Oxted  District History Society - Article
Oxted  District History Society

Stuart Dennison, a transport historian, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘The History of Transport 1770-1870 – Canals, Roads & Railways’.  The earliest substantial canal was the 1761 Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal, built to transport coal from the Duke’s mines in Worsley into Manchester.  Soon, various centres of industry and towns were linked by canals, enabling heavy goods to be transported much more cheaply.

In the mid-1700s roads were generally very poor but the ‘Turnpike Mania’ of 1751 authorised 11,500 miles of turnpike roads by Acts of Parliament.  Some 22,000 miles of turnpike roads were authorised by 1836.  With turnpike roads, goods and people could be transported more safely in wagons, stage coaches and mail coaches and there were many types of these available by the 1780s.

The earliest railways were horse-drawn and mainly used for carrying quarried materials like the Surrey Iron Railway.  The first steam locomotives were used on the Stockton to Darlington Railway and between 1830 and 1845 most of the main lines had been constructed, some 5000 miles.  By 1870, the railway network had been largely completed.  Canals were still much used but less significant.  There was a big increase in the use of horse-buses and trams resulting from the significant improvement in the roads.


The History of Transport 1770 - 1870 by Stuart Dennison: