 based vehicle taxation on the horsepower of the vehicle, remaining in place until 1949, and stated that its revenue would be used for road improvements only.