Shropshire Routes to Roots
|Routes | Transport and communication | Getting goods to market|
3. Beyond Shropshire
What new form of highway would revolutionise the way in which goods were transported?
The new highway
The Morda Valley to the south and west of Oswestry was not always the peaceful rural scene it is today. From around 1780 the coal, clay and limestone of the area was mined in greater and greater quantities. The main method of transport was by horse and cart from mines such as those at Coed-y-Go, west of Morda, and the limestone quarries at Llanymynech . Single line, horse tramways were constructed all along the valley to link various sites to the main turnpike road.
The weight of material being carried along the roads soon made them into almost impassable, rutted quagmires. The only effective solution was canal technology. The canal from Llanymynech to Frankton opened in 1796 By 1805 this had been extended to the ironworks at Trefor, on the far side of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and to the Chester Canal just north of Nantwich, giving access to Liverpool. However, these canals were not linked to the national canal network until 1833, when the Middlewich Branch opened.
There was now a new, swift highway to the markets of the rest of the country with a three-way canal junction at Lower Frankton.
Suddenly, this part of Shropshire could send material directly to Liverpool and the World, via Ellesmere Port, or more importantly, to any part of England using the great canal network. Until supplanted by the quicker and cheaper railways this was the most successful and economic form of freight transport of the early 19th century.
The canals could carry things across the country, but there was another issue to overcome. Consider this problem:
How might you get material from the mines and quarries to this canal?
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Page created January 2004 and last updated 1 August 2007