End of Unit Assessment Task 2: The Development of Transport in Britain
The growth of the Industrial Revolution depended on the ability to transport raw materials and finished goods over long distances. The changes came in several stages. First, roads were built, then canals were built, and finally the railway was developed. Each change had an impact upon life in the growing country, each shortened travel times over longer distances and each enabled industrialists to seek new markets in previously out of reach areas of the country. Likewise, they enabled more raw materials and goods to be shipped to and from factories, providing further impetus to the industrial age.
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To stop this, spikes were put on top of the gates. In some parts of the country, the toll gates were so unpopular, that they were destroyed. Parliament passed a law that meant execution for anyone who was caught destroying a turnpike.
Both Thomas Telford and John McAdam were credited with improving the roads in Britain. Telford believed in building roads that would last and needed little repair. His roads cost a lot of money and they took a long time to build - but they lasted. McAdam's roads were cheaper as they were not as 'fussy' as Telford's. McAdam's were hard wearing and he believed that the weight of the traffic using his roads would press down the road and make it stronger. As his roads were cheaper, they were more in demand by the turnpike trusts.
The new manufacturing class – those who needed an improved transport system to move their finished products from town to town, and were on the whole pleased as they had most to gain. However the cost of living increased pleasing the wealthier and making the poorer suffer.
The Industrial Revolution was creating huge amounts of heavy produce which had to be moved. Roads simply could not handle such weights and the vehicles needed to move this produce did not exist. The answer to moving heavy objects large distance was canals. Canals were man-made rivers which were deep enough to cope with barges which were capable of moving nearly forty tonnes of weight.
The person most associated with early canals was the Duke of Bridgewater. He owned coal mines in Lancashire but he needed to get the coal to the big market of Manchester which was nearly six miles away. The duke gave the task of designing and building the canal to James Brindley - an engineer who at this time had never built a canal before. As such, the duke was taking a great risk and he even had to borrow £25,000 to pay for the project. It took two years to build the canal which was completed in 1761. The canal had a series of tunnels which were linked directly to the coal mines. But its most famous section was the Barton Aqueduct which took the canal over the River Irwin. The canal was a huge success as it made the duke a lot of money. Other people saw the success of the Bridgewater Canal and decided to do likewise thus opening up Britain even more with a series of canals that linked the major industrial centres of Britain.
Canals could make those who invested in them vast sums of money. In the 1790's so-called "canal mania" took place when people invested their money into practically every canal project. Canals were very good at moving fragile goods such as pottery and also heavy goods such as coal. By 1840, there were nearly 4,500 miles of canals in Britain....