Friday, January 6, 2017

Road transport

The development of farming led to superior horses and better harnessing. Horses were more readily available. By the thirteenth century wagons were coming into common use and professional carriers were plying the roads.

England is the Middle Ages was far from being a country made up of isolated, self-supporting communities.

It saw much more movement of people and goods than is often imagined. Anglo-Saxon England already had its markets and fairs, and the great majority of market towns came into existence during the two hundred year following the Conquest.

In 1555, the English Parliament passed a highway act that required the various parishes to maintain roads, with individual parishioners obligated to provide four days of service annually. In 1654, Parliament allowed parishes to hire road surveyors to supervise the work.

Longer journeys were also being made. Annual fairs, such as those at Bristol, St Ives in Huntingdonshire and Sturbridge near Cambridge, attracted buyers and seller from far and wide.

One could travel by coach between London and important cities in the southeast already in 1700 and that coal was being shipped on coastal vessels from Tyne to London.

Road transport evolved from packhorses and small wagons to large wagons and stagecoaches running continuously between London and major cities.

The advantage of stage coach travel included a somewhat faster journey time - the average rate was 6.4 miles per hour - accommodation at coaching inns along the route and generally advertised times for departure and arrival.

Actually steam-powered rail wagons and coaches would displace both hoses-drawn and stage horses resulting in a fundamental change in freight transport and travel.

By 1870 Britain had experienced what historians have called a transport revolution. The most clear indicator was the dramatic increase in travel speeds and decline in freight charges.
History of road transport in Britain
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