City posts or coal posts are marker posts erected in the 1860s and formed a loop approximately 20 miles from London. The purpose of the posts was to give notice of the boundary so no-one could claim ignorance. No tax was collected on the boundary. Railways and local coal merchants calculated sums due and paid money to the Corporation. Railways were initially allowed their coal free of duty for their engines. Originally there were 280 posts circling London and some 200 have survived.
Since medieval times, The City of London had taxed coal entering London. Originally it was brought by sea to riverside wharfs and made collection of taxes simple. This became increasing difficult when the railways and canals were established and used for the transportation of goods. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, an Act of Parliament imposed further duties for the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral and the city churches. After completion of St Paul’s, the duty continued to be paid for further rebuilding; it was later used to help fund the Napoleonic Wars. The original Act was the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act 1861 although duties for wine were only collected in the Port of London and did not apply to the Coal posts.
There are five different types of coal posts and most are the standard white posts. They are found in Bromley in their original locations. Some are beside roads and tracks and a few in field boundary fences. The other two types are beside railways – one is a cast iron obelisk about five feet tall and erected about 1861 (located near Warren Road). The other one is a tall obelisk about fourteen feet high and made of stone and probably erected prior to 1861 (located west of Swanley Station). The standard posts are made of cast iron and cast by Henry Grissell at Regents Canal Ironworks. Eagle Wharf Road, Hoxton. They are approximately six feet high with three feet above ground. They show the City’s shield and inscription referring to the Act. Those with 24VICT were made prior to 1861. The standard posts are painted white and were made listed buildings by the Secretary of State for the Environment in 1985 (Grade 11 Listing).
Duties were not collected after 1890 and ownership passed to the appropriate local authority.
Three standard posts are to be found in Downe at the following locations:
Luxted Road/Single Street – junction of Luxted Road and Single Street – Map reference TQ435600
Green Hill – West Kent Golf Course – Map reference TQ424612
Hang Grove Hill – junction of Cudham Road and Hang Grove Hill – Map reference TQ439606
There is a further post at Leaves Green Road, Leaves Green which at one time would have formed the junction with Milking Lane, Downe – Map reference TQ415617
Standard coal posts at Leaves Green Road and West Kent Golf Course, Green Hill
Standard coal post at Cudham Road, Downe
Standard coal post junction Luxted Road/Single Street