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The Changes in Transport Between 1800 and 1900

The changes in transport between the 17th and 18th centuries.


In the 1800s road travel was mainly made up of horse and cart, the journeys were long and very uncomfortable. In some places, business people and local residents joined together to form what was called a “Turnpike Trust”. They were given by parliament a section of road to look after and maintain.

They set up toll gates which charged people to use their roads so they could afford to uphold them. The number of “Turnpike Trusts” grew rapidly from 520 in 1770 to almost 1000 in 1830. But unfortunately they still only controlled 22000 miles out of the 105000 miles of important roads. Some organizations employed surveyors who studied the road and thought about how they could make them better and withstand heavier traffic.

They realized they needed strong foundations and good drainage. After these roads were “upgraded” the carriages could travel faster enabling travelers to keep a regular timetable and the mail service to deliver mail on-time


In 1750 transport in Britain was so bad that each region was largely self-contained. Factories were built where the raw materials were and then the finished product was sold locally.

Bulky goods could only be moved by sea and rivers. What manufacturers wanted was an easy way to get their goods around the country, so their trade opportunities could increase and they could make a larger profit. If all the great rivers could be connected up it would be possible for traders to travel up and down the country with little effort.

The Bridgewater Canal was one of the first canals to be built and it was built between Manchester and Liverpool. It was opened in 1776 and was very convenient for traders in that area. It brought the cost of coal in Manchester down by 50%! It also helped Britain’s economy a great deal. Liverpool grew massively as a port and was great for trade between Britain and America.


By 1820 traders could transport their goods in many ways. But by that time a lot of raw materials were being sent all over the country and the drivers of the boats were starting to complain about the number of barges on the canal. It was overcrowded and there was a lot of queuing every time you reached a lock; even thought the British waterways did their best to improve them.

After the success of the Liverpool and Manchester railway in 1822 (built to replace the Bridgewater Canal) a period of “Railway Mania” followed. Between 1844 and 1848 hundreds of companies were set up and thousand of miles of track were laid. Everyone thought there was easy money to be made by investing in the railway.

Merchants and traders wanted their goods and fast and the railway was significantly faster. However, many of the railway companies were small scale and local. It was difficult for their track to join up to another company’s line because their track was a different width. A standard width was introduced in the 1860s and the main-line network was largely complete.

By 1900 all the main-lines were tied up with branch lines to create a massive network all over the country.

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User Comments
  1. lotte

    On October 12, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    this info was great it helped me with my homework so much, thanks

  2. girly

    On October 30, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    coo good jo0b

  3. kaylaa

    On March 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    this was very veryy helpful for my project!

  4. wolfgang-619

    On April 8, 2009 at 7:48 am

    well thats a great load off me mind , but if you cant tell me weather what they realy used for transportation in london ,england in 1800????? how did they get around??

  5. Sophie age 13

    On June 23, 2009 at 5:19 am

    Thanks Alot i Need This For My Project It Helped Me alot !! x

  6. wes

    On February 25, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    thanks tis gave me all the details for my project

  7. joe

    On May 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    if u had more info it would make it so helpful with my project it only gave me 2 minutes of talking!

  8. mate

    On February 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    thanx it help with my skool work

  9. still researchin

    On June 11, 2012 at 2:53 am

    this is only transport in britian i needed transport around the world + its a little short for transport in the 1800s

  10. still researchin

    On June 11, 2012 at 2:53 am

    this is only transport in Britain I needed transport around the world + its a little short for transport in the 1800s

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