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The development and decline of the turnpike system in the Stroudwater area of Gloucestershire 1725-1875.

Cox, Christopher (1987) The development and decline of the turnpike system in the Stroudwater area of Gloucestershire 1725-1875. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis examines the development of road communications within a relatively self-contained area of hills and valleys; their relationship with the local relief and geology, and their response to changes in the settlement pattern and local economy, from late medieval times to the latter part of the 19th century. By the 18th century a 3-tier pattern had developed: through-routes on the plateau or ridge tops, 'contour' tracks linking hill-side settlements, and 'vertical' tracks from valley floor to plateau top. The inadequacies of the parish road repair system led to the creation of toll-roads. Three such phases may here be distinguished. Firstly, the amendment of roads from the Severn to the edge of the Cotswolds; secondly, the development of long-distance routes across the plateau; thirdly, the construction of completely new alignments along, or close to, the valley bottom, reaching the plateau by sweeping sinuous curves. This last phase starts with the creation of the Nailsworth Turnpike Trust in 1780, though the example was not followed in the other valleys until the period 1800-1825. In each phase a close look is taken at the financing of a particular road, or group of roads. The first such is the audit of the Stroud Turnpike, which took place in 1734 as a result of public discontent over the newly-imposed tolls. The financial theme is central to the whole history of turnpikes and in fact it was not the coming of the railways that brought about the crisis in the system. The trusts had been in grave financial trouble by at least the 1820s, and numerous Parliamentary enquiries had tried to resolve the problem of debt but without success. In the Stroudwater area an attempt was made in the early 1850s to introduce many of the suggested remedies: how and why this attempt failed is discussed. But while the competition from railways certainly caused the extinction of long-distance coaching and allied services, the turnpike system itself continued for at least another 30 years, though with a diminished revenue in most trusts. The long-drawn-out process of unravelling the affairs of a turnpike until final dispiking is examined through the records of the Nailsworth Trust. From 1780 to the 1870s this trust is the exemplar for the area. Examined in detail are: the inception and inauguration of this new road, and the employment of a professional engineer, with competent road specificiations pre-dating the better-known work of McAdam by 30 years. Also examined are: problems of constructing a completely new road; the work of the various officials, the composition of the committee and the trust's administration; the raising of the initial capital and the collection of toll revenue, including a detailed examination of toll-farming in the later years. Allied matters are also looked at. At each change in the pattern of turnpike communications an appropriate financial problem is examined. Use is made throughout of numerous reproductions of contemporary maps and of original documents.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, European, Transportation
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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