Great British ingenuity! The chap who set up his own Toll Road (without permission)

The great British people can be a very inventive lot, often having to battle against the odds to reach their goal. Whether it’s Dyson creating the world’s best vacuums despite manufacturers turning his bagless invention down, or JK Rowling who finally got her Harry Potter books published after rejections from all the major publishers.

And then there is Mike Watts who spent £300,000 ($550,000!) of his own money to build a private toll road between Bath and Kelston WITHOUT planning permission. And why wouldn’t he? The 14-mile traffic diversion from the council to fix a landslip was proving to be a nightmare for local residents, adding hours to every journey. But it was a big risk. What if it failed? What if the council had really made a big stink about it all? He could have lost everything.

There is an excellent video on the details behind his decision:

So how did he come up with such an implausible plan?

“I was in the Old Crown in Kelston one night,” he says. This sounds like a familiar start to a story recounting the origins of a harebrained idea. But among Watts’s fellow drinkers that night was John Dinham, who owns the field in question, and who had been letting local owners of 4x4s drive across it as a kindness. All very well, until “someone tweeted it”, Dinham says, and then “all of a sudden” lots of locals who didn’t own 4x4s started driving across the field too. On muddy days, he had to go down there and tow some of them out. “I had to padlock the gate and only give the combination out to people who had 4x4s.”

This was the outcome:


Thankfully, he’s about to break even on his huge gamble. And he’s applied for retrospective planning permission too. Ahem.

Enjoyed this? Don’t forget to read our tour of Bath, one of the finest cities in all of England.

Blimey! is your daily dose of British news and features for anglophiles everywhere! This article was carefully written by Tim Holt, a British blogger, photographer and actor based in the USA. Forever torn between two magnificent slices of sod.

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